Diversity in Summer Bestsellers

by Cassie Wefald

Diversity in Summer Bestsellers

By: Audrey Swartz

Adult Services Librarian and Readers Advisory

Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley | Goodreads

Summer has made a strong appearance in Kansas; as the temps go up many opt to stay inside, point a fan directly at their toasty selves and read a good book. If you are one of these people, here are five bestselling books featuring diverse characters.


Let’s start with “Firekeeper’s Daughter” by Angeline Boulley, a young adult fantasy novel about four Indigenous teenagers who discover they have magical powers. The novel is set on a fictional Anishinaabe reservation of Ojibwe in today’s Michigan. Daunis Fontaine, is a mixed-race teenager who has never quite fit in. As she experiences a family tragedy, Daunis chooses to look after her fragile mother and delay her start in college. As she discovers her own magical abilities, she is drawn into a conflict between the Anishinaabe and a group of dangerous men who are trying to exploit resources on the indigenous people’s land. “Firekeepers’ Daughter” is powerful and dives into how we navigate identity, culture and belonging. It is beautifully written and features strong, complex characters. Boulley does an excellent job of weaving together the magical and the real in a way that feels both believable and fantastic.

Next up is “Lessons in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus, a historical fiction novel set in the 1960s about a female chemist who struggles to succeed in a male-dominated field. Narrated by the protagonist, Elizabeth Zott, a brilliant chemist who is forced to leave her research career after she becomes pregnant. She takes a job as a home economics teacher, where she uses her scientific knowledge to teach students about the importance of critical thinking and independence. Elizabeth also forms a close friendship with her neighbor, Lydia, who is a single mother and struggling artist. “Lessons in Chemistry” is an empowering and fun novel about a woman who persists in pursuit of her dreams.

Yellowface” by R.F. Kuang is a satirical literary thriller that explores themes of cultural appropriation, exploitation and dispossession in the publishing industry. June Hayward, a young Chinese-American writer, is struggling to make a name for herself in a white-dominated industry. When her friend Athena Liu, a successful white author of Asian descent, publishes a novel that is widely praised for its “authentic” portrayal of Asian culture, June becomes increasingly resentful. June begins to suspect that Athena has appropriated her own experiences and cultural heritage for her own gain. “Yellowface” is a darkly funny and disturbing novel that exposes the underbelly of the publishing industry.

All the Sinners Bleed” by S.A. Cosby is a crime novel about Titus Crown, a Black sheriff who investigates the murder of a young woman in Charon, a small Southern town. As he delves deeper into the case, he uncovers a web of secrets and lies that threaten to destroy Charon. It is a gripping and suspenseful mystery. Cosby does an excellent job of creating a sense of dread and foreboding as the sheriff gets closer to the truth. The characters are well-developed and relatable, and the plot is fast-paced and exciting. “All the Sinners Bleed” is an excellent read for fans of crime fiction that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Red, White & Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston is a romance novel about a young American prince and a British royal who fall in love. Son of the American president, Alex Claremont-Diaz, is a charming and popular young man, but also a bit of a troublemaker. When he accidentally insults the Prince of Wales, Henry, the two young men are forced to fake a friendship in order to save face. However, as they spend more time together, they begin to develop feelings for each other. “Red, White & Blue” is a delightful and heartwarming romance that will make you laugh, cry and root for the happy ending.


These are just a few of the many great summer reading books that are available right now. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did!


Manhattan Public Library is a cornerstone of free and equal access to a world of ideas and information for the Manhattan, Kansas, community. Manhattan Public Library serves more than 75,000 people in the Riley County area through curated book and other media collections, knowledgeable staff, relevant programming for all ages, and meeting space. Learn more at mhklibrary.org.