by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian
Now that we’re past Memorial Day, it’s summertime – at least by one definition. If your idea of summer fun is reading a good book, you’re in luck: the summer book lists for adults are coming out in one publication after another, and they look intriguing. Let me tell you about some that the Litchfield Library has in the collection or will be getting this summer.
“City of Girls” seems to be on everyone’s list. Author Elizabeth Gilbert made a splash in 2006 with “Eat, Pray, Love” and has had other hits since then, both fiction and nonfiction. This new novel, coming out in June, is told from the perspective of an 89-year-old woman looking back on her time in a New York City theater company in the 1940s when she was young. The theme of the book is that a woman can get tired of carrying shame with her through life, and that you don’t have to be a “good girl” to be a good person.
Pulitzer Prize and National Book award winner Colson Whitehead has a new novel coming out in July, called “The Nickel Boys,” his first since “The Underground Railroad.” Taking on another portion of difficult American history, this novel is based on events in an awful real-life reform school in Florida that operated for over one hundred years. In the novel, an idealistic black boy about to start college makes a mistake and gets sent to Nickel Academy, which claims to train delinquent boys to become honorable men but where the boys are actually abused, starved, and sometimes even murdered. He makes a friend who has a cynical view of the world, and both of their lives are changed by their experiences at the reformatory.
Looking for something lighter? “The Wedding Party” by Jasmine Guillory is a highly-anticipated romance. It’s set within the same set of characters and events as two of Guillory’s other books, “The Wedding Date” and “The Proposal,” but it’s not necessarily a series that needs to be read in order. With a classic romantic comedy set-up, the two main characters hate each other but have a powerful attraction. As they work together on responsibilities for their mutual best friend’s wedding, they keep succumbing to the attraction, which they keep secret from everyone else. “The Wedding Party” comes out in July.
You wouldn’t expect a collection of science fiction short stories to be a bestseller, but it is. “Exhalation” by Ted Chiang was published this month to critical acclaim and strong sales. The movie “Arrival” was based on one of his stories, so he is kind of a big deal. This new collection of nine stories includes tales about time portals, alien scientists, and alternate universes, but he explores deep questions about humanity. His writing has been compared to Philip K. Dick, George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, and Edgar Allan Poe.
It’s got quite the title, but the book “Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered” is on many a list of the anticipated books of this summer. Authors Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstack are known to many from their hugely popular podcast “My Favorite Murder,” which is described as true crime comedy. Kilgariff and Hardstack are both comedians, and on the podcast they cover true stories of murder, which they say is a way for them to deal with their own anxieties about danger. The brand-new book addresses their own life histories, and they advocate for women to put their personal safety above being “nice” or “helpful” at times when that can be dangerous. Author Jenny Lawson describes it as “All the best advice your mother never told you.”
This summer will bring many other interesting new books, including ones from Jennifer Weiner, Ruth Ware, Beatriz Williams, Laura Lippman, and Pierce Brown. Stop in to pick up an issue of BookPage magazine to get more ideas, or take a look at the library’s shelf of new additions. You’ll be ready to relax in a lawn chair with a good book.