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Bookclub Suggestions

A selection of titles you might want to consider for your next book club get-together.


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Some Maintenance Required

- by Marie-renee Lavoie

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Bestselling author of Autopsy of a Boring Wife Marie-Renée Lavoie is a master of making us fall in love with her characters. She does it again with the tender coming-of-age story Some Maintenance Required. It is 1993, the last year of school and Laurie's final spring before adulthood. She works part time at a restaurant and looks after Cindy, her neglected, potty-mouthed little neighbour. Like her mother, Laurie devours books and dreams big. Her father works at a garage, where Laurie constantly struggles to keep her car running. It is here that a budding romance intensifies Laurie's understanding of class differences, and opens her eyes to a more complicated world. With her big heart, she takes Cindy globe-trotting without even leaving town, and learns how to come to terms with circumstances beyond her control. Life teaches Laurie that everyone requires some maintenance sometimes. A story of taking responsibility and coming into adulthood, Some Maintenance Required is as funny and as impressive as its main character.

Build Your House Around My Body

- by Violet Kupersmith

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Part puzzle, part revenge tale, part ghost story, this ingenious novel spins half a century of Vietnamese history and folklore into "a thrilling read, acrobatic and filled with verve" (The New York Times Editors' Choice).
 
FINALIST FOR THE CENTER FOR FICTION'S FIRST NOVEL PRIZE o LONGLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION o ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times Book Review, NPR, Good Housekeeping, Kirkus Reviews

"Fiction as daring and accomplished as Violet Kupersmith's first novel reignites my love of the form and its kaleidoscopic possibilities."--David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas

Two young women go missing decades apart. Both are fearless, both are lost. And both will have their revenge.

1986
: The teenage daughter of a wealthy Vietnamese family loses her way in an abandoned rubber plantation while fleeing her angry father and is forever changed. 

2011
: A young, unhappy Vietnamese American woman disappears from her new home in Saigon without a trace. 

The fates of these two women are inescapably linked, bound together by past generations, by ghosts and ancestors, by the history of possessed bodies and possessed lands. Alongside them, we meet a young boy who is sent to a boarding school for the métis children of French expatriates, just before Vietnam declares its independence from colonial rule; two Frenchmen who are trying to start a business with the Vietnam War on the horizon; and the employees of the Saigon Spirit Eradication Co., who find themselves investigating strange occurrences in a farmhouse on the edge of a forest. Each new character and timeline brings us one step closer to understanding what binds them all. 

Build Your House Around My Body takes us from colonial mansions to ramshackle zoos, from sweaty nightclubs to the jostling seats of motorbikes, from ex-pat flats to sizzling back-alley street carts. Spanning more than fifty years of Vietnamese history and barreling toward an unforgettable conclusion, this is a time-traveling, heart-pounding, border-crossing fever dream of a novel that will haunt you long after the last page.

The Orphan Girl

- by Kurt Palka

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For fans of Kristin Harmel and Martha Hall Kelly's Lilac Girls -- the bestselling author of The Piano Maker returns with a vivid, atmospheric, and deeply moving novel set during the final months of the Second World War.

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

London, 1944/45: Kate Henderson is an energetic and spirited young woman. As a trained paramedic and ambulance driver she does her work courageously and with determination, even though underneath she is still wrestling with grief after witnessing the shooting death of her diplomat father seven years earlier. Her father's murder was never properly investigated and it remains unsolved.

Kate's life is interrupted once more when she wakes up one night to the sound of the air raid alarm and the terror whistles of a bomb's stabilizers screaming toward the roof of her house. Kate survives, but she is injured.

Her house is gone as well, and after her time in the hospital, Claire Giroux, a kind doctor and family friend, invites Kate to live with her as she recuperates. This arrangement works well for them until a few months later when Claire's husband comes home from the war. Within days the lives of both women are drastically altered, and events are set in motion, both in England and in Canada, that challenge Kate and Claire to their limits.

The Orphan Girl is a moving and powerful story about friendship and courage, and about promises made and kept.

The Vixen

- by Francine Prose

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Named one of the best books of 2021 by NPR, The Washington Post, and Financial Times

"No one states problems more correctly, more astutely, more amusingly and more uncomfortably than Francine Prose . . . The gift of her work to a reader is to create for us what she creates for her protagonist: the subtle unfolding, the moment-by-moment process of discovery as we read and change, from not knowing and even not wanting to know or care, to seeing what we had not seen and finding our way to the light of the ending."--Amy Bloom, New York Times Book Review

"Depending on the light, it's either a very funny serious story or a very serious funny story. But no matter how you turn it, The Vixen offers an illuminating reflection on the slippery nature of truth in America, then and now."--Washington Post

Critically acclaimed, bestselling author Francine Prose returns with a dazzling new novel set in the glamorous world of 1950s New York publishing, the story of a young man tasked with editing a steamy bodice-ripper based on the recent trial and execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg--an assignment that will reveal the true cost of entering that seductive, dangerous new world. 

It's 1953, and Simon Putnam, a recent Harvard graduate newly hired by a distinguished New York publishing firm, has entered a glittering world of three-martini lunches, exclusive literary parties, and old-money aristocrats in exquisitely tailored suits, a far cry from his loving, middle-class Jewish family in Coney Island.

But Simon's first assignment--editing The Vixen, the Patriot and the Fanatic, a lurid bodice-ripper improbably based on the recent trial and execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, a potboiler intended to shore up the firm's failing finances--makes him question the cost of admission. Because Simon has a secret that, at the height of the Red Scare and the McCarthy hearings, he cannot reveal: his beloved mother was a childhood friend of Ethel Rosenberg's. His parents mourn Ethel's death.

Simon's dilemma grows thornier when he meets The Vixen's author, the startlingly beautiful, reckless, seductive Anya Partridge, ensconced in her opium-scented boudoir in a luxury Hudson River mental asylum. As mysteries deepen, as the confluence of sex, money, politics and power spirals out of Simon's control, he must face what he's lost by exchanging the loving safety of his middle-class Jewish parents' Coney Island apartment for the witty, whiskey-soaked orbit of his charismatic boss, the legendary Warren Landry. Gradually Simon realizes that the people around him are not what they seem, that everyone is keeping secrets, that ordinary events may conceal a diabolical plot--and that these crises may steer him toward a brighter future. 

At once domestic and political, contemporary and historic, funny and heartbreaking, enlivened by surprising plot turns and passages from Anya's hilariously bad novel, The Vixen illuminates a period of history with eerily striking similarities to the current moment. Meanwhile it asks timeless questions: How do we balance ambition and conscience? What do social mobility and cultural assimilation require us to sacrifice? How do we develop an authentic self, discover a vocation, and learn to live with the mysteries of love, family, art, life and loss?

Hell of a Book

- by Jason Mott

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***2021 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER***

***THE NATIONAL BESTSELLER***

Winner of the 2021 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, Joyce Carol Oates Literary Prize Finalist, 2022 Chautauqua Prize Finalist, Willie Morris Award for Southern Writing Shortlist, and the 2021 Aspen Words Literary Prize shortlist

A Read With Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick!

An Ebony Magazine Publishing Book Club Pick! 

One of Washington Post's 50 Notable Works of Fiction | One of Philadelphia Inquirer's Best Books of 2021 | One of Shelf Awareness's Top Ten Fiction Titles of the Year | One of TIME Magazine's 100 Must-Read Books | One of NPR.org's "Books We Love" | EW's "Guide to the Biggest and Buzziest Books of 2021" | One of the New York Public Library's Best Books for Adults | San Diego Union Tribune--My Favorite Things from 2021 | Writer's Bone's Best Books of 2021 | Atlanta Journal Constitution--Top 10 Southern Books of the Year | One of the Guardian's (UK) Best Ten 21st Century Comic Novels | One of Entertainment Weekly's 15 Books You Need to Read This June | On Entertainment Weekly's "Must List" | One of the New York Post's Best Summer Reading books | One of GMA's 27 Books for June | One of USA Today's 5 Books Not to Miss | One of Fortune's 21 Most Anticipated Books Coming Out in the Second Half of 2021 | One of The Root's PageTurners: It's Getting Hot in Here | One of Real Simple's Best New Books to Read in 2021


An astounding work of fiction from New York Times bestselling author Jason Mott, always deeply honest, at times electrically funny, that goes to the heart of racism, police violence, and the hidden costs exacted upon Black Americans and America as a whole

In Jason Mott's Hell of a Book, a Black author sets out on a cross-country publicity tour to promote his bestselling novel. That storyline drives Hell of a Book and is the scaffolding of something much larger and more urgent: Mott's novel also tells the story of Soot, a young Black boy living in a rural town in the recent past, and The Kid, a possibly imaginary child who appears to the author on his tour.

As these characters' stories build and converge, they astonish. For while this heartbreaking and magical book entertains and is at once about family, love of parents and children, art and money, it's also about the nation's reckoning with a tragic police shooting playing over and over again on the news. And with what it can mean to be Black in America.

Who has been killed? Who is The Kid? Will the author finish his book tour, and what kind of world will he leave behind?  Unforgettably told, with characters who burn into your mind and an electrifying plot ideal for book club discussion, Hell of a Book is the novel Mott has been writing in his head for the last ten years. And in its final twists, it truly becomes its title.

Afterparties

- by Anthony Veasna So

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INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE'S JOHN LEONARD PRIZE FOR BEST FIRST BOOK 

WINNER OF THE FERRO-GRUMLEY AWARD FOR LGBTQ FICTION

Named a Best Book of the Year by: New York Times * NPR * Washington Post * LA Times * Kirkus Reviews * New York Public Library * Chicago Public Library * Harper's Bazaar * TIME * Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air * Boston Globe* The Atlantic

A vibrant story collection about Cambodian-American life--immersive and comic, yet unsparing--that offers profound insight into the intimacy of queer and immigrant communities

Seamlessly transitioning between the absurd and the tenderhearted, balancing acerbic humor with sharp emotional depth, Afterparties offers an expansive portrait of the lives of Cambodian-Americans. As the children of refugees carve out radical new paths for themselves in California, they shoulder the inherited weight of the Khmer Rouge genocide and grapple with the complexities of race, sexuality, friendship, and family.

A high school badminton coach and failing grocery store owner tries to relive his glory days by beating a rising star teenage player. Two drunken brothers attend a wedding afterparty and hatch a plan to expose their shady uncle's snubbing of the bride and groom. A queer love affair sparks between an older tech entrepreneur trying to launch a "safe space" app and a disillusioned young teacher obsessed with Moby-Dick. And in the sweeping final story, a nine-year-old child learns that his mother survived a racist school shooter.

The stories in Afterparties, "powered by So's skill with the telling detail, are like beams of wry, affectionate light, falling from different directions on a complicated, struggling, beloved American community" (George Saunders).

The Full Catastrophe

- by Meira Cook

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A compassionate and funny novel about defining yourself, the communities that support us, and the journeys that secrets propel.
Charlie Minkoff, a thirteen-year-old boy born with intersex traits, would be happy to be left alone. Living with his artist mother in a derelict loft in downtown Winnipeg, perpetually wondering about the father who abandoned him, and tormented in school because of his differences, Charlie navigates the assorted catastrophes of his life. He's helped along by the love of his beloved grandfather, Oscar, and the makeshift family who surround him: his mother's best friend; a couple of elderly shut-in neighbours; a mysterious girl in his class who has secrets of her own; and his desperately needy and perpetually hungry dog, Gellman.
When a school project leads him to discover that Oscar never had a bar mitzvah, Charlie decides to right the historical wrong and arrange a belated ceremony. But this quest will be more than he bargained for, and meanwhile everyone from his doctor to his Ancestry Studies teacher keeps insisting that Charlie needs to learn to tell his own story.
Margaret Laurence Award winner Méira Cook's The Full Catastrophe is a story of psychological complexity, tenderness, and humour.

Horse

- by Geraldine Brooks

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"Brooks' chronological and cross-disciplinary leaps are thrilling." --The New York Times Book Review

"Horse isn't just an animal story--it's a moving narrative about race and art." --TIME

A discarded painting in a junk pile, a skeleton in an attic, and the greatest racehorse in American history: from these strands, a Pulitzer Prize winner braids a sweeping story of spirit, obsession, and injustice across American history


Kentucky, 1850. An enslaved groom named Jarret and a bay foal forge a bond of understanding that will carry the horse to record-setting victories across the South. When the nation erupts in civil war, an itinerant young artist who has made his name on paintings of the racehorse takes up arms for the Union. On a perilous night, he reunites with the stallion and his groom, very far from the glamor of any racetrack. 
 
New York City, 1954. Martha Jackson, a gallery owner celebrated for taking risks on edgy contemporary painters, becomes obsessed with a nineteenth-century equestrian oil painting of mysterious provenance.
 
Washington, DC, 2019. Jess, a Smithsonian scientist from Australia, and Theo, a Nigerian-American art historian, find themselves unexpectedly connected through their shared interest in the horse--one studying the stallion's bones for clues to his power and endurance, the other uncovering the lost history of the unsung Black horsemen who were critical to his racing success.
 
Based on the remarkable true story of the record-breaking thoroughbred Lexington, Horse is a novel of art and science, love and obsession, and our unfinished reckoning with racism.

Three

- by Valerie Perrin

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A June 2022 Indie Next List Pick From the international bestselling author of Fresh Water for Flowers, a beautifully told and suspenseful story about the ties that bind us and the choices that make us who we are. 1986: Adrien, Etienne and Nina are 10 years old when they meet at school and quickly become inseparable. They promise each other they will one day leave their provincial backwater, move to Paris, and never part. 2017: A car is pulled up from the bottom of the lake, a body inside. Virginie, a local journalist with an enigmatic past reports on the case while also reflecting on the relationship between the three friends, who were unusually close when younger but now no longer speak. . As Virginie moves closer to the surprising truth, relationships fray and others are formed.  Valérie Perrin has an unerring gift for delving into life. In Three, she brings readers along with her through a sequence of heart-wrenching events and revelations that span three decades. Three tells a moving story of love and loss, hope and grief, friendship and adversity, and of time as an ineluctable agent of change.

The Sweetness of Water (Oprah's Book Club)

- by Nathan Harris

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An Instant New York Times bestseller / An Oprah's Book Club Pick
 
In the spirit of The Known World and The Underground Railroad, an award-winning "miraculous debut" (Washington Post) about the unlikely bond between two freedmen who are brothers and the Georgia farmer whose alliance will alter their lives, and his, forever

In the waning days of the Civil War, brothers Prentiss and Landry--freed by the Emancipation Proclamation--seek refuge on the homestead of George Walker and his wife, Isabelle. The Walkers, wracked by the loss of their only son to the war, hire the brothers to work their farm, hoping through an unexpected friendship to stanch their grief. Prentiss and Landry, meanwhile, plan to save money for the journey north and a chance to reunite with their mother, who was sold away when they were boys.

Parallel to their story runs a forbidden romance between two Confederate soldiers. The young men, recently returned from the war to the town of Old Ox, hold their trysts in the woods. But when their secret is discovered, the resulting chaos, including a murder, unleashes convulsive repercussions on the entire community. In the aftermath of so much turmoil, it is Isabelle who emerges as an unlikely leader, proffering a healing vision for the land and for the newly free citizens of Old Ox.

With candor and sympathy, debut novelist Nathan Harris creates an unforgettable cast of characters, depicting Georgia in the violent crucible of Reconstruction. Equal parts beauty and terror, as gripping as it is moving, The Sweetness of Water is an epic whose grandeur locates humanity and love amid the most harrowing circumstances.

One of President Obama's Favorite Books of 2021

Winner of the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize

Longlisted for the 2022 Carnegie Medal for Excellence

Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

A Best Book of the Year: Oprah Daily, NPR, Washington Post, Time, Boston Globe, Smithsonian, Chicago Public Library, BookBrowse, and the Oregonian

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

A July Indie Next Pick

Mayflies

- by Andrew O'hagan

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An unforgettable coming-of-age novel that becomes a profound mediation on life, death, and lifelong friendship.

Everyone has a Tully Dawson: the friend who defines your life.

In the summer of 1986, in a small Scottish town, James and Tully ignite a brilliant friendship based on music, films and the rebel spirit. With school over and the locked world of their fathers before them, they rush towards the climax of their youth: a magical weekend in Manchester, the epicentre of everything that inspires them in working-class Britain. There, against the greatest soundtrack ever recorded, a vow is made: to go at life differently.

Thirty years on, half a life away, the phone rings. Tully has news--news that forces the life-long friends to confront their own mortality head-on. What follows is an incredibly moving examination of the responsibilities and obligations we have to those we love. Mayflies is at once a finely-tuned drama about the delicacy and impermanence of human connection and an urgent inquiry into some of the most important questions of all: Who are we? What do we owe to our friends? And what does it mean to love another person amidst tragedy?

This Time Tomorrow

- by Emma Straub

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#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER

"The pages brim with tenderness and an appreciation for what we had and who we were. I could not have loved it more."--Ann Patchett

"The kind of book that will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you call the people you love. Exceptional."--Emily Henry

"Delightful"--Boston Globe

"Poignant"--New York Times

What if you could take a vacation to your past?


With her celebrated humor, insight, and heart, beloved New York Times bestseller Emma Straub offers her own twist on traditional time travel tropes, and a different kind of love story.

            On the eve of her 40th birthday, Alice's life isn't terrible. She likes her job, even if it isn't exactly the one she expected. She's happy with her apartment, her romantic status, her independence, and she adores her lifelong best friend. But her father is ailing, and it feels to her as if something is missing. When she wakes up the next morning she finds herself back in 1996, reliving her 16th birthday. But it isn't just her adolescent body that shocks her, or seeing her high school crush, it's her dad:  the vital, charming, 40-something version of her father with whom she is reunited. Now armed with a new perspective on her own life and his, some past events take on new meaning. Is there anything that she would change if she could?

Sweet Sweet Revenge LTD

- by Jonas Jonasson

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The beloved author of The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared returns with an enchanting adventure that skewers the greed and hypocrisy that dominate our time and holds lessons about what is truly important in life

Meet Ole Mbatian Jr., a Maasai warrior; Kevin, his sort-of-son; Agneta, a wronged and penniless ex-wife; and Johan, an unscrupulous Stockholm ad-man whose company specializes in revenge services.

As Agneta and Kevin seek revenge against a gallery owner who has wronged them, this funny and philosophical novel takes off on a madcap journey that spans five continents and whirls around a colourful cast of characters, including a goat called Molly and the Pope.

As he's done in his previous novels, Jonas Jonasson acts as a travel guide through time, drops in a few lessons on colonialism and art history, and pokes fun at capitalism and the art world, supplying plenty of laughs along the way.

Translated from the Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles.

The Book Woman's Daughter

- by K Michele Richardson

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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek 

Bestselling historical fiction author Kim Michele Richardson is back with the perfect book-club read, following Honey Lovett, the daughter of the beloved Troublesome book woman, who must fight for her own independence with the help of the women who guide her and the books that set her free.

In the ruggedness of the beautiful Kentucky mountains, Honey Lovett has always known that the old ways can make a hard life harder. As the daughter of the famed, blue-skinned Troublesome Creek packhorse librarian, Honey, along with her family, has been hiding from the law all her life. But when her mother and father are imprisoned, Honey realizes she must fight to stay free, or risk being sent away for good.

Picking up her mother's old packhorse library route, Honey begins to deliver books to the remote hollers of Appalachia. Honey is looking to prove that she doesn't need anyone telling her how to survive. But the route can be treacherous, and some folks aren't keen to let a woman pave her own way.

If Honey wants to bring the freedom books provide to the families who need it most, she's going to have to fight for her place, and along the way, learn that the extraordinary women who run the hills and hollers can make all the difference in the world.

Remarkably Bright Creatures

- by Shelby Van Pelt

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A New York Times Bestseller!

A Read With Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick!

"Remarkably Bright Creatures is a beautiful examination of how loneliness can be transformed, cracked open, with the slightest touch from another living thing." -- Kevin Wilson, author of Nothing to See Here

For fans of A Man Called Ove, a charming, witty and compulsively readable exploration of friendship, reckoning, and hope that traces a widow's unlikely connection with a giant Pacific octopus

After Tova Sullivan's husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she's been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago.

Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn't dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors--until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova.

Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova's son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it's too late. 

Shelby Van Pelt's debut novel is a gentle reminder that sometimes taking a hard look at the past can help uncover a future that once felt impossible.

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