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During this long stay-at-home spring of coronavirus, people have increasingly turned to their local public library for book recommendations that help pass the time. Though library buildings closed, many staff continued working virtually, offering online library card registration, providing book recommendations on social media, and helping readers access free e-book collections from the safety of their homes.

Now, spring has tiptoed right into summer. While there is some early reopening activity in Oregon, we’re still most likely looking at a summer of continued physical distancing and long hours to fill. It’s as good a time as ever to have a robust summer reading list.

So, what do people want to read during a global pandemic? In my experience, escapism is at the top of the list nowadays. That term may conjure up images of vast fantasy worlds. Certainly, for some — myself included — that’s a wonderful way to spend the summer. I’m planning to do exactly that by diving into “The Wheel of Time,” a now classic 14-book fantasy series.

However, fantasy isn’t the right escape for everyone. Instead, it could be a tense thriller that grabs you on the first page and refuses to let you go. Or a visit to the past through an immersive work of historical fiction. A comforting beach read — yes, it’s still a beach read if you read it at home — with quirky characters and a delightful romance could be just what you’re looking for.

Nonfiction can be equally transportive. I’ve found comfort and perspective from reading about the cosmos and the nature of time, such as Brian Greene’s “Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe.” Since many plans are cancelled or on hold, why not take an armchair vacation with a detailed travel memoir. World War II books have remained very popular, perhaps because readers can look back on another global calamity that we reassuringly forged through.

Finally, there are readers who maybe aren’t looking for an escape, and instead seek purpose by engaging with the current issues around us. Recent events have many people feeling angry, sad, confused and unsure how to help in the face of racism in the United States. If you’re looking for a place to start, add “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo to your summer reading list. This honest, informative and direct book about racism is a great first step.

Whatever your preferences, libraries and bookstores are here for you. Connect with us soon and see how we can help you find some great reads this summer. For now, here is a selection of recent books and forthcoming summer releases to get you started. Happy reading!

Featured Fiction

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“The Jane Austen Society” (Historical Fiction)

• Postwar England, classic literature, and delightful small-town characters all come together in this endearing historical novel that’s sure to be one of 2020’s most popular.

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“The Year of the Witching” by Alexis Henderson (Fantasy)

• Dive into another world with this enthralling dark fantasy about a young woman living in a rigid, puritanical society discovers dark powers within herself.

Featured Nonfiction

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“Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art” by James Nestor

• For these undeniably stressful times, a book about one of life’s most basic and essential functions—and how you can do it better—may be just what we need.

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“The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking)” by Katie Mack

• Theoretical astrophysicist Mack offers an endlessly entertaining tour of the massive cosmic forces that began and may end the universe.

More Awesome titles to check out!

Fiction

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“The Guest List’ by Lucy Foley (Mystery)

• Lucy Foley, a rising star in the thriller and mystery genres, offers a vintage Agatha Christie whodunnit setup: a secluded island, a large cast of characters, a murder, and plenty of clues along the way.

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“The Last Flight” by Julie Clark (Thriller)

• One of those thrillers with an elegantly simple but brilliant premise — two strangers on the run meet at the airport and agree to switch identities — that pays off with realistic characters and relatable moral dilemmas.

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“Beach Read” by Emily Henry (Romantic Comedy)

• This irresistible and clever romance, about a writer of romance novels, winks at its own genre conventions while still sweeping readers off their feet.

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“Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre” by Max Brooks (Science Fiction)

• Pacific Northwesters interested in the Mount St. Helens eruption, Mount Rainier, or Sasquatch simply must check out this book, a fictional account written like an authentic event, similar to the best works of Michael Crichton.

Nonfiction

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“Why Fish Don’t Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life” by Lulu Miller

• This debut book by the co-host of NPR’s Invisibilia podcast is an enchanting blend of personal memoir, science writing, biography, and philosophy.

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“The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos” by Judy Batalion

• This summer’s most-anticipated World War II story has already been optioned by Steven Spielberg to become a feature film.

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“Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking” by Bill Buford

• Buford’s account of five years living in France and mastering French cooking is adventurous, humorous, and utterly immersive — a must read for food memoir and travel enthusiasts.

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“In the Land of Good Living: A Journey to the Heart of Florida” by Kent Russell

• Fans of travel literature are in for a perfect summer treat as the author provides a hilarious and richly detailed account of his trip through the heart and underbelly of Florida with his two buddies.

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