Off the Shelf: Fiction

Even with a building and an online collection brimming with books, avid readers are often asking themselves what they should read next. With so much to choose from, let us do some of the heavy lifting for you.

Take a peek at our curated list of fiction titles that will let you unplug from the stress of daily life. There’s nothing quite like curling up with a good book, so check out these titles and find your next favorite story we’ve pulled “from the shelf.”

If you’d like to discuss what you’re reading with other library patrons, feel free to share your thoughts on our Goodreads page.

An American Marriage

by: Tayari Jones

In An American Marriage, we meet Celestial, a thirty-something African American woman from an upper-middle-class Atlanta family who is a year and a half into a marriage with a man named Roy. Roy views his much more modest, small-town Louisiana upbringing as a gift of humility, but he’s also driven to make his mark in Atlanta’s high-powered business world.

On the sidelines as the novel begins is Andre, a man who was Celestial’s best friend growing up, and who became a close friend to Roy during college. It was Andre who introduced the pair, and it is Andre to whom Celestial turns when Roy is sentenced to twelve years in a Louisiana prison for the rape of a white woman–a crime he did not commit. For years, Celestial sticks by Roy, visiting him, providing him with money, helping the lawyer pursue a reversal of the conviction, but over time her commitment wanes. Celestial questions their tumultuous marriage, begins to find her own way as an artist, and falls in love with Andre.

When Roy is suddenly released from prison, his conviction overturned, Celestial, Roy, and Andre must each re-examine the bonds of love and friendship that have held them together, while at the same time searching for a way to move forward individually without sacrificing everything that had made their love possible.

An American Marriage stuns with its emotional intensity, and grapples with the universal and relatable themes of what it means to be a husband, a wife, a father, a son, a daughter–as well as what it means to be black in America today.

The Printed Letter Bookshop

by: Katherine Reay

One of Madeline Cullen’s happiest childhood memories is of working with her Aunt Maddie in the quaint and cozy Printed Letter Bookshop. But by the time Madeline inherits the shop nearly twenty years later, family troubles and her own bitter losses have hardened Madeline’s heart toward her once treasured aunt, and the now struggling bookshop left in her care.

While Madeline intends to sell the shop as quickly as possible, the Printed Letter’s two employees have other ideas. Reeling from a recent divorce, Janet finds sanctuary within the books and within the decadent window displays she creates. Claire, though quieter than Janet, feels equally drawn to the daily rhythms of the shop and its loyal clientele, finding a renewed purpose within its walls.

When Madeline’s professional life falls apart, and a handsome gardener upends all her preconceived notions, she questions her plans and her heart. Has she been too quick to dismiss her aunt’s beloved shop? And even if she has, the women’s best combined efforts may be too little, too late.

Mixed Doubles

by: Jill Mansel

New Year’s resolutions never go according to plan…

Liza wants to get married, Dulcie wants a divorce, and Pru wants things in her relationship to stay exactly the same. Those are the New Year’s resolutions these three best friends have vowed to keep this year. But if you want to change your mind about your resolutions, you probably shouldn’t have told your closest pals.

Regardless of good intentions and best-laid plans, every effort to help each other only gets things more mixed up. Fortunately for all concerned, Fate has got a few tricks of her own in store…

Commonwealth

by: Ann Patchett

One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families. Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another.

Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together.

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows

by: Balli Kaur Jaswal

Every woman has a secret life…Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she’s spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent life.

When her father’s death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a ‘creative writing’ course at the community center in the beating heart of London’s close-knit Punjabi community. Because of a miscommunication, the proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn basic English literacy, not the art of short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories in English and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories.

Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected and exciting kind. As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns her students to keep their work secret from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community’s ‘moral police.’ When the widows’ gossip offers shocking insights into the death of a young wife, a modern woman like Nikki, and some of the class erotica is shared among friends, it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.

The Bookshop on the Corner

by: Jenny Colgan

Nina Redmond is a librarian with a gift for finding the perfect book for her readers, but can she write her own happy ever after?

Nina is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion…and also her job. Or at least it was, until yesterday. She was a librarian in the hectic city, but now the job she loved is no more. Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile – a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling.

From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

by: Gabrielle Zevin

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. He lives alone, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. When a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over and see everything anew.

Us Against You

by: Fredrik Backman

Have you ever seen a town fall? Ours did.
Have you ever seen a town rise? Ours did that, too.

A small community tucked deep in the forest, Beartown is home to tough, hardworking people who don’t expect life to be easy or fair. No matter how difficult times get, they’ve always been able to take pride in their local ice hockey team.

So it’s a cruel blow when they hear that Beartown ice hockey might soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in the neighboring town of Hed, take in that fact. As the tension mounts between the two adversaries, a newcomer arrives who gives Beartown hockey a surprising new coach and a chance at a comeback.

Daisy Jones & the Six

by: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Everyone knows DAISY JONES & THE SIX, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity, until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ‘n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road. Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together.

What happens next will become the stuff of legend. The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies.

One True Loves

by: Taylor Jenkins Reid

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They built a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever. Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together.

Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness. That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her.

The Leavers

by: Lisa Ko

One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her.

With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left with no one to care for him. He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. They rename him Daniel Wilkinson in their efforts to make him over into their version of an ‘all-American boy.’

But far away from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his new life with his mother’s disappearance and the memories of the family and community he left behind.

Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid and moving examination of borders and belonging. It’s the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he’s loved has been taken away, and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of her past.

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