“Oh yeah, I heard about that book!”
NMC Library has many “Top 10” books and other award-winning titles to kick off your summer reading. C’mon up to the 2nd Floor of the Innovation Center Monday through Thursday and see what all the fuss is about.
To find these selections and many other new titles, see the NMC library catalog.
The New York Times Book Review ‘Best Books’
How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue
Mbue’s sweeping and quietly devastating second novel begins in 1980 in the fictional African village of Kosawa, where representatives from an American oil company have come to meet with the locals, whose children are dying because of the environmental havoc (fallow fields, poisoned water) wreaked by its drilling and pipelines.Through the eyes of Kosawa’s citizens young and old, Mbue constructs a nuanced exploration of self-interest, of what it means to want in the age of capitalism and colonialism.
Intimacies by Katie Kitamura
In Kitamura’s fourth novel, an unnamed court translator in The Hague is tasked with intimately vanishing into the voices and stories of war criminals whom she alone can communicate with; falling meanwhile into a tumultuous entanglement with a man whose marriage may or may not be over for good. “Intimacies” scrutinizes the knowability of those around us, not as an end in itself but as a lens on grand social issues from gentrification to colonialism to feminism.
The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
The first novel by Jeffers, a celebrated poet, is a moving coming-of-age saga, an examination of race and an excavation of American history. It cuts back and forth between the tale of Ailey Pearl Garfield, a Black girl growing up at the end of the 20th century, and the “songs” of her ancestors who lived through the formation of the United States. As their stories converge, “Love Songs” creates an unforgettable portrait of Black life that reveals how the past still reverberates today.
No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood
Lockwood first found acclaim as a poet on the internet, with gloriously inventive and ribald verse. In her first novel, she distills the pleasures and deprivations of life split between online and flesh-and-blood interactions, transfiguring the dissonance into art. The result is a book that reads like a prose poem, at once sublime, profane, intimate, philosophical, hilarious and, eventually, deeply moving.
How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith
For this timely and thought-provoking book, Smith, a poet and journalist, toured sites key to the history of slavery and its present-day legacy, including Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello; Angola, the Louisiana State Penitentiary; and a Confederate cemetery. Interspersing interviews with the tourists, guides, activists and local historians he meets along the way, Smith holds up a mirror to America’s fraught relationship with its past, capturing a potent mixture of good intentions, earnest corrective, willful ignorance and blatant distortion.
Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival and Hope in an American City by Andrea Elliott
Dasani Coates, a homeless New York schoolgirl, and her family, Elliott spent years following her subjects in their daily lives, through shelters, schools, courtrooms and welfare offices. The book she has produced is a searing account of one family’s struggle with poverty, homelessness and addiction in a city and country that have failed to address these issues with efficacy or compassion.
On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed
Exploring the racial and social complexities of Texas, her home state, Gordon-Reed asks readers to step back from the current heated debates and take a more nuanced look at history and the surprises it can offer. Such a perspective comes easy to her because she was a part of history — the first Black child to integrate her East Texas school. On several occasions, she found herself shunned by whites and Blacks alike, learning at an early age that breaking the color line can be threatening to both races.
Washington Post’s ‘Best Books’
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
From her place in the store that sells artificial friends, Klara–an artificial friend with outstanding observational qualities–watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change forever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans.
Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen
Russ Hildebrandt, the associate pastor of a liberal suburban church, is on the brink of breaking free of a marriage he finds joyless—unless his wife beats him to it. Their eldest child, Clem, is coming home from college on fire with moral absolutism. Clem’s sister, Becky, long the social queen of her high-school class, has sharply veered into the counterculture, while their brilliant younger brother Perry, who’s been selling drugs to seventh graders, has resolved to be a better person. Each of the Hildebrandts seeks a freedom that each of the others threatens to complicate.
Matrix by Lauren Groff
Cast out of the royal court, deemed too coarse and rough-hewn for marriage or courtly life, seventeen-year-old Marie de France is sent to England to be the new prioress of an impoverished abbey, its nuns on the brink of starvation and beset by disease. At first taken aback by the severity of her new life, Marie finds focus and love in collective life with her singular and mercurial sisters. In this crucible, Marie steadily supplants her desire for family, for her homeland, for the passions of her youth with something new to her: devotion to her sisters, and a conviction in her own divine visions.
Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future by Elizabeth Kolbert
Taking a hard look at the new world we are creating. She meets biologists who are trying to preserve the world’s rarest fish; engineers who are turning carbon emissions to stone in Iceland; Australian researchers who are trying to develop a “super coral” that can survive on a hotter globe; and physicists who are contemplating shooting tiny diamonds into the stratosphere to cool the earth. In Under A White Sky she examines how interventions that have imperiled our planet are increasingly seen as the only hope for its salvation.
Gold Diggers: A Novel by Sanjena Sathian
A floundering second-generation teenager growing up in the Bush-era Atlanta suburbs, Neil Narayan is funny and smart but struggles to bear the weight of expectations of his Asian American enclave. He tries to want their version of success, but mostly, Neil just wants his neighbor, Anita Dayal. When he discovers that Anita is the beneficiary of an ancient, alchemical potion made from stolen gold—a “lemonade” that harnesses the ambition of the gold’s original owner—Neil sees his chance to get ahead. But events spiral into a tragedy that rips their community apart.
All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake by Tiya Miles
Sitting in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is a rough cotton bag, called “Ashley’s Sack,” embroidered with just a handful of words that evoke a sweeping family story of loss and of love passed down through generations. In 1850s South Carolina, just before nine-year-old Ashley was sold, her mother, Rose, gave her a sack filled with just a few things as a token of her love.
Michigan Notable Books
Standpipe: Delivering Water in Flint by David Hardin
A brief, elegant memoir of the author’s work as a Red Cross volunteer delivering emergency water to residents of Flint, Michigan, Standpipe sets the struggles of a city in crisis against the author’s personal journey as his mother declines into dementia and eventual death. Written with a poet’s eye for detail and quiet metaphor, Standpipe is an intimate look at one man’s engagement with both civic and familial trauma.
Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. She dreams of a fresh start at college, but when family tragedy strikes, Daunis puts her future on hold. The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, yet even as she falls for Jamie, she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into an FBI investigation.
James Beard Book Award
Take One Fish: The New School of Scale-to-Tail Cooking and Eating by Josh Niland
Forget everything you thought you knew about fish cookery with Take One Fish. There are no rules when it comes to cooking fish according to James Beard award winning chef Josh Niland, only an endless world of possibilities. With 60 mind-blowing recipes from just 15 global varieties of fish, this cookbook will take you on a gustatory journey – from elaborate to easy, small to large and – always – scale to tail.
Summaries and images adapted from publishers, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Michigan Notable Books and the James Beard Foundation.