For the month of May, the Read With Jenna book club has been reading "Remarkable Bright Creatures" by Shelby Van Pelt. The debut novel is about an unusual friendship between a night janitor at an aquarium in Washington and a clever giant pacific octopus. It's hilarious and heartwarming all in one.
If you loved the book and want to know what to read next, Van Pelt has six recommendations that may pique your interest. From the memoir of a naturalist to a novel told from the perspective of artificial intelligence, there is something on this list for many kinds of readers.
Books to read this summer
In "The Soul of an Octopus," naturalist Sy Montgomery documents her relationships with four vastly different octopuses she encountered in her study of the species. They reveal their personalities and cleverness to her as they escape from enclosures and use tricks to get food. Written with humor and appreciation, this book provides a unique look at a remarkable animal.
This Read With Jenna pick from November 2019 centers around a pair of estranged, longtime friends, Madison and Lillian, whose lives have gone in dramatically different directions. Madison obtained power and wealth as a politician's wife, while Lillian worked two grocery store jobs and lived with her mom to make ends meet. But when Madison needs help taking care of a delicate matter, she turns to her old friend Lillian for help.
What would a powerful, wealthy woman like Madison need Lillian's help with? Oh, just the spontaneously combusting twin stepkids who are coming to live in her house after the death of their mother.
Hartnett's second book, "Unlikely Animals," is a heartfelt novel set on the backdrop of the American opioid crisis. When med-school dropout Emma Starling returns home to help take care of her sick and aging father, she finds herself in the middle of a mystery no one wants to solve. Her best friend, who has struggled with drug addiction, has gone missing. While helping her father, who has been hallucinating small animals and the long-dead naturalist Ernest Harold Baynes, she pulls off the unlikely miracle the town needs.
From the author of "A Man Called Ove," "Anxious People" tells the story of an open house gone wrong. When a failed bank robber bursts in, he takes the apartment's visitors as hostages. The eclectic group of strangers reveal surprising truths about themselves as anxieties rise. From hilarious to heartbreaking, this book is about friendship, forgiveness and hope.
"Klara and the Sun" is narrated by Klara, an artificial friend with keen observation skills. While Klara waits in a store to be purchased, she observes the humans who browse and pass by on the streets from an egoless perspective. It's a telling look into the future role of artificial intelligence in our life while being a story about loneliness and hope.
Set in Mississippi, "Sing, Unburied, Sing" by Jesmyn Ward is a character-driven novel about poverty and racism in the American South. It uncovers the ugly truths about American society through 13-year-old JoJo, his sister, Klara, and their drug-addicted mother.
For more book recommendations, check out:
- Jenna Bush Hager picks 'engaging' multigenerational family saga for April 2022
- From romance to a family epic, Lee Cole shares 5 books to read after 'Groundskeeping'
- All of Jenna Bush Hager's book club picks