BOOKS TO KNOW – Top 10 Books List


Mariah Cain, Guest Writer

1.   BIG

By Vashti Harrison

In BIG, Vashti Harrison showcases a young girl’s journey to self-acceptance. 

“Once there was a girl.

She had a big laugh

and a big heart

and very big dreams.

And it was good. 

Until it wasn’t.”

“The first picture book written and illustrated by award-winning creator Vashti Harrison traces a child’s journey to self-love and shows the power of words to both hurt and heal. With spare text and exquisite illustrations, this emotional exploration of being big in a world that prizes small is a tender portrayal of how you can stand out and feel invisible at the same time.”


2. The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store

By James McBride

In The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store, James McBride depicts a story of Black and Jewish residents in 

Pottstown, Pennsylvania in the 1920s and ‘30s. 

“In 1972, when workers in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, were digging the foundations for a new development, the last thing they expected to find was a skeleton at the bottom of a well. Who the skeleton was and how it got there were two of the long-held secrets kept by the residents of Chicken Hill, the dilapidated neighborhood where immigrant Jews and African Americans lived side by side and shared ambitions and sorrows. Chicken Hill was where Moshe and Chona Ludlow lived when Moshe integrated his theater and where Chona ran the Heaven & Earth Grocery Store. When the state came looking for a deaf boy to institutionalize him, it was Chona and Nate Timblin, the Black janitor at Moshe’s theater and the unofficial leader of the Black community on Chicken Hill, who worked together to keep the boy safe.”


3. The Woman In Me

By Brittany Spears

In The Woman in Me, Brittany Spears details her experience navigating her rise to fame, motherhood, and freedom. 

“In June 2021, the whole world was listening as Britney Spears spoke in open court. The impact of sharing her voice—her truth—was undeniable, and it changed the course of her life and the lives of countless others. The Woman in Me reveals for the first time her incredible journey—and the strength at the core of one of the greatest performers in pop music history.

Written with remarkable candor and humor, Spears’s groundbreaking book illuminates the enduring power of music and love—and the importance of a woman telling her own story, on her own terms, at last.”

4. The Bee Sting

By Paul Murray

In The Bee Sting, Paul Murray depicts a dysfunctional family of four in Ireland navigating financial and emotional trouble.

“The Barnes family is in trouble. Dickie’s once-lucrative car business is going under―but Dickie is spending his days in the woods, building an apocalypse-proof bunker with a renegade handyman. His wife, Imelda, is selling off her jewelry on eBay and half-heartedly dodging the attention of fast-talking cattle farmer Big Mike, while their teenage daughter, Cass, formerly top of her class, seems determined to binge drink her way through her final exams. As for twelve-year-old PJ, he’s on the brink of running away.

If you wanted to change this story, how far back would you have to go? To the infamous bee sting that ruined Imelda’s wedding day? To the car crash one year before Cass was born? All the way back to Dickie at ten years old, standing in the summer garden with his father, learning how to be a real man?”


5.  Debut 

By Don Gaitens

In Debut: An Anthology of Emerging Canadian Authors Don Gaitens is a part of a nine-member group of emerging authors and artists.

“From mind to media, five tales and ten captivating illustrations will take you to: a mysterious early morning warehouse, a horse-headed enigma, an abandoned boon, a call answered, a heart-wrenching paranormal battleground. We are excited to share with you these original stories and accompanying artistic interpretations: Our Debut.”


6. Grief is For People

By Sloane Crosley 

In Grief is For People, Sloane Crosley explores friendship and navigating grief. 

“For most of her adult life, Sloane and Russell worked together and played together as they navigated the corridors of office life, the literary world, and the dramatic cultural shifts in New York City. One day, Sloane’s apartment is broken into. Along with her most prized possessions, the thief makes off with her sense of security, leaving a mystery in its place.

When Russell dies exactly one month later, his suicide propels Sloane on a wild quest to right the unrightable, to explore what constitutes family and possession as the city itself faces the staggering toll of the pandemic.”


7. Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know

By Adam Grant

In Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know, Adam Grant explores the art of rethinking one’s opinions. 

“With bold ideas and rigorous evidence, Adam Grant investigates how we can embrace the joy of being wrong, harness the advantages of impostor syndrome, bring nuance into charged conversations, and build schools, workplaces, and communities of lifelong learners. Think Again reveals that we don’t have to believe all our thoughts or internalize all our emotions. It’s an invitation to let go of views that are no longer serving us well and prize mental flexibility, humility, and curiosity over consistency.”


8.  There’s Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension 

By Hanif Abdurraqib 

In There’s Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension, Hanif Abdurraqib explores life and the passage of time through basketball. 

“Growing up in Columbus, Ohio, in the 1990s, Hanif Abdurraqib witnessed a golden era of basketball, one in which legends like LeBron James were forged and countless others weren’t. His lifelong love of the game leads Abdurraqib into a lyrical, historical, and emotionally rich exploration of what it means to make it, who we think deserves success, the tension between excellence and expectation, and the very notion of role models, all of which he expertly weaves together with intimate, personal storytelling. ‘Here is where I would like to tell you about the form on my father’s jump shot,’ Abdurraqib writes. ‘The truth, though, is that I saw my father shoot a basketball only one time.’”


9. Happiness Falls 

By Angie Kim

In Happiness Falls, Angie Kim details a Korean-American family’s life after the father mysteriously goes missing. 

“When a father goes missing, his family’s desperate search leads them to question everything they know about him and one another in this thrilling page-turner, a deeply moving portrait of a family in crisis from the award-winning author of Miracle Creek.”

10. The Rom Con

By Devon Daniels

In The Ron Con, Devon Daniels illustrates the story of a journalist following an elaborate plan to defeat her professional rival. 

“After a particularly brutal breakup, Cassidy Sutton has had it with dating. So when her grandmother gives her a 1950’s dating guide entitled 125 Tips to Hook a Husband, she decides to turn the retro advice into an ironic “What not to do” article for Siren, the popular online women’s publication she writes for. And who better to secretly test the old-fashioned tips on than Jack Bradford, chauvinistic creator of rival men’s site Brawler? She’ll write an article that will entertain female readers everywhere and embarrass their sexist nemesis at the same time. Two birds, one stone.

But her perfect plan soon proves to be anything but. Those vintage courtship tips Cassidy was so quick to poke fun at? They actually seem to work, calling her most closely-held beliefs into question. Even worse? Jack isn’t falling for any of her tricks—and it’s not long before their ‘fake’ relationship starts to feel like the realest one of her life. As her cat and mouse game starts to spiral out of control, Cassidy has to decide if she’s playing to win, or if she’s willing to lose it all for love.”


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