Literary Fiction

The secret lives of church ladies book cover

The secret lives of church ladies

Philyaw, Deesha, author.

FICTION Philyaw Deesha
Literary Fiction, LGBTQ+, Short Story

"The Secret Lives of Church Ladies explores the raw and tender places where black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good. The nine stories in this collection feature four generations of characters grappling with who they want to be in the world, caught as they are between the church's double standards and their own needs and passions"--

Bailey's picture

Every single story in this collection is beautifully crafted, emotionally impactful, with characters you'll feel connected to even in just a few pages. This was truly a delight to read, perfect for taking a pause between weekend errands. -Bailey

The last true poets of the sea book cover

The last true poets of the sea

Drake, Julia, author.

Fiction, Young Adult, Literary Fiction

Inspired loosely by Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, teenaged Violet is shipped off to Maine after her brother's hospitalization, where she searches for the lost shipwreck that her great-great grandmother survived and for answers about her family's long struggle with mental illness, all while falling in love.

Casey's picture

I'm always in for a Shakespeare retelling, and Twelfth Night is one of my favorites. I've heard The Last True Poets of the Sea is really good, but have yet to get to it. Maybe this year! -Casey

A gentleman in Moscow book cover

A gentleman in Moscow

Towles, Amor, author.

FICTION Towles Amor
Fiction, Literary Fiction

From the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility--a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel

Casey's picture

This is the book in 2023 that I am determined to tackle. It's been on my list for at least four years and I have multiple family members who adore this title. I'm coming for you, Amor Towles! -Casey

Bea Wolf. book cover

Bea Wolf.

Zach Author Weinersmith

Kids, Graphic Novels, Adventure, Literary Fiction

A modern middle-grade graphic novel retelling of Beowulf, featuring a gang of troublemaking kids who must defend their tree house from a fun-hating adult who can instantly turn children into grown-ups. Listen! Hear a tale of mallow-munchers and warriors who answer candy’s clarion call! Somewhere in a generic suburb stands Treeheart, a kid-forged sanctuary where generations of tireless tykes have spent their youths making merry, spilling soda, and staving off the shadow of adulthood. One day, these brave warriors find their fun cut short by their nefarious neighbor Grindle, who can no longer tolerate the sounds of mirth seeping into his joyless adult life. As the guardian of gloom lays siege to Treeheart, scores of kids suddenly find themselves transformed into pimply teenagers and sullen adults! The survivors of the onslaught cry out for a savior―a warrior whose will is unbreakable and whose appetite for mischief is unbounded. They call for Bea Wolf.

Angie's picture

New middle grade graphic novel alert! Bea Wolf is a modern middle-grade graphic novel retelling of Beowulf. I would have loved to have read Bea's story in school instead of of Beo's. Even still this amazingly creative retelling also mimics the original's language by using alliteration throughout. Kids will enjoy this retelling, and not realize they’re also learning about a great classic! Plus, it was laugh out loud funny in many parts; a true delight! -Angie

Foster book cover


Claire Keegan

FICTION Keegan Claire
Literary Fiction

"An international bestseller and one of The Times's "Top 50 Novels Published in the 21st Century," Claire Keegan's piercing contemporary classic Foster is a heartbreaking story of childhood, loss, and love, now released as a standalone book for the first time ever in the US. It is a hot summer in rural Ireland. A child is taken by her father to live with relatives on a farm, not knowing when or if she will be brought home again. In the Kinsellas' house, she finds an affection and warmth she has not known and slowly, in their care, begins to blossom. But there is something unspoken in this new household-where everything is so well tended to-and this summer must soon come to an end. Winner of the prestigious Davy Byrnes Award and published in an abridged version in the New Yorker, this internationally bestselling contemporary classic is now available for the first time in the US in a full, standalone edition. A story of astonishing emotional depth, Foster showcases Claire Keegan's great talent and secures her reputation as one of our most important storytellers"--

Anne M's picture

"Foster" is a quiet, brisk novella that packs a punch. Claire Keegan is beginning to be one of my favorite authors. -Anne M

Empty theatre  book cover

Empty theatre

Jac Jemc

Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

History knows them as King Ludwig II of Bavaria and Empress Elizabeth of Austria, icons of the late nineteenth century who died young and left behind magnificent portraits and palaces. But to each other they were Ludwig and Sisi, cousins who shared a passion for beauty and a stubborn refusal to submit to the roles imposed upon them. Ludwig, simultaneously spoiled and punished for his softness and "unmanly" interests, falls hard for the operas of Richard Wagner and neglects his state duties in the pursuit of art. Sisi, married at the age of sixteen to her beloved Franzl, bristles at the restrictions of her elevated position, the value placed on her beauty, and the simultaneous expectation that she ravage her body again and again in childbirth. Both absurdly vain, both traumatized by the demands of their roles, Sisi and Ludwig struggle against the ideals they are expected to embody, and resist through extravagance, petulance, performance, and frivolity.

Anne M's picture

Between the podcast "Noble Blood" and the recent movie "Corsage," you might be familiar with King Ludwig II of Bavaria and his mysterious murder and Empress Sisi of Austria and her beauty habits. Jemc brings these people to life in this historical fiction novel giving meaning to the eccentricities, while also giving us a good dose of humor. Highly recommend. -Anne M

Trespasses book cover


Louise Kennedy

FICTION Kennedy Louise
Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

"Set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, a shattering debut novel about a young woman caught between allegiance to community and unsanctioned love"--

Anne M's picture

Cushla Lavery wants to fix things. She wants to help her brother manage the family's pub. She wants to help her mother stop drinking. As a primary school teacher, she wants to help a socially struggling student find acceptance. She wants a lot of things and works for them. But this is Northern Ireland in the 1970's and everything is an uphill battle. And then Michael Agnew walks into the pub. He is all the wrong things: married, Protestant, older and from a different social class. He offers Cushla an escape from the daily toils and community violence. Will this last? This is a beautifully written novel. Heartbreaking, of course, and full of feeling. The audiobooks is a gem. -Anne M

The book of goose book cover

The book of goose

Yiyun Li

Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

A magnificent, beguiling tale winding from the postwar rural provinces to Paris, from an English boarding school to the quiet Pennsylvania home where a woman can live without her past, The Book of Goose is a story of disturbing intimacy and obsession, of exploitation and strength of will, by the celebrated author Yiyun Li. Fabienne is dead. Her childhood best friend, Agnès, receives the news in America, far from the French countryside where the two girls were raised―the place that Fabienne helped Agnès escape ten years ago. Now Agnès is free to tell her story. As children in a war-ravaged backwater town, they’d built a private world, invisible to everyone but themselves―until Fabienne hatched the plan that would change everything, launching Agnès on an epic trajectory through fame, fortune, and terrible loss.

Anne M's picture

If there was ever a book that reveals the fundamentals of human nature, this is it. Yiyun Li's The Book of Goose reminds me of a modern folk tale (without the magic or talking animals) but with the elements of a cautionary lesson. -Anne M

Team photograph book cover

Team photograph

Lauren Haldeman

BIOGRAPHY Haldeman, Lauren
Memoir, Literary Fiction, Graphic Novels

"In her extraordinary graphic novel—which masterfully incorporates poetry and elements of memoir—Lauren Haldeman layers the warfare of soccer over the battlefields now called Bull Run Regional Park, where, growing up, her soccer team would practice and compete. The park and surrounding town of Fairfax Station Virginia set the landscape for the book, where the narrator regularly encounters spectral visions of wounded soldiers and very real artifacts of war— “wounded wraiths and faceless shapes” float in her hallway at night, and bullet shells, buttons, and human bones surface around the soccer fields in daylight. The narrator turns to poetry and history to make sense of the town and its bloodshed, of its forever attachment to injustice and its inability to restore erased identities. Team Photograph is a journey from research to illumination, and the result is a tender yet powerful reckoning of time and place, proof that the past and the present are inexorably fused together." --publisher

Melody's picture

Iowa City poet and illustrator Lauren Haldeman has created a fascinating literary nonfiction memoir that I couldn't stop paging through. I've only just started the book, but I can't wait to keep reading. -Melody

Rabbits for food book cover

Rabbits for food

Binnie Kirshenbaum

FICTION Kirshenbaum, Binnie
Literary Fiction

"Master of razor-edged literary humor Binnie Kirshenbaum returns with her first novel in a decade, a devastating, laugh-out-loud funny story of a writer's slide into depression and institutionalization. It's New Year's Eve, the holiday of forced fellowship, mandatory fun, and paper hats. While dining out with her husband and their friends, Kirshenbaum's protagonist--an acerbic, mordantly witty, and clinically depressed writer--fully unravels. Her breakdown lands her in the psych ward of a prestigious New York hospital where she refuses all modes of recommended treatment. Instead, she passes the time chronicling the lives of her fellow "lunatics" and writing a novel about how she got to this place. Her story is a hilarious and harrowing deep dive into the disordered mind of a woman who sees the world all too clearly. Propelled by stand-up comic timing and rife with pinpoint insights, Kirshenbaum examines what it means to be unloved and loved, to succeed and fail, to be at once impervious and raw. Rabbits for Food shows how art can lead us out of--or into--the depths of disconsolate loneliness and piercing grief. A bravura literary performance from one of our most witty and indispensable writers"--

Anne M's picture

Fiction has a way of showing us something rather than telling us. This book is a great example. Bunny, the main character of "Rabbits for Food" experiences debilitating depression during the holidays and is institutionalized. As we follow Bunny through her day at the hospital and learn of her past through the therapeutic writing prompts, much is revealed about the character. The backstory unravels slowly and carefully. There is also humor, albeit dark, in this book. Bunny has such wit and such intelligence, you feel her sense of being trapped by her illness. This is such a well-written, creative narrative structure. -Anne M