The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur JaswalWhat it's about: Fulfilling the last wishes of their dying mother means that three very different British Punjabi sisters must reluctantly travel through India -- together.
Why you might like it: The sisters' distinct personalities, the secrets they're hiding, and the tension between them means there's plenty of fraught family dynamics, while India's vibrant sights provoke insight into and empathy for their mother's history -- and their relationships with each other.
Biloxi by Mary MillerFeaturing: a 60-ish loser named Louis, whose spontaneous decision to adopt a dog named Layla changes his life (mostly for the better).
What happens: One impulsive decision leads to another, and while not all the choices Louis makes are in his best interests, they do ultimately bring much-needed change to his life.
What reviewers say: "deliciously engaging, gently quirky, surprisingly hopeful" (Kirkus Reviews).
The Farm by Joanne RamosIn a world where...one percenters outsource their pregnancies, financially desperate birth mothers can expect luxury living quarters and huge payouts -- but at what cost?
Featuring: Three "hosts" at isolated Golden Oaks, including Filipina immigrant Jane Reyes, who's overwhelmed with worry for her own daughter outside the walls of the facility.
For fans of: thought-provoking novels that entwine reproduction issues with capitalism, like Vanessa Hua's A River of Stars. And while this isn't truly a dystopian novel, fans of The Handmaid's Tale will be intrigued.
Orange World and Other Stories by Karen RussellWhat it is: a collection of stories of the weird and wonderful, peopled with equally inventive characters, from a teen in love with a mummy to a retired tornado farmer.
Who it's for: readers who enjoy vivid, unconventional tales marked by bizarre twists, as seen in stories by George Saunders or Aimee Bender
Reviewers say: "wonderfully off-kilter" (Publishers Weekly).
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieWhat it's about: Ifemelu left Nigeria for the U.S. as a college student; now, many years later, she contemplates returning to Nigeria. Consider this a love story -- but also a tale of culture clashes and a hard-won battle for success.
Why you might like it: Ifemelu is an outspoken and courageous observer of racial restrictions and conventions; neither the U.S. nor Nigeria (nor England, where her first love lives illegally) escape her gimlet eye.
Coming soon to a (small) screen near you: Americanah will be adapted into a television miniseries by Black Panther stars Lupita Nyong'o and Danai Gurira.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik BackmanFeaturing: cranky, ill-tempered Ove, and his annoyingly chatty, over-familiar neighbors.
What happens: Ove is mourning a deeply felt loss, but his desire to keep to himself gradually gets undermined by the aforementioned friendly neighbors.
The movie: While there's already a Swedish film version of this charming and beloved novel, Tom Hanks will be starring in a forthcoming U.S. remake.
Catch-22 by Joseph HellerWhat it is: First published in 1961, this satirical, near-surreal classic is set on a Mediterranean island during World War II. It boasts a bizarre array of characters from the 256th Squadron and a non-chronological (some might say chaotic) narrative.
What it's about: the horrors and incomprehensible incoherence of war.
Already on screens near you...at least, if you have access to Hulu. Launched in May, there are six episodes depicting the illogical "adventures" of the 256th bombing squadron.
The Rosie Project by Graeme SimsionStarring: Don Tillman, an extremely logical, efficient, and socially awkward Australian genetics professor who's never had a second date.
What happens: Having completed a scientifically rigorous and evidence-based questionnaire setting out his expectations (16 pages of them), he believes it's only a matter of time until he finds the perfect mate. Instead, he finds Rosie Jarman, a disorganized and fiercely independent bartender who needs his help.
Film potential: It continues to be a long road to development, but the latest rumors have Ryan Reynolds set to star as Don Tillman.
The Goldfinch by Donna TarttWhat happens: After an explosion at a museum kills his mother, 13-year-old Theo Decker drifts, his only constant a painting stolen the day his mother died.
Read it for: the nuanced characters, Dickensian plot, and complex themes of loss and loyalty.
Coming soon to a screen near you: Starring Ansel Elgort as Theo, and featuring Nicole Kidman, Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson, and Jeffrey Wright (among others), the film will be released in September.
Native Son by Richard WrightWhat it is: First published in 1940, this classic novel follows the life of Bigger Thomas, a young black man in 1930s Chicago, as his options narrow around him.
Why you should read it: Native Son frankly depicts the racial divide in the U.S. in the 1930s; though it's violent and at times hard to read, it's also a thought-provoking take on the impact of systemic racism.
Already on (small) screens near you: While Oprah appeared in the 1986 film, an HBO film set in the present day was released in April 2019.
Contact your librarian for more great books!
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