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Reading recommendations


07/06/17
By Kelly Sennott ksennott@hippopress.com



We asked southern New Hampshire librarians and booksellers to reveal their favorite titles published June 2016 or later, and they came up with a blend of genres, from historical fiction and true crime to poetry and picture books. 
 
Fiction
Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
Published: May 2017
Plot: Fourteen-year-old Ginny Moon, who also has autism, cannot stop thinking about her birth mother and hatches a plan to escape the kind parents who just took her in.
Recommended by: Brian Woodbury of Milford’s Toadstool Bookshop. “A wonderful debut novel!”
 
So Much Blue by Percival Everett
Published: June 2017
Plot: A middle-aged abstract painter with a loving wife and two school-aged children won’t show anyone his latest painting — nor talk of his affair in Paris 10 years prior, or his misbegotten trip to El Salvador in the ’70s to find his friend’s missing brother.
Recommended by: Mark DeCarteret of Water Street Bookstore.

Edgar & Lucy by Victor Lodato
Published: March 2017
Plot: Told through the eyes of an 8-year-old boy who lives in a broken family and is understood only by his grandmother. Her death begins the struggle to create and maintain his relationship with his mother. 
Recommended by: Katharine Nevins of MainStreet BookEnds. “This novel took us by surprise and has become our top recommendation. … Lodato is an amazing writer and … amazingly perceptive about the struggles inherent in childhood and parenthood.”
 
The Nix by Nathan Hill
Published: August 2016
Plot: A college professor and stalled writer sees his mother again after years of absence, only to discover she’s committed an absurd crime that electrifies the nightly news and inflames a politically divided country. She needs her son’s help.
Recommended by: Lynn M. Piotrowicz of the Tucker Free Library. “Genius. … [Hill] spins a yarn complete with a gaggle of great characters reminiscent of the best of Irving, Russo, or Toole. … When you finish this book you will feel that it has changed you in some fundamental way.”
 
The Signal Flame by Andrew Krivak
Published: January 2017
Plot: A family awaits the return of their son from the Vietnam War. 
Recommended by: Holly and Willard Williams of Peterborough’s Toadstool Bookshop. “A follow-up to his book The Sojourn. Both books trace the generations of a Slovakian immigrant family.”

The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova
Published: April 2017
Plot: A young American woman travels to Bulgaria to ease the wounds left by the loss of her brother. Soon after arriving, she helps an elderly couple into a taxi and realizes too late she accidentally kept one of their bags — which contains an urn of human ashes. 
Recommended by: Holly and Willard Williams.
 
The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller
Published: August 2016
Plot: A Boston pastry chef discovers the meaning of home in what she thought was a temporary stop in a Vermont town. 
Recommended by: Robbin Bailey of the Concord Public Library. “The quirky characters and charm of the small town will warm your heart. … Delicious descriptions of pastries are throughout, and you may end up craving homemade apple pie before the end. Recipe included.”
 
Nine Island by Jane Alison
Published: September 2016
Plot: A short, lyrical novel about a Latin scholar named J who is attempting to find love late in her life. 
Recommended by: Juliana Gallo, Concord Public Library technician. “The tropical setting and lush, poetic descriptions make this a perfect summer read.”
 
The Unseen World by Liz Moore
Published: July 2016
Plot: A daughter seeks answers about her father’s mysterious past in this novel set in Boston. 
Recommended by: Mat Bose, assistant director and head of technical services at the Concord Public Library. “Prepare for an emotional seesaw and satisfying ending.” 
 
Fantasy/Science fiction
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Published: November 2016
Plot: Meyer twists another fairy tale — Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland — retelling how a girl named Catherine grew to become the infamous Queen of Hearts.
Recommended by: Tammy McCracken at Milford’s Toadstool Bookshop. “Heartless tells the story of Catherine of Wonderland, a desirable match for the King but [who] just wants to open a bakery.” Also recommended by Steph Canto of Nashua’s The Book Cellar. “A quick, exciting, and captivating read!”
 
We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor
Published: September 2016
Plot: Bob Johansson is killed crossing the street and wakes a century later to find he’s now a property of the state, slated to control an interstellar probe looking for other habitable planets. 
Recommended by: Amy Schleifer of the Concord Public Library. “Blends action, humor, robots, space travel, alien life and dysfunctional politics.” Also recommended by Susan Harmon of the Manchester City Library.
 
American War by Omar El Akkad
Published: April 2017
Plot: During the second American Civil War, when oil is outlawed and Louisiana is half underwater, a plague forces a family into a camp for displaced people. One of those family members, Sarat Chestnut, is befriended by a mysterious functionary who transforms her into a living weapon.
Suggested by: Denise Getts of the Tucker Free Library.
 
Thrillers
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
Published: July 2016
Plot: A couple leaves their six-month-old daughter alone while attending a neighbor’s dinner party with a baby monitor nearby, taking turns to check on her every half hour. Then she goes missing. 
Recommended by: Tammy McCracken. “Baby goes missing. Parents suspected. Everyone has secrets that come out during the investigation.”
 
The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda
Published: April 2017
Plot: Failed journalist Leah Stevens escapes Boston with her friend Emmy Grey and moves to a rural Pennsylvania town with hopes of finding a new start. Emmy goes missing — and has no friends, family or digital footprint. Cops believe Leah’s making it up.
Recommended by: Jan Locke of Milford’s Toadstool Bookshop. “Great multi-faceted mystery with some Boston settings.”

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Published: June 2016
Plot: A journalist on assignment writing about a luxury cruise hears a woman in the cabin next to hers thrown overboard. The problem? None of the passengers are missing.
Recommended by: Emma Hall of Manchester’s The Book Cellar. “Ware’s characters are flawed and also strong, even when they don’t believe they are, which makes them a hoot to root for! … Reads like an Agatha Christie.” Also recommended by Regina Barnes of Milford’s Toadstool Bookshop.
 
Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane
Published: May 2017
Plot: After a very public mental breakdown, journalist Rachel Childs lives as a virtual shut-in — until a chance encounter sucks her into a conspiracy thick with deception, violence and madness.
Recommended by: Regina Barnes of Milford’s Toadstool Bookshop.

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
Published: January 2017
Plot: A single mom and secretary learns her new boss is the same mystery man she met at the bar, and also married to her new friend, Adele. 
Recommended by: Jill Sweeney-Bosa of Water Street Bookstore. “Just as soon as you think you have something figured out, a hint is dropped suggesting things are not as they seem. For fans of The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl.”
 
Mystery
I Found You by Lisa Jewell
Published: June 2016
Plot: The book spans two decades of secrets and includes a missing husband and a man with no memory. 
Recommended by: Jan Locke. “Characters [are] completely down-to-earth. Buried family secrets, heartwarming (but not sappy!) ending!”
 
Come Sundown by Nora Roberts
Published: May 2017
Plot: The idyllic Bodine ranch in western Montana experiences two murders; at the same time, an estranged family member resurfaces.
Recommended by: Carol Bouchard of the Concord Public Library. “The author has perfected the art of crafting a story that has a suspense-filled, very unnerving, creepy backstory running through a seemingly normal romance novel. Don’t read this book right before bed!”
 
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
Published: October 2016
Plot: An editor suspects there’s more to her bestselling author’s newest manuscript than meets the eye.
Recommended by: John LeDonne from Gibson’s Bookstore. “We read along with editor Susan Ryeland as she reads the latest (and last) manuscript from hugely popular author Alan Conway, and she gradually realizes that his book contains clues to his own death. Both mysteries are satisfying, and the affectionate parody of Agatha Christie is spot on.” Also recommended by Holly and Willard Williams of Peterborough’s Toadstool Bookshop.
 
Liar’s Key by Carla Neggers
Published: August 2016
Plot: An FBI legend, a mysterious antiquities specialist and an art thief draw top FBI agents Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan into a complex web of blackmail, greed and murder.
Recommended by: Denise van Zanten of the Manchester City Library. “A great beach read.”
 
Historical fiction
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Published: September 2016
Plot: In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to spend the rest of his life in a luxury hotel — and so he makes the best of it. Meanwhile, some of the country’s most horrific decades unfold outside his doors.
Recommended by: Sue Carita of Milford’s Toadstool Bookshop. “Insightful, witty, bittersweet.” Also recommended by Kathy Growney of the Griffin Free Public Library. “This thoroughly enjoyable novel with its cast of compelling characters is perfect for fans of historical fiction and Russian history.”

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
Published: August 2016
Plot: In the 19th century, a colonel is charged to navigate Alaska’s Wolverine River with a small group of men, to the displeasure of his new wife, Sophie, who is pregnant with their first child.
Recommended by: Sarah St. Martin of the Manchester City Library. “A unique story told through letters and journals. … Sometimes this format doesn’t work, but in this instance the book flowed in a way that made you want to slow down so you wouldn’t miss any of the details.”

Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton
Published: May 2017
Plot: In 1876, a young man goes out west on a fossil-hunting expedition, where there are are Indians, scoundrels, gunfights, fossils and discoveries of historic proportions.
Recommended by: Robbin Bailey. 
 
The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner
Published: July 2016
Plot: A multigenerational saga spanning more than a century looking at one family’s adventures on an isolated Italian outpost.
Recommended by: Juliana Gallo. “An engaging beach read that fans of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende will adore.”
 
Salt Houses by Hala Alyan
Published: May 2017
Plot: A Palestinian family is displaced due to the Six-Day War of 1967, then again years later when Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait in 1990. Members are forced to Beirut, Paris, Boston and beyond.
Recommended by: Stef Schmidt of Water Street Bookstore. “This gorgeous novel tells a story of war, of displacement, and of the homes we make among family and shared experience.”
 
Short fiction and poetry
Adventure: A Collection of Steampunk Short Stories (Volume 1) by The Citizens of Antiford
Published: November 2016
Plot: This crowdfunded and self-published book contains steampunk-themed short stories. 
Recommended by: Amber Sarette of Manchester’s The Book Cellar. “I find this world of gadgets, gizmos and airships to be truly fascinating and look forward to their next publication.”
 
Fen: Stories by Daisy Johnson
Published: June 2016
Plot: A collection of short stories, with characters spanning from a teen starving herself to take the shape of an eel to a house that falls in love with a girl.
Recommended by: Stef Schmidt. “Johnson has a way of manifesting loneliness and loss into physical pain and malady that shocks the senses. Startling, unusual, and sneakily profound.”
 
Trajectory by Richard Russo
Published: May 2017
Plot: Four new stories from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls.
Recommended by: Katharine Nevins of MainStreet BookEnds. “His fiction so completely captures the New England we treasure, and the complicated people we know so well.”
 
A Doubtful House by Alice B. Fogel
Published: April 2017
Plot: The newest collection of poetry from New Hampshire’s poet laureate. 
Recommended by: Katharine Nevins. “Psychological, emotional, and physical histories roll out as the house takes on a life of its own.”
 
Nonfiction
Growing Each Other Up: When Our Children Become Our Teachers by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot
Published: September 2016
Plot: MacArthur Prize-winning sociologist and educator offers a counterpoint to typical parental development literature, looking instead at lessons you can learn from your children via in-depth interviews with parents around the country.
Recommended by: Pru Wells of Milford’s Toadstool Bookshop. 
 
Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist by Kate Raworth
Published: April 2017
Plot: British economist presents her doughnut concept of economics to better understand today’s economic crisis and explain the need to redesign finance and business to meet today’s challenges.
Recommended by: Katharine Nevins. “Thinking outside the box at its best.”
 
The One-Cent Magenta: Inside the Quest to Own the Most Valuable Stamp in the World by James Barron
Published: March 2017
Plot: A look at the obsessive, secretive and often bizarre world of high-profile stamp collecting, told through the journey of the world’s most sought-after stamp. 
Recommended by: Pru Wells. “Not just a fascinating history of the world’s most valuable stamp, but the book examines the desire to own the thing everyone wants.”
 
The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel
Published: March 2017
Plot: The true story of a man who lived in Maine’s woods for 27 years by developing ways to store edibles in water and break into nearby cottages for food, clothing, reading material and other provisions.
Recommended by: Emma Hall. “How does one decide to just walk away from society, and what does society think of that? How do we perceive this desertion? … Deep philosophical questions wrapped into a page-turner!”
 
The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore 
Published: April 2017
Plot: The true story of the young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium, and their struggle for justice after they start to get sick.
Recommended by: Alice Ahn of Water Street Bookstore. “Fascinating read.”
 
Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper
Published: March 2017
Plot: The stories behind the intensive process of writing dictionaries. 
Recommended by: Alice Ahn. “Stamper’s adoration of our language shines through in her expert manipulation of it, and by God, she is so funny while she does it.”
 
Memoir
My Life with Earth, Wind & Fire by Maurice White
Published: September 2016
Plot: Maurice White’s account of how the band came to be, starting with his childhood in Memphis.
Recommended by: Amy Hanmer of the Manchester City Library. 
 
Ruthless River: Love and Survival by Raft on the Amazon’s Relentless Madre de Dios by Holly Conklin Fitzgerald
Published: May 2017
Plot: What was supposed to be a leisurely raft trip down an Amazon tributary turns into a nightmare when floodwaters strand a couple on a side bay.
Recommended by: Holly and Willard Williams.
 
Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
Published: November 2016
Plot: Autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Pitch Perfect. 
Recommended by: Elizabeth Sousa of the Concord Public Library. “Full of laughs and a lot of things you may not have known about Maine native actress Anna Kendrick.”
 
Will’s Red Coat by Tom Ryan
Published: April 2017
Plot: The author of Following Atticus writes about his new dog, Will.
Recommended by: Holly and Willard Williams. “The author of Following Atticus now gives us his account of Will, an older, sick and irritable dog he takes on with the thought of providing a safe environment for a short and quick death. But Tom Ryan would not be the Tom Ryan we came to appreciate in his first book if that were what happened.” Also recommended by Katharine Nevins of MainStreet BookEnds. 
 
The Long Haul: A Trucker’s Tales of Life on the Road by Finn Murphy
Published: June 2017
Plot: A memoir by a long-haul trucker who’s traveled millions of miles hauling people’s belongings all over America in a 53-foot 18-wheeler called Cassidy.
Recommended by: Michael Herrmann of Gibson’s Bookstore. “This first book is an entertaining look at the life of a trucker — specifically, a long-haul mover who preferred life on the road to finishing a liberal arts degree. This is one of those books on a little-known subculture that you had no idea you’d find so interesting.”
 
Politics
Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken 
Published: May 2017
Plot: The Saturday Night Live alum and author (of Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot: And Other Observations) writes about the unlikely campaign that led him to work in the United States Senate, taking readers to some of the most dramatic (or hilarious) moments of his new political career.
Recommended by: Michael Herrmann. “He has (perhaps surprisingly) become a very effective senator, well-liked and respected, and able to get along with all but Ted Cruz.”
 
 
The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For by David McCullough
Published: April 2017
Plot: A collection of speeches by David McCullough.
Recommended by: Ashley Miller of the Concord Public Library. 
 
Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice by Dr. Willie Parker
Published: April 2017
Plot: Christian reproductive justice advocate and abortion provider pulls from personal and professional journeys plus scientific training to reveal how he came to his profession.
Recommended by: Liz Ryan of the Derry Public Library. “Why he chose to be a women’s health provider, and what it’s like to provide … in an environment where he’s at risk for harassment, violence, even assassination.”
 
No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need by Naomi Klein
Published: June 2017
Plot: Klein explains what led to today’s political environment and argues for a resounding “yes” response to working toward a world of caring and healing.
Recommended by: Katharine Nevins. 
 
True crime
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
Published: April 2017
Plot: In 1920s Oklahoma, members of the Osage Indian tribe are some of the wealthiest in the state thanks to money from oil wells on their formerly barren land. Then they’re murdered one by one. The crimes eventually involve the fledgling FBI under J. Edgar Hoover.
Recommended by: Hillary Nelson of Gibson’s Bookstore. “Don’t pick this book up unless you have nothing planned for the rest of the day. New Yorker writer David Grann spent years researching the mostly forgotten and shocking true story of the 1920s conspiracy to murder and steal the wealth of oil-rich Osage Indians. This one is heading for a Pulitzer.” Also recommended by John LeDonne of Gibson’s Bookstore. “A gripping tale of greed, betrayal, corruption and racism that uncovers a forgotten chapter of American history.”
 
The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
Published: May 2017
Plot: A law student faces a murder that causes her to question her stance on the death penalty and brings back her own haunting memories. 
Recommended by: Stef Schmidt. “This is a must-read for anyone who connects with visceral, gritty-truth-filled memoirs, for anyone interested in complex true crime stories, and for justice-seekers on both sides of the death penalty debate.”
 
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple by Jeff Guinn
Published: April 2017
Plot: The tragic story of preacher Jim Jones, who was responsible for the Jonestown Massacre — the largest murder-suicide in American history.
Recommended by: Liz Ryan of the Derry Public Library. “Jeff Guinn’s fascinating look at Jim Jones and not what happened at Jonestown, but how it got to that point.”
 
Young adult/Middle grade
Posted by John David Anderson
Published: May 2017
Plot: Cell phones are banned in school, so kids communicate by leaving sticky notes for each other around the school instead. The trend catches on — but not every note is friendly.
Recommended by: Heather Weirich Roy of Gibson’s Bookstore. “This book deals with a very hot topic in a way that kids can process and gain some positivity from as well.” Also recommended by Sue Carita at Milford’s Toadstool Bookshop.
 
Wishbones by Virginia Macgregor
Published: May 2017
Plot: A young girl fights to get her mother, who is morbidly obese, healthy again so she might see her compete in her championship swim race.
Recommended by: Linda Jones of the Concord Public Library. “A heartwarming story.”
 
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Published: August 2016
Plot: A little girl has to forget everything she knows of magic in a magical world to keep loved ones safe. 
Recommended by: Heather Weirich Roy. 

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Published: November 2016
Plot: Natasha is a girl whose family is close to being deported. Daniel is trying to live up to the high expectations his parents set after moving to the United States for better opportunities. Their paths collide by chance. 
Recommended by: Heather Weirich Roy. “This is great realistic teen fiction touching on hot issues of racism, discrimination, immigration and the validity of love. … Full of the charm of falling in love and great banter between characters that is very compelling and wonderfully romantic. … Good for fans of John Green or anyone looking for feasible teen romance.”
 
Picture books
We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen
Published: October 2016
Plot: Part 3 of the Hat Trilogy. Two turtles have found a hat, and the hat looks good on both — but there are two turtles and only one hat.
Recommended by: Chance Lee Joyner of the Wilton Public & Gregg Free Library.
 
N is for New Hampshire by Rebecca Rule, photos by Scott Snyder
Published: November 2016
Plot: An alphabet book featuring New Hampshire culture, landscapes and history told via stories, anecdotes, verse and fun facts.
Recommended by: Katharine Nevins. “This is simply the best book on New Hampshire, for natives and visitors. Written by our beloved New Hampshire storyteller Rebecca Rule.”

What on Earth? The Shakespeare Timeline Wallbook: Unfold the Complete Plays of Shakespeare — One Theater, Thirty-Eight Dramas! by Christopher Lloyd, Dr. Nick Walton and illustrated by Andy Forshaw
Published: April 2017
Plot: Thirty-eight masterpieces performed in front of your eyes on a six-foot fold-out timeline, alongside Shakespeare’s biography and historical information. 
Recommended by: Katharine Nevins. 





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