See what Baldwin readers had to say about the most popular books read during our Summer Reading program this year.
Fiction for Adults
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeywell – A socially awkward, routine-oriented loner teams up with a bumbling IT guy from her office to assist an elderly accident victim, forging a friendship that saves all three from lives of isolation and secret unhappiness.
- “The story was lovely. It gave perspective to someone who is likeable in a quirky way.”
- “This made me laugh and cry.”
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz – A story set on the American border with Mexico, about family and friendship, life and death, and one teen struggling to understand what his adoption does and doesn’t mean about who he is.
- “Honestly this book was amazing. It will make you cry. It will make you laugh. But honestly it will make you remember. It deals with some heavy topics (the LBGTQ+ community, death) and will make you look into your own life and the choices you have made.”
Less by Andrew Sean Greer – Receiving an invitation to his ex-boyfriend’s wedding, Arthur, a failed novelist on the eve of his 50th birthday, embarks on an international journey that finds him falling in love, risking his life, reinventing himself and making connections with the past.
- “A struggling novelist travels the world to avoid his ex-boyfriend’s wedding. This is laugh out loud funny. It won the Pulitzer Prize so it is worth looking into.”
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly – On a September day in Manhattan in 1939, twenty-something Caroline Ferriday is consumed by her efforts to secure the perfect boutonniere for an important French diplomat and resisting the romantic advances of a married actor. Meanwhile across the Atlantic, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish Catholic teenager, is nervously anticipating the changes that are sure to come since Germany has declared war on Poland. As tensions rise abroad – and in her personal life – Caroline’s interest in aiding the war effort in France grows and she eventually comes to hear about the dire situation at the Ravensbruck all-female concentration camp. At the same time, Kasia’s carefree youth is quickly slipping away, only to be replaced by a fervor for the Polish resistance movement. Through Ravensbruck – and the horrific atrocities taking place there told in part by an infamous German surgeon, Herta Oberheuser – the two women’s lives will converge in unprecedented ways and a novel of redemption and hope emerges that is breathtaking in scope and depth.
- “This book truly captured me. It’s based on true events and the author was able to give me insights into how Poland was affected by the war.”
- “It was a very enjoyable read. Lost Roses also by Martha Hall Kelly, is a great follow-up.”
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – Viewed with suspicion in the aftermath of a tragedy, a beautiful hermit who has survived for years in a marsh becomes targeted by unthinkable forces.
- “I loved this book!”
- “It’s beautifully written, and creates an unforgettable marshland setting populated by intriguing characters. There a murder mystery and a love story and it makes for a memorable read.”
Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple – When her notorious, hilarious, volatile, talented, troubled and agoraphobic mother goes missing, teenage Bee begins a trip that takes her to the ends of the earth to find her.
- “Social satire and a fun romp.”
- “This traveled amongst friends all summer to share as a nice beach read.”
The Wife by Meg Wolitzer – On the eve of her husband’s receipt of a prestigious literary award, Joan Castleman, who has put her own writing ambitions on hold to support her husband, evaluates her choices and decides to end the marriage.
- “This book is beautifully written with an edgy humor.”
- “This really explores what it means to be a wife and partner and how limiting that role can be, particularly for women of a certain generation. Thoughtful and engaging.”
Nonfiction, Biography & Memoir for Adults
Becoming by Michelle Obama – An intimate memoir by the former First Lady chronicles the experiences that have shaped her remarkable life, from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago through her setbacks and achievements in the White House.
- “I loved how Michelle depicted her life as so typical. She seems so down to earth for all of her worldly experiences.”
- “Entertaining and interesting.”
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah – Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, shares his remarkable story of growing up in South Africa, with a black South African mother and a white European father at a time when it was against the law for a mixed-race child like him to exist. In a country where racism barred blacks from social, educational, and economic opportunity, Trevor surmounted staggering obstacles and created a promising future for himself, thanks to his mother’s unwavering love and indomitable will.
- “This book presented an interesting perspective from someone growing up within and without of two cultures at the same time.”
- “I listened to the audio version read by the author. I really enjoyed his voice and expression.”
Educated by Tara Westover – Traces the author’s experiences as a child born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, describing her participation in her family’s paranoid stockpiling activities and her resolve to educate herself well enough to earn an acceptance into a prestigious university and the unfamiliar world beyond.
- “This memoir is moving and emotional.”
- “This book was amazingly well written for someone who lacked formal education until she was seventeen. The descriptions of her survivalist upbringing and her ability to emerge unscathed are striking.”
- “Fascinating, difficult, thoughtful. Very worthwhile.”
It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell – All her life, Andie Mitchell had eaten lustily and mindlessly. Food was her babysitter, her best friend, her confidant, and it provided a refuge from her fractured family. But when she stepped on the scale on her twentieth birthday and it registered a shocking 268 pounds, she knew she had to change the way she thought about food and herself; that her life was at stake.
- “This book begins with the author describing how she ate the entire delicious sour cream chocolate birthday cake she made for herself all by herself. A chubby child and an overweight teen, she eventually lost 135 pounds. This isn’t really a book about dieting and losing weight, though. It’s about her family and how food became her friend and her confident, her screening and protection against reflections that were too painful.”
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann – Presents a true account of the early 20th-century murders of dozens of wealthy Osage and law-enforcement officials, citing the contributions and missteps of a fledgling FBI that eventually uncovered one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.
- “Sadly, I never knew about the mistreatment of the Osage Native Americans until I read this. It seems that government corruption in the United States has been going on for a long time.”
The Lady in Gold by Ann-Marie O’Connor – Shares the events that shaped the creation of Gustav Klimt’s most famous portrait, covering such topics as the story of the salon hostess who was his model, contributing factors in turn-of-the-century Vienna, and the painting’s fate.
- “The first third of this book describes the luxurious lifestyles of the intellectual elite in pre-war Germany, especially the Bloch-Bauer family, and their relationship with Gustav Klimt. The middle part tells about the Anchloss and the horrors wreaked by Hitler and the Holocaust. The third part is an account of the legal proceedings involved in attempting to return the famous portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer – the Lady in Gold – to her niece in California.”
- “Very interesting and detailed. A compelling read.”