Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

The Murder Show

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Amanda and Jenn discuss thrillers and historical mysteries, moving with kids, read-alouds about socks in this week’s episode of Get Booked.

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1. My husband and I have recently decided to move our family out of Texas. We are at a stage of life when moving can be complicated, as we have children (14&7) who are settled into a routine in our suburban neighborhood. But the pandemic and our state’s failed response to it finally pushed us to make the leap. We are excited and hopeful for the opportunity to explore a new way of life. However, our family and friends don’t quite understand why we want to make this change at this point in our lives and the lack of support can be hard to bear. Can you recommend books about people choosing to make dramatic changes in their lives that seem crazy to everyone else, specifically a change that involves moving/travel, or midlife career change, and that preferably involve families with children? I would prefer nonfiction or memoir, but feel free to surprise me. A little sentimentality is ok, but please nothing too sappy or woo-woo. I’d like something that acknowledges the practical challenges of change while maintaining a hopeful and positive perspective.



2. I am looking for a gift for my wife who is a huge mystery / thriller reader. She has read all of the usual suspects, and is starting to find the genre stale since so many follow the police procedural or “girl goes missing” trope. 

One of her favorites has been the Heartsick trilogy by Chelsea Cain due to the novelty of a female serial killer and the cat-and-mouse interactions she has with the detective in the story. She loves a good twisted psychological character and loved that the killer was female. Preferably no domestic thrillers (although a stellar one is okay) and something fresh outside the “kidnapped child” or “missing female” trope. 

They Never Learn by Layne Fargo is on my radar, but please suggest any outside-the-box picks that you have in your back pocket. Her birthday is November 15 so I’d love to have some before then. Thank you! 

(Enclosed list of what authors and books she has read and enjoyed)

Entire canon – Jane Harper
Sometimes I Lie – Alice Feeney
The Wife – Alafair Burke 
All of Chevy Stevens, particularly Those Girls
Widows – Lynda LaPlante 
Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn 
All of Lisa Unger 
Riley Sager 
The Wife Between Us


3. Part 1. Janet Evanovich but for my middle aged dad? I think we would benefit from reading a book together and when I mentioned it, it wasn’t shot down so now I’m looking for something with action and humor and absolutely no sexy times. He made me read The Camel Club by David Baldacci once and I’m still not over it. The only series we have both read at separate times and have enjoyed are Harry Potter and The Dresden Files.

Part 2. American Pop by Snowden Wright. Is this book terrible and problematic or is it okay and problematic? I know it’s definitely problematic. Goodreads reviews don’t like it but I kind of did? I haven’t heard anyone else talk about it and it’s been a few years since it was published and I just need someone’s opinion that I trust.

Thank you for all of the hard work you all do, I really appreciate it and it adds value to my life and career as a librarian.


4. Any suggestions for my dad who loves thrillers,  mysteries, and historical fiction? He reads mostly white men—Ken Follett, Michael Crichton, John Grisham, etc. His favorite books this year were City of Thieves by David Benioff and Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christi Lefteri. He loves to learn but sometimes struggles with nonfiction, e.g. I gifted him Killers of the Flower Moon last year and he couldn’t get into it. Trying to broaden his usual fare outside of white dudes and would love any recs. Adult only and no graphic novels please. He’s also mentioned he doesn’t like a ton of violence, but then again his favorite book ever is Pillars of the Earth, so *shrug.*


​​5. Hi Jenn and Amanda, I struggle with audiobook fiction, but I love audiobook nonfiction. I’ve been struggling to find my next audiobook pick now that I’m commuting again. I think my wheelhouse is investigative journalists tackling corruption. My favorite is Dark Money by Jane Mayer, and I also loved Bad Blood by John Carreyrou and Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe. Thank you so much for your time!


6. I’m a kindergarten teacher at an arts-integrated school, and my students are In.Love.With. Chapter books for read-aloud time. So far this year, we’ve read The Magnificent Makers and The Magical Ms. Plum, and they absolutely ate them up. I mentioned that I was going to go to the library to pick new books up, and they pretty much exploded with requests. Books suitable for 5-7year olds with any or all of the following would be amazing (these are all direct quotes from my students):

– “A long, good chapter book of lots of things”
– Magical
– Kitties
– Dragons
– A group of clams
– Komodo dragons
– A unicorn
– Dogs and horses
– Snakes
– Socks
– “Classrooms and working hard on exploring”

I’m planning on getting a few Magic Schoolbus books for our shelves, and we decided as a group that if we can’t find one book that fits all of these needs, we’re totally going to make our own. 🙂 But any recommendations would be very, very much appreciated!


7. Although I didn’t have much interest in Russian literature before, my love of George Saunders convinced me to read A Swim in the Pond in the Rain. I enjoyed his teacherly quality of guiding you through these short stories and ability to help me learn and appreciate them in a way I wouldn’t have been able to without support. His deep love for these stories was evident and made the reading experience extremely enjoyable. I am currently planning on reading Tolstoy Together: 85 Days of War and Peace with Yiyun Li and participating in a War and Peace read in September. 

Are there any books similar to these that can help me approach a new book/genre more deeply? It doesn’t have to be Russian literature. That was just a coincidence. 


Books Discussed

How to Be a Family by Dan Kois

The Telling Room by Michael Paterniti

The Guest List by Lucy Foley (tw: sexual assault, extreme bullying)

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Eileen by Otessa Moshfegh (cw: alcoholism, child abuse, rape, disordered eating)

A Bad Day for Sunshine by Darynda Jones

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (rec’d by Cassie)

Dangerous Women by Hope Adams

Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March (cw: references to suicide, mention of rape and harm to children)

She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey

The Golden Thread by Ravi Somaiya

Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott

Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts

My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead

Books & Islands in Ojibwe Country by Louise Erdrich