A Selfie as Big as the Ritz drew me in with its brilliant title and mesmerizing cover art. I loved reading the clever stories packed into this slim collection, which is Lara Williams’ debut. She captures her characters at various points in their lives, with sharply observed details that feel simultaneously unique and familiar.
Check It Out Category: Picks by Nancy
In The View from Penthouse B, recently widowed Gwen-Laura moves in with her sister, recently divorced Margot. They take in a newly unemployed young gay man to help with the rent, and it’s fun to see the roommates support each another as they navigate New York City following their personal setbacks. Elinor Lipman’s novel is a charming, light read brimming with optimism, even as it explores themes of grief, forgiveness, and financial challenges.
A Murder of Magpies is a humorous cozy mystery about book editor Samantha Clair, who finds herself in the midst of a wave-making manuscript, a missing author, and a dead courier. This series kick-off by Judith Flanders is clever and charming, great if you’re looking for a smart but light read. I enjoyed the London publishing scene, the entertaining characters, and the lively, brisk narration.
Kathleen Collins was an African-American playwright, filmmaker, educator, and civil rights activist who died at the age of 46 in 1988. Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? is a newly published collection of short stories she wrote in the 1970s. There are breathtaking as well as quieter stories, many with a focus on race and gender that feel just as relevant today.
Will Schwalbe’s Books for Living is a celebration of reading and how worthwhile it is, even if you have a full plate of responsibilities. He thoughtfully explores more than twenty of his favorite books and what each has meant to him. This is a wonderful book for sparking your own thoughts on reading and discovering what you’ll want to read next.
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald is a deeply personal memoir about grief, falconry, and T. H. White. A unique combination for sure, but Macdonald masterfully blends these threads into an engrossing work of art. I highly recommend listening to the audiobook narrated by the author herself for a particularly mesmerizing experience.
Audio is also available on Hoopla.
After hearing readers rave about Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad mysteries, I picked up Faithful Place (third in the series) and now I have a new favorite author. This title features Frank Mackey, an undercover cop who examines the complicated relationships of his own past as he works a cold case. With its atmospheric Irish setting and flawed characters, this is an incredibly satisfying mystery.
Summer is a wonderful time to pick up a collection of short stories. I recommend Mia Alvar’s knockout debut, In the Country, which has been described by readers as dazzling, phenomenal, and stunning. With a variety of characters as well as settings, these richly detailed stories capture the Filipino immigrant experience in an unforgettable way.
If you are in the mood to read something unique, I recommend Beatlebone by Kevin Barry. In this inventive novel, a late-1970s John Lennon is creatively blocked and sets off to find his private island off the coast of Ireland. I loved the unexpected detours, poetic language, and dreamlike setting. Beatles-fandom is helpful but certainly not required to enjoy this surreal story.
Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch is an engrossing novel that follows the ups and downs of New Yorker Theo Drecker. It’s a huge book with generous detail and many thought-provoking themes such as art, friendship, and the chaos and beauty of life. The flawed, charismatic characters stayed with me long after I finished the last page. If you missed it when everyone was talking about it in 2013, don’t worry – you can never be too late to the party with this award-winner.