Summer reading, Cincinnati-style

We asked The Mercantile Library to recommend books from local authors – or those with local ties – to read this summer. Although available online, keep your dollars local by purchasing from one of Cincinnati’s independent bookstores, or reserve a copy at your favorite library.  

“Happy Place,” Emily Henry

“Happy Place,” Emily Henry 

No one is better at writing a great summer read – smart characters, fast plotting, happy ending – than Emily Henry. And we’re not just saying that because she’s based right here in the Queen City. The New York Times, NPR, book influencers on social media – everyone agrees that Henry is writing peak banter and swoon. Her latest is the perfect book to take with you to your summer happy place. 

“Romantic Comedy,” Curtis Sittenfeld

“Georgie, All Along,” Kate Clayborn

If you’ve read all of Henry’s romances and are looking for something similar, try the newest novel from Cincinnati native Curtis Sittenfeld or this charming story about finding love – and yourself – from Kate Clayborn. As a bonus, you can hear Clayborn talk about her book and the relevance of romance at The Mercantile Library on June 28. 

“First Date,” Mark E. Scott

“First Date,” Mark E. Scott

This is the sequel to “Drunk Log,” Scott’s first novel, a Queen City odyssey that followed Jack on an epic bar crawl on the way to end his life by jumping off a bridge into the Ohio River. Mercantile readers loved the darkly funny, introspective story and are excited to know what happens next for Jack. 

“Getting Huge,” John Young

“Getting Huge,” John Young

If you’ve ever wondered if you’re in the right place, doing the right thing with your life, this new novel from Wyoming resident John Young is for you. Disillusioned by his affluent and cranky congregation, the Rev. John Crackstone seeks fame and fortune – by growing a giant pumpkin. The resulting tale is equal parts silly and thoughtful. 

“It Was Always About the Work: A Photojournalist's Memoir,” Melvin Grier with Molly Kavanaugh

“It Was Always About the Work: A Photojournalist’s Memoir,” Melvin Grier with Molly Kavanaugh

We don’t know much about this book coming this summer from the University of Cincinnati Press. But we know and admire the work of photojournalist Melvin Grier – and you probably do, too. Grier spent 30 years at The Cincinnati Post documenting Greater Cincinnati. His memoir’s publication coincides with an exhibition of his work running June 16 through Aug. 20 at the Weston Art Gallery.

“Met The End,” Holly Brians Ragusa

“Met The End,” Holly Brians Ragusa 

You might have already read “Met The End,” Holly Brians Ragusa’s deeply researched and introspective memoir about the death of her father, John Powell, at the hands of serial killer Donald Harvey. But if not, you should. It’s a heartbreaking and hopeful book that considers what happens to the real people and families living through true crime stories. Then, for more of Ragusa’s lyrical writing, pick up her debut poetry collection, “Inverse: Informed Thoughts of An Unfit Poet.”

“Queen of The West,” JR Zink

“Queen of The West,” JR Zink

Take a vacation back in time to 19th-century Cincinnati with this historical novel that follows the lives of Annie, a pioneering feminist, and Max, an immigrant seeking his fortune in Over-the-Rhine. The final book in the trilogy, “Queen’s Moment in The Sun,” publishes this fall, so now’s the perfect time to start the series. 

“Miracle of Mom: The Extraordinary Life of Ana M. Young,” Catherine Anne Young

“Miracle of Mom: The Extraordinary Life of Ana M. Young,” Catherine Anne Young

No one has inspired 28-year-old Catherine Young as much as her mother, Ana Margarita Young, and now she’s offering her mother’s story to inspire the world. Born in Guatemala City, Guatemala, Ana was educated, married and lived in the United States. She was only 63 years old when she lost a decades-long battle with cancer. This is the kind of book that will make you smile and hold your own family closer.


Hillary Copsey
Hillary Copsey

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 hard to resist the temptation to spend every day reading in the stacks.

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