Every once in a while this column will feature a list of the most popular books currently circulating at the library. Now that we’ve reached the dog days of summer, I thought it would be a good opportunity to look back at the past couple months and see what L&A has been clamouring to read this summer. For each of these five titles, I’ve also offered a couple “read-alike” suggestion to try out if you find yourself sitting on the waitlist.

The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff is a fast-paced and smartly-constructed novel that follows a network of female WWII operatives. In 1946 New York, young war widow Grace Healy stumbles upon a suitcase at Grand Central with photographs of twelve women inside. From there, she follows a trail through New York and Washington, D.C., determined to learn more about the women and their leader. Similar titles include The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate and Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. All three are moving, female-centered and character-driven novels of historical fiction inspired by true events in the early to mid-20th century.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owen was released last year but has really skyrocketed in popularity in 2019. This evocative debut follows Kya Clark, a young woman growing up practically on her own in the wild marshes outside of a small coastal community in North Carolina. In 1969, a man is found dead, and Kya, now 23 and known as the “Marsh Girl,” is suspected of his murder. As the local sheriff and his deputy gather evidence against her, the narrative flashes back to the 1950s to tell Kya’s story. For a similar read, try My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent, another novel about an isolated young girl coming of age under disturbing circumstances but surrounded by nature.

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner is a sweeping story about sisters Jo and Bethie. The novels follows the pair from their 1950s roots in Detroit to the present day, as they grow up, grow apart, and back together again. It’s funny, heartwrenching, and features well-developed, LGBTQIA diverse characters. Lucky You by Amy Bloom is another novel of historical fiction novels that features LGBTQIA characters in a sweeping character-driven story about sisters growing up during times of social change in America. The major difference is that Lucky Us spans a different time period (Hollywood's Golden Age to the mid-century). Another read-alike option is Shanghai Sisters by Lisa See, a historical fiction/women’s fiction mash up which also follows close sisters and the tragedies they endure.  

Normal People by Sally Rooney is a character-driven Irish literary novel that follows the complicated relationship between Connell, a popular boy, and Marianne, a lonely and private girl, as they navigate social pressures throughout their high school years and college. Trust Exercise by Susan Choi similarly deals with power dynamics and class differences in relationships and One Day by David Nicholls, another read-alike option, also involves an on again, off again couple who can't seem to resist each other.

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware is a psychological thriller that, as the title suggests, references Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw. It involves a nanny alone, a house that appears to be haunted, and children who aren’t quite what they seem. A similar read is the horror novel The Mansion by Ezekiel Boone, which also follows a down-on-their-luck protagonist as they accept live-in positions at smart homes harboring secrets and, possibly, ghosts. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager is another psychological suspense novel where a house sitter finds their glamorous new digs may be too good to be true.

All of these popular titles (and their read-alikes) can be reserved at your branch of the County of Lennox & Addington Libraries or online here.

This article was originally published in The Napanee Beaver.