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Seven Hot Books To Read Right Now

By Daniel Griffin

These are the seven books that come up most often in printed and online reading lists and guides this month. For a deep dive into the many works being recommended by publications, book groups and influencers, visit  Comprehensive Guide To Great 2020 Reads.

The Atheneum’s building may be temporarily closed, but our virtual services are always available and patrons can download an ebook or audiobook for free with a library card and their PIN.

1.) My Dark Vanessa, by Kate Elizabeth Russell

“Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, 15-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of RoomMy Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.” – Goodreads review

2.) Writers & Lovers, by Lily King

“An extraordinary new novel of art, love and ambition from Lily King, the New York Times–bestselling author of Euphoria, which sold over 400,000 copies in North America.

Following the breakout success of her critically acclaimed and award-winning novel Euphoria, Lily King returns with an unforgettable portrait of an artist as a young woman.

Blindsided by her mother’s sudden death, and wrecked by a recent love affair, Casey Peabody has arrived in Massachusetts in the summer of 1997 without a plan. Her mail consists of wedding invitations and final notices from debt collectors. A former child golf prodigy, she now waits tables in Harvard Square and rents a tiny, mouldy room at the side of a garage, where she works on the novel she’s been writing for six years. At thirty-one, Casey is still clutching on to something nearly all her old friends have let go of: the determination to live a creative life. When she falls for two very different men at the same time, her world fractures even more. Casey’s fight to fulfill her creative ambitions and balance the conflicting demands of art and life is challenged in ways that push her to the brink.

Writers & Lovers follows Casey—a smart and achingly vulnerable protagonist—in the last days of a long youth, a time when every element of her life comes to a crisis. Written with King’s trademark humor, heart and intelligence, Writers & Lovers is a transfixing novel that explores the terrifying and exhilarating leap between the end of one phase of life and the beginning of another.” – Google Books review 

3.) The Mirror & The Light, by Hilary Mantel

(Thomas Cromwell Trilogy #3)

“With The Mirror & the Light, Hilary Mantel brings to a triumphant close the trilogy she began with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. She traces the final years of Thomas Cromwell, the boy from nowhere who climbs to the heights of power, offering a defining portrait of predator and prey, of a ferocious contest between present and past, between royal will and a common man’s vision: of a modern nation making itself through conflict, passion, and courage.” – Goodreads review.

4.) Deacon King Kong, by James McBride

“In September 1969, a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn, pulls a .38 from his pocket, and in front of everybody shoots the project’s drug dealer at point-blank range.

The reasons for this desperate burst of violence and the consequences that spring from it lie at the heart of Deacon King Kong, James McBride’s funny, moving novel and his first since his National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird. In Deacon King Kong, McBride brings to vivid life the people affected by the shooting: the victim, the African-American and Latinx residents who witnessed it, the white neighbors, the local cops assigned to investigate, the members of the Five Ends Baptist Church where Sportcoat was deacon, the neighborhood’s Italian mobsters, and Sportcoat himself.

As the story deepens, it becomes clear that the lives of the characters–caught in the tumultuous swirl of 1960s New York–overlap in unexpected ways. When the truth does emerge, McBride shows us that not all secrets are meant to be hidden, that the best way to grow is to face change without fear, and that the seeds of love lie in hope and compassion.

Bringing to these pages both his masterly storytelling skills and his abiding faith in humanity, James McBride has written a novel every bit as involving as The Good Lord Bird and as emotionally honest as The Color of Water. Told with insight and wit, Deacon King Kong demonstrates that love and faith live in all of us.” – Google Books review.

5.) Uncanny Valley: A Memoir, by Anna Wiener

“In her mid-twenties, at the height of tech industry idealism, Anna Wiener—stuck, broke, and looking for meaning in her work, like any good millennial–left a job in book publishing for the promise of the new digital economy. She moved from New York to San Francisco, where she landed at a big-data startup in the heart of the Silicon Valley bubble: a world of surreal extravagance, dubious success, and fresh-faced entrepreneurs hell-bent on domination, glory, and, of course, progress.

Anna arrived amidst a massive cultural shift, as the tech industry rapidly transformed into a locus of wealth and power rivaling Wall Street. But amid the company ski vacations and in-office speakeasies, boyish camaraderie and ride-or-die corporate fealty, a new Silicon Valley began to emerge: one in far over its head, one that enriched itself at the expense of the idyllic future it claimed to be building.

Part coming-of-age-story, part portrait of an already-bygone era, Anna Wiener’s memoir is a rare first-person glimpse into high-flying, reckless startup culture at a time of unchecked ambition, unregulated surveillance, wild fortune, and accelerating political power. With wit, candor, and heart, Anna deftly charts the tech industry’s shift from self-appointed world savior to democracy-endangering liability, alongside a personal narrative of aspiration, ambivalence, and disillusionment.

Unsparing and incisive, Uncanny Valley is a cautionary tale, and a revelatory interrogation of a world reckoning with consequences its unwitting designers are only beginning to understand.” – Macmillan Publishers review6.0

6.) A Long Petal of the Sea, by Isabel Allende

“In the late 1930s, civil war grips Spain. When General Franco and his Fascists succeed in overthrowing the government, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee in a treacherous journey over the mountains to the French border. Among them is Roser, a pregnant young widow, who finds her life intertwined with that of Victor Dalmau, an army doctor and the brother of her deceased love. In order to survive, the two must unite in a marriage neither of them desires.

Together with two thousand other refugees, they embark on the SS Winnipeg, a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda, to Chile: “the long petal of sea and wine and snow.” As unlikely partners, they embrace exile as the rest of Europe erupts in world war. Starting over on a new continent, their trials are just beginning, and over the course of their lives, they will face trial after trial. But they will also find joy as they patiently await the day when they will be exiles no more. Through it all, their hope of returning to Spain keeps them going. Destined to witness the battle between freedom and repression as it plays out across the world, Roser and Victor will find that home might have been closer than they thought all along.

A masterful work of historical fiction about hope, exile, and belonging, A Long Petal of the Sea shows Isabel Allende at the height of her powers.” – Penguin Random House review

7.) Big Summer, by Jennifer Weiner

Honorable Mention: Cape Cod wedding during the summer.

“Six years after the fight that ended their friendship, Daphne Berg is shocked when Drue Cavanaugh walks back into her life, looking as lovely and successful as ever, with a massive favor to ask. Daphne hasn’t spoken one word to Drue in all this time—she doesn’t even hate-follow her ex-best friend on social media—so when Drue asks if she will be her maid-of-honor at the society wedding of the summer, Daphne is rightfully speechless.

Drue was always the one who had everything—except the ability to hold onto friends. Meanwhile, Daphne’s no longer the same self-effacing sidekick she was back in high school. She’s built a life that she loves, including a growing career as a plus-size Instagram influencer. Letting glamorous, seductive Drue back into her life is risky, but it comes with an invitation to spend a weekend in a waterfront Cape Cod mansion. When Drue begs and pleads and dangles the prospect of cute single guys, Daphne finds herself powerless as ever to resist her friend’s siren song.

A sparkling novel about the complexities of female friendship, the pitfalls of living out loud and online, and the resilience of the human heart, Big Summer is a witty, moving story about family, friendship, and figuring out what matters most.” – Google Books review

Daniel Griffin is an Atheneum Library Associate who works on the circulation desk and for the Adult Programs Department.

Comprehensive Guide To Great 2020 Books

The Most Popular Books Of 2020, So Far

By Daniel Griffin

All across the web, content pushers are spinning any and every topic imaginable to capture America’s quarantined attention. Weeding through the panic-inducing clickbait can be difficult.

If you’re like me, some of you might find the problem is not necessarily finding resources, but rather, finding it hard to let go; the constant scrolling, headline after headline that seem to shout with the numbing effect of the surreal, only to realize life will never be the same – the perpetual effects of dwelling.

As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served as a health volunteer in Rwanda working to fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculous and malnutrition, I can tell you from first-hand experience that dwelling is one of the worst things a person can do. Control what you can control. Focus on the little things, focus on the process, whatever that process may be.

So, here then is a one-stop-shop for literary distraction – a comprehensive guide into the most trendy, popular books of 2020 so far, covering sources like newspapers, magazines, public personalities/authors and influencers like book clubs. Weaved in are lists themed around the idea of appropriate books for a quarantine setting like Boccaccio’s The Decameron. I’ve done some research for you, and hopefully you’ll find this post as convenient and therapeutic as that soup.

For a quick guide to the seven most recommended books on these lists, visit Seven Hot Books To Read Right Now.

With a library card and PIN number, you can access many titles on the Atheneum’s website and download ebooks and audiobooks for free.

Let’s begin…

A publication like the New York Times is always a good resource for finding a write-up on current literary trends. From “11 New Books We Recommend This Week,” dated March 12, the Times gives readers a wide range of possibilities. If you’re looking for a foreign perspective, The Guardian, a daily British newspaper, has a piece up that features a must-read list while quarantined.


New York Times

“11 New Books We Recommend This Week”

By: Gregory Cowles, Senior Editor, Books

  • Fiebre Tropical, by Juli Delgado Lopera
  • The Mirror And The Light, by Hilary Mantel.
  • Rebel Cinderella: From Rags to Riches to Radical, the Epic Journey of Rose Pastor Stokes, by Adam Hochschild.
  • Deacon King Kong, by James McBride.
  • Everywhere You Don’t Belong, by Gabriel Bump.
  • The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success, by Ross Douthat.
  • Whistleblower: My Journey to Silicon Valley and Fight for Justice at Uber, by Susan Fowler.
  • Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era, by Jerry Mitchell.
  • Until The End Of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe, by Brian Greene.
  • Tyll, by Daniel Kehlmann.
  • Stateway’s Garden: Stories, by Jasmon Drain.

The Guardian

“A dystopian reading list: books to enjoy while in quarantine”

By: Lois Beckett

  • Station Eleven, by Emily St John Mandel
  • Severance, by Ling Ma
  • The Great Believers, by Rebecca Makkai
  • The Old Drift, by Namwali Serpell
  • The Power, by Naomi Alderman
  • The Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
  • Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks
  • The Training Commission, by Ingrid Burrington and Brendan Byrne
  • Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
  • Room, by Emma Donoghue
  • Real Life, by Brandon Taylor
  • My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George
  • The Plague, by Albert Camus
  • Meditations in an Emergency, by Frank O’Hara
  • My Year of Rest and Relaxation, by Ottessa Moshfegh
  • Something that May Shock and Discredit You, by Daniel Mallory Ortberg (now Daniel M Lavery)
  • The Decameron, by Boccaccio

There are lots of online resources out there covering great topics when it comes to recent literary popularity. Explore the following list of mostly online magazines to see who is saying what about the most recent novels to hit the market.



“The Best Books To Elevate Your Reading List in 2020”

By: Adrienne Westenfeld

  • Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America, by Conor Dougherty
  • American Poison: How Racial Hostility Destroyed Our Promise, by Eduardo Porter
  • Had I Known, by Barbara Ehrenreich
  • This Is Big: How the Founder of Weight Watchers Changed the World–and Me, by Marisa Meltzer
  • Notes from an Apocalypse: A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back, by Mark O’Connell
  • Lurking, by Joanne McNeil
  • Topics of Conversation, by Miranda Popkey
  • Boys & Sex, by Peggy Orenstein
  • Cleanness, by Garth Greenwell
  • Uncanny Valley, by Anna Wiener
  • A Long Petal of the Sea, by Isabel Allende
  • The Third Rainbow Girl, by Emma Copley Eisenberg
  • Weather, by Jenny Offill
  • In the Land of Men, by Adrienne Miller
  • The Illness Lesson, by Clare Beams
  • Minor Feelings, by Cathy Park Hong
  • My Dark Vanessa, by Kate Elizabeth Russell
  • Enter the Aardvark, by Jessica Anthony
  • Perfect Tunes, by Emily Gould


“The 10 Best Young Adult Books You Literally Won’t Be Able To Put Down in 2020”

By: Kelly Allen

  • Tweet Cute, by Emma Lord
  • They Wish They Were Us, by Jessica Goodman
  • The Gravity of Us, by Phil Stamper
  • All Your Twisted Secrets, by Diana Urban
  • One of Us Is Next, by Karen M. McManus
  • This Train Is Being Held, by Ismée Williams
  • The Ballad of Songs and Snakes, by Suzanne Collins
  • Of Curses and Kisses, by Sandhya Menon
  • This Is All Your Fault, by Aminah Mae Safi
  • We Used to Be Friends, by Amy Spalding


“The best True crime Books In 2020 Will Ensure You’ll Never Want To Leave The House”

By: Becca Van Sambeck

  • Broken Faith: Inside the Word of Faith Fellowship, One of America’s Most Dangerous Cults, by Associated Press reporters Mitch Weiss and Holbrook Mohr
  • The Adventurer’s Son: A Memoir, by Roman Dial
  • American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI, by Kate Winkler Dawson
  • The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia, by Emma Copley Eisenberg
  • Gone at Midnight: The Mysterious Death of Elisa Lam, by Jake Anderson
  • Natalie Wood: The Complete Biography, by Suzanne Finstad
  • The Falcon Thief: A True Tale of Adventure, Treachery, and the Hunt for the Perfect Bird, by Joshua Hammer
  • The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy, Updated and Expanded Edition, by Elizabeth Kendall, with a contribution from Molly Kendall
  • Start by Believing: Larry Nassar’s Crimes, the Institutions that Enabled Him, and the Brave Women Who Stopped a Monster, by John Barr and Dan Murphy
  • Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country, by Sierra Crane Murdoch

Harper’s BAZAAR

“The 15 Best Books to Read in 2020”

By: Keely Weiss

  • The Lying Life of Adults, by Elena Ferrante
  • Rodham, by Curtis Sittenfeld
  • Transcendent Kingdom: A Novel, by YAA GYASI
  • The Glass Hotel: A novel, by Emily St. John Mandel
  • My Dark Vanessa: A Novel, by Kate Elizabeth Russell
  • The Death of Vivek Oji: A Novel, by Akwaeke Emezi
  • Real Life: A Novel, by Brandon Taylor
  • Wow, No Thank You.: Essays, by Samantha Irby
  • Death in Her Hands: A Novel, by Ottessa Moshfegh
  • It’s Not All Downhill From Here: A Novel, by Terry McMillan
  • The Vanishing Half: A Novel, by Brit Bennett
  • Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot, by Mikki Kendall
  • Fairest: A Memoir, by Meredith Talusan
  • Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation, by Anne Helen Petersen
  • The Resisters: A novel, by Gish Jen


“The 5 Best Books of 2020 (So Far)”

By: Emma Specter

  • Uncanny Valley, by Anna Wiener
  • Apartment, by Teddy Wayne
  • In the Land of Men, by Adrienne Miller
  • Always Home: A Daughter’s Recipes & Stories, by Fanny Singer
  • Live Beautiful, by Athena Calderone

“8 New Books to Read While You’re Stuck Inside This March”

By: Emma Specter

  • Writers & Lovers, by Lily King
  • These Ghosts Are Family, by Maisy Card
  • Separation Anxiety, by Laura Zigman
  • Temporary, by Hilary Leichter
  • Sharks in the Time of Saviors, by Kawai Strong Washburn
  • My Dark Vanessa, by Kate Elizabeth Russell
  • House of Glass: The Story and Secrets of a Twentieth-Century Jewish Family, by Hadley Freeman
  • More Myself: A Journey, by Alicia Keys

The Oprah Magazine

“14 of the Best Books to Read this March”

By: Editors’ Picks

  • The Mirror & the Light, by Hilary Mantel
  • It’s Not All Downhill From Here, by Terry McMillan
  • The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
  • The Glass Hotel, by Emily St. John Mandel
  • Deacon King Kong, by James McBride
  • Our Revolution: A Mother and Daughter at Midcentury, by Honor Moore
  • You Will Never Be Forgotten: Stories, by Mary South
  • Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir, by Rebecca Solnit
  • Days of Distraction, by Alexandra Chang
  • We Ride Upon Sticks, by Quan Barry
  • The Power Notebooks, by Katie Roiphe
  • Writers & Lovers, by Lily King
  • The Other Bennet Sister, by Janice Hadlow
  • The Mountains Sing, by NguyÊn Phan QuÊ Mai

One of the best online resources for everything current in the world of books is the Library Journal. Beyond the feature listed here, I highly recommend taking the time to digest the Journal’s website. It’s a wealth of knowledge for those avid readers out there.

Online Publications

Library Journal

“2020 Forward Forecast: Books To Have on Your Radar Now”

By: Neal Wyatt

  • Big Ticket Titles
  • The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
  • The City We Became, by N.K. Jemisin
  • Deacon King Kong, by James McBride
  • The Lying Life of Adults, by Elena Ferrante
  • Actress: A Novel, by Anne Enright
  • A Long Petal of the Sea, by Isabel Allende
  • Big Summer, by Jennifer Weiner (Cape Code wedding during the summer)
  • Non-Fiction
  • Franklin & Washington: The Founding Partnership, by Edward J. Larson
  • The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz, by Erik Larson
  • Navigate Your Stars, by Jesmyn Ward
  • Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life, by Marie Kondo and Scott Sonenshein
  • Cook Book
  • Magnolia Table, Volume 2: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering, by Joanna Gaines (said to be a for sure best seller)
  • Books Already Making Best-Of Lists
  • Topics of Conversation, by Miranda Popkey
  • Weather, by Jenny Offill
  • Uncanny Valley: A Memoir, by Anna Wiener
  • American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins
  • Little Gods, by Meng Jin
  • Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis, by Ada Calhoun
  • Separation Anxiety, by Laura Zigman
  • Something That May Shock and Discredit You, by Daniel M. Lavery
  • Anna K, by Jenny Lee
  • Long-Awaited Returns: popular authors’ new material
  • The Glass Hotel, by Emily St. John Mandel
  • The Mirror & the Light, by Hilary Mantel, end of her Cromwell trilogy
  • Writers & Lovers, by Lily King
  • Long Bright River, by Liz Moore
  • It’s Not All Downhill From Here, by Terry McMillan
  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, by Suzanne Collins
  • Interior Chinatown, by Charles Yu
  • Hid from Our Eyes, by Julia Spencer-Fleming, Brings back the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mystery series
  • Afterlife, by Julia Alvarez
  • The Lost Future of Pepperharrow, by Natasha Pulley, Sequel to her debut: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
  • Debuts To Watch: New Names to Know
  • My Dark Vanessa, by Kate Elizabeth Russell
  • The Lion’s Den, by Katherine St. John
  • Deep State, by Chris Hauty
  • The Tenant, by Katrine Engberg, (The first in her Danish best-selling series)
  • Kept Animals, by Kate Milliken
  • How Much of These Hills Is Gold, by C Pam Zhang
  • Darling Rose Gold, by Stephanie Wrobel
  • Vagabonds, by Hao Jingfang, translated by Ken Liu
  • Get These On Your Radar
  • The Split, by Sharon Bolton
  • Daughter from the Dark, by Sergey and Marina Dyachenko
  • Processed Cheese, by Stephen Wright
  • So We Can Glow, by Leesa Cross-Smith
  • And I Do Not Forgive You: Stories and Other Revenges, by Amber Sparks
  • Small Days and Nights, by Tishani Doshi
  • The Immortals of Tehran, by Ali Araghi

The LA Times, The New York Times and Today have pieces featuring authors and their picks for either a sense of comfort or a list of books they might finally read while in quarantine. Sometimes it’s nice to get a bit of perspective from those that we consider to be masters of the craft, especially nice to get an opinion from someone other than a critic.


LA Times

“11 authors, from Laila Lalami to Jonathan Lethem, on the books they might finally read in quarantine”

By: Tobias Carroll

  • Porochista Khakpour (“Sick”): “Middlemarch” by George Eliot
  • Garth Greenwell (“Cleanness”): “Daniel Deronda” by George Elliot
  • Dexter Palmer (“Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen”): Philip Hensher’s “The Northern Clemency”
  • Jonathan Lethem (“The Fortress of Solitude”): Uwe Johnson’s “Anniversaries”
  • Nell Zink (“Doxology”): Tilla Durieux‘s autobiography [“Meine ersten neunzig Jahre: Erinnerungen” or “My First Ninety Years: Memories”
  • Laird Barron (“Worse Angels”): Lawrence Block’s “When the Sacred Ginmill Closes”
  • Alexander Chee (“How to Write an Autobiographical Novel”): “Lampedusa,” the novel about Giuseppe di Lampedusa, the author of “The Leopard,”
  • Brandon Hobson (“Where the Dead Sit Talking”): Yoko Tawada’s “The Emissary,”
  • Taffy Brodesser-Akner (“Fleishman Is in Trouble”): Kate Elizabeth Russell’s “My Dark Vanessa.”
  • Kristen Arnett (“Mostly Dead Things”): Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment”
  • Laila Lalami (“The Other Americans”): “Middlemarch” by George Eliot

New York Times

“Celeste Ng, Ann Patchett, Min Jin Lee and Others on the Books That Bring Them Comfort”

By: Elisabeth Egan and Tina Jordan

  • Celeste Ng: ‘The Princess Bride,’ by William Goldman
  • Elizabeth Gilbert: ‘The Summer Book,’ by Tove Jansson
  • Kiley Reid: ‘Bird by Bird,’ by Anne Lamott
  • Lily King: ‘I Capture the Castle,’ by Dodie Smith
  • Ruth Ware: ‘Love in a Cold Climate,’ by Nancy Mitford
  • Bryan Stevenson: ‘The Warmth of Other Suns,’ by Isabel Wilkerson
  • Ann Patchett: ‘Writers & Lovers,’ by Lily King
  • Erik Larson: ‘News of the World’ by Paulette Jiles
  • Min Jin Lee: ‘Cousin Bette,’ by Honoré de Balzac
  • Luis Alberto Urrea: ‘Winter Morning Walks,’ by Ted Kooser
  • Courtney Sullivan: ‘The In-Betweens,’ by Mira Ptacin
  • Amy Bloom: ‘Ledger,’ by Jane Hirshfield
  • Joshua Ferris: ‘Gilead,’ by Marilynne Robinson
  • Taffy Brodesser-Akner: ‘Sabbath’s Theater,’ by Philip Roth
  • Victor LaValle: ‘The Essential Ellison,’ by Harlan Ellison
  • Curtis Sittenfeld: ‘Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda,’ by Becky Albertalli
  • Helen Simonson: ‘Three Men in a Boat,’ by Jerome K. Jerome
  • Tayari Jones: ‘The Color Purple,’ by Alice Walker
  • Glennon Doyle: ‘Tiny Beautiful Things,’ by Cheryl Strayed
  • Madeline Miller: ‘Fingersmith,’ by Sarah Waters
  • Lucy Kalanithi: ‘Zen Shorts,’ by Jon J. Muth


“11 author-approved books worth adding to your reading list”

By: Kerry Breen

“Authors Isaac Fitzgerald and Sarah J. Maas were joined by the National Book Foundations’ executive director Lisa Lucas to talk about their favorite recent reads on TODAY. The three shared the fiction, nonfiction and children’s books they recommend adding to your reading list.” – Breen

  • Fiction Books
  • Fitzgerald’s Pick: “Real Life” by Brandon Taylor
  • Maas’ Pick: “A Madness of Sunshine” by Nalini Singh
  • Lucas’ Pick: “Weather” by Jenny Offill
  • NonFiction Books
  • Fitzgerald’s Pick: “You Never Forget Your First” by Alexis Coe
  • Maas’ Pick: “The Season: A Social History of the Debutante” by Kristen Richardson
  • Lucas’ Pick: “Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning” by Cathy Park Hong
  • Children and Young Adults
  • Fitzgerald’s Pick: “Music is My Life” by Myles Tanzer
  • Maas’ Pick: “Serpent and Dove” by Shelby Mahurin
  • Lucas’ Pick: “How to be a Pirate” by Isaac Fitzgerald
  • Authors Choice
  • Fitzgerald’s Pick: “A Jack Book Series” by Mac Barnett
  • Maas’ Pick: “Kid Gloves” by Lucy Knisley
  • Lucas’ Pick: “Vernon Subutex 1” by Virginie Despentes

What are the book clubs saying? E! News does its own write-up on the top celebrity book clubs, covering the month of March 2020, while BookRiot directs readers to the best online book clubs in 2020.

Book Clubs

E! News

“March 2020 Celebrity Book Club Picks From Reese Witherspoon, Jenna Bush Hager, & More”

By: Carolin Lehmann

  • Reese Witherspoon’s book club pick for March is “The Jetsetters” by Amanda Eyre Ward.
  • Jenna Bush Hager is reading Writers & Lovers by Lily King with her book club.
  • Former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck also has a book club, in which he recommends The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance by Edmund de Waal
  • Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine may not have a book club, but she definitely has a recommendation for you. It’s Salt Slow by Julia Armfield
  • Emma Roberts and film producer Karah Preiss have a book club called Belletrist, whose March pick is These Ghosts Are Family by Maisy Card.


“Best Online Book Clubs: 15 Online Clubs To Join In 2020”

By: Emily Martin


“Here’s another brand new book club to get excited about. If you’re already a member of the FabFitFun community, it’s easy enough to join. FabFitFun is a quarterly subscription box that offers up a lot of really amazing goodies, and now you can get the book club pick of the quarter added on to your box, if you’d like. Then just head over to the book club page to join in on the discussion. The club will include discussion forums, check-ins throughout your reading, and a chat with the author herself.” – Martin


“Love football and reading and want a book club that merges your two interests? Look no further than the Andrew Luck Book Club. Andrew Luck is a quarterback in the NFL, and he also loves reading. So much so that he’s created this club. There are two book club options here. The Rookie Book is a children’s book, and the Veteran Book is, you guessed it, an adult book. And even if you don’t know who Andrew Luck is or don’t care about football, this club is still for you. The books are not football-related.

Here’s how it works. Every month, Andrew Luck will recommend two books (an adult book and a children’s book). During the football season, Luck says he may even have “surprise” hosts help with the book selections. Share your thoughts about the book with the hashtag #ALBookClub, and listen to the podcast to hear Luck’s thoughts about the book, interviews with the authors, and much more.” – Martin


“The great thing about this online book club is you have the option to take it IRL as well. Poppy Loves Book Club offers the opportunity to join or create a local book club or just participate online. This is a book club specifically for women featuring women authors.

Their mission statement is as follows: “Poppy Loves Book Club is a celebration of women that is getting bigger and better every day…It’s your gang. It’s your sisterhood. And it’s heart-pingingly wonderful.” Sound good? Check them out!” – Martin


“Our Shared Shelf was originally created by actress Emma Watson as part of her work with UN Women. The mission was to read as many books about feminism and equality as possible. Now Emma Watson’s team no longer manages the Goodreads group. However, the group remains open so that members can continue to run the book club on their own. Continued discussion of books and feminism in general are still happening in the Goodreads group now. So it’s still a happening book community that is very much worth checking out!” – Marin


“The Rumpus Book Club is a book club and subscription service all rolled into one, which I think is pretty neat. Here’s how it works. Each month you pay $29 and in exchange you receive a brand new book that hasn’t been released yet. The book club discusses the book throughout the month as you read it. Then, at the end of the month, there’s an exclusive moderated online discussion with the author of the book.

The Rumpus also has a Poetry Book Club that works similarly. The best part? You can sign up for both book clubs for a discounted price of $50/month.” – Martin


This book club is exactly what it sounds like. And if you’re looking for a community of history lovers who also love to read, then this is the best online book club for you. There are so many discussions going on, including monthly books to read and chats about history in general. Join up to become part of one of the biggest Goodreads communities.” – Martin


“Speaking of great big Goodreads communities, here’s another one worth joining. This online book club focuses on New Adult books. If you’re new to the New Adult genre, think Young Adult but with more mature themes. The community features monthly group reads, challenges, opportunities to chat with authors, and much more.” – Martin


“Here’s another great Goodreads community, and this one lists itself as the official unofficial Goodreads Choice Awards book club. Over the course of the year, this book club reads Goodreads Choice Awards winners throughout multiple categories. So if you’re looking to read a good variety of highly rated books and discuss them with others, here’s the book club for you.” – Martin


“Girls’ Night In is a project that’s all about promoting mental health awareness and self-care practices for women. The book club is one of the many things they do, and while they do have in-person meet-ups throughout the country, you can also participate online using the hashtag #GNIReads. This book club focuses on picking books written by women and nonbinary authors.” – Martin


“This is another book club that requires a monthly subscription, but it comes with a lot of exclusive content. Sign up to get access to exclusive author interviews, community discussions, and even classes. The classes cover a wide range of reader-related topics like how to write better book reviews, journaling techniques, how to ask for Advanced Reader Copies of books, and much more. If you’re looking to enrich all aspects of your reading life, the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club wants to help you do that.” – Martin


“With over 80,000 members, the Reddit Book Club is the place to be if you want a large and active community. Every month, members vote for their next read and then discuss the book via discussion threads. Threads remain open so you can go back and chat about previous book picks as well.” – Martin


“This is another Goodreads community that offers up two monthly reads every month. One book is based on a theme as voted on by members. The community also includes reading challenges, promo threads for authors, giveaways, and blogs.” – Martin


“Love Tumblr? Then why not make it your hub for your online book club community? Each month, this Tumblr book club announces its book and its reading schedule. To become part of the discussion, just post on your own Tumblr blog using the hashtag #ReblogBookClub. The Reblog Book Club will then reblog it into the main conversation. And because Tumblr is all about multi-genre blog posts, feel free to discuss the book however you want. Some suggestions: a written review, fan art, gifs, poems, letters. Reblog Book Club even encourages you to post your nail art.” – Martin


“One last Goodreads book club to round out the list! This one is all about finally getting around to that book or series you’ve always wanted to read but haven’t gotten around to reading just yet. Join your fellow reading procrastinators here for group reads, games, challenges, and more.” – Martin.

Daniel Griffin is an Atheneum library associate who works on the circulation desk and in the Adult Programs Department.


Respond to the 2020 Census

Shape your future! The United States Census relies on your contribution to determine community resources and representation for legislative districts. Local libraries, fire departments, hospitals, and other community services rely on census data to continue receiving funding from the federal government.

Participation in the U.S. Census is required by law. It counts every person living in the United States and five U.S. territories. You can respond online, by phone, or by mail.

Information About the 2020 Census

Why the 2020 Census is Important

Census Safety and Security



Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Resources

The following is a compilation of town, state, and federal resources concerning the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This page will be updated as new information becomes available.

Nantucket Cottage Hospital

Town of Nantucket

Center for Disease Control (CDC)

Massachusetts State Information

Inquirer & Mirror

Small Business Resources

Safety and Security Resources

WGBH and Public Broadcasting


library placeholder

How to Access Library Services from Home

If the library is closed or you are unable to visit, remember our digital services are available 24/7 on your computer, tablet, or mobile device. You can download e-books and audio books, checkout digital magazines, and stream TV and movies. You can also access the catalog to view your account, renew materials, and place holds. Many of our online learning resources and databases can be accessed from your home as well.

All you need is your library card number and PIN (which is usually the last four digits of your card number). Reset your PIN number here.

If you do not have a library card you may register for a 30-day temporary CLAMS eCard that will grant you access to Overdrive, one of our largest eBook and audiobook collections.

Our digital library services:

Check out this video introduction to our digital library services:

Note: More video tutorials about our digital library services are on Youtube.

Tips for accessing our digital services:

  • Forgot your PIN number? Click here to reset it.
  • If you lost your library card, check to see if you still have an email or paper due date slip from the library. Those will have your library card number included.
  • If you cannot access your library card or PIN numbers, please contact to request your account information. At this time we have limited access to our systems so this process may take longer than usual. We thank you for your patience.

Message from the Atheneum: COVID-19 Update

The Atheneum Building is Temporarily Closed; The Virtual Atheneum is open 24/7.

Library questions or concerns can be sent to

As many programs as possible will be rescheduled and some classes are now available online. Check the calendar for more information.

Due dates are now extended for 30 days on all material that is currently checked out and any late charges will be forgiven. We encourage you to resist making an unnecessary trip, and we are also trying to reduce the need for staff to handle books at this time.

COVID-19 Update
Atheneum Closed Temporarily
April 3, 2020

Dear Nantucket Atheneum Friends and Patrons,

We hope that you are staying physically and mentally healthy during this challenging time. The Atheneum misses you, and we are focusing our efforts on online programs and offerings so we can bring the Atheneum to you instead.

Our beautiful building at 1 India Street will remain closed until further notice. This is in accordance with emergency orders issued by Governor Baker and the state of Massachusetts pertaining to all non-essential businesses. We are waiving all overdue fees and ask that you hold on to your library materials until the library reopens.

And while libraries may be considered “non-essential” at this time, we know that providing information, connection, and an escape into other worlds are essential services, especially now. Take a moment to explore our website,, where the Virtual Atheneum is open to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We are proud to connect you to our digital programs, extensive online catalogs and subscriptions, education resources, reading lists, and more. And if you have any questions (or just want to say hi!), please email

By staying home and joining us online, you are playing an essential part in ending this crisis. Not only do you protect our community and the local heroes fighting the virus, but you help hasten the day we will greet each other once again in person.


Ann Scott
Nantucket Atheneum Executive Director


Check Out the Digital Newspaper Archive

Curious about Nantucket history? Did you know the Nantucket Atheneum has a Historic Digital Newspaper Archive? You can search or browse through newspapers from the past two hundred years of island life.


The library’s Historic Digital Newspaper Archive allows researchers to search and view issues of over twenty Nantucket historic newspapers from 1816 to the present online using keyword searching. These weekly newspapers covered world, national, regional, and local news, including information on maritime subjects, shipping, whaling, marriages, births, baptisms, and obituaries.

You can search by keyword and date range as well as browse entire newspapers by year. The newspaper archive also allows users to print and save articles. You can access this material from any computer, any time, no library card needed. The newspapers are updated annually to keep the archive as current as possible.

We wish to thank the following organizations and individuals who helped make the Nantucket Atheneum’s Digital Historic Newspaper Archive possible. Funding for the digitization of the newspapers was provided by the Nantucket Community Preservation Committee. In addition, the Atheneum would like to thank Boston Public Library, Micrographics Inc. and Marianne Stanton of The Inquirer and Mirror for help on this project.

automtic renewals

Automatic renewals for Selected Items

CLAMS libraries were pleased to announce, this past November, that materials eligible to be renewed will be automatically extended another loan period up to three times. Exceptions are express items, items on hold for other patrons, items already renewed three times, and Interlibrary Loan materials or eBooks. Items that cannot be renewed will still accrue fines.

Please note, materials cannot be renewed if:
• Someone else has placed a hold on the item.
• The item has reached its renewal limit. (3 renewals)
• Your account is blocked or expired.
• Express and Rental items, Museum passes, e-materials, Library of Things and other “non-traditional” items will not be auto renewed.

This service is provided to remove unnecessary fines, and give patron a chance to enjoy most physical items (books, music, movie discs) that come from CLAMS member libraries. Please returns your items to the library as soon as you can, and if you have questions please call your local library.

You can see your checked-out items and the due dates, by logging into your library account. If you have any questions, please call us at 508-228-1110 ext 101

love letter to libraries

Library Lovers Month

Here in Massachusetts, we LOVE our Libraries. Massachusetts Libraries play a vital role in ensuring all residents have equal access to information. Libraries are meeting places, community centers, and resources for everyone. During our busy everyday lives, we don’t always get a chance to let our libraries know how much we care about them. And we rarely take the time to share that with our state legislators.

Why do you love visiting your library? What critical service does it provide to you or your family? Let us know and we’ll share it with the library community, and equally important, with the state legislators.

Show your love HERE