In December, the popular upcoming fiction book was a thriller, and the non-fiction book was a celebrity memoir. And in January… it looks like people are hankering for more of the same! Get on those waitlists now, and check out our readalikes in the meantime!
Maya was a high school senior when her best friend, Aubrey, mysteriously dropped dead in front of the enigmatic man named Frank whom they’d been spending time with all summer.
Seven years later, Maya lives in Boston with a loving boyfriend and is kicking the secret addiction that has allowed her to cope with what happened years ago, the gaps in her memories, and the lost time that she can’t account for. But her past comes rushing back when she comes across a recent YouTube video in which a young woman suddenly keels over and dies in a diner while sitting across from none other than Frank. Plunged into the trauma that has defined her life, Maya heads to her Berkshires hometown to relive that fateful summer—the influence Frank once had on her and the obsessive jealousy that nearly destroyed her friendship with Aubrey.
At her mother’s house, she excavates fragments of her past and notices hidden messages in her deceased Guatemalan father’s book that didn’t stand out to her earlier. To save herself, she must understand a story written before she was born, but time keeps running out, and soon, all roads are leading back to Frank’s cabin. . . .
Every December, hundreds of librarians from across the country vote for their favorite books of the year. This year’s picks include a romance in which the heroine’s fiercely career-driven outlook doesn’t get sacrificed for her love interest, a genetic scifi thriller, and a locked-room mystery set in an upscale hotel.
Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.
Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small-town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city.
The books that everyone in Sheboygan is waiting for in December are a new thriller (always a popular genre to curl up with in winter) and, perhaps unsurprisingly, another celebrity memoir – this time from Prince Harry, coinciding with the new Netflix documentary. Both of these books have long waitlists, so get on them now – and, while you wait, check out some of our suggested read-alikes!
What could be more restful than a weekend getaway with family and friends? An isolated luxury cabin in the woods, spectacular views, a hot tub and a personal chef. Hannah’s generous brother found the listing online. The reviews are stellar. It’ll be three couples on this trip with good food, good company and lots of R & R.
But the dreamy weekend is about to turn into a nightmare.
A deadly storm is brewing. The rental host seems just a little too present. The personal chef reveals that their beautiful house has a spine-tingling history. And the friends have their own complicated past, with secrets that run blood deep.
How well does Hannah know her brother, her own husband? Can she trust her best friend? Meanwhile, someone is determined to ruin the weekend, looking to exact a payback for deeds long buried. Who is the stranger among them?
We’re back to the regular format of one fiction book and one non-fiction book this month! This time, we have a new entry in a popular series: Colleen Hoover’s new book is due to come out next month. The non-fiction book is another memoir – it seems like people can’t get enough of reading about people overcoming their past difficulties, especially if it comes with some Hollywood/celebrity drama!
Olivia McAfee knows what it feels like to start over. Her picture-perfect life—living in Boston, married to a brilliant cardiothoracic surgeon, raising a beautiful son, Asher—was upended when her husband revealed a darker side. She never imagined she would end up back in her sleepy New Hampshire hometown, living in the house she grew up in, and taking over her father’s beekeeping business.
Lily Campanello is familiar with do-overs, too. When she and her mom relocate to Adams, New Hampshire, for her final year of high school, they both hope it will be a fresh start.
And for just a short while, these new beginnings are exactly what Olivia and Lily need. Their paths cross when Asher falls for the new girl in school, and Lily can’t help but fall for him, too. With Ash, she feels happy for the first time. Yet at times, she wonders if she can trust him completely…
Then one day, Olivia receives a phone call: Lily is dead, and Asher is being questioned by the police. Olivia is adamant that her son is innocent. But she would be lying if she didn’t acknowledge the flashes of his father’s temper in him, and as the case against him unfolds, she realizes he’s hidden more than he’s shared with her.
Let’s get one thing straight up front: These are not BAD books. They’re actually wildly popular for the most part, and objectively well-executed, I just happened to hate them. Personal taste does not have to be rooted in reality or logic. We like what we like. For instance, I will put most books and movies down that feature a love triangle because they make my skin crawl. Below, I listed several best-selling books I was led to believe I would enjoy, but did not, and what I would recommend reading instead.
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing (2018) by Hank Green Why I hated it: So, so, so many reasons. This is one of the only books I’ve ever rage-quit and had it been a physical and not audio copy I may have hurled the book into a different room so it would no longer offend my eyes. Based on this title alone, Hank Green cannot write female characters. The protagonist is a bisexual 20-something Asian woman. Cool, diversity is cool, but Green used this character’s sexuality like a cheat code for objectifying the other female characters in the story. Also, this book features giant robots mysteriously appearing around the world. How awesome, right? IT IS NOT the robots didn’t do SHIT. And the book ends on a cliffhanger, which I only know about because I looked up the ending online after rage quitting. Finally, the use of modern youth vernacular will NOT age well in this novel. I was wincing when I read it and the ink had hardly dried.
A Master of Djinn (2021) by P. Djeli Clark Why it’s great: Where Green totally biffed writing women characters, Clark excels. Most characters of consequence in this book are women. It blows my mind that in the year of our lord 2022 I am feeling grateful to encounter a whole book full of multidimensional female characters that don’t focus on their looks or a man to make their way in the world. Read this book for access to a mostly female cast of vibrant and memorable characters, gorgeous world building, and incomprehensible eldritch beings trying to cross into nice, semi-horror filled early 20th century Cairo. Did I mention Cairo is a world superpower because someone figured out how to let djinn and other spirits back into the world? And that’s not even a spoiler.
Nobody’s Fool (1993) by Richard Russo Why I hated it: Sully, the titular character, is a perennial loveable loser who squandered his life being moored down by family trauma and a can’t-do attitude. Russo seems to be in love with his own prose as well as protagonist Sully, and I just don’t get it. Indeed, the writing itself cannot be beat, it was the ideas within however, which I took umbrage. For instance, a horrid racial epithet is casually bandied about at one point to describe the nature of work Sully engages in, and the level of male wish fulfillment appearing throughout was kinda gross. Every book its reader, and I am not the one. I made it about half way through the almost 600 page doorstop before I put it down. Save yourself some time and watch the 1994 screen adaptation of Nobody’s Fool starring the ever-wonderful Paul Newman instead of trying to slog through this brick.
Empire Falls (2001) by Richard Russo Why it’s great: This is Russo’s Great American Novel. It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction over a Jonathan Franzen book, thank god, because it deserved the honor. Now, I don’t normally stan boomer-age whiteguy authors, as they tend to write books for other men (see above for criticism of Russo’s earlier work), but this book shines with an undeniable light that we can all bask in. Empire Falls was adapted into a very passable miniseries for HBO starring Ed Harris. Watch the series for sure, but be sure to read the book too, so as not to miss out on an evil cat giving protagonist Miles a run for his money, amongst other things.
The Spellman Files (2007) by Lisa Lutz Why I hated it: Lutz published six Spellman books in the 2010ishes and all I could think about while reading the freshman installation was how badly this was not working for me so how could they possibly be popular enough to demand so many installations. Spellman strives to assemble a quirky and interesting family of private detectives whose dysfunction is more a feature and less a bug, but they come across as a watery Royal Tannenbaum situation with more severe antisocial disorders. And not in a fun way! While the protagonist was meant to be a daring and independent young woman, all I could see was somebody who would benefit from therapy, a reinforcing of boundaries, and maybe a damn hug.
Read Instead: Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead (2011) by Sara Gran Why it’s great: I love a hot mess protagonist and where The Spellman Files falls short, Clare DeWitt succeeds in spades. DeWitt is the self-described world’s best PI who is obsessed with the work of obscure French detective Jacques Silette. In the City of the Dead, she has found herself in a recently post-Katrina New Orleans which DeWitt fled years earlier when her mentor was unceremoniously murdered. She is back to track down a missing DA as well as try to untangle her violent past. While none of that sounds earth-shattering, there is something about DeWitt and her unflinching self-destruction and devotion to Silette’s teachings that I found completely compelling. So far, Gran has graced us with three Claire DeWitt novels, and they get successively better. Read them in order for the best experience. If you’re a Mead card holder, all three are available in ebook and audio format on Hoopla, so no wait time for you.
Lock Every Door (2019) by Riley Sager Why I hated it: Some authors never resonate. This is the case for Sager. He is massively popular and has several titles that on paper seem like they’ll be right up my alley but in execution I can’t get into it. Lock Every Door initially appealed because it takes place in an early 20th century construction of a fabulous spooky Manhattan apartment building. There’s a Rosemary’s Baby vibe happening, but no Satanists, and buddy I got to tell you that was one of the biggest disappointments I’ve ever had in my leisure reading life. The solution to this “mystery” was pretty irritating and I wish I had the time back that I used to read this. I also read Lock Every Door which has a supernatural switcheroo as well, so maybe it’s a theme in Sager’s work. I dunno. It doesn’t do it for me.
There’s Someone Inside Your House (2017) by Stephanie Perkins Why it’s great: First and foremost, before you read any further, take a moment to say the title of this book out loud. No wait, don’t just say it, SCREECH it. Try it, you’ll like it. Besides the very fun-to-yell title, this YA thriller has a brisk pace, interesting character arcs and juicy secret pasts to unfold. The creep-factor is high and the central mystery has a satisfying and hard to predict solution. Most who enjoy thrillers or mysteries would enjoy this highly consumable and appealingly candy-colored book.
Would I say my taste in books is highly individualistic and not based on any objective literary criticism? Yes, yes I would. That’s the beauty of leisure reading. We get to pursue what we like without justifying the reasons. Some people only read Amish romance. Some people only read nonfiction accounts of Arctic expeditions. Some people only read graphic novels and manga. Guess what, they are all valid in their reading pursuits because there’s no wrong way to leisurely read.
If you are casting around for book recommendations consider using our reader’s advisory service, Your Next Five Books, by clicking HERE. If you are in need of ebook or audiobook troubleshooting, or help requesting books, please call us or stop in for help, and happy reading.
Two more popular books with some readalikes! Unsurprisingly, the popular fiction book is a new thriller – it’s one of our most popular genres. The non-fiction book was more of a surprise. It sounds interesting – a woman’s memoir of working as a maid to support her family – but it’s a few years old at this point. I’m not sure why it suddenly has a hold list again, but there you go – perhaps it’s just gotten some very good word-of-mouth!
Casey Fletcher, a recently widowed actress trying to escape a streak of bad press, has retreated to the peace and quiet of her family’s lake house in Vermont. Armed with a pair of binoculars and several bottles of bourbon, she passes the time watching Tom and Katherine Royce, the glamorous couple living in the house across the lake. They make for good viewing—a tech innovator, Tom is powerful; and a former model, Katherine is gorgeous.
One day on the lake, Casey saves Katherine from drowning, and the two strike up a budding friendship. But the more they get to know each other—and the longer Casey watches—it becomes clear that Katherine and Tom’s marriage isn’t as perfect as it appears. When Katherine suddenly vanishes, Casey immediately suspects Tom of foul play. What she doesn’t realize is that there’s more to the story than meets the eye—and that shocking secrets can lurk beneath the most placid of surfaces.
Every month, librarians across the country pick the ten upcoming titles they’re most excited to read. This month’s picks include a deliciously creepy take on Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, the story of an 8 year old girl forced to attend Weight Watchers, and a pair of romance novels that grapple with the intersection of love and mental health.
A retelling of The Fall of the House of Usher, Kingfisher’s latest adds the creepiest of flesh to the bare-bones tale by Poe. Complete with a scary, isolated mansion and eerie behaviors of the residents, this version not only makes perfect sense within the original narrative, but adds a depth of understanding that suddenly makes all the pieces fall into place. For fans of Mexican Gothic, The Haunting of Hill House, and The Night Stranger. —Sheri Stanley, Gulfport Library
It’s the start of a new month, and I’ve got another selection of two popular books (with waitlists, of course!) as well as a few things to tide you over while you wait. It’s not surprising that Ruth Ware has another book that everyone is dying to read; if you like thrilling mysteries and intricate plots, you should definitely check this out. And on the non-fiction side, actress Jennifer Grey has a memoir coming out that will take you from 1970s Malibu through 1980s Hollywood and all the way up to her present hard-won life.
Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the year, April was dead.
Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.
April is finally here, and it even feels a little bit like spring today! And with the new month comes another pair of popular upcoming books. This time, John Sandford has a new book coming out (and it’s the beginning of a new series!). On the non-fiction side, it looks like de-cluttering hasn’t gotten any less popular. And since both of these books have waitlists, I’ve put a few read-alikes together as well!
By age twenty-four, Letty Davenport has seen more action and uncovered more secrets than many law enforcement professionals. Now a recent Stanford grad with a master’s in economics, she’s restless and bored in a desk job for U.S. Senator Colles. Letty’s ready to quit, but her skills have impressed Colles, and he offers her a carrot: feet-on-the-ground investigative work, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security.
Letty is partnered with a DHS investigator, John Kaiser, and they head to Texas. When the case quickly turns deadly, they know they’re on the track of something bigger. Lorelai and her group have set in motion an explosive plan . . . and the clock is ticking down.
What are librarians reading in March? This month’s picks include the story of a delivery boy thrown into an inter-dimensional Jurassic Park, a twisted horror tale set deep in the Mojave Desert, and a thriller about a family forced into Witness Protection.
Meddy Chan is getting married, and the wedding planners are perfect–until Meddy overhears the wedding photographer talking about murdering someone at the reception. Her aunties spring into action, setting into motion a series of madcap misadventures intended to save Meddy’s special day. A charming combo of close-knit family, humor, and light mystery. — LibraryReads review by Nanette Donohue, Champaign Public Library