All librarians have a To Be Read list somewhere –- written down, on their phones, or in their heads. Here are our TBR lists for the summer; what's on yours?
You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
“How far will you go to achieve a dream? That's the question a celebrated coach poses to Katie and Eric Knox after he sees their daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful, compete. For the Knoxes there are no limits – until a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community and everything they have worked so hard for is suddenly at risk.”
“A novel about New York's "Swans" (socialites) of the 1950s – and the scandalous, headline-making, and enthralling friendship between literary legend Truman Capote and peerless socialite Babe Paley.”
Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
“Trudy Swenson, haunted by her German heritage, embarks upon a deeper investigation of her past and uncovers secrets her mother has kept hidden for five decades.”
“The day war is declared, Mary North goes to the War Office, signs up – and is assigned to be a teacher to a class evacuated to the countryside. Tom Shaw ignores the war until his roommate Alistair Heath has enlisted. The three meet, and become tested in ways they could not have imagined, entangling their lives in violence and passion, shaping their hopes and dreams.”
“A year in the life of a young woman who comes to New York to discover herself.”
The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman
“Patience Murphy, a midwife getting started in 1930s Appalachia, willingly takes on hard-luck cases even as she guards her own secrets.”
The Horseman by Tim Pears
“The first novel in a sweeping historical trilogy, beginning in rural, pre-WWI England. . . . [T]ells the story of a family, a community, and the landscape they come from.”
The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman
“After the Nazi invasion of Prague, Josef is separated from his wife, Lenka, and, believing she has died, moves to America, where he becomes a successful doctor and tries to move on with his life, unaware that Lenka survived the Nazi ghetto of Terezin, relying on her artistic skills and the memories of her beloved Josef, until a chance encounter decades later reunites them and shows them the resilience of the human spirit.”
The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers
“When Major Gryffth Hockaday is called to the front lines of the Civil War, his new wife must run a farm and raise a child, enduring the darkest days of the war on her own, only for years later, to face jail time for adultery during this absence.”
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney
“Lillian Boxfish, an aged woman in New York, reflects on her life as being the highest-paid advertising woman in the country against the changing landscape of the Jazz Age to the onset of the AIDS epidemic.”
“The lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia.”
The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman
“In the fall of 1938, as Germany rapidly changes under Hitler's regime, seventeen-year-old Christine Bolz, a domestic forbidden to return to the wealthy Jewish family she works for – and to her employer's son Isaac – confronts the Gestapo's wrath and the horrors of Dachau to survive and to be with the man she loves.”
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“A young woman from Nigeria leaves behind her home and her first love to start a new life in America, only to find her dreams are not all she expected."
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
“Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood ‘wishtree’ – people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red's branches. Along with her crow friend Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red's hollows, this ‘wishtree’ watches over the neighborhood. You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red's experiences as a wishtree are more important than ever.”
“Luna, whose magical abilities are emerging, was raised in the forest by a witch, a swamp monster, and a dragon, but when a young man from the Protectorate is determined to kill the witch, Luna must use her magic to protect her family.”
“A romantic and poignant tale of love and family life in turn-of-the-century Mexico.”
Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson
“Rose Lee Carter, a thirteen-year-old African-American girl, dreams of life beyond the Mississippi cotton fields during the summer of 1955, but when Emmett Till is murdered and his killers are unjustly acquitted, Rose is torn between seeking her destiny outside of Mississippi or staying and being a part of an important movement.”
“The lives of four misfits are intertwined when a bully's prank lands shy Virgil at the bottom of a well and Valencia, Kaori, and Gen band together in an epic quest to find and rescue him.”
“A tale of a girl in two stories, one involving a fox and rat, the other involving her constantly-traveling father.”
“Twelve-year-old Sunny Nwazue, an American-born albino child of Nigerian parents, moves with her family back to Nigeria, where she learns that she has latent magical powers which she and three similarly gifted friends use to catch a serial killer.”
1984 by George Orwell (reread)
“Winston Smith, a worker at the Ministry of Truth in the future political entity of Oceania, puts his life on the line when he joins a covert brotherhood in rebelling against the Party that controls all human thought and action.”
The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla
“Charlie, twelve, who has autism and obsessive compulsive disorder, must endure a cross-country trip with his siblings and a strange babysitter to visit their father, who will undergo brain surgery.”
“Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer.”
“[This] epic tale – told through three unforgettable points of view – is a masterful exploration of how love, determination, and hope can change a person's fate.”
“[A] novel about love, class differences, and betrayal playing out over the course of a fractured American family's Long Island summer. . . .”
Moonglow by Michael Chabon
“A narrator finds himself at the center of his grandfather's deathbed confessions, which transport him back to the Jewish prewar slums of Germany.”
Bull by David Elliott
“A modern twist on the Theseus and Minotaur myth, told in verse.”
“The true story of the relationship between brothers Theo and Vincent van Gogh.”
Restart by Gordon Korman
“Chase does not remember falling off the roof, in fact he does not remember anything about himself, and when he gets back to middle school he begins to learn who he was through the reactions of the other kids – trouble is, he really is not sure he likes the Chase that is being revealed, but can he take the opportunity amnesia has provided and restart his life?”
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
“A young bisexual British lord embarks on an unforgettable Grand Tour of Europe with his best friend/secret crush. An 18th-century romantic adventure for the modern age. . . .”
“This graphic novel is a first-hand account of Congressman John Lewis' lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation.”
The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
“On a winter day in 1903, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, two unknown brothers from Ohio changed history. But it would take the world some time to believe what had happened: the age of flight had begun, with the first heavier-than-air, powered machine carrying a pilot. Who were these men and how was it that they achieved what they did?”
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
“Midwesterner Lee Fiora is sent by her father to a prestigious boarding school in Massachusetts where she manages to survive in spite of the social differences between her and her classmates.”
Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan
“[A novel] . . . about the hope, sacrifice, and love between two sisters and the secret that drives them apart.”
“Fabiola Toussaint, a young Haitian immigrant to the United States, must navigate her life, school and relationships, while dealing with her loud cousins after her mother is detained by the United States immigration department.”
All quotes taken from the publisher.
Students enrolled in Ms. Ricker's Graphic Novel elective were challenged to read 15 graphic novels throughout the course of the semester from every different genre within the format. These were the students' favorite books as they reflect on these past few months:
If you have ever wondered what it's like to be wrapped up in the middle of a civil war, Zahra's Paradise by Amir and Khalil is the book for you. This book is about the narrator and his mother's journey through serious times during the Iranian Revolution. When the narrator's brother suddenly disappears during a street protest following the election, he and his mother search frantically in places ranging from hospitals to morgues. Amir, the author, who also happens to be an Iranian-American human rights activist, and the illustrator, Khalil, do an amazing job at using gutters and panels. The panels are well organized for the reader to follow. At times, the gutters and panels are organized in interesting orders to take the reader on an interesting ride. Khalil uses lines and squiggles to convey emotions ranging from happiness to anger. Personally, it was interesting for me to read this piece of graphic novel because it gave me a sense of the struggles that people went through during the Iranian Revolution. Due to the great details in both the art and the writing, it is easy for the reader to empathize with the characters which makes it more personal. Zahra's Paradise is a great book for readers interested in war and its consequences.
Recommended for: Grades 8+ by Shreya S.
Ever wondered what alchemy is? How it would impact our world? How it would change everything? Fullmetal Alchemist offers the answers. In an alternate universe, alchemy is a large presence and is used for many purposes. The main rule of alchemy is the law of conservation of mass, so the end product must be equal in mass to the original substance(s) involved. Edward and his brother Alfonse had attempted to reincarnate their deceased mother during alchemy, however it failed and they both lost a lot. Ed lost an arm and a leg, and Al lost his whole body. In fact, he is simply a soul binded by alchemy to a suit of armor. This book shows many small adventures that the two brothers go through on the search for a stone that will give them the power to get back their full bodies, which makes the book incredibly interesting. The illustrator is able to capture many important scenes with incredible vividness and it is as if the scenes have come to life.
Recommended for: Grades 6+ by Henry B.
I recently read Full Metal Alchemist, and was instantly intrigued. Within the first ten pages, there was already tons of action. The book is made up of a few shorter stories with the same main characters: a suit of armor possessed with a human soul, and a part robot alchemist. The fight scenes are epic, the plot is well thought out, and the characters all have unique personalities. The story begins with an alchemical ritual. Brothers Alphonse and Edward have been desperately trying to bring back their mother from the dead. This time, they went too far. Edward’s leg shrivels away, and Alphonse’s entire body disintegrates. The emotion that the illustrator conveys is astounding. Through simple changes in perspective and size of facial features, the characters can become angry, happy, sad, or surprised. If you love action and adventure, then Fullmetal Alchemist is right for you.
Recommended for: Grades 5+ by Ryan R.
This book displays a side of Robert Moses that most people don't know of, as he is just mainly painted as a villain in history books who ruined perfectly good land to build busy highways. Specifically, this novel goes into his personal life and struggles that he faced. The illustration style used is very realistic, and mainly displays close-ups on the face of the character who is speaking. I liked it because it displayed a side of Robert Moses that wasn't shown by the media. It showed that he is human like everyone else and had a nice side as well, and wasn't completely remorseless. I suggest this novel for readers who are open to all kinds of graphic novels especially a book that has less of a filter and displays raw events.
Recommended for: Grades 6+ by Fahmid A.
Bigfoot by Pascal Girard
Bigfoot captures an impressively accurate interpretation of a troubled teen going through life in high school. Jimmy was a regular kid until a video of himself dancing turned viral and he became the laughing stock of the entire small town he lives in. On top of that, his uncle apparently has discovered Bigfoot and released a picture as proof, which only adds fuel to his miserable social life. He struggles with his love interests and the awkward juvenile situations that leads himself into, and through the course of the book it seems that his life just gets worse and worse. The clever dialogue and humorous teenage tropes captivate the reader to continue reading, and makes it impossible to put the book down. The book is also not afraid to demonstrate what teenage boys do in their daily lives and how people of that age act around each other. The illustrations are simple but expressive, and even though they are not very realistic, the point gets across. You really will feel for Jimmy’s life and troubles, and you want to support and help him through the tough times. The story is laid out in a simple to understand way, and the pacing is even from segment to segment.
Recommended for: Grades 8+ by Aidan M.
Batman: The Black Mirror is a hauntingly dark take on the Batman story. From gruesome torture to entire rooms being gassed, it is disturbing even by Batman's standards. The use of gutters, lines and shadowing makes the story that much creepier. The illustrator used a subtle palette of dark blues and black which portrayed Gotham City as darker and scarier than ever. Although the book is terrifying, it's story is much more than that. Damien Wayne's struggle to live up to his masked predecessors is compelling and you aren't just rooting for him to beat bad guys but you want him to gain some self-respect.
Recommended for: Grades 7+ by Liam F.