7 Books We Recommend You Check out this Labor Day Weekend

Long weekends mean one thing for book lovers: More time to read! We always recommend you read everything you can get your hands on. But if you’re looking for something new, we have a few suggestions for you—books that we can personally vouch for.

Here are the books the POP Project Board of Directors are reading this Labor Day weekend.


Mistress of the Art of Death, Ariana Franklin

This national bestselling novel is the best medieval mystery novel you’ll read all year. Published in 2007, the book introduces Adelia, a female medieval forensic expert in Henry II’s England. Adelia is petitioned by the king to investigate a series of gruesome murders that wrongly implicate the local Jewish population, yielding even more tragic results. Mistress of the Art of Death is the first in a four-part series of historical mysteries by Diana Norman under the penname Ariana Franklin.

Suggested by Joanna Bolick, Board Member


American Gods, Neil Gaiman

Immigrants to America brought with them the gods and spirits of their homeland, but as belief in their powers waned, new gods of America gained strength. This is the premise of Neil Gaiman’s 2001 novel, recently adapted into a Starz television series of the same name. A blend of fantasy and Americana, and an amalgam of ancient and modern mythologies, American Gods is an allegorical examination of distinctly American deities.

Suggested by Jim MacKenzie, Executive Director and Chairman of the Board


The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, Oscar Hijuelos

The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love became an international bestseller after it was published in 1989. Now, nearly 30 years later, its tale of Cuban immigrant musicians adapting to US culture in the 1950s still feels strongly relevant. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1990—the first win for a novel by a United States-born Hispanic. It was the basis for a 1992 motion picture, The Mambo Kings, as well as a musical in 2005.

Suggested by Elizabeth Garzarelli, Action Spokesperson


The Magpie Murders, Anthony Horowitz

If you’re a fan of decidedly British whodunits, you’ve probably heard of Anthony Horowitz. The author has written two Sherlock Holmes novels and is the crime-writing brain behind the BBC’s Foyle’s War and Midsomer Murders. With The Magpie Murders, Horowitz crafts a murder mystery within a murder mystery, as a London-based editor turns sleuth in her search for the missing pages of a novel called The Magpie Murders. Her search leads to her own tale of murder and mayhem set in a quaint English village.

Suggested by Leslie Hawkins, Vice Chair


How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, Paul Tough

Can scientific research into character help educators lead children to future success better than a focus on intelligence alone? Author Paul Tough argues that the qualities that matter most to a child’s success include conscientiousness, curiosity, optimism, perseverance, and self-control. Through the stories of a new generation of researchers and educators, Tough provides new insights for helping children growing up in poverty. An important read for all promoting greater community literacy.

Suggested by Lisa Coffey, Board Member


Dark Money, Jane Mayer

You may feel burned out by the glut of political news in the last year and a half. But do you understand the motivations behind the political movements that we are managing today? In Dark Money, Jane Mayer, staff writer for The New Yorker, chronicles the conservative ascendency orchestrated by the Koch brothers and the small number of allied plutocrats that she believes have hijacked the American democratic system. A true-life political thriller with far-reaching political ramifications.

Suggested by Rosanna Mulcahy, Treasurer


The Professor and the Madman, Simon Winchester

Considered commonplace today, or barely considered at all, the Oxford English Dictionary is one of the greatest literary achievements in the history of the English language. Historian Simon Winchester chronicles its 70-year creation through the two men most committed to bringing the 414,000-term tome to fruition. Both remarkable men with remarkably different lives, Professor James Murray began his 20-year professional relationship with Dr. William Chester Minor before learning the truth of his tortured mind.

Suggested by Sarah Giavedoni, Secretary