LibraryReads is the monthly nationwide library staff picks list for adult fiction and non-fiction. Rather than picking “the best” of anything, LibraryReads represents collective favorites—the books library staff across the U.S. loved reading and cannot wait to share. The November 2023 LibraryReads list includes:
Bookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree
Set in the world of New York Times bestselling Legends & Lattes, Travis Baldree’s Bookshops & Bonedust takes us on a journey of high fantasy, first loves, and second-hand books.
Wounded during the hunt for a powerful necromancer, she’s packed off against her will to recuperate in the sleepy beach town of Murk—so far from the action that she worries she’ll never be able to return to it. What’s a thwarted soldier of fortune to do?
Spending her hours at a beleaguered bookshop in the company of its foul-mouthed proprietor is the last thing Viv would have predicted, but it may be both exactly what she needs and the seed of changes she couldn’t possibly imagine.
The Future by Naomi Alderman
When Martha Einkorn fled her father’s isolated compound in Oregon, she never expected to find herself working for a powerful social media mogul hell-bent on controlling everything. Now, she’s surrounded by mega-rich companies designing private weather, predictive analytics, and covert weaponry, while spouting technological prophecy. Martha may have left the cult, but if the apocalyptic warnings in her father’s fox and rabbit sermon—once a parable to her—are starting to come true, how much future is actually left?
Across the world, in a mall in Singapore, Lai Zhen, an internet-famous survivalist, flees from an assassin. She’s cornered, desperate and—worst of all—might die without ever knowing what’s going on. Suddenly, a remarkable piece of software appears on her phone telling her exactly how to escape. Who made it? What is it really for? And if those behind it can save her from danger, what do they want from her, and what else do they know about the future?
Martha and Zhen’s worlds are about to collide. An explosive chain of events is set in motion. While a few billionaires assured of their own safety lead the world to destruction, Martha’s relentless drive and Zhen’s insatiable curiosity could lead to something beautiful or the cataclysmic end of civilization.
Day by Michael Cunningham
April 5, 2019: In a cozy brownstone in Brooklyn, the veneer of domestic bliss is beginning to crack. Dan and Isabel, husband and wife, are slowly drifting apart—and both, it seems, are a little bit in love with Isabel’s younger brother, Robbie. Robbie, wayward soul of the family, who still lives in the attic loft; Robbie, who, trying to get over his most recent boyfriend, is living vicariously through a glamorous avatar online; Robbie, who now has to move out of the house—and whose departure threatens to break the family apart. And then there is Nathan, age ten, taking his first uncertain steps toward independence, while his sister, Violet, five, does her best not to notice the growing rift between her parents.
April 5, 2020: As the world goes into lockdown, the cozy brownstone is starting to feel more like a prison. Violet is terrified of leaving the windows open, obsessed with keeping her family safe. Isabel and Dan communicate mostly in veiled sleights and frustrated sighs. And dear Robbie is stranded in Iceland, alone in a mountain cabin with nothing but his thoughts—and his secret Instagram life—for company.
April 5, 2021: Emerging from the worst of the crisis, the family reckons with a new, very different reality—and with what they’ve learned, what they’ve lost, and how they might go on.
Good Girls Don’t Die by Christina Henry
Celia wakes up in a house that’s supposed to be hers. There’s a little girl who claims to be her daughter and a man who claims to be her husband, but Celia knows this family—and this life—is not hers…
Allie is supposed to be on a fun weekend trip—but then her friend’s boyfriend unexpectedly invites the group to a remote cabin in the woods. No one else believes Allie, but she is sure that something about this trip is very, very wrong…
Maggie just wants to be home with her daughter, but she’s in a dangerous situation and she doesn’t know who put her there or why. She’ll have to fight with everything she has to survive.
Plot Twist by Erin Rosa
Romance author Sophie Lyon’s ironic secret just went viral: she’s never been in love—and it’s ruining her reputation. With a manuscript deadline looming, Sophie makes an ambitious plan to overcome her writer’s block: reunite with her exes (including her last girlfriend Carla, the one person she could have loved) to learn why she’s never fallen in love, and document it all for her millions of new online followers.
Luckily, Sophie’s reclusive landlord, Dash Montrose—a former teen heartthrob—has social media all figured out and is willing to help. What he doesn’t mention is that he’s an anonymous online crafter, a hobby that helps him maintain his sobriety. No one knows about his complicated relationship with alcohol, and with a family that’s Hollywood royalty, Dash has to steer clear of scandal.
As Sophie and Dash grow closer, they discover a heat between them that rivals Dash’s pottery kiln. But Sophie needs to figure out who she is outside her relationships, and Dash isn’t sure he’s stable enough for the commitment she deserves. So Sophie suggests what any good romance author would: a friends-with-benefits arrangement. Surely a strictly casual relationship won’t cause any trouble.
Class: A Memoir of Motherhood, Hunger, and Higher Education by Stephanie Land
When Stephanie Land set out to write her memoir Maid, she never could have imagined what was to come. Handpicked by President Barack Obama as one of the best books of 2019, it was called “an eye-opening journey into the lives of the working poor” (People). Later it was adapted into the hit Netflix series Maid, which was viewed by 67 million households and was Netflix’s fourth most-watched show in 2021, garnering three Primetime Emmy Award nominations. Stephanie’s escape out of poverty and abuse in search of a better life inspired millions.
Maid was a story about a housecleaner, but it was also a story about a woman with a dream. In Class, Land takes us with her as she finishes college and pursues her writing career. Facing barriers at every turn including a byzantine loan system, not having enough money for food, navigating the judgments of professors and fellow students who didn’t understand the demands of attending college while under the poverty line—Land finds a way to survive once again, finally graduating in her mid-thirties.
Class paints an intimate and heartbreaking portrait of motherhood as it converges and often conflicts with personal desire and professional ambition. Who has the right to create art? Who has the right to go to college? And what kind of work is valued in our culture? In clear, candid, and moving prose, Class grapples with these questions, offering a searing indictment of America’s educational system and an inspiring testimony of a mother’s triumph against all odds.
The Manor House by Gilly Macmillan
Childhood sweethearts Nicole and Tom are a normal, loving couple—until a massive lottery win changes their lives overnight.
Soon they’ve moved into a custom-built state-of-the-art Glass Barn on the stunning grounds of Lancaut Manor in Gloucestershire. They have fancy cars, expensive hobbies, and an exclusive lifestyle they never could have imagined.
But this dream world quickly turns into a nightmare when Tom is found dead in the swimming pool. Was Tom’s death a tragic accident, or was it something worse?
Nicole is devastated. Tom was her rock. And their beautiful barn —with all its smart features that never seem to work for her—is beginning to feel very lonely. But she’s not entirely by herself out there in the country. There’s a nice young couple who live in the Manor itself along with their middle-aged housekeeper who has the Coach House. And an old friend of Tom’s from school has turned up to help her get through her grief.
A Grandmother Begins the Story by Michelle Porter
Carter is a young mother, recently separated. She is curious, angry, and on a quest to find out what the heritage she only learned of in her teens truly means.
Allie, Carter’s mother, is trying to make up for the lost years with her first born, and to protect Carter from the hurt she herself suffered from her own mother. Lucie wants the granddaughter she’s never met to help her join her ancestors in the Afterlife. And Geneviève is determined to conquer her demons before the fire inside burns her up, with the help of the sister she lost but has never been without. Meanwhile, Mamé, in the Afterlife, knows that all their stories began with her; she must find a way to cut herself from the last threads that keep her tethered to the living, just as they must find their own paths forward.
The Mystery Guest: A Maid Novel by Nita Prose
Molly Gray is not like anyone else. With her flair for cleaning and proper etiquette, she has risen through the ranks of the glorious five-star Regency Grand Hotel to become the esteemed Head Maid. But just as her life reaches a pinnacle state of perfection, her world is turned upside down when J. D. Grimthorpe, the world-renowned mystery author, drops dead—very dead—on the hotel’s tearoom floor.
When Detective Stark, Molly’s old foe, investigates the author’s unexpected demise, it becomes clear that this death was murder most foul. Suspects abound, and everyone wants to know: Who killed J. D. Grimthorpe? Was it Lily, the new Maid-in-Training? Or was it Serena, the author’s secretary? Could Mr. Preston, the hotel’s beloved doorman, be hiding something? And is Molly really as innocent as she seems?
As the high-profile death threatens the hotel’s pristine reputation, Molly knows she alone holds the key to unlocking the killer’s identity. But that key is buried deep in her past, as long ago, she knew J. D. Grimthorpe. Molly begins to comb her memory for clues, revisiting her childhood and the mysterious Grimthorpe mansion where she and her dearly departed Gran once worked side by side. With the entire hotel under investigation, Molly must solve the mystery posthaste. Because if there’s one thing she knows for sure, it’s that secrets don’t stay buried forever.
The Other Half by Charlotte Vassell
Who killed Clemmie? Was it the blithe, sociopathic boyfriend? His impossibly wealthy godmother? The gallery owner with whom Clemmie was having an affair? Or was it the result of something else entirely?
All the party-goers have alibis. Naturally. This investigation is going to be about aristocrats and Classics degrees, Instagram influencers and whose father knows who.
Or is it ‘whom’? Detective Caius Beauchamp isn’t sure. He’s sharply dressed, smart, and thoroughly modern—he discovers Clemmie’s body on his early morning jog. As he searches for the dark truth beneath the luxurious life of these London socialites, a wall of staggering wealth and privilege threatens to shut down his investigation before it’s even begun. Can Caius peer through the tangled mess of connections in which the other half live—and die—before the case is wrenched from his hands? Bitingly funny, full of shocking twists, and all too familiar, The Other Half is a truly stunning debut.
Calamity by Constance Fay
The captain of a ragtag mercenary ship is given an offer she can’t refuse by the ruthless head of an intergalactic noble family. The only catch? She’ll have to team up with his son–an upsettingly competent hardbody with his own agenda–to get her reward.
She’s got a ramshackle spaceship, a misfit crew, and a big problem with its sexy newest member…
Temperance Reed, banished from the wealthy and dangerous Fifteen Families, just wants to keep her crew together after their feckless captain ran off with the intern. But she’s drowning in debt and revolutionary new engine technology is about to make her beloved ship obsolete.
Enter Arcadio Escajeda. Second child of the terrifying Escajeda Family, he’s the thorn in Temper’s side as they’re sent off on a scouting mission on the backwater desert planet of Herschel 2. They throw sparks every time they meet but Temper’s suspicions of his ulterior motives only serve to fuel the flames between them.
Dolls of Our Lives: Why We Can’t Quit American Girl by Mary Mahoney
Which American Girl are you?
Are you a Molly (a patriotic overachiever with a flair for drama)? Felicity (the original horse girl)? Kirsten (a cottagecore fan who seems immune to cholera), Samantha (a savior complex in a sailor suit), or Josefina (who dealt with grief by befriending a baby goat)? Have you ever wondered how Britney Spears or Michelle Kwan would answer that question? And why do we care so much which girl we are?
Combining history, travelogue, and memoir, Dolls of Our Lives follows Allison Horrocks and Mary Mahoney on an unforgettable journey to the past as they delve into the origins of this iconic brand. Continuing the conversations that began on their podcast, they set out to answer the lingering questions that keep them up at night. What did American Girl inventor Pleasant Rowland hope to say to children with these dolls? Was girl power something that could be ordered from a catalogue, described by a magazine, or modeled in the plot lines of books? And how – and why – did this brand shape an entire generation?
Through interviews with a legion of devoted doll lovers, a field trip to Colonial Williamsburg, a place that inspired Pleasant to create American Girl, and an exploration of their own (complicated) fandom, this is a deep dive into one of the 90s most coveted products – the American Girl doll.