Staff Summer Reads

Looking for an exciting book to read on a plane or train, listen to on a car trip, or just enjoy at home? Checkout one of our staff recommendations below. We've got something for everyone – mysteries, memoir, graphic novels, fantasy, cookbooks, and more! Do you have a summer reading you'd like to share? Leave us a comment below.

Adult Fiction

Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li
Library Catalog
A blockbuster action heist adventure that's also an examination of the pressures faced by the children of immigrants, Chinese American identity, the fears and questions that college students face on the cusp of graduation, and the Chinese diaspora? Indeed, and it is told with whip-smart fast-paced writing. Li's bestselling debut and Edgar Award nominated novel has been picked up by Netflix for adaptation and I can't wait to watch it – though I doubt it will stand up to the movie that unfolded in my head while reading this awesome book.–Joshua Carlson, Youth Services

Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers By Jesse Q. Sutanto
Library Catalog
A wonderful, moving stand-alone mystery in which Sutanto, author of the Aunties series, is at the absolute top of her game. Sixty-year-old Vera Wong is lonely, although she’d never admit it. A widower, she’s the mother of a lawyer consumed by work—he rarely returns her texts, even though she offers such good advice!— and her days consist of a 6 am brisk walk through San Francisco’s Chinatown—she needs to get her steps in!—then opening her tea shop which, on the best of days, has only one customer. Extraordinarily opinionated, quite a bit eccentric, yet utterly charming, Vera’s voice is captivating. But readers will be completely beguiled after she comes downstairs one morning (she lives above the shop) and discovers a young man lying on the floor. Come for the mystery, but stay for the healing. One of the best cozy mysteries of the year.–Brian Kenney, Library Director
/mc.gif&client=westchestls&type=unboundA Shimmer of Red By Valerie Wilson Wesley
Coming in July 2023
I eagerly await the books in the Odessa Jones series, and the latest offering is better than ever. Odessa (Dessa) is a realtor/caterer in suburban New Jersey. Life is going well—housing sales are way up—until one of her realtor colleagues, Anna Lee, is killed in a hit and run while out jogging. Could it have been murder? Dessa can’t help but become involved. She goes deep into her colleague’s life, uncovering a surprising past and a present in which Anna was being stalked. But why would anyone threaten this young woman? This is billed as a cozy mystery—there is a cat and plenty of tea—but Wesley pushes a bit beyond the genre’s traditions. Dive in with this volume, but if you have the time, start with volume one, A Glimmer of Death. You won’t be disappointed.–Brian Kenney, Library Director
All the Sinners Bleed By S.A. Cosby
Library Catalog
A school shooting in fictional Charon County, VA, reveals horror and catalyzes reckoning in S.A. Cosby’s eagerly awaited follow-up to Razorblade Tears. This is, unsurprisingly, a masterpiece of Southern noir, but that’s selling it short: it’s a fantastic novel, period. The first responders to the shooting are led by Sherriff Titus Crown, a Black man who won a contentious, racist battle for his seat and who now safeguards Klan members and kind neighbors alike. But even he is thrown when the investigation into the school shooter—a Black man killed at the scene by white cops—uncovers a grisly secret. Join Titus and his meticulously drawn, flawed family, colleagues, and townsfolk for a deep introspection on how evil begets evil and good begets good. And watch for the gripping movie that’s sure to spring from Cosby’s pages.–Brian Kenney, Library Director
Prom Mom By Laura Lippman
Library Catalog – Coming July 2023
Laura Lippman’s standalone novels are tremendously smart, descend deeply into the lives of a small cast of characters, and slowly build the readers’ anxiety to a nearly unbearable level. Prom Mom doesn’t disappoint. Amber Glass left Baltimore decades ago, and for a good reason. The night of her prom, Amber gave birth, alone and without fully understanding she was pregnant. The baby died, and Amber, burdened with the tabloid moniker Prom Girl, was briefly incarcerated. Meanwhile, her prom date and crush, Joe Simpson, escaped largely unscathed, free to pursue the girl of his dreams. When circumstances align to bring Amber back to Baltimore, she can’t stop thinking of Joe. Yet encounters are inevitable—Baltimore’s a small town—and slowly the two are drawn into a relationship they seem powerless to stop.–Brian Kenney, Library Director
The Spare Room By Andrea Bartz
Library Catalog
It’s the early months of the pandemic, and Kelly Doyle—who has recently moved to Philadelphia to live with her fiancé—finds herself with few friends and no job. But when her spouse-to-be calls off their wedding, Kelly hits a new level of despair. Her one bright spot is her childhood friend Sabrina; the two recently renewed their friendship thanks to the socials. Sabrina has it all: a career as a best-selling romance author, a Virginia mansion right out of Elle Decor, and a handsome albeit hyper-masculine husband. So when Sabrina invites Kelly to move in with them—yes, it’s a little weird—Kelly is desperate enough to say yes. Before you can say “throuple” (why wasn’t that the Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the year?) the three are in bed together. A sexy read in which no one is right, no one is wrong, and everyone is lying. By the author of We Were Never Here, this is the ultimate summer read.–Brian Kenney, Library Director
The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by S. A. Chakraborty
Library Catalog
A retired sea captain turned mother is given the opportunity to go on one last adventure – one that turns out to be far more complicated than it seemed at first glance. If you enjoy swashbuckling pirates with a large dose of the fantastical, this is the book for you!–Erica Roberts, Youth Services
Someone Else's Shoes by Jojo Moyes
Library Catalog
Is it true that you can tell a woman from her shoes? A simple mix-up of a gym bag containing a pair of shoes changes the lives of the women who wear them and those around them. This book was featured in the Library's Future is Female book group. which meets the first Monday of each month.–Sharon Rothman, Adult Services
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna
Library Catalog
A cozy, sweet, magical story about found families. An isolated witch, Mika Moon, breaks the witch's code of staying away from other witches by traveling to Nowhere House to train three orphaned witches. Featuring a little spice, a prickly and handsome librarian, and some charming caretakers.–Kristen Thornton-De Stafeno, Marketing
They're Going to Love You by Meg Howrey
Library Catalog
An emotional read told from the protagonist's perspective at present and as she ages from childhood to 20-something. The tale centers around choreographer Carlisle Martin processing her father's terminal cancer and a betrayal she committed years ago that caused their estrangement. The story examines the AIDs crisis through the eyes of a child and explores the challenges of becoming a dancer in America.–Kristen Thornton-De Stafeno, Marketing
Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Törzs
Library Catalog
A compelling debut fantasy novel in the vein of Practical Magic and The Atlas Six written in the style of literary fiction. Readers are introduced to a world in which spells are written with the blood of Scribes, magic books are protected and hidden with wards, and two sisters are forced to sacrifice their lives to protect each other and the magic their parents collected.–Kristen Thornton-De Stafeno, Marketing

Adult Nonfiction

The Urgent Life by Bozoma Saint John
Library Catalog: All available formats
“A successful marketing executive’s account of how her estranged husband’s terminal cancer diagnosis brought them together again and taught her to “live every day of my life with urgency.” As Saint John shows, she and her husband, Peter, were very different people. She was the American daughter of middle-class Ghanaian immigrants who had settled in Colorado; he was the son of working-class Italian Americans from Massachusetts. Even though she longed for a “Black Prince Charming,” she fell head over heels in love with Peter, who had no Black friends but had “a profound interest in the African American experience.” Together, they faced considerable opposition from Saint John’s father and from Peter’s family, who treated her like she was a mere “passing fancy.” – Kirkus Reviews

  • This book was an inspiration to live every moment to the fullest.–Lilian Boyd, Youth Services
Walking in My Joy: In These Streets by Jenifer Lewis
Library Catalog: All available formats
“Jenifer Lewis, Hollywood diva, star of Black-ish and I Love That for You, shares personal and entertaining accounts about life after her debut bestselling book, Mother of Black Hollywood (2017). After the politically polarized 2016 election, she became an activist avidly championing the need to vote, heal our nation, and raise awareness of the treatment of marginalized U.S. citizens. Each chapter begins with thought-provoking poems about life, racism, climate change, and social justice issues. Lewis' larger-than-life personality shines throughout her memoir even as she shares such vulnerable moments as being scammed by a lover, life during COVID-19, and embracing life in her mid-sixties.” –Booklist reviews

  • I love this book because of how honest she is. The book is best enjoyed as an audiobook because she reads herself in full theatrical glory!–Lilian Boyd, Youth Services
Finding Me by Viola Davis
Library Catalog: All available formats
“Tony and Oscar–winning actor Davis gives a master class in triumphing over poverty and despair in her soul-baring debut. Born in 1965, Davis became intimate with destitution, dysfunction, and abuse at a young age, growing up with an alcoholic father, and living off welfare checks in 1970s Central Falls, R.I. Inspired by the “true power of artistry” she watched Cicely Tyson display on TV, Davis took up acting, and, with the encouragement of an acting coach from a college prep program, won a scholarship to Rhode Island College. “Achieving became my idea of being alive,” Davis writes as she recounts honing her craft at Juilliard, before embarking on a trip to Gambia that transformed her and helped her celebrate her Blackness.” –Publishers Weekly

  • Viola's story will blow you away! This book is also best enjoyed as an audiobook because the sentiment in her words will transform your reading experience.–Lilian Boyd, Youth Services
I enjoyed Still Broke: Walmart's Remarkable Transformation and the Limits of Socially Conscious Capitalism, by Rick Wartzman, which tells the story of Walmart's transformation to socially responsible company. It reveals the efforts of many passionate people both within and without Walmart – Walmart executives, labor unions, activists – who believed that because of Walmart's size, changes could make a huge difference for the industry and U.S. in general. With differing motives, these unlikely allies worked separately, against each other, and even together. This dynamic conflict reads like an adventure story and because we already know the ending – Walmart becomes a socially conscious retailer – it explains the happy outcome. But in the last chapter, Wartzman turns the focus to the reader by asking unsettling questions about just how much social inequality we as Americans are willing to accept. Highly recommend.–Susan Hoover, Adult Services
Niksen: Embracing the Dutch Art of Doing Nothing by Olga Mecking
Library Catalog
Feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, or exhausted?
From the back cover “Niksen does not tell you to work harder. Instead, it urges you to take a break from all the busyness while giving you sincere, heartfelt permission to do nothing” Just in time for summer.–Sharon Rothman, Adult Services
Boards & Spreads: Shareable, Simple Arrangements for Every Meal by Yasmin Fahr
Library Catalog
Too hot to cook? This book intends to make cooking (and serving) easy. There are recipes for snacking meals all day long.–Sharon Rothman, Adult Services

YA Fiction

Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson
Library Catalog
This YA novel is suspenseful and incredibly interesting. Trigger warning though…there is a lot of content that is difficult to handle, but oh so important. It also takes place locally with mentions of the Galleria, so that's pretty cool too.–Lauren Lichtenthal, Collection Management

When the Angels Left the Old Country by Sacha Lamb
Library Catalog
A minor demon and a lesser angel, who have stayed in their tiny European Jewish town for decades, head to America to check on a former resident of the town whose family lost contact with her. It's a story about identity and not fitting in, immigration, worker's rights, and religion (Judaism, in this case) – a thoughtful story that will linger in your mind long after you turn the last page.–Erica Roberts, Youth Services

Children's Books

Sari-Sari Summers by Lynnor Bontiago
(Kindergarten – 2nd Grade)
Library Catalog

Nora loves spending summers with Lola (her grandma) at her sari-sari store. Her grandma’s local grocery store has a wealth of Filipino items –  from hair accessories to toys, to sour tamarind candy. This year, Nora is big enough to help her grandmother at the shop. When a heat wave strikes and no one comes to the store, Nora gets a yummy idea to make frozen mango ice candy from the ripened mangoes right outside the shop. Nora and her Lola joyously work together measuring, mixing, and tasting their refreshing treats before selling them to their neighbors. Grandmother and grandchild bring the people of their community together–and to the sari-sari store with their much appreciated cool, tasty treats. The story and soft, loving illustrations make this a sweet title to share on a Summer day!–Raquel Cavalcanti, Youth Services

Pool Party by Amy Duchêne, Elisa Parhad and Anne Bentley
(Preschool – 1st Grade)
Library Catalog

Pool Party is a cheerful rhyming picture book celebrating Summertime. A diverse cast of children enjoy an outing at a public pool full of goggles, inflatables and brilliant blue water. The text is full of action—belly-flopping, gliding underwater, diving, cannonballing and more. The colorful illustrations are eye-pleasing and fun. This is a great read to share with even the littlest of readers!–Raquel Cavalcanti, Youth Services

Epic Ellisons: Cosmo Camp by Lamar Giles
(Grades 4-6)
Library Catalog

Twins Wiki and Leen Ellison are expecting to spend their first summer apart. Genius inventor Leen has been accepted to Petey Thunkle's world-famous summer training program for STEM prodigies. Wiki is looking forward to her first summer on her own, running the family corn stand. But the night before Leen's departure, the twins find out that Wiki has also been accepted into the same camp (even though she didn't apply). And the two are not happy about it! The Ellisons haven't been invited just to participate in the STEM program, they must join forces to solve a mystery and save the world! This chapter book is a fun blend of action and science!–Raquel Cavalcanti, Youth Services

Categories: Authors & Books and Library News.

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