Whether you prefer to do your summer reading at the beach under the sun or in AC under a blanket, a good book is what makes the experience. We’ve been doing a lot of summer reading as the staff at Champlain College Library, and we’ve compiled a list across all genres in case yours has run out. Never fear, there are always more page-turners!
How can I get my hands on these page-turners?!
Luckily, we own many of these books and you can borrow them through our contactless checkout service. And while we don’t own all of them, Champlain College faculty, staff, and students have reciprocal borrowing privileges at Saint Michael’s College and UVM. Books that are only available at another library are indicated below.
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
The new book from the author of Station Eleven is, thankfully, not about a global pandemic. But those who loved Station Eleven will find much to love here too; beautiful writing, an intriguing cast of characters, and a narrative that moves skillfully from place to place and back and forth in time. Mandel has a knack for telling a story where there are no good or bad people, only people who do both good and bad things. I devoured this book and highly recommend it!
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
A page-turner from the first to the last. A stirring portrait of what it meant to be a woman in a time not that far removed from our own, but also vastly different.
Unmarriageable by Sonia Kamal
If you love a modern retelling of a Jane Austen Novel, this is a good one. Irreverant, self-referential, and often hilarious, it draws attention to gender discrimination and disparity that would make Austen herself proud.
A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
A beautiful, nonlinear story about family. A story about how those we love most are often the most unreachable and impenetrable, but also as close and essential as our own breath. A story about loss, mistakes, and love. A magnificent first novel.
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
This book is beautiful and sad. A portrait of a time and place when the juggernaut of death collided with life repeatedly and mercilessly until it blended with the mundane. It is also a story about the irreversible aftermath of choices and the relentless forward sweep of time. Read it to learn more about the AIDS crisis in the Chicago gay community.
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
This highly entertaining page-turner would make a great summer read.
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
A mesmerizing page-turner. Egan uses multiple storylines that move back and forth in time deftly, painting a darkly realized picture of a complex time, place, and characters.
Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read Saint Maybe. I think it is my favorite of Tyler’s novels. A story of choices, regrets, and family relationships.
The Little Shop of Found Things & The Secrets of the Chocolate House by Paula Brackston
If you’re a fan of time-traveling tales, these two books (the first two in a series) are light, fun, super-fast reads. Perfect to take your mind off the present!
The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith (available at Saint Michael’s College)
This is the first book in McCall Smith’s Isabel Dalhousie series. Every one of his books is the literary equivalent of curling up with a warm cup of chamomile tea, and this one is no exception. Stepping into McCall Smith’s thoughtful, civilized Edinburgh is the perfect reprieve.
Where the Heart Is by Billie Lets (available at Saint Michael’s College)
The book that the movie is based on (and I’m obsessed with them both). The kind of sweet, heartfelt book that can be read in a day. When pregnant Novalee Nation is abandoned in Oklahoma by her boyfriend, she starts living in a Wal-Mart until she finds the community around her are willing to help her and embrace her as one of their own.
A Match Made in Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai
High school sophomore Simi and her best friend Noah turn their high school on its head when they decide to create a dating app for their school based on the strategies used by the long line of matchmakers in Simi’s family. A fun, sweet, young adult rom-com.
Save Yourself by Cameron Esposito (not available at a library currently, but it’s too good not to share)
Cameron Esposito’s memoir will make you laugh out loud (just like her stand-up comedy does) while also addressing the serious issues she’s encountered in her life. She talks openly and candidly about religion, coming out, and what it means to be who you are.
Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
This novel is an intriguing story about stories. A lifeless little girl is found in the river. Hours later she is breathing and awake. She becomes a story of her own even as three separate families try to claim her. Folklore, science, magic, and myth combine to create a story unlike any other.
The Neapolitan Novels series by Elena Ferrante (available at Saint Michael’s College)
This 4-part series begins in the 1950s in Naples, Italy, and follows two friends Elena and Lila, from childhood to old age. As a reader, I am transformed into every part of their deeply entwined lives. These novels contain so many themes – friendship, poverty, gender, education, and community. Elena and Lila’s complicated and complex relationship makes this series hard to put down!
The Blind Assasin by Margaret Atwood
This classic from the acclaimed author of The Handmaid’s Tale has a bit of everything: Southern (Ontario) Gothic, Science Fiction adventures, family secrets that play out over generations, labor agitation, and forbidden love. Atwood’s wit, language play, and attention to the materiality of things are at their height in this page-turner.
Theodora: Actress, Empress, Saint by David Potter
Would you believe that one of the most powerful and impactful female rulers of the Medieval era began her life in a poor showbiz family, only to go onto marry the Emperor, stop a coup, build the Hagia Sofia, and so much more? This non-fiction book traces what we know and what we don’t about the Empress Theodora of the Byzantine Empire in inviting, highly readable prose.
The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal by E. K. Weaver
This graphic novel, which began its life as a webcomic, lets us live vicariously through a summer road trip that many of us have had to forego this year. Both Amal and TJ, united by a late-night encounter at a gay bar, need to get from California to Rhode Island. While Amal is trying to catch his sister’s graduation–and avoid his parents and now-ex-fiancee after coming out as gay–TJ’s reasons for taking the trip are kept more private. Together, they explore many of the greatest sights across America, but can they form an enduring bond?
Kindred by Octavia Butler
A tale of time travel gone very wrong, this classic by science fiction legend Octavia Butler explores the experiences of a Black woman who finds herself repeatedly and mysteriously transported from 1970s California to pre-Civil War Maryland. This gripping, terrifying story will leave you questioning the boundaries we create between the past and present, the relationship between love and power, and the sacrifices that Black people are repeatedly asked to make under the guise of moving forward.
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Look, we are all having more conversations about race these days. Ijeoma Oluo’s book can help you have those conversations in a more constructive way. This book is written for all audiences regardless of their race and is structured around key questions that you may have–or that others may ask you. Questions like “What if I talk about race wrong?” “What are microaggressions?” “Why can’t I touch your hair?” and “Is police brutality really about race?” are lucidly explored using accessible language and contextual call-ins to Black, white, and non-Black People of Color alike, and each chapter provides tips or background information helpful for making your next conversation about race more impactful for all involved.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
A coming of age story both comfortably familiar yet refreshingly novel, this book invites you into a summer and its aftermath spent with two teenagers named Aristotle (called Ari) and Dante in West Texas in the 1980s. While initially appearing to be both opposites and loners, Ari and Dante find themselves spending a mellow, languid summer together, sharing moments of humor and pain, exploring their identities within their families and their relationship to Chicano identity, learning from one another, and eventually, but seemingly, inevitably, falling in love.
Trick Mirror: Essays on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino (available at Saint Michael’s College)
Few writers get Millennial anxiety quite like New Yorker journalist Jia Tolentino. This collection explores the ways that social media distort our sense of identity, and consider’s what Tolentino’s unlikely time spent as a teenage Reality TV contestant tell us about our lives now under constant performance for an audience on the other side of the screen. With crisp, humourous writing and an astounding array of references, this collection of essays provides fresh, timely insights into the roles of scams, drugs, and classic novel heroines in the construction of a common, often deluded, modern consciousness.
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
An earthling named Gently AI travels to the planet of Gethen to pursue an alliance but is often stymied by cultural misunderstandings and life experiences that leave him poorly equipped to navigate the politics and environment of this new world. On its surface, a tale of a journey through space, this science fiction classic offers profound reflections on the nature of gender, sex, politics, and, of particular relevance to our real-world of isolation and uncertainty, time.
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (available at Saint Michael’s College)
This beautifully-written Russian folktale follows Vasya through her childhood as she explores the forests around her home and learns about the magical creatures that protect her and those that threaten her existence. Bonus: If you like the first one, it’s part of a trilogy!!
Circe by Madeline Miller (available at Saint Michael’s College)
Circe is one of the best books I have ever read. Period. It is so beautifully written that I wanted to linger on every page. “In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child — not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power — the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.”
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett (available at Saint Michael’s College)
I read this last year after the series with David Tennant and Michael Sheen was released and loved it just as much as the show. “According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner. So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .”
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (available at Saint Michael’s College)
This chilling gothic fantasy follows Noemí Taboada as she navigates a crumbling mansion full of secrets while trying to solve the mystery behind her cousin’s strange illness. This book is a rollercoaster of emotion and action, full of twists and turns that is not for the faint of heart!
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (available at Saint Michael’s College)
You’ve probably seen the movie, now read the book it came from! This fantasy adventure is a far cry from the movie adaptation by Hayao Miazaki, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t any less amazing! Follow Sophie Hatter on her journey with the wizard Howl as they encounter magic, mayhem, and a host of new and exciting friends.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
If you’re a fan of classics, dystopias, and Beethoven, look no further than A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess. This masterfully unsettling novel touches on the essence of good, evil, and the choice between them through the eyes of thoughtful yet dastardly teenage Alex. Linguist Burgess adds an extra layer of vibrance with Nadsat, an invented slang vocabulary that’s sure to leave you speaking like Alex.
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Young Elwood, at the wrong place at the wrong time, unjustly gets sent to juvenile correction school with secret dark “methods” of reform. Broken up into three parts; before, after, and during; the book follows Elwood and companion Turner through their contrasting perspectives of the school and what can be done about it.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (available at UVM)
An incredible story about a set of twins, inseparable in childhood, who end up in different worlds, far apart and out of touch. If you had the choice to cross from poverty and discrimination to wealth and respect but had to cut all ties, would you? A heartbreaking story of love, family, loyalty, and lack thereof.
The Vanishing Half will be featured in our next Virtual Book Club meeting on August 11th. Contact Beth Dietrich (firstname.lastname@example.org) to join us!