Is it time to get rec’d already?!
If you missed the news a couple weeks ago, this is where I will be talking about some of the books I’ve recommend to fellow book lovers outside of Smart Bitches.
For those of you who don’t know, I have a part time job as a bookseller and events coordinator for a local independent bookstore. Handselling is probably my favorite part of the job, where someone comes in looking for recommendations based on something they last read or particular genres they like to read. I also help with Book Riot’s TBR program, which gives out personalized recommendations on a subscription basis.
So, if you’re curious about what I’m recommending to others in different parts of my book life, this column is for you!
Behold the Dreamers
A woman came into the store looking for her next literary fiction read. She listed a few of the previous books she loved and really wanted to focus on contemporary fiction with current, social issues. Out of the handful of books I pulled, this one grabbed her attention!
A compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream—the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy
Named one of BuzzFeed’s “Incredible New Books You Need to Read This Summer”
Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.
However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.
When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.
This is a short little novel with a lot of heart. A woman inherits her late friend’s Great Dane, lovingly named Apollo. If you love animal-centric stories and have a fondness for big, goofy pets, this is a great rec.
A moving story of love, friendship, grief, healing, and the magical bond between a woman and her dog.
When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatized by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building.
While others worry that grief has made her a victim of magical thinking, the woman refuses to be separated from the dog except for brief periods of time. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog’s care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unraveling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them.
Elegiac and searching, The Friend is both a meditation on loss and a celebration of human-canine devotion.
The Perks of Loving a Wallflower
I know this one isn’t out yet, but I still wanted to mention it. I was recently on a panel about romance for the New England Independent Booksellers Association (NEIBA) Fall Conference. It’s a very cute romance and explores both main characters’ sexuality in a tender way.
Fans of Bridgerton will love this Regency romp in which a proper Society miss recruits a very improper lady grifter in a quest for vengeance, only to find love instead.
As a master of disguise, Thomasina Wynchester can be a polite young lady—or a bawdy old man. Anything to solve the case. Her latest assignment unveils a top-secret military cipher covering up an enigma that goes back centuries. But when Tommy’s beautiful new client turns out to be the highborn lady she’s secretly smitten with, more than her mission is at stake . . .
Bluestocking Miss Philippa York doesn’t believe in love. Her cold heart didn’t pitter-patter when she was betrothed to a duke, nor did it break when he married someone else. All Philippa desires is to rescue her priceless manuscript and decode its clues to unmask a villain. She hates that she needs a man’s help—so she’s delighted to discover the clever, charming baron at her side is in fact a woman. Her cold heart . . . did it just pitter-patter?
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
This adorable man came in wanting to buy a bundle of books for his wife for her birthday. Definitely a cute gift idea and one I supported. He wanted some popularish fiction in paperback and I immediately thought of this one, which is still on our fiction bestsellers list!
From the author of Daisy Jones & The Six—an entrancing novel “that speaks to the Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor in us all” (Kirkus Reviews), in which a legendary film actress reflects on her relentless rise to the top and the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.
Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?
Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.