With summer just around the corner, the school year winding down, and extended daylight, there seems to be a touch more time to crack open a book and escape into another world. If you’re looking for your next great read, look no further. From short stories, to young adult fiction, to memoir, to non-fiction, we have a little bit of everything in this list of recent selections from our staff.
To conclude the Mother’s Day month, I read The Birth of the Pill, an intriguing look at how the birth control pill went from idea to reality. By weaving the lives and struggles of the four main characters into the science of the creation of the pill, Jonathan Eig draws his readers in and keeps them interested from page one. Despite the reader’s prior knowledge—that the pill became a reality—Eig creates a sense of dramatic tension in this well-researched and well-written book.
Poetry Editor Ginny Kaczmarek suggests Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover, winner of the 2015 Newbery Medal. She writes, “The Crossover is a YA novel in verse about a teenage boy coming to terms with family, girls, and winning the basketball tournament. Josh Bell tells his own story, and his rhythms and rhymes flow across the page, particularly in the poems describing the thrill of the game itself. Josh’s tight bond with his twin brother is tested when a girl enters the picture, and his relationship to his father takes a turn when he discovers secrets about his dad. Josh’s voice, filled with bravado and insecurity in equal measure, feels authentic, and—dare I say it—makes poetry cool. The ending broke my heart, but I can’t wait to pick up Alexander’s latest novel-in-verse, Booked.”
Christina Consolino, Profiles Editor, shares her latest selection, “I just finished reading the recently published memoir, My Picture Perfect Family: What Happens When One Twin Has Autism, by Marguerite Elisofon. Born at 33 weeks, twins Samantha and Matthew Elisofon entered the world smaller and more fragile then many children. Within months, long after Matthew had ‘sprinted ahead verbally and cognitively,’ Samantha still lagged behind. At just 18 months old, Samantha was given the diagnosis of ‘high functioning autistic spectrum disorder.’ Elisofon recounts the entire journey—from birth, to diagnosis, and beyond. She details the struggles she and her family endured as they tried to find the correct diagnosis for Samantha, the appropriate (and separate) schools for her children, and the best place to simply take a vacation with an autistic child. Sprinkled within the hardships are, of course, the triumphs, the most important being that Samantha realizes her goal of graduating from college. Elisofon’s memoir speaks of family, courage, dedication, and hope, and many readers will enjoy the messages it provides.”
Literary Reflections Editor Libby Maxey delved into short stories for her most recent read. She writes, “I’ve just finished Simon Van Booy’s short story collection, The Secret Lives of People in Love. These tiny vignettes, almost half of them narrated in the first person, take us into the heart of a Welsh postal worker, a ticket-seller at a French railway station, an ex-priest living on the streets of New York, and more than one Russian immigrant. While a few of the stories feel somewhat too writerly, (‘Dreams are the unfinished wings of our souls’ is a bit much for me), most are both beautiful and surprising. The most striking aspect of the collection, however, is the author’s fearless sentimentality. There’s a sweetness here that’s rather unfashionable, but completely honest. I’d be surprised if anybody could read ‘Little Birds,’ ‘Apples,’ or ‘Where They Hide is a Mystery’ without longing for the shimmering moments of happiness that Van Booy grants his world-worn characters.”
Colleen Kearney Rich, Fiction Editor, is currently enamored with short fiction. Tasked with choosing one to share she says, “I can’t believe how many great collections of short stories came out this spring. My To Be Read pile keeps growing. I always appreciate stories that tackle new ground. I am currently reading Bystanders by Tara Laskowski. All of the stories have a certain level of creepiness to them, but they are not outright violent. One of my favorites so far is called ‘The Monitor’ and it is about a sinister baby monitor and a new mom with postpartum depression. Very much like a Twilight Zone episode.”
For more reading suggestions from our staff please visit our Goodreads page.