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Summer book show: What's on your reading list?

Woman in a hammock among nature reading e-book
martin-dm/Getty Images
This hour, we help you figure out what to read when you're kicking back this summer.

School's out and the pool's about to open. You know what that means? It's time to pick your summer book list.

On Vermont Edition, we checked in with a couple local librarians and a bookseller to hear their reading recommendations. Host Mikaela Lefrak also previewed the Bookstock festival happening this weekend.

Top recommendations

If you only have time for a few books this summer, more than one of our guests recommended these reads:

  • Yellowface by R.F. Kuang
    • “It's so smart. It's so fast. And it's just super intriguing and a genius discussion on diversity in publishing and who has the right to tell what stories,” said Kari Meutsch, co-owner of Yankee Bookshop in Woodstock.
    • Peter Langella, librarian at Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburg, also recommended the book. “These are conversations that we are having with high school students as they learn how to navigate the world.”
    • “I stayed up way too late to finish it,” Meutsch said.
  • The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder by David Grann
    • “[This] might be a good book for someone looking for something interesting but might not be an avid reader," said Kendra Aber-Ferri, library director at Morristown Centennial Library. “The book really explores some of the different perspectives on what happened, and tries to figure out, you know, what really went on. It’s a great adventure tale that's true."

Local librarians and bookseller recommendations

Kendra Aber-Ferri, library director at Morristown Centennial Library recommended:

  • Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano
  • Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
  • Happy Place by Emily Henry
    • Aber-Ferri listened to Happy Place as an audiobook, and thought it was “the ultimate beach read.” Not to be confused with Henry's other book, Beach Read.
  •  A book cover for The Wager, with a ship in a raging sea in the background.
    The book cover for David Grann's The Wager
    The Third Pole: Mystery, Obsession, and Death on Mount Everest by Mark Synnott
    • “I recommend this book for anyone interested in mountaineering or adventure books. … It’s a literal cliffhanger.”
  • The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder by David Grann
  • Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy
    • “As soon as I finished, I had to read ... her other books. And what I liked about Charlotte McConaughey as an author is that she combined science and fiction in a haunting, beautiful way.”

Peter Langella, librarian at Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburg:

  • Project 562: Changing the Way We See Native America by Matika Wilbur
    • Langella says this recommendation is “more of a nonfiction coffee table book" that uses photos and writing to document federally-recognized Indigenous nations.
  • Miles Morales Suspended by Jason Reynolds
  • Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley
  • Tasting Light: Ten Science Fiction Stories to Rewire Your Perceptions edited by A.R. Capetta & Wade Rousch
    • Tasting Light uses hard science, in a not-too-distant future, which Langella says makes it feel plausible. He also recommends this because of the diverse characters. “It also features an amazing array of identities, including many, many characters of various places on the gender and sexuality spectrums. And it's done in such a way that that's just how it is. It's not — it doesn't need to be the struggle of a character that they're nonbinary, and people aren't accepting them. It's that their struggle is that they're trying to work with this new science technology.”
  • Yellowface by R.F. Kuang
  • Accidental Czar: the Life and Lies of Vladimir Putin by Andrew S. Weiss and art by Brian "Box" Brown
    • Langella recommends this comic to help connect with current political issues. “[It] can provide really important context for the current geopolitical situation and the horrors that are continuing to go on in Ukraine.”

Bonus recommendations: 

  • Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGuire
  • The Library of Broken Worlds by Alaya Dawn Johnson
  • Shubeik Lubeik by Deena Mohamed
  • A Day With No Words by Tiffany Hammond and Illustrated by Kate Cosgrove

Kari Meutsch, co-owner of Yankee Bookshop in Woodstock:

  • The Undertow: Scenes from a Slow Civil War by Jeff Sharlet
    • “Jeff [Sharlet] has a wonderful way of connecting with people and just getting these really honest answers from the people he spends time with,” Meutsch says.
  • Meant to Be and See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles
    • Meutsch recommends Jo Knowles' books, and specifically highlighted these two while discussing the issue of banned books. Knowles' books have been targeted for censorship in Texas and Florida.

More fromVermont Edition: Vermont librarians weigh in on book challenges and bans

 A bright yellow book cover with cartoon eyes with the title "Yellowface"
Harper Collins
The book cover for R.F. Kuang's Yellowface

  • Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher
  • The Strange Inheritance of Leah Fern by Rita Zoey Chin
    • “I really love a good road trip novel in the summertime, I think because — because you know, we're kind of tied to the bookstore, especially when everyone's coming to Vermont," Meutsch says. "So I really love being able to travel with a book.”
  • Now is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson
    • Meutsch listened to Now is Not the Time to Panic as an audiobook, and recommends this fun, coming-of-age novel. “So it's just a fun reminder of what, you know, summer was like when you had to make your own fun, and you couldn't just, you know, get on the internet. … It's what happens when kids get bored.”
  • The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny & Murder by David Grann
  • Yellowface by R.F. Kuang

Bonus recommendation:

  • The Whalebone Theater by Joanna Quinn

Find the full list of recommendations and keep track of what you're reading this summer with our Goodreads list.

Listener recommendations

If you're looking for more, here's a list of books compiled by Vermont Edition listeners:

  • The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
  • The Treehouse on Dog River Road by Catherine Drake
  • Going Up the Country: When the Hippies, Dreamers, Freaks and Radicals Moved to Vermont by Yvonne Daily
  • One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak
  • The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
  • Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Norse Mythology by Neil Gaimon
  • The Way of Fire and Ice: The Living Tradition of Norse Paganism by Ryan Smith
  • Peace Is a Chain Reaction: How World War II Japanese Balloon Bombs Brought People of Two Nations Together by Tanya Lee Stone
  • The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music by Dave Grohl
  • The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn
  • The Black Witch (The Black Witch Chronicles, #1) by Laurie Forest
  • The Blazing World: A New History of Revolutionary England, 1603-1689 by Jonathan Healey
  • The Green Ember series by S.D. Smith

Find the listener recommendations on Goodreads.


Bookstock, the book festival held in Woodstock, starts Friday, June 22. Authors Jo Knowles and Jeff Sharlet, who were recommended by Meutsch on Vermont Edition, will be speaking at the event. Find the full festival schedule here.

Broadcast live at noon Thursday, June 22, 2023; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or check us out on Instagram.

Mikaela Lefrak is the host and senior producer of Vermont Edition. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Marketplace, The World and Here & Now. A seasoned local reporter, Mikaela has won two regional Edward R. Murrow awards and a Public Media Journalists Association award for her work.
Tedra worked on Vermont Edition as a producer and editor from 2022 to 2024.