Summer is in full swing, and everyone is outside enjoying the sun (finally!) with a good book and a frosty beverage-of-choice. It’s the ideal scenario – unless, of course, the good book you’re itching to read has an extensive waiting list. Here at the library, we do our best to keep enough copies around that you never have to wait long, but every year a few new titles come out that are so hot, we just can’t keep up with the demand.
Fear not! While you wait patiently for the latest buzz book, your friendly neighbourhood librarian will gladly recommend some alternative titles to help pass the time. Come talk to us about your favourite styles and genres, settings and time periods, plots and character types. We’ll find you a book that just might become your new favourite. To get you started, here are a few recommended read-alikes for some of the most popular books this summer. Who knows? Maybe by branching out, you’ll be ahead of the curve on the Next Big Thing!
The Girl On the Train by Paula Hawkins
Current Wait List: 432
Rachel, the titular girl on the train, watches a husband and wife eat breakfast on their terrace every morning as she passes them on her commute. Then the wife goes missing, and Rachel gets drawn deeper and deeper into the mystery.
Losing You by Nicci French. A woman’s daughter goes missing, and she seems to be the only one who takes it seriously. Similar aspects: psychological suspense; set in London, England; compelling writing style; missing persons.
In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O’Brien. A marriage built on mutual deception suffers when the wife mysteriously disappears. Similar aspects: psychological suspense; fast-paced; secrets; marriages under stress; missing persons.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Current Wait List: 250
This lyrical, haunting tale follows two teenagers on opposite sides of World War II until their paths inevitably collide, showing us the innate goodness that can reside in people despite the depravities of war.
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka. Six Japanese mail-order brides share their story of struggling to not just survive, but find their place in early 20th century San Francisco. Similar aspects: Literary historical fiction; moving; Second World War; spare, lyrical writing style.
In the Wolf’s Mouth by Adam Foulds. Three soldiers, with different backgrounds and different goals, do their best to navigate the last days of the war in North Africa and Sicily. Similar aspects: Literary historical fiction; stylistically complex; atmospheric and dramatic; Second World War; relationships between men and women.
My Secret Sister: Twins Separated at Birth, One Sister Abused, One Loved: A Powerful True Story by Helen Edwards & Jenny Lee Smith
Current wait list: 223
Helen and Jenny, twins separated at birth, tell the story of how they grew up under very different circumstances before finding each other and uncovering a lifetime of secrets.
Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited by Elyse Schein
Author Elyse searches for her biological mother and discovers that she has an identical twin, also adopted. What’s more, both were part of a secret study on separated twins. Similar aspects: Autobiography; adoption; separated twins; sisters.
The Thirteenth Child by Elizabeth Jeffrey
Set in 1890s England, this is a fictional account of separated twin sisters, one raised in abusive poverty, the other in a loving and supportive family. Similar aspects: Separated twins; sisters; abusive environments; set in England.
Paper Towns by John Green
Current wait list: 132
A Florida teen nearing graduation has his humdrum life turned upside down by a quirky friend who then mysteriously disappears.
Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff. 12-year-old Mila uses her talent for picking up unspoken cues to help her father search for his missing best friend. Similar aspects: Coming-of-age story; missing persons; observant characters; novels for young adults.
How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford. A teenage girl moves to a new school in her senior year, where she struggles with her emotions and befriends a quiet boy with a troubled background. Similar aspects: Realistic, coming-of-age story; rich dialogue; high school seniors; impactful friendships; cross-gender teenage friendships; novels for young adults.
Sometimes, if the world is really unfair, you don’t even get a waitlist to help you count down. For the long-suffering diehards still waiting for George R. R. Martin to finish The Winds of Winter (and who are brave enough to tackle a new epic fantasy), try …
The Iron King by Maurice Druon. This first in a seven-book epic about the 100 Years’ War fictionalizes real stories of war, betrayal, and family drama to rival those of the Seven Kingdoms. Similar aspects: Epic; political intrigue; knights; medieval kingdoms.
The Legend of Broken by Caleb Carr. An alternate history set in medieval times in which a lone soldier must defend a fortress against threats from both within and without. Similar aspects: Epic; dramatic and suspenseful; intricately plotted; political corruption; knights and soldiers; medieval kingdoms.