Summer picks for your bookshelf
Local authors, local readers, loads of suggestions
Kick up your feet, pour a beverage, and grab a book, because it’s time to start on your summer reading list. Haven’t made one yet? No worries. Rochester readers and writers have come together to curate a list of books that will satisfy everyone from poetry lovers to fantasy fanatics. Head to the library or your local bookstore and fill your book bag with these fabulous titles.
Great reads from local authors and presses
• The most anticipated book of the season is Forever This Summer (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 2021) by Rochester writer Leslie C. Youngblood. This sequel to her 2019 book, Love Like Sky, follows young Georgie as she travels with her mother and sister, Peaches, to rural Louisiana. It’s a summer filled with family, new friends, and new discoveries for Georgie, and readers will fall in love with Youngblood’s characters all over again. You won’t want to miss this beautiful middle-grade book that everyone will be talking about no matter what age they are. Youngblood has an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and has won numerous awards for her writing, including a 2014 Yaddo’s Elizabeth Ames Residency. lesliecyoungblood.com
• If poetry is more your style as you lounge by the lake, you’ll want a copy of Alicia Hoffman’s Animal (FutureCycle Press 2021). Animal is a tender study of the world from sweet old dogs to frosty mornings and the possibilities of stars. Hoffman lives and teaches in Rochester but originally hails from Pennsylvania. She has an MFA in poetry from the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. This is her third book. aliciamariehoffman.com
• Andri Snær Magnason’s On Time and Water from the University of Rochester’s Open Letter Books (2021) asks readers to fall in love with icebergs the way his grandparents fell in love with them as explorers and honeymooners years before he was born. But those icy landscapes no longer exist in the same way, and his children and grandchildren will not know Iceland or the earth’s gifts as his grandparents once did. This narrative nonfiction examination of climate change was translated by Rochester’s Lytton Smith, who has translated more than a dozen books from Icelandic. Smith is also a poet who teaches at SUNY Geneseo and directs its Center for Integrative Learning.
• Cornell University Press has just released Strike the Hammer: The Black Freedom Struggle in Rochester, New York, 1940–1970 (2021) by Laura Warren Hill, an associate professor of history at Bloomfield College. Hill discusses the Civil Rights movement of mid-twentieth century Rochester. This examination of Rochester, particularly the 1964 uprising, is a timely book about our city’s Black freedom struggle.
• Buckle up, sci-fi fans, because a brand-new series is here from Rochester writer Alison Lyke. Science reporter Jade, along with her fellow reporter Antigone, find that their lives become off-kilter when a test of a teleporter using an electron collider goes wrong. Tripping the Multiverse (Black Rose 2021) is available now. alisonlyke.com
Roc readers book suggestions
• Writers & Books executive director Alison Meyers will be spending time with Jericho Brown’s book of poems, The Tradition (Copper Canyon 2019). The Tradition is the winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and was a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award. Read all about Myers at alisonmeyers.com.
• Local book reviewer Tate DeCaro has several books on her summer reading list, including Witches: Suspicion, Betrayal & Hysteria in 1962 Salem, by Stacy Schiff (Weidenfeld & Nicolson 2015), A Promised Land, by Barack Obama (Crown 2020), and At the End of the Century: The Stories of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (Little, Brown Book Group 2017). Read DeCaro’s fun and insightful book reviews at NewYorkTate.com.
• Katrina Randall, author of The Reaper’s Daughter (Dragon Moon Press 2016), notes that the first book on her to-read list is Youngblood’s Forever This Summer. But she is also looking forward to reading the YA fantasy The Queen Will Betray You (Tor Teen 2021) by Sarah Henning. “It’s book two in The Kingdoms of Sand and Sky and comes out in July. It’s billed as something of a Princess Bride retelling, but in this version the princess has a strong sense of agency, because she’s the savior—I love girl power!” Learn about Randall’s own writing endeavors at kmrandallauthor.com.
• Local writer Francesca Padilla can’t wait to start Dear Senthuran (Riverhead Books 2021) by Akwaeke Emezi and Honey Girl: A Novel (Park Row 2021) by Morgan Rogers. Padilla is someone to watch as her debut novel, What’s Coming to Me, is forthcoming from Soho Teen/Soho Press in 2022. Follow Padilla on Twitter: @frannypadilla.