Every August 9, readers across the country take advantage of an extra reason to sit back and relax with a good book: National Book Lovers Day. We asked the bookworms around the office to share their recommendations of recent reads in a celebration of book love. Read on to see what the Prime Team is loving this summer and add these books to your to-read list.
I love The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers because it’s a subtle reminder for me that I’m living for something much bigger than myself, and that in a world seemingly full of darkness, there’s always light if you’re willing to see it.
New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers returns to her romance roots with this unexpected and redemptive love story, a probing tale that reminds us that mercy can shape even the most broken among us into an imperfect yet stunning masterpiece.
Truth be told, I started watching the TV show first, but as the saying goes, “The book is better.” American Gods by Neil Gaiman is a story that builds toward a war between old gods and new gods. How old gods were brought over to America through stories and tradition, and how new gods were created as a multitude of things developed over time. I love that it uses both ancient and modern mythology in such fascinating ways – something I’ve always loved reading about!
As unsettling as it is exhilarating, American Gods is a dark and kaleidoscopic journey deep into myth and across an America at once eerily familiar and utterly alien. Magnificently told, this work of literary magic will haunt the reader far beyond the final page.
I have really enjoyed Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto by Aaron Franklin. The book describes how he got started in the business by saving up his change and spare money and cooking one brisket a week for friends and family, and then eventually selling it to people one brisket at a time. It’s the classic “work hard and do something you’re passionate about” story. It also talks about his process from start to end. Great book if you’re into BBQ.
In this much-anticipated debut, Franklin and coauthor Jordan Mackay unlock the secrets behind truly great barbecue and share years’ worth of hard-won knowledge. Franklin Barbecue is a definitive resource for the backyard pitmaster, with chapters dedicated to building or customizing your own smoker; finding and curing the right wood; creating and tending perfect fires; sourcing top-quality meat; and of course, cooking mind-blowing, ridiculously delicious barbecue, better than you ever thought possible.
I picked up House of Coates by Brad Zellar during one of his recent book sales, where I had the honor of finally meeting this poetic word slinger. For a while now I’ve been aware of his competence with written expression, and this quick-yet-cerebral read simply serves as further proof of his talents.
Zellar describes settings, circumstances, and perceptions with a prose so vividly composed that the picture he paints is practically tangible. Maybe it is, and perhaps that’s why House of Coates feels so achingly intimate. The images scattered throughout work hand-in-hand with Zellar’s penned eloquence to trigger a very specific tone and an inherent sense of melancholy.
To say I was impressed would be a colossal understatement.
Washed up in the shadow of a refinery, Lester B. Morrison, legendary recluse, documents his life in a series of photographs taken with a disposable camera. In a landscape of off ramps, warehouses, and SRO hotels occupied by terminally lonely men, love and faith break in, quietly offering human connection and the possibility of redemption.
Two books I have read recently and LOVED were The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez and The Last Thing You Said by our very own Sara Biren*. I loved them because not only were they fun and witty romance novels, but they incorporated hard moments in life people can relate to on an emotional level and learn from.
The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass.
Last summer, Lucy’s and Ben’s lives changed in an instant. One moment, they were shyly flirting on a lake raft, finally about to admit their feelings to each other after years of yearning. In the next, Trixie—Lucy’s best friend and Ben’s sister—was gone, her heart giving out during a routine swim. And just like that, the idyllic world they knew turned upside down, and the would-be couple drifted apart, swallowed up by their grief. Now it’s a year later in their small lake town, and as the anniversary of Trixie’s death looms, Lucy and Ben’s undeniable connection pulls them back together. They can’t change what happened the day they lost Trixie, but the summer might finally bring them closer to healing—and to each other.
*I swear, I did not put her up to this.
I was surprised by how much I liked Life Will Be the Death of Me… and you too! by Chelsea Handler. I haven’t read any of her other books. I had to see what this one was all about since she based a book/comedy tour and podcast around it. It still has her humor (which I know some people don’t always appreciate), but it also talks deeply about her more personal and family life. She also has an open and honest conversation about therapy and how that can help someone become a better version of themselves.
In a haze of vape smoke on a rare windy night in L.A. in the fall of 2016, Chelsea Handler daydreams about what life will be like with a woman in the White House. And then Donald Trump happens. In a torpor of despair, she decides that she’s had enough of the privileged bubble she’s lived in–a bubble within a bubble–and that it’s time to make some changes, both in her personal life and in the world at large.
Another recent favorite is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It really digs into the science of how habits start, what may cause them, and ways to improve yourself or business by recognizing and changing them.
In The Power of Habit, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. With penetrating intelligence and an ability to distill vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives, Duhigg brings to life a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential for transformation.
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis is chock-full of rhetorical devices. C.S. Lewis is a master at presenting a compelling argument, guiding the reader through difficult concepts to prove a point. The book covers some deep philosophical topics but maintains a conversational tone, having been adapted from a series of radio talks Lewis gave during WWII. He outlines many relatable principles and addresses both common and unpopular objections to challenge his own reasoning. In doing so, Lewis connects with his audience and shows a comprehensive understanding of human behavior and religion.
C.S. Lewis explores the common ground upon which all of those of Christian faith stand together. Mere Christianity provides an unequaled opportunity for believers and nonbelievers alike to hear this powerful apologetic for the Christian faith.
I recently read I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. I tend to be a sucker for post-apocalyptic, dystopian stories – especially when they go against the traditional, triumphant conclusions and challenge our perceptions of the world. I’ll try not to spoil anything but will say it’s very different from the movie!
Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth… but he is not alone. Every other man, woman and child on the planet has become a vampire, and they are hungry for Neville’s blood. By day he is the hunter, stalking the undead through the ruins of civilization. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for the dawn.
How long can one man survive like this?
One of my top books of 2019 is Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. I’ve been on a “royal romance” kick lately, and this one had everything: politics, hope for the future, all kinds of fascinating family dynamics (and drama), and of course, the swoony, secret relationship. I laughed a lot, which I’d expected, and cried several times, which I hadn’t expected. I highly recommend the audiobook – the narration is A+.
A big-hearted romantic comedy in which First Son Alex falls in love with Prince Henry of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends.