Barack Obama Releases Annual Summer Reading List | Book Pulse

Barack Obama releases his annual Summer Music and Reading Lists. Raven Leilani wins the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award for Luster. The International Association of Culinary Professionals announces the finalists for the 2021 IACP awards. The 2021 Prometheus Awards Winners are also announced. Hanif Abdurraqib has been named an Editor-at-Large at Tin House. The Cellist by Daniel Silva leads holds this week. Six LibraryReads and six Indie Next picks publish this week. People's "book of the week" is Bring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light: Essays by Helen Ellis. The July 2021 Earphones Award Winners are posted and the July Loan Stars list is out. Miranda Cowley Heller's novel The Paper Palace is Reese Witherspoon's July Book Club Pick. Plus, Vogue asks “Why Is Everyone Talking About the 'Cat Person' Short Story Again?”



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Awards & News








Barack Obama releases his annual Summer Music and Reading lists, including titles by David Diop, Rumaan Alam, Katie Kitamura, Kazuo Ishiguro and more. USA Today has coverage.

The July 2021 Earphones Award Winners are posted at Audiofile.

Raven Leilani wins the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award for Luster (FSG: Macmillan). Other finalists included Bryan Washington for Memorial (Riverhead), and C Pam Zhang for How Much of These Hills Is Gold (Riverhead; LJ starred review).

The International Association of Culinary Professionals announced the finalists for the 2021 IACP awards, featuring the best entries in Cookbooks, Digital Media, Food Photography & Styling, and Food Writing.

The The Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS) announced the 2021 Prometheus Awards Winners.

Announced via a press release, author and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib, has been named an Editor-at-Large at Tin House. “In this role, Abdurraqib will acquire and edit three nonfiction books a year for the independent publisher."

Big Books of the Week

The Cellist by Daniel Silva (Harper) leads holds this week.

Other titles in demand include:

It's Better This Way by Debbie Macomber (Ballantine)

While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory (Berkley)

The Therapist by B.A. Paris (St. Martin's Press)

Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda (S.& S.)

These books and others publishing the week of July 12th, 2021 are listed in a downloadable spreadsheet.

Librarians and Booksellers Suggest

There are six LibraryReads selections and six Indie Next picks publishing this week:

Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda (S.& S.)

“The tight-knit neighborhood of Hollow's Edge is supposed to be a safe, private place where the neighbors all know each other. But secrets lie behind every door. Miranda creates a vivid setting where the characters develop quickly, and the twisty plot will keep readers guessing until the end. For fans of psychological thrillers like The Other Mrs., Into the Water, and Every Secret Thing.”—Leslie Hagel, Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield, CT

It is also an Indie Next pick:

“A once tranquil suburb is shocked by two horrible deaths. As the accused killer returns to live in the community, its residents are increasingly uneasy. Pick this book up and you won't want to put it down!”—Jane Stiles, Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers (Tordotcom; LJ starred review)

"The quiet life of a tea monk is interrupted when a robot arrives after centuries to honor a promise to check in. The robot cannot return to the wilderness until the question of “what do people need?” is answered. This is a book I will be recommending to everyone! For readers who enjoyed The Bear and The House in the Cerulean Sea."—Liz Aleshunas, St. Louis Public Library, St. Louis, MO

It is also an Indie Next pick:

“What do you do when you have everything you could ever need or want, but still aren't satisfied with what your life is? A Psalm for the Wild-Built is a short and sweet odd-couple road trip set in a beautiful world that could be our world — if we wanted it to be.”—Joey Puente, DIESEL, A Bookstore, Santa Monica, CA

The Therapist by B.A. Paris (St. Martin's Press)

“Alice and Leo move to a posh London neighborhood and soon learn a woman was murdered in their home. Unnerved, Alice grows obsessed with the homicide. It drives a wedge between her and Leo, but will it lead to finding the killer? This is a well-constructed thriller with solid character development.”—Kelly Verheyden, San Diego Public Library, San Diego, CA

It is also an Indie Next pick:

“B.A. Paris is at the top of her game with her latest novel! I dare you to read just one chapter and try to put this twisty thriller down!”—Toni Chase, Books & Company, Oconomowoc, WI

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix (Berkley; LJ starred review)

“In the horror genre, the final girl is the last one standing at the end. Now imagine a group of them being targeted by a killer on the loose. Who will survive this time? Hendrix scatters plenty of twists and horror references throughout his latest novel.”—Joseph Jones, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Parma, OH

It is also an Indie Next pick:

“Lynnette has been going to the same support group for years — only this isn't a normal support group. It’s a secret group for final girls. This is a fast-paced and shocking thriller that I couldn't put down!”—Katie Cerqua, Gramercy Books, Bexley, OH

While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory (Berkley)

“Ben and Anna begin as colleagues and end as lovers in this sweet and steamy romance. Anna is an up and coming actress trying to make a name for herself. When Ben swoops in to help her in a family emergency, they become close quickly. But will their Hollywood romance last?”—Michelle Magnotta, Mamaroneck Library, Mamaroneck, NY

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey (Avon)

“Piper lands in a remote Pacific Northwest town lacking the glamour of her superficial ‘It-girl’ lifestyle. But her determination to accomplish something real leads to a budding romance with a gruff fisherman. Don’t be fooled by the spoiled heroine--Bailey’s fans will fall in love with this book."—Jessica C. Williams, Tiffin-Seneca Public Library, Tiffin, OH

Two additional Indie Next picks arrive this week:

The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam (Scribner)

“The concept of an app that offers custom-made rituals got me to pick up this new novel, but the fact that the protagonist is a woman of color leading a tech start up alongside her very charismatic husband got me to read it. A great summer read.”—Amber Taylor, One More Page Books, Arlington, VA

Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness by Kristen Radtke (Pantheon; LJ starred review)

“In Seek You, Kristen Radtke approaches the epidemic of American loneliness from a variety of angles. A thoughtful exploration of a complex problem that offers understanding, not easy answers.”—Keith Mosman, Powell's Books, Portland, OR 

In the Media

The People "Picks" book of the week is Bring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light: Essays by Helen Ellis (Knopf). Also getting attention are The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel (Gallery Books) and Falling by T.J. Newman (Avid Reader; LJ starred review).

A “Star Picks" section highlights The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship, A Toltec Wisdom Book by Don Miguel Ruiz and Janet Mills (Amber-Allen), and Hinds' Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard (Tyndale Momentum).

The “Picks” section features Black Widow on Disney+, with associated titles.

Also, there are profiles of Olympian Lolo Jones and her new motivational memoir, Over It: How to Face Life’s Hurdles with Grit, Hustle, and Grace (Thomas Nelson) and Jane Blasio, Taken at Birth: Stolen Babies, Hidden Lies, and My Journey to Finding Home (Revell). Plus, chefs Gregory Gourdet, Everyone’s Table: Global Recipes for Modern Health (Harper Wave) and Ali Rosen, Modern Freezer Meals: Simple Recipes to Cook Now and Freeze for Later (Skyhorse), share recipes.


The NYT reviews Don’t Let It Get You Down: Essays on Race, Gender, and the Body by Savala Nolan (S. & S.; LJ starred review): “Taken together, these essays give the sense that Nolan has not yet solved herself for herself. But they also show how the pieces of our lives do not have to fit neatly in a frame in order to make a portrait worthy of attention.” Also, The Letters of Shirley Jackson by Shirley Jackson (Random): “Jackson is such merry company in this domestic mode that it feels churlish to complain how little most of the letters in this collection fit the title of Laurence Hyman’s preface: ‘Portrait of the Artist at Work.’”  The Man Who Hated Women: Sex, Censorship, and Civil Liberties in the Gilded Age by Amy Sohn (Farrar): “Sohn’s narrative is less about Anthony Comstock — the self-styled moral crusader and chief architect of the Comstock Act of 1873, which made it a federal offense to send “obscene, lewd or lascivious” material through the mail — than it is about the targets of his hatred, the women themselves.”

The Washington Post reviews An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook's Battle for Domination by Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang (Harper): “We might know about Facebook’s problems in the abstract, but then curiosity intervenes; we want to see new pictures or life updates from our friends. So we log back in. Life goes on. Facebook makes more money. Therein lies what the authors say is Facebook’s ugly truth, its ‘possibly irreconcilable’ dual goals of advancing society by connecting the world while also profiting off the people it is connecting.” Also, Dream Girl by Laura Lippman (Morrow; LJ starred review): “Socially conscious (the #MeToo movement makes a decisive entrance into the plot) and packed with humor, ghosts and narrative turns of the screw, Lippman’s Dream Girl is indeed a dream of a novel for suspense lovers and fans of literary satire alike.” The Very Nice Box by Eve Gleichman and Laura Blackett (Mariner Books): "a very funny debut — and perhaps the most original office satire of the year."

NPR reviews Bring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light: Essays by Helen Ellis (Knopf): “Ellis' prose is filled with so many laugh lines, you might want to go ahead and book the Botox. There's a temptation to just quote her.”

The Guardian reviews Nice Racism: How Progressive White People Perpetuate Racial Harm by Robin DiAngelo (Beacon Press): "Throughout the book, she assumes the role of an omniscient narrator of anti-racist truth, which grates."

The LA Times reviews Palm Springs Noir edited by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett (Akashic): “For all the playfulness of the genre and the location, the wisecracks and the kidney-shaped pools, there is an unmanageable darkness waiting to seep in, like so much blood in the pool water.”

Briefly Noted

The July Loan Stars list is out. The #1 pick, While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory (Berkley), publishes this week.

The "Cat Person" discourse gets another round on TwitterVogue discusses “Why Is Everyone Talking About the “Cat Person” Short Story Again?”

The Washington Post has “Beyond Goodreads: Four tools that help readers track their books.”

The New York Times has a feature on Katie Kitamura, Intimacies (Riverhead), and the "cognitive dissonance of being alive right now."

The Guardian interviews Miranda Cowley Heller about her novel The Paper Palace (Riverhead) and how writing sex scenes never scared her. The novel is Reese Witherspoon's July Book Club Pick.

Entertainment Weekly has a Q&A with Martha Waters about “marriage of convenience” stories and reveals the cover of her newest novel, To Marry and to Meddle (Atria), which publishes in April 2022.

FoxNews has an interview with Danny Trejo about his new memoir, Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood (Atria; LJ starred review), “getting clean, why he uses his time in prison as inspiration and how faith continues to play a crucial role in his life.” USA Today also talks with Trejo about toxic masculinity and how his daughter changed his outlook.

Time has “How to Write a Romance Novel in 2021.”

CBC has "90 things to know about master short story writer Alice Munro," who celebrated her 90th birthday over the weekend.

USA Today picks five books for the week.

CrimeReads suggests 10 books out this week.

The Atlantic’s “Book Briefing” shares “The Best Books to Get Lost in This Summer.”

The San Francisco Chronicle highlights fascinating reads featuring characters with mundane jobs.

“Priscilla Johnson McMillan, historian who knew both JFK and Oswald, dies at 92.” The Washington Post has an obituary.

“Athan Theoharis, Chronicler of F.B.I. Abuses, Dies at 84.”  The NYT has an obituary.

“Thomas Cleary, Prolific Translator of Eastern Texts, Dies at 72.” The NYT has an obituary.

Authors on Air

NPR’s Morning Edition talks with Francine Prose about The Vixen (Harper) and “the moral ambiguity of 1950s America”.

NPR’s Fresh Air Weekend talks with authors Ashley C. Ford, Somebody's Daughter (Flatiron: An Oprah Book), and T.J. Newman, Falling (Avid Reader; LJ starred review).

A film adaptation of Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist is gearing up in September with Will Smith as producer. LitHub has details.

George R.R. Martin will produce an adaptation of Tony Hillerman’s Leaphorn & Chee Novels. Tordotcom has details.

CBS Sunday Morning has a feature on “The private Anthony Bourdain.”

Bustle compares Netflix’s Virgin River series with the books by Robyn Carr.

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