QABC Summer 2021 Recommendations

It's Summer! Here are our staff recommendations for you and your family members and friends to enjoy, at home on the porch or in the backyard, on the beach or in the park.

While Justice Sleeps Cover ImageWhile Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams. Within this taut, complex legal thriller Abrams tackles the Supreme Court, biotech and the dark art of blackmail. Her protagonist is a young law clerk who follows a set of clues left by her Supreme Court justice boss who has mysteriously fallen into a coma. This is a thoroughly plot-driven, fast-paced read, perfect for your summer reading. —Wendee 

How to Kidnap the Rich: A Novel Cover ImageHow to Kidnap the Rich by Rahul Raina. A rollicking urban caper in which poor Ramesh Kumar takes and aces a test for a son of rich parents, catapulting the latter to stardom. They both make a lot of money, get kidnapped, and kidnap others when turning the tables. It provides a satirical view on the inequalities in contemporary Indian society. Very entertaining. You'll enjoy this. —Krijn 

The Guncle Cover ImageThe Guncle by Steven Rowley. This is the perfect summer read: sunny and gay (in both senses of that word)—just like the Palm Springs vacation we all need. Through sad circumstances, Patrick O’Hara (as the gay uncle or “guncle”) has charge of his young niece and nephew for the summer. But this is a comedy. It is, in fact, a Valentine to Auntie Mame—replete with all of the glitz and glamour, the heart and humor that you would expect. The Guncle is a delight! —James 

Trio: A novel Cover ImageTrio by William Boyd. William Boyd is one of my favorite authors! This page turner is about three characters involved in making a movie in England in the 1960s. Such a fun read!—Judy 

 

The Other Black Girl: A Novel Cover ImageThe Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris. Nella is an underpaid, overworked editorial assistant at a prominent publishing house. She’s also the only Black person in her office—until Hazel arrives. This funny, sly novel offers a lot of social commentary to think about— book groups will love it. Part mystery and part science fiction, the story surprised and entertained me at every turn. —Erin 

The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu Cover ImageThe Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu by Tom Lin. Ming Tsu is a ruthless Chinese American outlaw seeking revenge after enduring mistreatment, exploitation, and racism. He travels with a prophet on his journey to kill the men who destroyed him and to find the wife he was taken away from. They join with a group of magic show characters on the way. There are grisly scenes, but also great descriptions of the desolate landscapes they're passing through. This is a well-written, captivating and thrilling western. —Krijn 

Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest Cover ImageFinding The Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard. Noted forest ecologist Suzanne Simard has written an illuminating and compelling book weaving the insights of her years of research with her own personal story. She writes with the authority and clarity of a scientist, and with the soul of a poet. More than a book, this is a richly rewarding journey of discovery. And the best non-fiction book I’ve read in years! —James 

Summer Brother Cover ImageSummer Brother by Jaap Robben. Brian (13) and his father Maurice, a swindler, go to visit Lucien, Brian’s older brother, who is mentally and physically disabled. When Maurice learns that he can make some money by bringing Lucien home for the summer, he jumps on it. Brian becomes the caregiver, and the two brothers bond over the long hot summer. Translated from Dutch. Longlisted for the International Booker Prize 2021. —Judy 

Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey Cover ImageMaybe Maybe Marisol Rainey by Erin Entrada Kelly. Absolutely darling! Marisol is a kid with a great imagination. While this is fun when she’s playing with her best friend, Jada, or naming the various inanimate objects in her life (e.g., the fridge, Buster Keaton), it’s NOT so fun when thinking of just how tall Peppina is, and the many ways Marisol could tumble from her branches. Peppina, of course, is the tree in Marisol’s backyard. But maybe, maybe, Marisol will be brave and try to climb her. Maybe. (Illustrated chapter book great for ages 6-10) —Ellen 

Time Villains Cover ImageTime Villains by Victor Pineiro. A school with secrets, an antique table that is actually a time travel portal, pirates, sandwiches, best friends, and a little sister bold enough that Blackbeard the Pirate himself respects her—this book has it all! It will send your pulse racing and your imagination going down all sorts of rabbit holes. (Ages 8-12ish) —Tegan 

Whereabouts: A novel Cover ImageWhereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri. Written in Italian and translated into English by Lahiri, her prose has all the delightful flavor of the Italian city her character calls home. This novel is a meditation on solitude, what it means to move through the world as a woman alone, growing older, reckoning with past wounds and facing a future without a family to buoy her. I was entranced by the novel's form and the poignancy of the narrator's situation. An incredibly graceful book. —Erin 

The Maidens Cover ImageThe Maidens by Alex Michaelides. With her therapeutic skills and familiarity with death, Mariana zealously begins investigating the murders of two students at her niece’s university. Even if the police give no credence to her suspicions, Mariana is determined to find out the truth about the cult-like society of girls who share an obsessive loyalty to their handsome professor. Like Professor Fosca himself, this book will surely dazzle you! I finished it in one sitting and the ending had me absolutely reeling. Cambridge University serves as the perfect stage for this creepy thriller and its cast of untrustworthy characters. —Rachel 

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead: A Novel Cover ImageEveryone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily Austin. Gilda suffers from anxiety and an obsession with death. Tender-hearted, she lies to avoid hurting other people’s feelings (or upsetting their perceptions of reality). So she sets herself up for some bizarre “I Love Lucy”-like situations. As the reader, we are inside her head (and along for the ride) as she spirals and soars… and occasionally shines. Her vulnerability is her strength. And this darkly comic novel’s heroine—with whom we cannot help but fall in love—reminds us what it’s really like to be human in our often messy world. —James 

Basil's War: A WWII Spy Thriller Cover ImageBasil’s War by Stephen Hunter. Basil St. Florian is a swashbuckling secret agent who’d rather stay in bed with his lover than go on a mission. Nevertheless, because he’s so masterful in his trade, he’s chosen to go to France to retrieve information that will help decipher the German secret codes and win the war. A very British tale with their typical humor, action, and a great plot. Perfect for reading on a lazy summer day (or any other day). —Krijn 

Dial A for Aunties Cover ImageDial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto. Fast-paced, madcap, flirty fun! Imagine the zany family dynamics, physical humor, and body-hiding of “Arsenic and Old Lace” combined with the OTT wealth, romance, and cultural immersion of Crazy Rich Asians. This was the perfect diversion for me. —Tegan 

 

Desert Notebooks: A Road Map for the End of Time Cover Image

Desert Notebooks by Ben Ehrenreich. Equal parts political commentary, literary criticism, and love letter to the desert. Ehrenreich explores how storytelling intersects with the climate crisis, social upheaval, and the passage of time. Lyrical, at times humorous, and deeply appreciative of things natural and ephemeral. —Ellen 

Fox and I: An Uncommon Friendship Cover ImageFox & I by Catherine Raven. This nonfiction debut about a woman’s friendship with a fox is beautiful and moving. Raven’s writing sings in every chapter, and when she writes from Fox's perspective, the sheer imagination and empathy blows me away. Although this book is unlike anything else I've read before, it gave me some of the frissons of recognition and awe that I get from Farley Mowat and Azar Nafisi-- Mowat for his personal observations and love of wild things and Nafisi for her interpretations of literature. This is one of my favorite books in a long time— one I will treasure for myself and give to others. —Tegan 

Legends of the North Cascades Cover ImageLegends of the North Cascades by Jonathan Evison. This is a story with characters who make you care; adventures that jump start your imagination; and acts of devotion that mark your heart for the better. A compelling mixture of myth, North Cascade history, human imperfection, bravery, love, and survival that results in the stuff of legends! —Janis 

One Two Three: A Novel Cover ImageOne Two Three by Laurie Frankel has an underlying structure of hope that is largely missing in the world right now. Like magic, Laurie delivers a heartening story to fill our lives today. Janis 

One Two Three is one of the most unique and compelling books I've read. In some ways, I don't want to tell you too much about it because I want you to have your own pleasures getting to know the narrators and unwinding the mysteries of their hometown of Bourne. This novel feels like a combination of a modern-day Little Women mixed with A Civil Action, plus hints of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Romeo and Juliet. It was stunning to savor chapter by chapter, and I already can't wait to reread it so I can spend time with these characters again. So I won't tell you much. I will leave it to you to discover Mab, Monday, and Mirabel, in your time and on your terms. But if you love literary fiction, please promise me you'll do so. —Tegan