“Empress of Forever” by Max Gladstone
“Max is a local author, and this is a fast-paced space epic about ambition, hunger, and the importance of caring about other people," says Katharine Nazzaro of Trident Booksellers. "Clocking in at almost 500 pages, ‘Empress of Forever’ is sure to keep you enraptured for a while. Perfect for fans of ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Trek.’ ”
“Circe” by Madeline Miller
Tildy Banker-Johnson of Belmont Books recommends Miller’s “amazing retelling” of the Greek myth, “written in her gorgeous, lyrical, and yet accessible prose." The enthralling-to-the-end novel "follows the titular goddess, best known from ‘The Odyssey,’ through her eternal life, complex family dynamics, encounters with legendary heroes, and her own self-discovery.”
“Severance” by Ling Ma
“This darkly and vilely humorous novel is a zombie horror story, an office satire, a coming-of-age narrative, an immigrant saga, and a meditation on the perils and pleasures of nostalgia,” says Justin Chen of Porter Square Books.
Thomas Cromwell Trilogy by Hilary Mantel
“Now that people are home, they have more time to dive into longer, more involved series," says Kate Brouns of Harvard Book Store, and this trio of fat historical fiction works fills the bill. "The third book in the series, “The Mirror & the Light,” just came out too. It looks into the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell in King Henry’s court and his role in Europe’s religious upheaval.”
“Patsy” by Nicole Dennis-Benn
Mwahaki King, of Papercuts in Jamaica Plain calls Dennis-Benn’s novel a particularly fascinating story about the immigrant experience. “The protagonist is a young Jamaican woman who is forced to leave her daughter behind when she goes to America. ... It’s really relevant with the news right now, especially in this election cycle, and it’s a huge discussion piece.”
“Friday Black” by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
“This one has been a huge hot seller largely because it focuses on capitalism," says King at Papercuts. "It is a collection of short stories that touches on the way capitalism permeates all aspects of American society and how that affects people’s day-to-day experience, especially those of Black Americans.” All short stories in the collection explore Black identity through contemporary social issues.
“Upright Women Wanted” by Sarah Gailey
“The existentially terrifying truism ‘history repeats itself’ has never been more fun! This is a novella about queer, rebel librarians in the distant future of the Old West. If that alone isn’t enough to reel you in, it’s also timely, ridiculous, and oh-so-fun,” says Brookline Booksmith employee Alexandra Morris
“Gingerbread” by Helen Oyeyemi
“If you are looking for a fairy tale that you probably haven’t read before, a fairy tale that truly adheres to fairy tale logic, talking dolls, magic mushrooms, stories meandering within stories, and a country that Wikipedia claims doesn’t exist, this is the story for you,” says Cassie Duncanson of Wellesley Books.
“The Illness Lesson” by Clare Beams
Set at a girls’ school in Massachusetts in the 1870s, "It’s this totally dark and funny feminist novel about educating women,” says Mary Cotton of Newtonville Books. The girls start exhibiting strange symptoms and one teacher has to rise to the task of protecting her students.
“Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott
Dawn Rennert of the Concord Bookshop says this classic has experienced "a huge uptick in sales since Greta Gerwig’s movie was released, and, yes, we’re seeing lots of people who are reading it for the first time.“ The novel "encompasses family, trying times, and the joy of sharing a simple life and challenges/successes with others. Many readers (female and male) identify with the main character, Jo March, who broke with tradition to follow her own pursuits. Dozens of editions, from graphic novels, illustrated keepsakes, and annotated editions make it appealing across the board.”
All bookstores are closed until further notice. But many including Porter Square Books, Brookline Booksmith, and Trident Booksellers are offering curbside pickup and delivery.
Grace Griffin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @GraceMGriffin. Diti Kohli can be reached at email@example.com.Follow her on Twitter @ditikohli_.