Fellow readers, let’s talk beach reads. Don’t be put off by the name – these can be read at the beach, sure, but also by a lake; in a park or on your lawn; on your couch – anywhere you’re taking some time for yourself. And any book can be a beach read*, so long as it is something you find gripping. To get started, here are suggestions for books across genres that grab you and don’t let go until you’ve turned the last page.
Looking to be kept on the edge of your seat? (or beach towel?) Go behind enemy lines with WWII spy Nancy Wake as she trains the French Resistance in Ariel Lawhon’s Code Name Hélène. Or enjoy a tale of revenge and ego as a film shoot in the Caribbean goes awry in The Sirenby Katherine St. John. The dark side of office politics are on display in The Other Black Girlby Zakiya Dalila Harris, as editorial assistant Nella realizes the new girl isn’t what she seems. And when her husband disappears, newlywed Hannah and her stepdaughter Bailey race against time to figure out his true identity in The Last Thing He Told Meby Laura Dave.
With the 2021 Academy Awards celebration coming up on Sunday, April 25, check out one of these recent novels with insider views of the film industry.
Pretty as a Picture by Elizabeth Little – Film editor Marissa Dahl experiences the world filtered through her encyclopedic knowledge of film. Struggling to find film editing work after a longtime partnership falls apart, Marissa accepts a job on a project already underway and shrouded in secrecy. Taken to an isolated island off the coast of Delaware, she discovers she’ll be working with an infamously demanding director on a film that recreates a long-ago true crime. Marissa joins a film shoot plagued by accidents and staff defections, and when a dead body is found that mimics the original crime, Marissa is pulled into investigating by two intrepid teenage girls making a podcast. Prior to reading this I didn’t know anything about the role a film editor plays in the final product, but Little incorporates a lot of interesting career and process detail into her murder mystery.
Last week I suggested that reading shorter works could kickstart a reading habit stalled due to short attention span. But maybe you’re a reader who wants a loooooong read. Short novellas have fast pay off, but the reader does have to do the work of getting into the world created by the author. A long book lets you do that feat of imagination once and then reap the benefits for hundreds of pages. If you want to get lost in a long story, here are a few doorstops to immerse yourself in.
Vagabonds by Jingfang Hao – 100 years after Mars gains its independence from Earth, they send a group of Martian students to Earth, essentially as exchange students. Five years later those students return to Mars, and grapple with dissatisfaction over their return and questions as to why they were sent. Continue reading “Make It Long”
How are our attention spans these days? I had a project to keep me reading last year, but in 2021 I have lost my reading focus. To try to get back in the groove I’ve been turning to novellas, short works that tell a complete story in less than 200 pages. I’m hoping the momentum of finishing a few of those will launch me back into regular reading – maybe it will for you, too.
The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo – In this fable-like story, young novice Chih and their bird companion are the first inside a remote compound following the death of the Empress of Salt and Fortune. With the aid of an old woman named Rabbit, Chih sifts through the items left behind and discovers the true story of the Empress. Continue reading “Keep It Short”
Each year, groups of librarians from across the country hole up in a room (this year, a virtual room) to discuss and select the best books from the year before. The Notable Books List features literary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry; the Listen List is all about outstanding audiobooks; and The Reading List, which I want to tell you about today, highlights outstanding genre fiction in eight genres: Adrenaline (aka thrillers, adventure stories), Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Relationship Fiction, Romance, and Science Fiction.
While each genre has a winner, it also has a four-title shortlist of runners up. Taken together, the five books in each genre represent a range of the types of stories a reader can find in that genre, with the idea that both longtime fans and folks new to the genre can find a title of interest. If you are looking to branch out into new areas of fiction reading, it is a great place to start. Check out the 2021 winners (for books published in 2020) below, with annotations from the ALA Reading List Council, or in our catalog.