Summer Reading Group Guide Preview

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The American Booksellers Association’s Summer Reading Group Guide will continue as a free e-newsletter delivered to customers by email, courtesy of Matchbook Marketing. This summer’s guide will be sent in two parts on May 20 and August 20.

The first email, to be sent on May 20, will include Dazzling Debuts; Historical Fiction; Romance & Romantic Comedy; and Small Bites. The second email, to be sent on August 20, will include Family & Coming of Age; Nonfiction & Memoir; Other Worlds; Thrills & Chills; and Young Adult. The tiles are also available as an Edelweiss collection here. All titles are trade paperback unless otherwise noted.

The titles appearing in the Summer Reading Group e-newsletter are:

Dazzling Debuts

Catherine House: A Novel by Elisabeth Thomas
(Custom House, 9780062905673, $16.99, May 18, 2021)

“A delightful addition to the growing genre of dark academia, Catherine House hides its secrets, its promises, and its horrors. Of particular note was the writing itself — Elisabeth Thomas writes masterfully, sparse and brutal. Imagine Ninth House written by Palahniuk.”

—Rachel Roepke, BookPeople, Austin, TX

Fresh Water for Flowers by Valérie Perrin, Hildegarde Serle
(Europa Editions, 9781609456764, $16.95, May 4, 2021)

“In Violette Trenet’s young life she has known poverty, abandonment, disappointment, and shattering loss. When she becomes the keeper of a cemetery in a French village, she finds solace and rebirth. In turn, she offers the same to others, through tea and kindness. This story, mixing quirky characters with a dark plotline, entranced me with its quiet joy.”

—Kathi Kirby, Powell’s Books, Portland, OR

My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: A Memoir by Jenn Shapland
(Tin House Books, 9781951142292, $16.95, January 5, 2021)

“In this creative take on memoir, Jenn Shapland expertly and poetically illustrates what it means to be tied to the people who came before us. As a queer woman reading this book, I feel deeply connected to both Carson and Jenn; there are parts of their stories that are also parts of my own. Pick this one up if you’re a fan of Into the Dream House or I Am, I Am, I Am, or of genres like creative nonfiction and memoir.”

—Ali Teague, Bookworm of Edwards, Edwards, CO

Sharks in the Time of Saviors: A Novel by Kawai Strong Washburn
(Picador, 9781250787316, $17, March 2, 2021)

“This is a novel about magic — the magic of a family, of a people, of a land, and of a culture. Epic in its scope, entrancing in its virtuosity, Sharks in the Time of Saviors is a breathtaking debut.”

—David Gonzalez, Skylight Books, Los Angeles, CA

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
(G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 9780525541912, $17, April 20, 2021)

“I LOVED Such a Fun Age! I haven’t read a book that has captured the experience of someone my age (mid-20s) so perfectly. It was refreshing to see a young Black woman at the forefront of such a nuanced and smart novel. Definitely an engrossing read that did a wonderful job exploring the themes of race and privilege affecting today’s society.”

—Tyrinne Lewis, Cafe Con Libros, Brooklyn, NY


Family & Coming of Age

Afterlife by Julia Alvarez
(Algonquin Books, 9781643751368, $16.95, April 6, 2021)

“A meditative and beautifully brief story about the families we’re born into, the ones we lose, and the ones that form around us. It’s a call to action for those of us who are just as literary and reluctant as Antonia, and a story that will inspire action to stave off the chaos with bravery, kindness, and love.”

—Luis Correa, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA

A Children’s Bible: A Novel by Lydia Millet
(W.W. Norton & Company, 9780393867381, $15.95, February 16, 2021)

“An unnerving look at the apocalypse through the lens of teenage malaise (or perhaps the other way around). Millet’s look at adolescence, intergenerational conflict, and the thin line between social norms and chaos plays out in this eerie novel. This is a book that will stay with you in the most uncomfortable and fantastic ways.”

—Heather Jeziorowski, Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, GA

Everywhere You Don’t Belong by Gabriel Bump
(Algonquin Books, 9781643750859, $15.95, January 12, 2021)

“A brilliant novel edging on poetry, with a voice unable to do anything but speak truth and heart. Bump creates a vivid world, both on the South Side of Chicago and in Columbia, Missouri, and forces the reader into Claude’s reality. This novel is filled with simple, eloquent prose on race, choice, growing up, and figuring it all out (and that you can’t).”

—Carrie Koepke, Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, MO

The Knockout Queen: A novel by Rufi Thorpe
(Vintage, 9780525567295, $16, March 2, 2021)

“Simply put, I loved this book. There is so much here to dig into — friendship, family, coming of age, the queer community, parents who fail, a penal system that fails, and more. It was awesome. I really loved it and can’t wait to make other people read it!”

—Laura Cummings, White Birch Books, North Conway, NH

We Ride Upon Sticks: A Novel by Quan Barry
(Vintage, 9780525565437, $16.95, February 16, 2021)

“Hilarious, fierce, and so satisfying, We Ride Upon Sticks is the story of a women’s field hockey team that turns to witchcraft to win the state finals. Barry weaves an unforgettable tale rooted in the history of the New England witch trials and ’80s nostalgia. This is the feminist/occult mashup you didn’t know you needed.”

—Laura Graveline, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX

Historical Fiction

The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey
(Mariner Books, 9780358508656, $15.99, March 23, 2021)

“A macabre look into an unknown point in World War II history that entangles no-nonsense Hetty Cartwright, the magnetic and haunting Lucy Lockwood, and Lockwood Manor, and leaves us wondering if Hetty will be able to protect London’s natural history mammal collection or, more importantly, herself.”

—Holland Saltsman, The Novel Neighbor, Webster Groves, MO

How Much of These Hills Is Gold: A Novel by C Pam Zhang
(Riverhead Books, 9780525537212, $16, April 6, 2021)

“Set during the Gold Rush, this novel follows siblings Lucy and Sam, newly orphaned and on the run looking for a suitable resting place for their father while also struggling to find a place to call home. This is a story not so much of a reimagined American West as it is one of many stories overshadowed by the cowboys and outlaws that have come to define the West. It’s as much a novel about place as it is about family, and the prose is sparse yet electric, delicate yet positively fierce.”

—Michelle Malonzo, Changing Hands, Tempe, AZ

A Long Petal of the Sea: A Novel by Isabel Allende, Nick Caistor, Amanda Hopkinson
(Ballantine Books, 9780593157497, $17, April 6, 2021)

“Two refugees from the Spanish Civil War flee to France and eventually land in Chile to build a life, but even Chile is not immune to political strife. What a great story of making a home wherever you are.”

—Beth Carpenter, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC

Simon the Fiddler: A Novel by Paulette Jiles
(William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062966759, $16.99, April 6, 2021)

“Powerful prose vividly evokes a time and place — Texas during the aftermath of the Civil War — and captures the stark realities of trying to scratch out a living with few resources beyond persistence, the kindness of strangers, and a healthy dose of good timing and luck. Jiles’ characters are compelling and exhibit a joyful determination in the face of hardship that is endearing and admirable.”

—Adrian Newell, Warwick’s, La Jolla, CA

Sin Eater: A Novel by Megan Campisi
(Atria Books, 9781982124113, $18, April 13, 2021)

“May is an orphan, penniless and alone. Worse, she’s just been condemned to the life of a sin eater for her crime of stealing bread. Unseen and unheard, sin eaters are pariahs, their only purpose to abjure the dying of their sins by eating foods that correspond to their wrongdoings. When May is called upon to eat for two ailing royals, it’s the beginning of a perilous journey — one of sinister plots, cat-and-mouse games, and decisions where her life hangs in the balance.”

—Tianna Moxley, The River’s End Bookstore, Oswego, NY


Nonfiction & Memoir

The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power by Deirdre Mask
(St. Martin’s Griffin, 9781250134790, $17.99, January 26, 2021)

“Who knew that a book about addresses could be so fascinating? An address is job security, healthcare, money, and so much more. Mask has written an insightful and thought-provoking book that will have us thinking about our addresses, and our places in our communities and in the world.This book is perfect for people who like Mary Roach, Mark Kurlansky, and other micro-history authors. Fantastic debut!”

—Kim Brock, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH

Author in Chief: The Untold Story of Our Presidents and the Books They Wrote by Craig Fehrman
(Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster, 9781476786582, $18, February 16, 2021)

“In this brilliantly constructed book, Craig Fehrman has managed to tell the story of America by scrutinizing the way its leaders attempted to tell their own chapters. In doing so, he captures entire moments in history that are so often bifurcated, creating an atmospheric read full of fascinating tidbits without a lick of the saccharine longing that often accompanies such stories.”

—Christen Thompson, Itinerant Literate Books, Charleston, SC

The Dragons, the Giant, the Women: A Memoir by Wayétu Moore
(Graywolf Press, 9781644450567, $16, June 15, 2021)

“Wayétu Moore is only five years old when war breaks out in Liberia and she and her family must flee their home on foot. Moore’s memories of their harrowing journey — and of her subsequent years as a teenager in Texas, a young writer in New York, and an adult returning to visit her childhood homeland — make for one of the best memoirs I’ve read in years. A riveting narrative of survival and resilience and a tribute to the fierce love between parents and children.”

—Mary Laura Philpott, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN

The Magical Language of Others: A Memoir by E.J. Koh
(Tin House Books, 9781951142278, $16.95, January 19, 2021)

“This autobiography is adjacent to a memory box: Mixed in with Eun Ji’s tenderly translated letters from her mother, we see bits and pieces of her life, the mundane and the extraordinary, as she navigates high school and college life a continent away from her parents. Koh also delves into the history of both her maternal and paternal grandmothers, who have fascinating stories. Heartfelt and sweet, this beautiful memoir will immerse you in its pages.”

—Andrew King, University Book Store, Seattle, WA

Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis by Ada Calhoun
(Grove Press, 9780802148575, $16, January 19, 2021)

“Ada Calhoun allows us to identify ourselves in this book so we can deepen our understanding and shift patterns of behavior for our own wellbeing. She helps us all understand how we may have lost sight, and how to regain it. Perhaps most importantly, she helps us realize how much we share in common with so many other women, and she does it with a sense of humor. I am so excited to share this with readers.”

—Kira Wizner, Merritt Bookstore, Millbrook, NY


Other Worlds

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth
(John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9780358451174, $16.99, June 1, 2021)

“Parallel universes, magic siphons, and incredibly powerful evil collide in Veronica Roth’s first novel for adults. Five teens — the Chosen Ones — were selected to defeat the Dark One, who was wreaking havoc on Earth. On the 10th anniversary of his defeat, the unthinkable happens and the Chosen Ones must use their powers again.”

—Mary Hembree, House of Books, Kent, CT

Highfire: A Novel by Eoin Colfer
(Harper Perennial, 9780062938572, $16.99, January 5, 2021)

“Eoin Colfer has a gift for making an absurd premise seem entirely possible — nay, probable. Who is going to rescue a young Cajun boy from a corrupt cop in the swamps of Louisiana? A world-weary dragon named Vern who wears a Flashdance T-shirt and drinks a lot of vodka. Naturally.”

—Carolyn Sweeney, Squirreled Away Books, Armada, MI

The Resisters: A Novel by Gish Jen
(Vintage, 9780525657224, $16.95, January 12, 2021)

“Gish Jen separates herself from the pack of dystopian authors with work that is not only pointed and deeply disturbing in some of its observations but also filled with a humor that is sometimes sly and subtle and often plain laugh-out-loud. The tale of Gwen and her prowess as a pitcher, and the effect it has on her downtrodden family and culture, is sure to absorb and enthrall readers.”

—Bill Cusumano, Square Books, Oxford, MS

The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates #1) by A.K. Larkwood
(Tor Books, 9781250238924, $17.99, January 26, 2021)

“This book has all the classic fantasy bits I love from my childhood — a magic thingamabob, quests, wizard duels, travel montages, sword fights, and assassinations — but it’s also got the tone and style of a modern fantasy sitcom. All my favorite tropes from classic ’80s fantasy have been updated for a less sexist, less racist, less homophobic time. It is exactly what I have been waiting for my whole life, and I am so, so glad it exists.”

—Megan Szmyd, Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, CO

The Vanished Birds: A Novel by Simon Jimenez
(Del Rey, 9780593129005, $17, January 26, 2021)

“It begins with a boy who falls from the sky and a captain who will do anything to protect him from powers far greater than either of them. In this debut, humanity continues to trip over itself in an attempt to hold onto the past and the places it could go. The price of colonization remains high with Earth’s expansion through the galaxy in this haunting novel spanning centuries and light years.”

—Ikwo Ntekim, Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, NY


Romance & Romantic Comedy

Act Your Age, Eve Brown: A Novel (The Brown Sisters #3) by Talia Hibbert
(Avon, 9780062941275, $15.99, March 9, 2021)

“Positively effervescent! Throughout the Brown Sisters series, Hibbert has somehow written love stories that talk about real issues without being preachy. Eve and Jacob’s journey is no exception. From devious ducks to meddling family members, this was unbridled delight from cover to cover.”

—Destinee Hodge, East City Bookshop, Washington, DC

First Comes Like: A Novel by Alisha Rai
(Avon, 9780062878151, $15.99, February 16, 2021)

“Alisha Rai does it again with First Comes Like, a story about an Instagram influencer who falls for a Bollywood star when he slides into her DMs. The only problem: When she finally gets to meet him in person, he has no idea who she is. When a leaked photo turns this misunderstanding into a potential PR disaster, the obvious solution is to pretend to be a couple. What happens is sweet, flirty, and highly entertaining!”

—Jessica Nock, Main Street Books (NC), Davidson, NC

Float Plan by Trish Doller
(St. Martin’s Griffin, 9781250767943, $16.99, March 2, 2021)

“I’ve read romances set on boats and in the Caribbean, but they always centered on the 1% — the heroine who doesn’t sail the boat because she has staff for that. The strength in this story is inspiring, from both protagonists. The romance is honest and modern, leading them to a great, happily-for-now conclusion that promises more adventure.”

—R. Aimee Chipman, The Bluestocking Bookshop, Holland, MI

The Roxy Letters: A Novel by Mary Pauline Lowry
(Simon & Schuster, 9781982121440, $17, April 6, 2021)

“Mary Pauline Lowry has written a sharp, witty, and funny story. You will fall in love with Roxy as she attempts to find meaning by battling the gentrification of her beloved Austin while trying to reignite her love life and deal with the indignities of her low-paying job. Roxy’s struggles and triumphs combine to form an engaging and humorous portrait of a young woman trying to find her way!”

—Jane Stiles, Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA

Siri, Who Am I?: A Novel by Sam Tschida
(Quirk Books, 9781683691686, $15.99, January 12, 2021)

“This was a witty and fun contemporary version of the amnesia trope. When a young woman wakes up in the hospital with no memory of her life following a head injury, all she has is Siri and her Instagram feed to go by. Her carefully curated social media presence turns out to be just that, so she has to decide which version of herself she really wants to be.”

—Laura Harvey, Copper Dog Books, Beverly, MA


Small Bites

Black Girl, Call Home by Jasmine Mans
(Berkley, 9780593197141, $15, March 9, 2021)

“There is something etherial and concrete in Black Girl, Call Home that rings entirely of the Black woman’s experience. These poems are a beacon to the central space inside Black American women’s reality. Jasmine Mans knows the language of all her ancestors and uses it to speak to us in our very moment. I am grateful this collection is in our hands.”

—Hannah Oliver Depp, Loyalty Bookstores, Washington, DC

Cosmogony: Stories by Lucy Ives
(Soft Skull, 9781593765996, $16.95, March 9, 2021)

Cosmogony is filled with stories so wildly and artistically written that reviewers become infinitely more fantastical in their analysis simply through intellectual osmosis. These are the stories of women who, in their daily lives, experience a bent reality that includes demons, angels, time travel, and more. Who says life can’t be weird? Rejoice in the freedom of thought the author displays. You might need it yourself someday.”

—Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, WA

Land of Big Numbers: Stories by Te-Ping Chen
(Mariner Books, 9780358272557, $15.99, February 2, 2021)

“Each story in this excellent debut collection is a self-contained gem. Glimpsing into a normal life, often interrupted, of the widely divided Chinese diaspora, these stories are at times real and absurd, relatable and unbelievable. They are all a brilliant study in human psychology.”

—Jamie Southern, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC

Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss by Margaret Renkl
(Milkweed Editions, 9781571313836, $16, March 30, 2021)

“Margaret Renkl is an observer — of nature, of people, of life. In her debut, she gracefully and confidently weaves her observations through brief essays about love, family, and loss. Beautifully written and constructed.”

—Lee Virden Geurkink, Monkey and Dog Books, Fort Worth, TX

Verge by Lidia Yuknavitch
(Riverhead Books, 9780525534884, $16, February 2, 2021)

“Yuknavitch places each character at the edge of a cliff and drives them over with a sentence. In one of the best collections I’ve read in recent memory, visceral stories feature stunning language splaying across the page and spiraling with the characters. Anger and joy and rage and otherworldly elation bristle in every choice.”

—Miranda Sanchez, Epilogue: Books Chocolate Brews, Chapel Hill, NC


Thrills & Chills

Eight Perfect Murders: A Novel by Peter Swanson
(William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062838193, $16.99, January 26, 2021)

“This novel is a great choice for any mystery lover! Thrilling, vicious, and full of literary references, this puzzle Swanson has crafted will give even the most avid mystery fan trouble when putting it together. There are endless strategic twists to keep readers guessing and unsure of who to cheer for. From beginning to end, every development is unexpected.”

—Karyn Cumming, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

The Only Good Indians: A Novel by Stephen Graham Jones
(Gallery / Saga Press, 9781982136468, $16.99, January 26, 2021)

“Four childhood friends from the Blackfeet Nation are confronted by an ancient being after an elk hunt they participated in as young men. The events that follow read like a horrifying mythology, full of vengeful beings and righteous acts of terror. Jones creates incredible, gorgeously written suspenseful scenes that are just a visual as any movie. He left me with goosebumps long after I finished reading.”

—Annie Carl, The Neverending Bookshop, Edmonds, WA

The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia by Emma Copley Eisenberg
(Hachette Books, 9780316449212, $17.99, January 19, 2021)

“In describing the murder of two young girls in West Virginia, Eisenberg paints a vivid picture of Appalachia and shows that misogyny appears in forms that can range from small statements to murder. Furthermore, Eisenberg challenges the idea that a small town is a simple one. The Third Rainbow Girl encourages readers to think beyond their common assumptions and embrace the unfamiliar.”

—Nikita Imafidon, Raven Book Store, Lawrence, KS

This Town Sleeps by Dennis E. Staples
(Counterpoint, 9781640094642, $16.95, March 16, 2021)

“Marion is haunted — by his hometown, by the spirit of a childhood legend, by the boys of his youth, and by a murder that cracked the foundations of a community. Staples opens up the novel to the community’s voices to inform the communal history of Geshig, Minnesota, and remind us that one man’s story is never just his own. This Town Sleeps might just answer the question: Who will write the great gay Ojibwe gothic novel?”

—Chris Lee, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

Three Hours in Paris by Cara Black
(Soho Crime, 9781641292580, $16.95, March 30, 2021)

“Propulsive and nerve-racking. Cara Black’s research shows in the vitality of her settings and characters, and sets her head and shoulders above so many WWII-era thriller writers. This will be a great read for fans of Aimée Leduc but also anyone looking for a fascinating twist on history full of moral gray areas.”

—Alyson Podesta, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA


Young Adult

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper
(Bloomsbury YA, 9781547605682, $10.99, February 2, 2021)

The Gravity of Us is a captivating debut for lovers of adorable romance, space, and social media. If you’ve ever wondered what the 1960s space race era would have been like with 24/7 media and internet coverage, this is the book for for you!”

—Mariana Calderon, Second Star to the Right Children’s Books, Denver, CO

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
(Dial Books, 9780593108192, $10.99, May 11, 2021)

“There’s a reason Juliet Takes a Breath sold over 10,000  copies before it was even traditionally published — it’s flat out amazing. Juliet’s voice is loud and clear and will pull you right into her journey of figuring out what identity means to her. Unabashedly inclusive in its queerness and feminism, this book is as much a manifesto as it is a coming-of-age story.”

—Abby Rice, The Briar Patch, Bangor, ME

The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake
(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780759554993, $10.99, June 15, 2021)

The Last True Poets of the Sea is a beautiful story about characters who are far from perfect learning to love themselves — flaws and all — and the importance of allowing love into your life, from friends, family, and the one who sets your heart on fire. Drake’s take on mental health shows readers that everyone has their own struggles, and that working through those struggles requires honesty, trust, and perseverance. It’s funny, emotional, and filled with aquatic puns. What more could you need?”

—Colleen Regan, An Unlikely Story, Plainville, MA

The Silence of Bones by June Hur
(Square Fish, 9781250763679, $10.99, April 20, 2021)

“A beautifully written and well-researched historical mystery, The Silence of Bones will immerse you in Joseon-dynasty Korea until the last page. Seol is a great heroine, and I can’t wait to read her next adventure. The plot, characters, setting, and writing are all excellent, and Hur brings new life to both mystery and YA. This is the first YA novel I have read about Joseon Korea — hopefully the first of many. I highly recommend this title to anyone looking for a thrilling, engaging read.”

—Rebekah Hendrian, The Book Nook & Java Shop, Montague, MI

Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry
(Algonquin Young Readers, 9781643751313, $10.95, March 30, 2021)

Tigers, Not Daughters is a gorgeous, poignant novel of grief, ghosts, growing up, and, above all, the magic of sisterhood. It’s somehow Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides meets Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits. A truly wonderful, extremely compelling tale with a massive amount of crossover appeal.”

—Cristina Russell, Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL