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 September 2023 LibraryReads list includes:
The September House by Carissa Orlando
When Margaret and her husband Hal bought the large Victorian house on Hawthorn Street—for sale at a surprisingly reasonable price—they couldn’t believe they finally had a home of their own. Then they discovered the hauntings. Every September, the walls drip blood. The ghosts of former inhabitants appear, and all of them are terrified of something that lurks in the basement. Most people would flee.
Margaret is not most people.
Margaret is staying. It’s her house. But after four years Hal can’t take it anymore, and he leaves abruptly. Now, he’s not returning calls, and their daughter Katherine—who knows nothing about the hauntings—arrives, intent on looking for her missing father. To make things worse, September has just begun, and with every attempt Margaret and Katherine make at finding Hal, the hauntings grow more harrowing, because there are some secrets the house needs to keep.
Perfectly Nice Neighbors by Kia Abdullah
Salma Khatun is hopeful about Blenheim, the safe suburban development into which she, her husband, and their son have just moved. The Bangladeshi family are in desperate need of a fresh start, and Blenheim feels like just the place.
Soon after they move in, Salma spots her white neighbor, Tom Hutton, ripping out the anti-racist banner her son put in the front garden. Choosing not to confront Tom, Salma takes the banner inside and puts it in her window instead. But the next morning, she wakes up to find her window smeared with paint.
This time she does confront Tom, and the battle lines between the two families are drawn. As racial and social tensions escalate and the stakes rise, it’s clear that a reckoning is coming…
And someone is going to get hurt.
The Long Game by Elena Armas
Adalyn Reyes has something to prove. After years of working at her father’s football club she wants to make a name for herself. But not for the wrong reasons.
When an embarrassing video of Adalyn goes viral, her father sends her to a small town to turn around their struggling soccer team. She arrives armed with plans to kick them into shape only to find a group of nine-year-old girls. One person is there to help: Cameron Caldani, a goalkeeping legend who is also inexplicably in town. After an unfortunate incident involving a rooster, the two find themselves on opposing sides.
Adalyn thinks Cameron is a surly, scowling brute. Cameron thinks Adalyn needs to take life less seriously. Despite their differences, the two need to play nice and remember they’re on the same team. After all, it’s a long game…
The Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel by KJ Charles
Major Rufus d’Aumesty has unexpectedly become the Earl of Oxney, master of a remote Norman manor on the edge of the infamous Romney Marsh. There he’s beset on all sides, his position contested both by his greedy uncle and by Luke Doomsday, son of a notorious smuggling clan.
The earl and the smuggler should be natural enemies, but cocksure, enragingly competent Luke is a trained secretary and expert schemer―exactly the sort of man Rufus needs by his side. Before long, Luke becomes an unexpected ally…and the lover Rufus had never hoped to find.
But Luke came to Stone Manor with an ulterior motive, one he’s desperate to keep hidden even from the lord he can’t resist. As the lies accumulate and family secrets threaten to destroy everything they hold dear, master and man find themselves forced to decide whose side they’re really on…and what they’re willing to do for love.
The Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff
A servant girl escapes from a colonial settlement in the wilderness. She carries nothing with her but her wits, a few possessions, and the spark of god that burns hot within her. What she finds in this terra incognita is beyond the limits of her imagination and will bend her belief in everything that her own civilization has taught her.
Lauren Groff’s new novel is at once a thrilling adventure story and a penetrating fable about trying to find a new way of living in a world succumbing to the churn of colonialism. The Vaster Wilds is a work of raw and prophetic power that tells the story of America in miniature, through one girl at a hinge point in history, to ask how—and if—we can adapt quickly enough to save ourselves.
Godkiller by Hannah Kaner
Gods are forbidden in the kingdom of Middren. Formed by human desires and fed by their worship, there are countless gods in the world—but after a great war, the new king outlawed them and now pays “godkillers” to destroy any who try to rise from the shadows.
As a child, Kissen saw her family murdered by a fire god. Now, she makes a living killing them and enjoys it. But all this changes when Kissen is tasked with helping a young noble girl with a god problem. The child’s soul is bonded to a tiny god of white lies, and Kissen can’t kill it without ending the girl’s life too.
Joined by a disillusioned knight on a secret quest, the unlikely group must travel to the ruined city of Blenraden, where the last of the wild gods reside, to each beg a favor. Pursued by assassins and demons, and in the midst of burgeoning civil war, they will all face a reckoning. Something is rotting at the heart of their world, and they are the only ones who can stop it.
The Unfortunate Side Effects of Heartbreak and Magic by Breanne Randall
Sadie Revelare has always believed that the curse of four heartbreaks that accompanies her magic would be worth the price. But when her grandmother is diagnosed with cancer with only weeks to live, and her first heartbreak, Jake McNealy, returns to town after a decade, her carefully structured life begins to unravel.
With the news of their grandmother’s impending death, Sadie’s estranged twin brother Seth returns to town, bringing with him deeply buried family secrets that threaten to tear Sadie’s world apart. Their grandmother has been the backbone of the family for generations, and with her death, Sadie isn’t sure she’ll have the strength to keep the family, and her magic, together.
As feelings for Jake begin to rekindle, and her grandmother growing sicker by the day, Sadie faces the last of her heartbreaks, and she has to decide: is love more important than magic?
Things We Left Behind by Lucy Score
Lucian Rollins is a lean, mean vengeance-seeking mogul. On a quest to erase his abusive father’s mark on the family name, he spends every waking minute pulling strings and building his empire. The more money and power he gains, the safer he feels.
Except when it comes to one feisty small-town librarian…
Bonded by an old, dark secret from the past and their current mutual disdain, Sloane Walton trusts Lucian about as far as she can throw his designer-suited body.
When bickering accidentally turns to foreplay, the flames are fanned, and it’s impossible to put them out again. But with Sloane more than ready to start a family and Lucian refusing to even consider the idea of marriage and kids, these enemies-to-lovers are stuck at an impasse.
Until Lucian learns the hard way that leaving Sloane is impossible―the very least he can do is to keep her safe.
Hush Harbor by Anise Vance
After the murder of an unarmed Black teenager by the hands of the police, protests spread like wildfire in Bliss City, New Jersey. A full-scale resistance group takes control of an abandoned housing project and decide to call it Hush Harbor, in homage to the secret spaces their enslaved ancestors would gather to pray.
Jeremiah Prince, alongside his sister Nova, are leaders of the revolution, but have ideological differences regarding how the movement should proceed. When a new mayor with ties to white supremacists threatens the group’s pseudo-sanctuary and locks the city down, the collective must come to a decision for their very survival.
The Museum of Failures by Thrity Umrigar
When Remy Wadia left India for the United States, he carried his resentment of his cold and inscrutable mother with him and has kept his distance from her. Years later, he returns to Bombay, planning to adopt a baby from a young pregnant girl—and to see his elderly mother again before it is too late. She is in the hospital, has stopped talking, and seems to have given up on life.
Struck with guilt for not realizing just how ill she had become, Remy devotes himself to helping her recover and return home. But one day in her apartment he comes upon an old photograph that demands explanation. As shocking family secrets surface, Remy finds himself reevaluating his entire childhood and his relationship to his parents, just as he is on the cusp of becoming a parent himself. Can Remy learn to forgive others for their human frailties, or is he too wedded to his sorrow and anger over his parents’ long-ago decisions?
Land of Milk and Honey by C Pam Zhang
A smog has spread. Food crops are rapidly disappearing. A chef escapes her dying career in a dreary city to take a job at a decadent mountaintop colony seemingly free of the world’s troubles.
There, the sky is clear again. Rare ingredients abound. Her enigmatic employer and his visionary daughter have built a lush new life for the global elite, one that reawakens the chef to the pleasures of taste, touch, and her own body.
In this atmosphere of hidden wonders and cool, seductive violence, the chef’s boundaries undergo a thrilling erosion. Soon she is pushed to the center of a startling attempt to reshape the world far beyond the plate.
Of Time and Turtles: Mending the World, Shell by Shattered Shell by Sy Montgomery
When acclaimed naturalist Sy Montgomery and wildlife artist Matt Patterson arrive at Turtle Rescue League, they are greeted by hundreds of turtles recovering from injury and illness. Endangered by cars and highways, pollution and poachers, these turtles—with wounds so severe that even veterinarians would have dismissed them as fatal—are given a second chance at life. The League’s founders, Natasha and Alexxia, live by one motto: Never give up on a turtle.
But why turtles? What is it about them that inspires such devotion? Ancient and unhurried, long-lived and majestic, their lineage stretches back to the time of the dinosaurs. Some live to two hundred years, or longer. Others spend months buried under cold winter water. Montgomery turns to these little understood yet endlessly surprising creatures to probe the eternal question: How can we make peace with our time?
In pursuit of the answer, Sy and Matt immerse themselves in the delicate work of protecting turtle nests, incubating eggs, rescuing sea turtles, and releasing hatchlings to their homes in the wild. We follow the snapping turtle Fire Chief on his astonishing journey as he battles against injuries incurred by a truck.
Hopeful and optimistic, Of Time and Turtles is an antidote to the instability of our frenzied world. Elegantly blending science, memoir, philosophy, and drawing on cultures from across the globe, this compassionate portrait of injured turtles and their determined rescuers invites us all to slow down and slip into turtle time.