These are the books that caused us to feed our kids a lot of macaroni and cheese. If you need some new reading material you should definitely pick up one of these.
Chosen by: Alexandria Durrell
This book is a double-hit: part memoir, part instructional manual. Whether you aspire to be a writer or not, On Writing will inspire.
From Amazon: Short and snappy as it is, Stephen King's On Writing really contains two books: a fondly sardonic autobiography and a tough-love lesson for aspiring novelists. The memoir is terrific stuff, a vivid description of how a writer grew out of a misbehaving kid. You're right there with the young author as he's tormented by poison ivy, gas-passing babysitters, uptight schoolmarms, and a laundry job nastier than Jack London's. It's a ripping yarn that casts a sharp light on his fiction.
Chosen by: Sharon DeVellis
Summer Sisters follows the lives of two young women over 20 summers from 1977 when they're twelve to 1995. The story captures the essence of friendship and the ups and downs that happen over time - including betrayal. I loved this book and the characters so much I was sad when the story ended.
From Beach Reads: In the summer of 1977, Victoria Leonard’s world changes forever when Caitlin Somers chooses her as a friend. Dazzling, reckless Caitlin welcomes Vix into the heart of her sprawling, eccentric family, opening doors to a world of unimaginable privilege, sweeping her away to vacations on Martha’s Vineyard, an enchanting place where the two friends become “summer sisters.”
Now, years later, Vix is working in New York City. Caitlin is getting married on the Vineyard. And the early magic of their long, complicated friendship has faded. But Caitlin begs Vix to come to her wedding, to be her maid of honor. And Vix knows that she will go—because she wants to understand what happened during that last shattering summer. And, after all these years, she needs to know why her best friend—her summer sister—still has the power to break her heart.
Chosen by: Anne Radcliffe
A witch, a vampire, and a pixie walk into a bar... and no, you don't have the punchline of a joke, you have the opening of Dead Witch Walking. While it sounds WAY out there, this urban fantasy series is actually amazingly entertaining. Kim Harrison's characters are are so honest and three-dimensional in their personalities, and the stories evolve in such a remarkable way that even if this isn't your usual cup of tea, you might find yourself enjoying a wild ride. And the fact that each book of the series is named after a Western just tickles my sense of the ludicrous.
Chosen by: Rubina Ahmed-Haq
You will not put this book down. Its a vampire story for adults. It talks about loyalty, family honour and unearths deep secrets that every family has.
From Amazon: Just about everyone knows a family like the Radleys. Many of us grew up next door to one. They are a modern family, averagely content, averagely dysfunctional, living in a staid and quiet suburban English town. Peter is an overworked doctor whose wife, Helen, has become increasingly remote and uncommunicative. Rowan, their teenage son, is being bullied at school, and their anemic daughter, Clara, has recently become a vegan. They are typical, that is, save for one devastating exception: Peter and Helen are vampires and have—for seventeen years—been abstaining by choice from a life of chasing blood in the hope that their children could live normal lives.
Chosen by: Jennifer Hicks
I think any of Liane Moriarty's books make for the perfect beach read; they're engrossing enough to suck you in, light enough that you can pick them up and put them down quite easily, and not so emotionally investing that you find yourself thinking about them well after you've turned the final page.
From Kirkus Reviews: Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.
So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! She HATES the gym) and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids, and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over…
Chosen by: Andrea Mulder-Slater
Yes Please is a humourous collection of stories, thoughts, "advice" and lists that when combined, make for a fun poolside read.
From Amazon: We’d get to hang out with Amy Poehler, watching dumb movies, listening to music, and swapping tales about our coworkers and difficult childhoods. Because in a perfect world, we’d all be friends with Amy ― someone who seems so fun, is full of interesting stories, tells great jokes, and offers plenty of advice and wisdom (the useful kind, not the annoying kind you didn’t ask for, anyway). Unfortunately, between her Golden Globe-winning role on Parks and Recreation, work as a producer and director, place as one of the most beloved SNL alumni and cofounder of the Upright Citizens Brigade, involvement with the website Smart Girls at the Party, frequent turns as acting double for Meryl Streep, and her other gig as the mom of two young sons, she’s not available for movie night.
Luckily, we have the next best thing: Yes Please, Amy’s hilarious and candid book. A collection of stories, thoughts, ideas, lists, and haiku from the mind of one of our most beloved entertainers, Yes Please offers Amy’s thoughts on everything from her “too safe” childhood outside of Boston to her early days in new York City, her ideas about Hollywood and “the biz,” the demon that looks back at all of us in the mirror, and her joy at being told she has a “face for wigs.” Yes Please is a chock-full of words and wisdom to live by.
Anthology presented by Shannon Day and Tara Wilson
Chosen by: Andrea Mulder-Slater
This book features thirty-seven tales of motherhood written by thirty-seven mothers who will inspire, entertain, and make you pee your pants. Plus martini recipes! Full disclosure: I'm a contributor ;)
From Amazon: Stories that inspire, entertain, and make you laugh 'til you pee. Plus martinis! And not just any-old-martinis-these ones were designed just for moms!
These tales of Wonder, Woe and WTF?! share a little glimpse into the lives of other moms, who are a lot like you. Through their tales, we're reminded to savour the little things (like capturing extra morning snuggles), to let go of the stresses (they won't be in that unfortunate phase forever), and to be grateful for the laughs that the unexpected brings (because laughing is better than crying and it may be the only workout our abs get!).
So shake up an easy-to-make martini, put your feet up (quickly, before the kids find you) and join us on our journey as we toast to the many clink-worthy moments that motherhood brings.
Chosen by: Paula Roy
I read this before it won the Pulitzer and couldn't stop raving about it to everyone. Gorgeous writing, generous amount of suspense and unforgettable characters. It's one of those "I'll never give away my copy" books that I look forward to reading again and again.
From the L.A. Times: From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
Chosen by: Nicole MacPherson
An absolutely fascinating read about "underdog" stories, with many examples about how beautiful and important things arise from apparent suffering and adversity. The examples include everything from basketball to murder, growing up impoverished to optimal classroom sizes, and each chapter is incredibly interesting. A must-read for anyone interested in societal outcomes, economics, and causation.
From Amazon: In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, or cope with a disability, or lose a parent, or attend a mediocre school, or suffer from any number of other apparent setbacks.
Gladwell begins with the real story of what happened between the giant and the shepherd boy those many years ago. From there, David and Goliath examines Northern Ireland's Troubles, the minds of cancer researchers and civil rights leaders, murder and the high costs of revenge, and the dynamics of successful and unsuccessful classrooms---all to demonstrate how much of what is beautiful and important in the world arises from what looks like suffering and adversity.
Chosen by: Evelyn Hannon
Oldie but goodies. lt's a wonderful romantic, historical, epic series. Compulsively readable. Gorgeous love scenes. Great character development. Read it!
From Amazon: Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another...In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon—when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an "outlander"—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord...1743.
Chosen by: Spencer Callaghan
"A great book written by a self-published author that is soon to become a movie starring Maaaaaatt Daaaamon. The Martian is the story of the struggles of an astronaut stranded on Mars. The book uses some great narrative tools to tell the story and features some crazy ass science that will make you want to break out your old volcano project from grade 6.
From Amazon: Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
Chosen by: Chloe Girvan
This book is about a group of friends who meet at an arts summer camp in their teens. The story continues to unfold as they grow into adults but remain connected. It has a Big Chill vibe. I loved it because it was an easy read but full of complex relationships and twists. I would highly recommend!
From Amazon: The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge.
The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. Her friend Jonah, a gifted musician, stops playing the guitar and becomes an engineer. But Ethan and Ash, Jules’s now-married best friends, become shockingly successful—true to their initial artistic dreams, with the wealth and access that allow those dreams to keep expanding. The friendships endure and even prosper, but also underscore the differences in their fates, in what their talents have become and the shapes their lives have taken.
Wide in scope, ambitious, and populated by complex characters who come together and apart in a changing New York City, The Interestings explores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life.
Chosen by: Cass Sadek
Four hikers are lost on a mountain for days. Only three of them will survive. This book is a fantastic quick read for any Lori Lansens fan, and for anyone who loved Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
The main character, Wolf Truly, has had a tragic childhood, and he hikes up the mountain on his 18th birthday intending to end his life. Throughout the novel you learn more and more about Wolf that makes you want to reach out and tell him to just hold on.
The story opens with a letter that Wolf writes to his only son Daniel. So you know he’s not going to die on the mountain. But you know that someone is going to die on the mountain. This is a brilliant incentive to keep the reader turning those pages because we just have to know who it will be!
From Amazon: On his 18th birthday, Wolf Truly takes the tramway to the top of the mountain that looms over Palm Springs, intending to jump to his death. Instead he encounters strangers wandering in the mountain wilderness, three women who will change the course of his life. Through a series of missteps he and the women wind up stranded, in view of the city below, but without a way down. They endure five days in freezing temperatures without food or water or shelter, and somehow find the courage to carry on.
Wolf, now a grown man, has never told his son, or anyone, what happened on the mountain during those five days, but he can't put it off any longer. And in telling the story to his only child, Daniel, he at last explores the nature of the ties that bind and the sacrifices people will make for love. The mountain still has a hold on Wolf, composed of equal parts beauty and terror.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chosen by: Erin Chawla
On the surface, this is a love story between two likeable characters - but spanning several years and a few countries, this story is much more. Themes include race relations, immigration, returning home after an ex-pat life, self-awareness and chasing one's dreams. The story is richly written, approachable and I found myself missing the main characters once I finished it.
From Amazon: Ifemelu--beautiful, self-assured--left Nigeria 15 years ago, and now studies in Princeton as a Graduate Fellow. Obinze--handsome and kind-hearted--was Ifemelu's teenage love; he'd hoped to join her in America, but post 9/11 America wouldn't let him in.
Years later, when they reunite in Nigeria, neither is the same person who left home. Obinze is the kind of successful "Big Man" he'd scorned in his youth, and Ifemelu has become an "Americanah"--a different version of her former self, one with a new accent and attitude. As they revisit their shared passion--for their homeland and for each other--they must face the largest challenges of their lives.
Chosen by: Natalie Romero
If you liked Gone GIrl you'll love The Girl on the Train. It's a page turning who done it that will leave you guessing what exactly is going on in the best possible way! I couldn't put it down and didn't see the ending coming at all.
From Goodreads: Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?