Summer reading with a Cincinnati twist

The Mercantile Library recommends the best books from local authors

By Hillary Copsey

‘Book Lovers,’ Emily Henry

‘Book Lovers,’ Emily Henry

Emily Henry, who lives and writes in Greater Cincinnati, has produced the perfect book for summer reading a few times now. First, there was the appropriately named “Beach Read,” then “People We Meet On Vacation” (also aptly named). “Book Lovers,” in our opinion the best one yet, arrived this spring. From the first page, this smart romance acknowledges the tropes of the genre and twists them into something familiar, but fresh. Henry delivers plenty of banter and swoon, but also serves up a tender story about family obligations and finding your place in the world. 

‘Stepping Back From The Ledge,’ Laura Trujillo

‘Stepping Back From The Ledge,’ Laura Trujillo

In the aftermath of her mother’s suicide, Laura Trujillo had to reckon with family secrets and a history of depression – her mother’s and her own. Trujillo is the managing editor for Life & Entertainment at USA Today and a former reporter and editor for The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Arizona Republic and The Oregonian. She uses her reporting skills to excavate her own story as well as analyze the way we handle – or don’t – suicide in America. The result is a memoir that is both heartbreaking and hopeful. 

‘The Next Thing You Know,’ Jessica Strawser

‘The Next Thing You Know,’ Jessica Strawser

Cincinnati author Jessica Strawser describes her latest novel as “Me Before You” meets “A Star Is Born.” In other words, have your tissues handy. People Magazine picked this tear-jerker as one of the best new books of the year, and we think it would be a great choice for book clubs, with a compelling plot sure to spark conversation.

‘Things Past Telling,’ Sheila Williams

‘Things Past Telling,’ Sheila Williams

Adventure, romance and history combine in this sweeping story about one woman’s century-spanning life. Sheila Williams was inspired to write this novel by a 112-year-old woman she discovered in an 1870 Census report, then based the story of Maryam Prescilla Grace on her own ancestors. The book covers a hundred years and crosses the globe, from Nigeria to the Caribbean to the Ohio River—the kind of story you sink into. (For more about Sheila Williams, see Page 8.)

‘Drunk Log,’ Mark E. Scott

‘Drunk Log,’ Mark E. Scott

Jack is on the way to end his life, jumping off a bridge into the Ohio River. But first, he’s going to take one last epic bar crawl through downtown Cincinnati. This Queen City odyssey is a darkly funny and introspective story that also provides delicious thrills of recognition as Jack makes his way around our local landmarks. 

‘Heartbreak Tree’ and ‘I Thought I Heard A Cardinal Sing: Ohio’s Appalachian Voices,’ Pauletta Hansel

Everyone needs a little poetry in their life and these two collections capture the unique sound and feel of our region. Pauletta Hansel was Cincinnati’s first poet laureate, and we have a special affection for her latest collection, which remembers and unveils the lives of women. 

‘Loving The Dead & Gone,’ Judith Turner-Yamamoto

‘Loving The Dead & Gone,’ Judith Turner-Yamamoto

Our favorite way to find good books is to take the recommendations of our favorite authors. So, after a glowing blurb from Margot Livesey (“The Boy in The Field”), we’re eagerly awaiting the September arrival of Judith Turner-Yamamoto’s novel, “Loving The Dead and Gone.” Turner-Yamamoto brings readers to North Carolina, where she was raised, to tell the story of two generations of women grappling with love, death and yearnings. 


Hillary Copsey is the book adviser at The Mercantile Library, where she leads and organizes book discussions, creates personalized book recommendations for members, and tries really, really hard to resist the temptation to spend a day reading in the stacks.


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