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FIRST Book Club: ‘Funny Story’, ‘Swift River’, ‘The Ministry of Time’ and More Thrilling New Titles

This week's titles include new romantic comedies and touching coming of age stories!

FIRST Book Club is back with more thrilling book recommendations and new titles, perfect to sink into as the summer gets into full swing. Kicking us off for the week of June 7 through June 13 is Swift River by Essie Chambers, a new coming of age book that FIRST Associate Food Editor Emily Boyette couldn’t put down.

If you’re in the mood for a romance, Funny Story by Emily Henry is the perfect new book to wrap yourself in. The read prompted Courtney Shapiro, FIRST Digital Associate Editor, to go as far as saying it’s Henry’s best book to date.

For those who are more keen on picking up science-based fiction this week, The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley is a newly released title that will take you back to the past while expanding your understanding of the future.

Keep scrolling to see all of FIRST Book Club’s recommendations for the week of June 7 through June 13.

Historical Fiction: Miss Morgan’s Book Brigade

by Janet Skeslien Charles

Miss Morgan’s Book Brigade by Janet Skeslien Charles
Atria Books

“This story is infused with hope and appreciation for the power of literature,” says Sienna Sullivan, FIRST Editorial Assistant. The plot follows Jessie Carson, who, as a part of the American Committee for Devastated France (also known as CARD), revolutionized the French library system after WWI. As a dual time line historical fiction, the book also follows writing student Wendy Peterson, who, nearly 70 years later, comes across Jessie’s incredible life story while working at the New York Public Library. “I had never heard of CARD before this book,” says Sienna, “but reading it made me want to learn more about these trail­blazing book enthusiasts.” (Atria, 2024)

Science Fiction: The Ministry of Time

by Kaliane Bradley

The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley
Avid Reader Press

“I’m a huge Dr. Who fan who also loves historical fiction, so this novel was right up my alley,” smiles Carey Ostergard, FIRST Executive Editor. The story is told by a young British ministry employee who becomes part of a secret time travel project that brings people from particular moments in the past to live in the present day. Her mission is to help a commander of an 1847 Arctic expedition acclimate to the modern world and record his progress. But she soon begins to have feelings for the man, and learns there are many who would kill to see the project fail. Raves Carey, “It was a fresh fusion of historical events, a fish-out-of water perspective, romance and espionage…I couldn’t put it down.” (Avid Reader, 2024)

Coming of Age: Swift River

by Essie Chambers

Swift River by Essie Chambers
Simon & Schuster

“Last weekend I spent hours on my front porch engrossed in this captivating debut novel by Essie Chambers,” says Emily Boyette, FIRST Associate Food Editor. “If you like richly engaging coming-of-age stories, you’ll love this.” It’s the summer of 1987 in the town of Swift River, and Diamond is learning how to drive. As the only Black person in the town, she has always been perceived as a bit of an outcast. This summer also marks seven years since her father’s disappearance, and now her mother is determined to legally affirm his death. But when Diamond gets a letter in the mail from an unknown relative that provides key facts that fill in the plot holes of her father’s — and her family’s — past, she investigates. “As I read, I felt I was uncovering this intricate family history right alongside Diamond,” says Emily. “Chambers showcases the complex dynamic of a mother and daughter, and how the past never stays in the past—it impacts our present and future.” (Simon & Schuster 2024)

Self-Help: Breaking the Circuit

by Dr. Samantha Harte

Breaking the Circuit by Dr. Samantha Harte
Greenleaf Book Group

“This book is part memoir, part self-help guide, which is what drew me in,” says Patty Bontekoe, FIRST Executive Editor. Samantha Harte, Ph.D., details her traumatic childhood, struggle with addiction and how she rewired her brain for healing. As she did, she reimagined the 12 steps of recovery, making them more universal —whether you struggle with addiction or not. Says Patty, “Samantha’s words are a map to healing and self-love no matter what trial you’re facing.” (Greenleaf, 2024)

Thriller: The Truth About the Devlins

by Lisa Scottoline

The Truth About the Devlins by Lisa Scottoline
‎ G.P. Putnam's Sons

“If I need to keep myself fully entertained for an afternoon, I grab a thriller or mystery — and no one writes them like Lisa Scottoline,” says Rachel Cosma, FIRST Health Director. TJ Devlin is a recovering alcoholic and the black sheep of his family, who are all lawyers. But when his brother confesses to killing one of their clients, TJ tries to figure out what really happened. “I was turning pages at lightning speed,” raves Rachel. “Each chapter has new twists.” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2024)

Romance: Funny Story

by Emily Henry

Funny Story by Emily Henry

“Emily Henry is one of my favorite authors, so when her new book hit shelves, I ran out to get it,” says Courtney Shapiro, FIRST Digital Associate Editor. Daphne and Miles are new roommates, and they don’t have much in common—except their exes, who are now dating each other. So they concoct a fun scheme to make their exes jealous over the course of the summer. It’s all for show…until the sparks start to feel very real. “Henry’s prose made me laugh, cry and feel seen in ways I was not expecting,” says Courtney. “It’s her best book yet!” (Berkley, 2024)

Romantic Comedy: Bridesmaid for Hire

by Meghan Quinn

Bridesmaid for Hire by Meghan Quinn
Bloom Books

“My book-loving sister told me this had her laughing out loud during the first few chapters,” says Carissa Mosness, FIRST Assistant Digital Editor. “And I agree!” Wedding planner Maggie Mitchell jets off to Bora Bora for some R&R. But when she runs into her brother’s best friend, Brody, who is there for the wedding of the season, Maggie wants in, so they decide to set up a fake dating situation that benefits them both. Says Carissa, “Spicy, swoon-worthy and fun, Meghan Quinn’s latest charmed me from the start.” (Bloom, 2024)

For more FIRST Book Club picks:

FIRST Book Club: ‘One Last Word’ and ‘How to Solve Your Own Murder’ Are Must-Read New Releases

FIRST Book Club: Ruth Ware’s New ‘One Perfect Couple’ Release Will Thrill You! Plus More Titles

FIRST Book Club: ‘The Paradise Problem,’ ‘Good Material’ and More Recommended Reads for May 10 to May 16

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