Staff Reads: July 13

Staff Reads: July 13

Do you wonder what the Bookish team is reading? Do you want to take a peek at our bookshelves? You’ve come to the right place. Here are the Bookish staff’s personal weekend reading recommendations. Tell us what you think in the comments!

If you’re still looking for some inspiration, check out our Summer Previews for a look at the best books of the season.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I’ve been reading Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere. The buzz about this book since it came out has been palpable, and I’m excited to finally be checking it out for myself. I’m also now incredibly curious about whether the toothpick-in-the-lock prank works as well as Ng claims it does. —Elizabeth

A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole

They say not to judge books by their covers, but this is a case where a stunning cover (seriously, where do I find that dress?) perfectly matches the story within. This is the second installment in Cole’s Reluctant Royals series and it follows Portia Hobbs as she flies from New York to Scotland in the hopes of turning over a new leaf. Once there she meets Tavish McKenzie—in quite possibly my favorite meet cute ever. Cole thoughtfully explores themes of family legacy, gentrification, and immigration reform in this story, while giving readers a strong yet vulnerable heroine to root for and a gruff Scottish curmudgeon to fall in love with (#swordbae). There’s also a strong focus on the importance of female friendships, and a great reunion with characters from A Princess in Theory. This book (which was also one of our must-read romances of the summer) hits shelves later this month, and you’ll want to get your hands on it. Go preorder it now! —Kelly

Severance by Ling Ma

Severance is a few different kinds of stories at once. It is the story of immigration, of international trade under late capitalism, of a 20-something finding herself in New York, of a dystopian present, and, ultimately, of survival. Ling Ma weaves these threads together effortlessly and with a strange charm, following Candace Chen as she navigates the dull routines of office work, of unsatisfying relationships, of immigration from China to the US, and of Shen Fever, which wipes out most of the world’s population. She still keeps coming to work after most of the population of New York has succumbed. Why? Because she signed a contract. Ma describes 20-something life in New York, its precarity, and its lonely pleasures, with gorgeous specificity and a dry wit. Severance deals beautifully with routine, memory, nostalgia, and the loops of habit that tie us to our homes and to one another. And, it’s one of our must-read books of the summer! —Nina

Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple

This book was a delight from start to finish. Semple’s humor is masterful and her sense of pacing and structure to die for. At its core, this is a story of family and reclaiming one’s ambition, but it’s also a commentary on modern life and how easy it is for us to get caught up in our petty grievances and lose sight of the beauty around us. Technology and the loss of human contact also play a role. This book made me laugh out loud several times. It had me nodding along regarding the absurdity of the competitive sport that modern parenting has become. Most importantly, I felt compassion for my fellow humans as I read it. I’m already anticipating the film adaptation coming out next spring. —Myf

Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel

This is the third book in the Themis Files series, and all three have excellent full-cast audiobook productions. This continuing story of Dr. Rose Franklin, linguist Vincent, and Eva is told via documents and interviews. The author’s background in linguistics shines through with the inclusion of the characters’ attempts to learn the alien language of the Esat Ekt. The story touches on topics that are reflective of current events such as the ongoing political rivalries between the U.S. and Russia, along with themes about refugees, racism, tribalism, and allowing minor differences to define our identities. —Alyce

The Broken Vow by Scott Westerfeld, illustrated by Alex Puvilland

Spill Zone was one of my favorite reads of 2017, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting its sequel for months. Broken Vow picks up where the first book left off and doesn’t waste a moment before throwing the reader right into the middle of the action. This installment answers some of the big questions from book one (What caused the mysterious toxic spill in Poughkeepsie, NY? Who is Vespertine? What does Don Jae, a survivor of a similar spill in North Korea, want with Addison?), but still leaves the door open for more adventures in this universe. I went to college in Poughkeepsie, directly across the street from the creepy abandoned hospital at the center of this series, and I love this unearthly reimagining of the city. This second book is just as gripping at the first, and I’d recommend it to any reader looking for a fun and weird story. The only thing better than the reading experience? Getting to chat with Westerfeld after for an interview about the series. —Kelly

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

After I gobbled up Crazy Rich Asians, I dove right into the sequel, China Rich Girlfriend. The interplay between different kinds of wealth (mostly old money, generational wealth versus new money from tech and real estate) and the complex relationships of the ultra-rich from Singapore, Hong Kong, and China are juicy backdrops to a breezy and gossipy summer read. Come for the social climber consultant helping the nouveau riche fit in with the old money set, stay for the borzois on diamond leashes at art auctions. —Nina

The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a museum I know and love. So how fun to read a book that is partly focused on Isabella Stewart Gardner, her legacy, Boston, and the art world in general. Mostly, though, it’s about the artist protagonist Claire Roth and her troubled past and dubious future if she continues to follow along with the deal she agreed to: painting a forgery of one paintings stolen from the museum and never found. Until now… —Myf

Pretty Ugly Lies by Pamela Crane

This is a moving, incredible book for every woman who has ever felt a moment of unappreciation, exhaustion, or inadequacy. Readers get a glimpse into the lives on Oleander Way and four different women throughout each of their own private daily struggles to be a wife and mother, providing for their families while getting so little in return—all while upholding the perfect image they’ve created. Jo, Ellie, Shayla, and June are each dealing with their own inner turmoil, never finding a moment’s peace or an outlet for the growing pain inside them. I can’t imagine there is a woman or mother alive who could not connect with this story on some personal level. I was brought to tears by the strength of these women who held on and found the good in their lives. This was my first book by this author, and I can’t wait to see what’s next! —Alicia

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