It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young, teenage bookseller (that's me!) must be in want of an audience with whom to share her thoughts on all the best books :)
When civil war breaks out in Spain, a pregnant widow and a doctor form an unlikely alliance as they immigrate across the ocean to Chile. This book is both a story about one family's struggle to find home and the history of a nation famously coined as "a long petal of sea and wine and snow."
This book explores the history of seashells and what they reveal about both humans and the world around us. From the ruins of Chavin to the Maldives and Sanibel, shells have used throughout human history in art, religious ceremonies, and more. Even beyond their history, Barnett reveals the devastating effects of global warming and human plastic consumption on the creatures within the shells humans covet. I never realized how much there was to learn about shells until I read this book!
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Daisy Jones meets summer island romance. Inspired by Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, Ursa Major is the story of a romance between island local Jane and international rockstar Jesse. Chasing past demons, fueled by drugs and love and wild parties, Jane and Jesse combine their talents to produce one of the most iconic albums of the '70s.
This book is an explicit, Gossip Girl-esque retelling of Anna Karenina, in the best way possible. Even though this is a YA novel, the characters are round and the story is well crafted. I recommend for anyone who wants to read about the world of Manhattan's richest, waspiest elite.
When Addie LaRue makes a Faustian bargain with a demon, she is finally free from her life as a French peasant but the price is steep. Forgotten by everyone who she meets, she wanders the earth for 300 years until she finally finds someone who remembers. This is one of those rare books that is both captivating the entire way through and has a perfectly wrapped up ending.
The Lost Generation meets Summer of Love meets Mamma Mia. Set on the Greek island Elba, this book tells the true story of a bohemian artist colony that flourished one summer in the 1960s with Bacchanaian spirit and creative fervor.
Haven Point, a quaint New England beach town, houses the secrets of three generations of women.The story alternates between Maren's job as a cadet nurse in World War II, her bohemian daughter's bouts of alcoholism and love of art, and her grandaughter's many failed attempts to fit in. A great beach read, feminist novel, and story about family.
Over one summer in the Catskills, three generations of family drama unfolds as secrets are revealed, financial scandals emerge, and a beloved hotel faces collapse. Reminiscent of Dirty Dancing in both setting and themes.
If the Babysitter's Club met Daisy Jones and the Six, you would get Mary Jane. Set during one summer in the '70s, 14-year-old Mary Jane gets a job babysitting for her neighbor Izzy, but little does she know that Izzy's dad is housing a rockstar trying to recover from addiction. This is a beautiful story about growing up, rock 'n roll, and what it means to be a family.
An interesting read about the lifestyles of the superwealthy, and why their wealth harms the rest of us. I found this book to be extremely educational without being dry or preachy, and you do not need to have any prior knowledge about economics or money in general to read it!
Alex and Poppy are best friends who love to travel. Each summer since college, they plan and epic vacation to take together, no matter what else is happening in their lives. After a two year hiatus, Alex and Poppy link up to take a trip to Palm Springs where they are finally forced to confront whether they are truly just friends or something more.
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Ever since Beck's mother gave birth to her in the Hot 'n Crusty pizza shop, Beck is a bit of a local celebrity. Despite her wishes to hide her Hot 'n Crusty identity, Beck winds up working at the pizza shop. Now she's stuck cleaning bathrooms with her geeky coworkers instead of hanging out with her cool school friends. This is a great PG romance about finding yourself before you find love.
Each year, when the ball drops on New Years Eve, Oona wakes up in a different year of her life. Mentally, she's in her twenties, but physically, she is 30, 40, and even 50! Despite her out of order life, Oona learns that while age really is just a number, family is forever.
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When aspiring novelist Florence Darrow gets the opportunity to work as the assistant to one of the bestselling authors in the world, little does she suspect that she is being cajoled into a complex murder mystery. With a fabulous Moroccan setting, identity theft, and the twist ending of all twist endings, this book is a must read.
A lot of times when I read a book about teenagers, I don't feel like the characters think and act the way actual teenagers do. In this book, however, the characters feel real. Emily Layden's debut novel is set at an all girls boarding school after a recent alumna has come forward about being the victim of rape by a member of the school's faculty. Against this backdrop, each chapter follows a different girl dealing with her own coming of age in a world that claims to empower women but does not seem to live up to this moto. Each character is wholly unique and offers a voice that feels authentic to what real teenagers sound like. As a teenage girl, this book really validated a lot of my own thoughts and experiences, and I seriously think everyone should read this.
Best friends Eulabee and Maria Fabiola run Sea Cliff, the luxurious San Francisco neighborhood overlooking the Golden Gate bridge. When they disagree about what they saw one day, though, the girls find themselves caught in a web of lies. We Run the Tides is both a dark, mysterious coming-of-age novel and a stunning portrayl of 1980s San Francisco.
Especially during Covid, Wheelan's memoir of a family gap year to travel the globe is a great way to satisfy your wanderlust. This book follows the Wheelan family with their three teenagers as they uproot their lives for a year to travel in South America, Africa, and Asia. Their adventure becomes a series of misadventures, but the story is humorous, and the places they visit, breathtaking.
This is one of the best YA novels I have read recently. Darius is an utterly relatable character who just feels like he never fits in: he's too Persian for America, too American for Iran. When he travels to Iran for the first time, Darius could not feel more out of place, yet he meets a boy who finally makes him feel okay. This book is a powerful story of friendship and does a beautiful job of normalizing depression and discussing the experience of growing up with multiple cultural identities.
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I rarely hear anyone talk about the Main Street series, but these books were some of my favorites as a kid. After the sudden death of their parents, Flora and Ruby move to the small town of Camden Falls to live with their grandmother. The two sisters soon make friends with Camden Falls residents Olivia and Nikki and begin the next chapter in their lives. Even though the characters face difficult topics such as death, abuse, and new beginnings, the friendships they have made in Camden Falls help them persevere. This novel is a touching coming of age story for anyone who grew up with the March sisters or the Babysitters Club.
This book is a must-read for anyone who is curious about the creation of Israel of or a general history of the Jewish People. Beginning with the illegal operation of smuggling displaced Jewish persons into Palestine by boat, this novel follows several different characters and their devotion to creating a Jewish state. Among these characters are an American nurse, child concentration camp victims, and the head Mossad Aliyah Bet smuggler. Albeit somewhat long and dense, these novel is extremely educational and tells a story that is nothing short of a miracle.
The eccentric and eclectic Yayoi Kusama is now in picturebook form! With pages full of polka dots, pumpkins, and lots of funky patterns, her story is one that even the youngest reader can enjoy.
As someone who has been interested in learning about fashion and the royal family, this book was exactly what I wanted. The glossy pictures are beautiful, and Holmes does an excellent job of crafting the personality and story of each royal lady through her clothing.
For a light-hearted YA novel, Yes No Maybe So tackles a variety of different subjects with surprising ease. The romance between a Jewish boy and a Muslim girl combined with the optimistic view about the political landscape was incredibly uplifting. I related to the teenage struggles of both characters and hope that these two writers do more collaborations in the future!
I was a huge Raina Telgemeier fan as a kid, and Roller Girl definitely reminded me of Smile and Sisters. Jamieson perfectly captures the awful feeling of friends growing apart which is something I bet most of us can relate to. (Don't tell Raina, but I think Roller Girl is my new favorite graphic novel).
For anyone who read Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, I highly recommend Sapiens. This novel outlines the evolution of humans and attempts to answers questions about the creation of language, the switch from nomadic life to agriculture, and the death of early sapien relatives. While this book is not light, it is easily readable and thoroughly enlightening.
A Gentleman in Moscow is the perfect quarantine book. This novel followers the story of a former Russian aristocrat during his exile in a hotel. As he interacts with the regular cast of characters who embrace the hotel as their home, the count becomes a father, a lover, and a man with strong code of ethics. This was a beautifully written and well crafted novel.
Malibu Rising is the perfect beach book for your summer and also a work of masterful prose and wholly unique, well-crafted characters. Oscillating between the Riva siblings' childhood in the 1950s and one spectacular party spanning the course of 12 hours in the 1980s, this book captures the multigenerational loves and heartbreaks and secrets of one family in Malibu.
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Both a quaint beach read and a historical pearl, Summer of '69 pays homage to the tumultuous energy of the 1960s and its impact on a nation, a distant island, and a family. Elin Hilderbrand commanders this riveting world to captivate your attention until the very last page in one of the best books of the summer.
Mists of Avalon is a wonderful addition to the longstanding tradition of the Arthurian Legend. Told from the perspective of Arthur's sister, Morgaine, this novel focuses on the women involved during the reign of King Arthur and their often underappreciated role in this enduring legend. Bradley harnesses the use of elegant prose to explore gender roles in the face of a cultural battle between Christianity and the dying Druid culture.
The Night Circus easily makes my list of greatest novels of all time. Erin Morgenstern's prose style is undeniably beautiful and unlike anyone else's. The attention to detail in everything from the circus tents to the characters' clothing to the very smell of burnt caramel in the air makes the novel come alive! The characters traverse this brilliantly-crafted world with multi-layered personalities, and the plot propels the reader forward with them. I do not have enough kind words to say about this book!
I read this book a few weeks into quarantine and could not put it down! It is now my absolute favorite book of all time. Personally, I find the Siege of Leningrad fascinating, and this book was a visceral portrayal of love during this soul-crushing period in history. From the momment I started this book, I was captivated. Tatiana and Alexander's romance is an adrenaline filled adventure that propels you through the novel. You will laugh, cry, and fall in love with these characters as they struggle to prove that their love is stronger than everything else that surrounds them.
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A book for anyone who remembers growing up and learning what it means to forgive someone and when it's time to say goodbye.
I don't think that I would ever want to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading about it! Strayed's novel reminded me of how beautiful yet dangerous the wild can be. Both poignant and funny, I recommend Wild to anyone who has ever craved adventure--even from inside of a book.
I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good book about ballet or communist Russia. Telling the story both through their experiences in Russia and their recollections of the past, the characters grapple with their love for art and each other in a time where both were deadly.
Poignant, powerful, and a timeless story, Madeline Miller's book is a a fresh take on the many interconnected stories of Greek mythology through the eyes of an unlikely heroine.
For anyone who has ever wondered about the great mysteries of our universe, leading string theorist Brian Greene makes the sophisticated world of modern physics accessible to the ordinary reader through the use of clever anecdotes. A testament to the power of thought, this novel celebrates brilliance of humanity and asks us to accept the magnitude of our ignorance.
This adorable story about the fictionalized royal family of the United States combines both sympathetic characters with elegant prose. Once I began this book, I was completely captivated by a world where America is lead by royalty and finished it within days! The tension between duty and love is woven throughout each character's story in a way that is simaultaneoulsly beautiful and heartbreaking.