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WORD recommends these books this July.
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Featured Book for July:

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (ebook available)
In his latest book, Coates brings lyricism and historical emphasis to the powerful treatise he directs at his 14 year-old son: the realities of being a black man in a country with a history of violence against black bodies. Yet in many ways, this book is really an open letter to the reader and -- more specifically -- "the Dreamers" who are complicit in white supremacy and reap its benefits absent-mindedly. For this indictment, some have described Coates' outlook as bleak and lamented his lack of answers. Those who look to this book for policy or pragmatism will find none. The importance instead is in the perspective it provides, the emotion with which it is described, and the opportunity for understanding it creates. (Dylan)
"We often look back and congratulate ourselves for how far we have come. Coates reminds us that we need to look more carefully at where we are and where we need to be." (Kerry)

"Ta-Nehisi Coates writes of black bodies, social analysis, the legacy of slavery, anger, resilience, police violence, injustice, and of hopes and dreams for his son. So much, such importance in such a small book. He writes, 'Race is the child of racism, not the father.'" (Emily)

"This book should be required reading for every US citizen. Read Coates and take the antidote to the poison that is the Dream." (Ashanti)

"I read this book in one sitting; I just couldn't put it down, between the flow of the language and the incredible emotion behind it. And I plan on rereading it (probably more than once)." (Jenn)

Fiction We Love:

 
         


Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal (ebook available)
Eva Thorvald is the focal point of this novel, but we get to watch her grow through the eyes of people who were affected by her during different stages in her life. Stradal captures the push and pull of family dynamics, the awkwardness and good intentions of a Midwestern adolescence, and the unique kind of drive that comes with an obsession for good food. The balance of flavors is just right. (Emily)

Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont (ebook available)
One of the most searingly honest writers I've read in a long time. Julia Pierpont takes the everyday, quiet dissatisfaction of goals fallen short and how easily our lives can be transported with one action. And how that one action is never simply one action. It starts with a box containing all of the documents between a famous(ly failed) artist, his too young mistress, and the daughter who finds the box that was meant for her mother. It ends with an apartment, but like life, it never really ends. This is one that stuck with me for a while -- Pierpont is one to watch out for. (Ashanti)


When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi (ebook available)
This suspenseful tale of a young widow and her quest to safely leave Afghanistan with her children is told through the perspective of both the widow and her eldest son, who struggles on the outskirts of adulthood. I found myself clutching at my shirt in terror for the young family as I read. If you're looking for more to your summer reading than hot romance I can't recommend this book enough. I felt both informed and captivated by this harrowing tale of survival and family. (Katelyn)

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin (available August 4)
Jemisin is a brilliant world-builder -- and this is (at least) her third world. The Stillness is prone to shakes, quakes, and other geological happenings; certain people, called orogenes, have the power to stop these shakes before they start. Orogenes are feared and hated, unless they're part of the Fulcrum, where they are trained and controlled. Jemisin weaves three storylines -- a mother looking for her kidnapped daughter; a girl taken to the Fulcrum; two orogenes, reluctantly working together -- into a mesmerizing whole, building a vivid, uncertain world populated with unforgettable characters. The Fifth Season is out August 4, and we're excited to host Jemisin for her Brooklyn launch party that night. (Molly)

 

         


Summerlong by Dean Bakopoulos (ebook available)
If you're craving a summer read with a slightly different energy, Bakopoulous's Summerlong introduces you to the petri dish that is summer in a small Midwestern college town. It swirls with a slow intensity, undercurrents brushing to the surface and then under again, lives overlapping in the past, diverging, and then converging again in Grinnell, Iowa, over the course of a summer. He captures both the lost-ness of your twenties and the listlessness of your forties. (Emily)

Miss Emily by Nuala O'Connor (ebook available)
A quiet domestic turned raucous, Nuala O'Connor's re-imagining of the private life of Emily Dickinson humanizes and warms an always mystifying literary figure. Between the perspectives of Emily and her recently emigrated, Irish maid Ada, O'Connor paints a sympathetic portrait while balancing mid-19th century American class clashes. Emily's world increasingly shrinks to words, white, and shades of light, but she never loses sight of her new confidant. While Ada's world grows dangerously larger, she'll need Emily's help to survive. Full of curt, gorgeous prose and period detail, Miss Emily peers underneath the domestic to the lives it comprises. (Ashanti)

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins (ebook available)
Our main focus is a woman named Carolyn. She’s a linguist. Years ago, she and eleven other children were "saved" by a man they call Father, and brought into his library. Each child -- librarian -- was given a specific folio or catalog to learn and master; languages, medicine, animals, etc. Sharing information was highly discouraged. Fast-forward years later when Carolyn and her estranged siblings must band together to figure out why their Father has left them. This book was so different from anything I’ve ever read. Being isolated from society, the characters' behaviors were at times shockingly refreshing. There were outlandishly wonderful concepts, where going from point a to b was certainly not a straight line. It’s funny, awkward, dark, crazy, and brilliant. (Jasper)

Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

In a novel reminiscent of the classic hard sci-fi of Asimov or Clarke, Kim Stanley Robinson takes us aboard an intergalactic ship that is taking colonists on a one-way trip from earth to their new home, the planet Aurora. Can they survive on this far-off world? Like all great science fiction, this book is packed with imaginative technology, memorable characters, and big ideas. (Kerry)

Nonfiction We Love:

      
 

How Music Got Free by Stephen Witt (ebook available)
It’s well-understood at this late date that online piracy killed the record business, and though the story might not be news to you, Witt’s account is better than most. Rather than simply focus on the millions-of-Napster-users thread, he emphasizes three distinct chains of events -- the development of the MP3, a record-industry mogul, and a CD production plant employee -- whose concurrence weaves a thorough tale of both the industry's collapse and perseverance. Recommended for readers interested in the impact of widely-adopted technology and the music business. (Zach)

One of Us by Asne Seierstad (ebook available)

One of Us is an ambitious, horrifying account of the 2011 massacre in Norway that resulted in the loss of 77 lives, most of them children. This attack was carried out in two locations, Oslo and the island of Utøya, by one man, Anders Breivik, on one day, July 22. How does this happen? Seierstad's examination considers the killer, his life and beliefs, as well as the whole of Norway (its political climate, shortcomings, etc.) and the lives of the lost and ruptured. This book is hard-going and you will lose sleep, and you will tear up, and you will regret searching for related images, articles, and videos online. But you will read on, you will not stop, because this book is incredible, and incredibly important. And you feel that on every page. (Chad)

Life on the Edge by Johnjoe McFadden, Jim Al-Khalili (ebook available)
A few years ago, the field of quantum biology did not exist. Now "spooky action at a distance" and "quantum weirdness" are helping us to understand basic life processes from photosynthesis and gene duplication to bird migration and our sense of smell. It is all explained here with remarkable clarity and verve by two of the scientists who pioneered the field. (Kerry)

Books for Teens, Tweens, and Littles:


      
 

I Am Princess X by Christie Priest (ebook available)
I didn't know what to expect with this book but I was pleasantly surprised! When they were younger, May and Libby invented Princess X and spent years creating comics about her with May writing the stories and Libby drawing them. When Libby dies in a car accident, Princess X dies with her until a few years later when May suddenly sees stickers of Princess X everywhere. This book is unlike anything else I've read and the neat part is that this is written as a novel with comics about Princess X inserted every once in a while. (Lydia)

Even When You Lie to Me by Jessica Alcott (ebook available)
Charlie is an insecure high school student who finds herself attending extracurricular lessons to spend more time with her handsome, funny new English teacher ... who she starts to think might like her back. Seriously folks, I know it sounds sketchy, but it's not -- it's compassionate, witty, humane, and challenging. This book is perfect for anyone who has ever had a forbidden crush -- but also for everyone who didn't know how to fit in their own skin. (Nikki)

Nightborn by Lou Anders (ebook available)
Lou Anders is raising the bar for middle-grade readers who love tales of fantasy in this second book of the Thrones and Bones series. Despite finally giving in to his father’s wishes and learning the family business, Karn Korlundsson must once again venture off after he hears that his good friend Thianna Frostborn has gone missing … but how does a half-giantess go missing? With new characters, new cultures and landscapes to explore, and a challenging riddle to fuel their quest, Nightborn is a sequel that surely delivers! While I do suggest checking out the first book in the series, Frostborn, I’d say you can definitely jump into action here if you so desire. (Jasper)

The Golden Specific by S. E. Grove (ebook available)
The sequel to The Glass Sentence (which, if you haven't read it, I implore you to do so -- it's newly out in paperback) is arguably more intricate, compelling, and nerve-wracking than the first book. Following a few different characters, the book begins with a shipwreck, a murder, and an adventure gone terribly wrong -- by the end of chapter one I was utterly enthralled. Readers of The Glass Sentence will not be disappointed with its follow-up; lovers of adventure, large casts of characters, maps, and trilogies will find themselves completely enraptured by S.E. Grove's storytelling. (Emma)

 

    


Whose Tools? by Toni Buzzeo, Jim Datz
Part book, part guessing game, this nonfiction board book is perfect for children who want to learn more about tools. Informative and beautifully illustrated, it features a diverse range of men and women engaging in different trades (electrician, carpenter, painter, etc) while introducing the tools they use! (Alyssa)

Otter in Space by Sam Garton
Sam Garton's troublesome Otter is back, and as adorable as ever! In Garton's newest picture book, Otter and his best friend Teddy take a trip to the museum where Otter becomes enamored with the space exhibit. Determined to fly to the moon to collect moon rocks, Otter and Teddy train to become astronauts and build a spaceship, making a huge mess in the meantime. The visual and verbal gags, not to mention Otter's adorable toddler-like exploits, make Otter in Space a delight to read again and again. (Emma)

A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins & Sophie Blackall (ebook available)
This gem of a book really surprised me. As the title suggests, the narrator tells us how four different families, spanning four hundred years, gather ingredients, prepare, and then serve Blackberry Fool. It’s really cool to see the technological differences from century to century but even more noteworthy are the cultural differences between the families and how subtly Jenkins and Blackall chose to address them. I suggest reading it yourself first before reading it aloud to children but definitely do the latter as it will open up some interesting conversations. Bonus: the recipe for Blackberry Fool is at the end of the book! Mmmmm. Mmmmm. Mmmmm. (Jasper)

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