Welcome to the Summer Staff Picks, Round 6! Every summer, each staff members picks a set number of books that they think make great warm weather and vacation reads. They right a blurb for every book, and we put them out on display in the store for all our customers to see (this year they’re to the left when you walk in the front door, along the wall!)
What we don’t always share, however, is our competitive nature. We never want to be coming across as used car salesmen at the store, but behind the scenes, we’re always subtly checking out whose picks have sold more copies. This year, we decided to change it up, and outright share that this is a competition among us on the staff, and the books you buy determine the winner!
Here’s how it works: Every staff member has picked between 5 and 8 titles that they think make great summer reads. The person who’s picks collectively sell the most during June, July and August wins the competition at the end of the summer (we don’t get a prize, just bragging rights). Each staff member’s name below links to that staff members summer picks (all of them, not just the featured one). Each week we’ll feature one book from each staff member here on the blog and whoever’s featured book sells the most that week gets 10 bonus points to their final tally. The button “Summer Staff Picks #6” right below takes you to this week’s featured titles. If you’ve already read a book on the list and loved it, mention it in the comments and the staff member who picked it gets a bonus point for each mention!
Basically, we hope you like the books and help us nurture our competitive sides!
orange by Ichigo Takano
The Complete Collection Vol. 1- This is the first manga that I have ever read, and it was amazing! I had wrongly associated manga with being filled with fights and a lot of action, but this was a teen high school story. It follows our main character as she receives letters from her future self, telling her to change some things around in her life. She doesn’t believe these letters are real, and therefore ignores them. When she realizes that the things in her letters are starting to come true, she begins to listen to them and their messages. This was an emotional read, and quite dark at times, but I really loved it.
On the day that Naho begins 11th grade, she recieves a letter from herself ten years in the future. At first, she writes it off as a prank, but as the letter’s predictions come true one by one Naho realizes that the letter might be the real deal. Her future self tells Naho that a new transfer student, a boy named Kakeru, will soon join her class. The letter begs Naho to watch over him, saying that only Naho can save Kakeru from a terrible future. Who is this mystery boy, and can Naho save him from his destiny? The heart-wrenching sci-fi romance that has over million copies in print in Japan!
Watchman by Alan Moore
A masterful deconstruction of the superhero, Watchmen pulls no punches. Set in a gritty world where the lines between hero and villain are blurred, the story focuses around the costumed detective Rorschach and his hunt for the murderer of a government-sponsored superhero. Critiquing government policy of the 1980’s and packed with symbolism, Watchman is a powerful graphic novel. For mature audiences only.
A hit HBO original series, Watchmen, the groundbreaking series from award-winning author Alan Moore, presents a world where the mere presence of American superheroes changed history–the U.S. won the Vietnam War, Nixon is still president, and the Cold War is in full effect.
Considered the greatest graphic novel in the history of the medium, the Hugo Award-winning story chronicles the fall from grace of a group of superheroes plagued by all-too-human failings. Along the way, the concept of the superhero is dissected as an unknown assassin stalks the erstwhile heroes.
This edition of Watchmen, the groundbreaking series from Alan Moore, the award-winning author of V For Vendetta and Batman: The Killing Joke, features art from industry legend Dave Gibbons, with high-quality, recolored pages found in Watchmen: Absolute Edition.
Angels in the Sky by Robert Gandt
Angels in the Sky is the fascinating true story of the birth of the Israeli Air Force. The founding of the state of Israel was met with declarations of war from Egypt, Jordand, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iraq. This presented a problem for Israel as not only did it not have a military or an airforce ,while its opponents did, the nations of the world had all agreed not to become involved in the conflict. However people through out the world found ways to send aid in defiance of the neutrality of their nations, such as the pilots of the new IDF Airforce. 150 former WW2 pilots headed from their homes to Israel unsure if there would even be planes for them to fly when they arrived. 150 men and 80 planes made up a force that was expected to fight and win against the militaries of 7 nations in a war of potential extermination. Amazingly, they did. At times inspiring and heart breaking Angels In The Sky is a great read for anyone interested in stories about the underdog and heroism.
In 1948, when the newly founded nation of Israel came under siege from a coalition of Arab states, a band of volunteer airmen from the United States, Canada, Britain, France, and South Africa arrived to help. They were a small group, fewer than 150. Many were World War II veterans; most of them knowingly violated their nations’ embargoes on the shipment of arms and aircraft to Israel. The airmen risked everything—their careers, citizenship, and lives—to fight for Israel. The saga of the volunteer airmen in Israel’s war of independence stands as one of the most stirring—and little-known—war stories of the past century.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
This is a YA science fiction novel, so I was a little initimated to read it at first. However, after finishing the entire series, I can say that it’s one of my absolute favorites! Each book takes a “sci-fi twist” on a fairy tale, including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White. The world is incredibly immersive to read about, and I loved reading about how the fairy tales incoporated into the plot. However, my favorite aspect of this series are the characters! They are all unique (and hilarious) in their own way. I highly reccomend this book/series to anyone, no matter if you are a sci-fi fan or not!
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
With high-stakes action and a smart, resourceful heroine, Cinder is a Cinderella retelling that is at once classic and strikingly original.
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Since the first edition The New Jim Crow was first published 10 years ago, it seems that little has changed in the criminal justice system’s relationship with black people; to say the least, it’s timely that the 10th Anniversary Edition was published this year. If you’re not black, you might attribute mass incarceration of and police brutality against black people to military-style police departments or the War on Drugs. Truth is, as Alexander lays out in her book, the mass incarceration of black folks is just the latest version of an effort that’s hundreds of years old. The New Jim Crow isn’t a light read, and it’s not a slim crash course on race relations in America, either. But if you feel compelled to get the real and in-depth story of how we got to where we are, at least in terms of the criminal justice system, you can’t do much better than this book.
Seldom does a book have the impact of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. Since it was first published in 2010, it has been cited in judicial decisions and has been adopted in campus-wide and community-wide reads; it helped inspire the creation of the Marshall Project and the new $100 million Art for Justice Fund; it has been the winner of numerous prizes, including the prestigious NAACP Image Award; and it has spent nearly 250 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.
Most important of all, it has spawned a whole generation of criminal justice reform activists and organizations motivated by Michelle Alexander’s unforgettable argument that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” As the Birmingham News proclaimed, it is “undoubtedly the most important book published in this century about the U.S.”
Now, ten years after it was first published, The New Press is proud to issue a tenth-anniversary edition with a new preface by Michelle Alexander that discusses the impact the book has had and the state of the criminal justice reform movement today.
Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
Brace yourself for this big fat monster of an apocalyptic world. Where people suddenly start sleepwalking toward who knows what? And their family and friends, called “shepherds,” follow them to keep them safe, while society falls apart bit by bit, and a plague starts to infect people. I read this last summer in the Before Times and by late February, people were calling Wendig that prescient pandemic writer. But he’s also given us fantastic characters to root for or despise and riveting and harrowing action scenes.
Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and her sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.
For as the sleepwalking phenomenon awakens terror and violence in America, the real danger may not be the epidemic but the fear of it. With society collapsing all around them—and an ultraviolent militia threatening to exterminate them—the fate of the sleepwalkers depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart—or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world.
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
RED, WHITE, AND ROYAL BLUE is by definition a romance, hitting all the plot points in the formula up to and including the inevitable happily-ever-after, but there is a depth to this romance that makes the story stand out. Heavy issues of today, fantastic family relationships, and a truly wonderful queer romance combine into a funny and warmhearted read that will have you laughing and crying but always feeling good. Read this book and smile!
When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.
Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic.
The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith
If you like art and you like mysteries, this is your book! Dominic Smith does a remarkable job telling this story from different vantage points and three different periods of time. He tells the story of a painting and its creator, painted in 1636 by Sara de Vos as a memorial to her daughter, Kathrijn, who died of the plague at the age of 7. The painting is stolen from the home of Marty de Groot and replaced with a forgery, painted by Ellie Shipley. The stories of all 3 characters collide when the original painting and its fake, and Marty and Ellie, show up at a gallery exhibit. A true masterpiece of a book!
Amsterdam, 1631: Sara de Vos becomes the first woman to be admitted as a master painter to the city’s Guild of St. Luke. Though women do not paint landscapes (they are generally restricted to indoor subjects), a wintry outdoor scene haunts Sara: She cannot shake the image of a young girl from a nearby village, standing alone beside a silver birch at dusk, staring out at a group of skaters on the frozen river below. Defying the expectations of her time, she decides to paint it.
New York City, 1957: The only known surviving work of Sara de Vos, At the Edge of a Wood, hangs in the bedroom of a wealthy Manhattan lawyer, Marty de Groot, a descendant of the original owner. It is a beautiful but comfortless landscape. The lawyer’s marriage is prominent but comfortless, too. When a struggling art history grad student, Ellie Shipley, agrees to forge the painting for a dubious art dealer, she finds herself entangled with its owner in ways no one could predict.
Sydney, 2000: Now a celebrated art historian and curator, Ellie Shipley is mounting an exhibition in her field of specialization: female painters of the Dutch Golden Age. When it becomes apparent that both the original At the Edge of a Wood and her forgery are en route to her museum, the life she has carefully constructed threatens to unravel entirely and irrevocably.
I’ve Been Thinking… by Maria Shriver
Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see (Mark Twain). This is one example of a powerful quote/saying you will find within this book. Each chapter begins with a “pearl of wisdom” which is followed by a short essay explaining its significance. I enjoyed reading this motivational book and found it to be a source of comfort during this uncertain time.
The ideal book for those seeking wisdom, guidance, encouragement, and inspiration on the road to a meaningful life.
As a prominent woman juggling many roles, Maria Shriver knows just how surprising, unpredictable, and stressful everyday life can be.
In this moving and powerful book, she shares inspiring quotes, prayers, and reflections designed to get readers thinking, get them feeling, get them laughing, and help them in their journey to what she calls The Open Field–a place of acceptance, purpose, and passion–a place of joy.
I’ve Been Thinking . . . is ideal for anyone at any point in her life. Whether you feel like you’ve got it all together or like it’s all falling apart–whether you’re taking stock of your life or simply looking to recharge, this is the book you will turn to again and again. Spend the weekend reading it cover to cover, or keep it on your nightstand to flip to the chapter you need most. Like talking with a close friend, it’s the perfect daily companion—an exceptional gift for someone looking to move forward in life with hope and grace.
As You Wish by Cary Elwes
Written in collaborative with his Princess Bride costars, As You Wish makes me love the movie and the cast even more. The fact that 30 years after the movie was released, the cast are still in regular contact and still get on well enough to all contribute to the book is an absolute delightful thing to witness. The way the different cast members memories are woven together is pitch perfect for the movie and you often feel like you’re on set with Cary, Robin, Mandy and the others as the narrative moves forward. If you have any sort of love or enjoyment of the film, I wholeheartedly recommend reading As You Wish.
From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes the New York Times bestselling account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.
The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.
Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets and backstage stories.
With a foreword by Rob Reiner and a limited edition original poster by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.
Don’t forget to comment the title of ones that you’ve read and loved to help the staff member who recommended it get bonus points!