Contemporary Massachusetts Authors

Delve into a variety of books by contemporary authors adding to the rich literary tradition of Massachusetts.

“A word after a word after a word is power.”

― Margaret Atwood

Massachusetts has a long and rich literary history. In fact, many of the early settlers and preachers wrote just to keep track of what was happening in a new town. From there, names like Nathaniel Hawthorne and Louisa May Alcott entered Massachusetts’ literary scene, and it has never been the same. Today, Massachusetts claims numerous authors, many of which are very popular. Here are some books by contemporary Massachusetts authors.

Digital book (DB, DBC), braille (BR), and large print (LT) copies of these titles are available from the Perkins Library or the Worcester Talking Book Library. Please contact the library to order any of these books.

Prepared by James Gleason

Deputy Director/Special Services Librarian

Perkins Library

African Founders: How Enslaved People Expanded American Ideals

by David Hackett Fischer

DB 110628 (in process)

Explores the little-known history of how enslaved people from different regions of Africa interacted with colonists of European origins to create new regional cultures in the colonial United States. The Africans brought with them linguistic skills, novel techniques of animal husbandry and farming, and generations-old ethical principles, among other attributes. Draws on decades of research, some of it in western Africa, to reveal how much our country was shaped by these African influences in its early years, producing a new, distinctly American culture. 2022.

Avenue of Mysteries

by John Irving

DB 83353, LT 19537, Available as BARD Download

On a trip to the Philippines to fulfill an old promise, novelist Juan Diego finds himself thinking about his childhood in Mexico and his sister Lupe, a mind reader who could occasionally predict the future but always knew your past. Some strong language and some descriptions of sex. Bestseller. 2015.

Download Avenue of Mysteries, DB 83353

The Book of Magic

by Alice Hoffman

DB 105374, LT 30528, DB available as BARD Download

The Owens family has been cursed in matters of love for more than three hundred years, but that is about to change. Jet Owens hears the deathwatch beetle and knows she has only seven days to live. She is not the only one in danger–the curse is already at work. 2021.

Download The Book of Magic, DB 105374

The Boston Girl

by Anita Diamant

DB 80645, LT 17903, Available as BARD Download

When Addie’s granddaughter asks about her life, Addie recounts growing up in Boston as the daughter of immigrants who did not trust the opportunities America affords their children. But when Addie joined a library group, her world opened up. Some violence, some strong language, and some descriptions of sex. Bestseller. 2014.

Download The Boston Girl , DB 80645

Chances Are…

by Richard Russo

DB 95855, LT 26591, Available as BARD Download

Real estate broker Lincoln, tiny-press publisher Teddy, and musician Mickey gather on Martha’s Vineyard for Memorial Day weekend–as they have since 1971, when the woman they all loved, Jacy, disappeared. But this weekend reveals the secrets each man has kept. 2019.

Download Chances Are…, DB 95855


by Ottessa Moshfegh

DB 82873, DB 84995 (Spanish), Available as BARD Download

Eileen Dunlop looks back fifty years to when she was twenty-four. She lived with her abusive, alcoholic father and worked as a secretary at a juvenile correctional facility called Moorehead. Her life was an unrelentingly bleak routine until new counselor Rebecca arrived at Moorehead. Some strong language. Bestseller. 2015.

Download Eileen, DB 82873

Download Spanish, Eileen, DB 84995

The Emperor of Ocean Park

by Stephen L. Carter

DB 90808, BR 14190, Available as BARD Download

African American law professor Talcott Garland is drawn into a political conspiracy after his father–a disgraced Supreme Court nominee—dies suddenly. Apparently the judge left clues leading to evidence of crimes by former colleagues in high places and wants his son to exact revenge. Some violence and some strong language. 2002.

Download The Emperor of Ocean Park, DB 90808

Download Braille, The Emperor of Ocean Park, BR 14190

The Escape Artist

by Jerry Bock

DB 98784, LT 28575, Available as BARD Download

The author recounts her experiences growing up in a household that kept its Jewish identity secret due to her parents’ trauma from their memories of the Holocaust. Discusses how this need for secrecy and compartmentalization ultimately affected her own life and relationships. 2020.

Download The Escape Artist, DB 98784

Every Note Played

by Lisa Genova

DB 91562, LT 23677, Available as BARD Download

By the author of Still Alice (DB 68249). Concert pianist Richard received standing ovations around the world. Now diagnosed with ALS, he faces the loss of motor control and his musical career. When he asks his ex-wife Karina for help, being under the same roof forces the pair to confront their past. 2018.

Download Every Note Played, DB 91562

Family Reunion

by Nancy Thayer

DB 108604, LT 30150, Available as BARD Download

Eleanor Sunderland loves living on the Nantucket cliffside, in a charming home that has been in her family for decades. Now widowed, she looks forward to the annual family reunion, but Eleanor’s island idyll is shattered when her money-driven children suggest she sell the house and move to a retirement community. She finds a lone ally in her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, Ari, who moves in with her for the summer, longing for a change from the path her parents have set for her. The duo are eager to spend their summer together, but the season that unfolds brings about unforgettable surprises. Some strong language. 2021.

Download Family Reunion, DB 108604


by Sebastian Junger

DB 107995, Available as BARD Download

The author describes a journey he took with three friends, during which they walked the railroad lines of the East Coast. He weaves his account together with primatology and boxing strategy, the history of labor strikes and Apache raiders, the role of women in resistance movements, and the brutal reality of life on the Pennsylvania frontier. 2021.

Download Freedom, DB 107995

Her Perfect Life

by Hank Phillippi Ryan

DB 105336, Available as BARD Download

Television reporter Lily Atwood has the seemingly perfect life. But she has to keep secret the anonymous source who has been feeding her story tips. When the person starts telling Lily about inside information on her own life, Lily must protect her loved ones. 2021.

Download Her Perfect Life, DB 105336


by Geraldine Brooks

DB 108556, LT 31819, Available as BARD Download

Kentucky, 1850. An enslaved groom named Jarret and a bay foal forge a bond of understanding that will carry the horse to record-setting victories across the South. When the nation erupts in civil war, an itinerant young artist who has made his name on paintings of the racehorse takes up arms for the Union. New York City, 1954. Martha Jackson, a gallery owner celebrated for taking risks on edgy contemporary painters, becomes obsessed with a nineteenth-century equestrian oil painting of mysterious provenance. Washington, DC, 2019. Jess, a Smithsonian scientist from Australia, and Theo, a Nigerian-American art historian, find themselves unexpectedly connected through their shared interest in the horse. Bestseller. 2022.

Download Horse, DB 108556

Joe Gould’s Teeth

by Jill Lepore

DB 85527, Available as BARD Download

Historian and author of Book of Ages (DB 77782) and The Secret History of Wonder Woman (DB 80065) chronicles her investigation into the life and work of eccentric Joe Gould (1889-1957), who claimed to be working on a multimillion-word book. Examines the literary culture of his time. 2016.

Download Joe Gould’s Teeth, DB 85527

The Last Bookaneer

by Matthew Pearl

DB 81454, Available as BARD Download

In 1890, the implementation of an international copyright law is looming, and competing bookaneers Pen Davenport and his nemesis, Belial, travel to Samoa to steal the final manuscript by Robert Louis Stevenson. On arriving, however, they find the environment to be more dangerous than they expected. Violence and some strong language. 2015.

Download The Last Bookaneer, DB 81454

Leadership in Turbulent Times

by Doris Kearns Goodwin

DB 93029, LT 24631, Available as BARD Download

The author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning No Ordinary Time (DB 39154) explores the early development, growth, and exercise of presidential leadership in America. Particularly examines Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Bestseller. 2018.

Download Leadership in Turbulent Times, DB 93029


by Sue Miller

DB 100599, BR 23566, LT 28837, Available as BARD Download

Graham and Annie have been married for nearly thirty years. When Graham suddenly dies, Annie is lost. What is the point of going on, she wonders, without him? Then, while she is still mourning him intensely, she discovers that Graham had been unfaithful to her. 2020.

Download Monogamy, DB 100599

Download Braille, Monogamy, BR 23566

New People

by Danzy Senna

DB 88710, Available as BARD Download

Maria and her fiancé, Khalil, move to Brooklyn. They both have dealt with various forms of racism due to their biracial heritage over the years, and they are participating in a documentary called “New People.” Maria develops a crush on a poet as they evaluate what they each want from life. 2017.

Download New People, DB 88710

Ninth House

by Leigh Bardugo

DB 97047, LT 27321, Available as BARD Download

After waking up in the hospital, Galaxy “Alex” Stern, sole survivor of a multiple homicide, is surprised to receive an acceptance to Yale University. The offer is contingent on her joining the Lethe secret society, which wants Alex for her ability to see ghosts. 2019.

Download Ninth House, DB 97047

On Earth Were Briefly Gorgeous

by Ocean Vuong

DB 95459, BR 22925, LT 26248, Available as BARD Download

A son writes letters to his illiterate mother to unearth his family’s history–going back to before he was born when his family lived in Vietnam–while at the same time revealing things about himself of which his mother is unaware. Violence, strong language, and explicit descriptions of sex. Bestseller. 2019.

Download On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, DB 95459

Download Braille, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, BR 22925

Painting the Light

by Sally Gunning

DB 104887, Available as BARD Download

Martha’s Vineyard, 1898. Once an ambitious painter, Ida is now unhappily married to an unreliable husband. When he and his salvage partner are lost in a storm at sea, Ida must settle his estate, a task that brings her to a familiar face from her past. 2021.

Download Painting the Light, DB 104887

Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine

by Alan P. Lightman

DB 92190, LT 23826, Available as BARD Download

Physicist presents collection of twenty essays exploring the connections of scientific ideas and the wider world. Topics covered include caves, hummingbirds, stars, atoms, ants, monks, truth, transcendence, laws, doctrine, motion, centeredness, death, certainty, origins, multiverse, humans, and the longing for absolutes in a relative world. 2018.

Download Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine, DB 92190

Since We Fell

by Dennis Lehane

DB 88110, BR 21886, LT 22216, Available as BARD Download

Rachel credits her new husband, Brian, for getting her through the aftermath of her on-air panic attack in Haiti that signaled the end of her journalism career and sent her into shut-in mode. Then she learns something sinister about Brian. Violence, strong language, and some explicit descriptions of sex. Bestseller. 2017.

Download Since We Fell, DB 88110

Download Braille, Since We Fell, BR 21886

Sleeping with Cats: A Memoir

by Marge Piercy

DB 58077, Available as BARD Download

Born in Detroit in the 1930s, poet and novelist Marge Piercy details her abusive, racy youth; political activism; marriages; and other relationships. Piercy intersperses this account with depictions of her cats, who have provided faithful companionship and consolation. Includes several of her poems. Some descriptions of sex. 2002.

Download Sleeping with Cats, DB 58077

The Starless Sea

by Erin Morgenstern

DB 97441, LT 27195, Available as BARD Download

Graduate student Zachary discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks that contains stories of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, nameless acolytes, and a story about an incident from his own childhood. The book sets him on a course of adventure that leads to a hidden library. 2019.

Download The Starless Sea, DB 97441

The Stranger in the Lifeboat

by Mitch Albom

DB 105576, BR 24072, LT 30587, Available as BARD Download

Adrift in a raft after a deadly ship explosion, nine people struggle for survival. Short on water, food and hope, they spot a man floating in the waves. When they pull him in, he claims to be “the Lord” and says he can only save them if they believe in him. Bestseller. 2021.

Download The Stranger in the Lifeboat, DB 105576

Download Braille, The Stranger in the Lifeboat, BR 22925

Summer of ‘69

by Elin Hilderbrand

DB 95859, DB 100319 (Spanish), LT 26247, Available as BARD Download

Nantucket, 1969. Siblings Blair, Kirby, Tiger, and Jessie find their world changed from the last time they spent the summer at their grandmother’s home. With the three older siblings spread across the world and facing their own crises, thirteen-year-old Jessie feels the strain of family secrets. Bestseller. 2019.

Download Summer of ‘69, DB 95859

Download Spanish, Summer of ‘69, DB 100319

Travels with George: In Search of Washington and His Legacy

by Nathaniel Philbrick

DB 105722, LT 30727, Available as BARD Download

The author of In the Hurricane’s Eye (DB 92577) and Valiant Ambition (DB 84626) recounts his personal attempt to recreate the journey a newly elected George Washington undertook to tour all thirteen ex-colonies. His observations alternate between his own travel and that of Washington, noting the changes that have occurred over the centuries. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2021.

Download Travels with George, DB 105722

Voyage of Mercy: The USS Jamestown, the Irish Famine, and the Remarkable Story of America’s First Humanitarian Mission

by Stephen Puleo

DB 98881, Available as BARD Download

The author of Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919 (DB 59335) recounts the role that the converted warship USS Jamestown played in bringing food to Ireland during the potato famine, launching America’s first full-blown humanitarian relief effort. The author discusses how this mission served as a blueprint for future international aid. 2020.

Download Voyage of Mercy, DB 98881


by Jhumpa Lahiri

DB 103192, LT 29903, Available as BARD Download

An English translation of a first Italian-language novel by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Lowland” follows the routines of a misfit city dweller who experiences a year of remarkable transformation in the aftermath of a parent’s death. 2018.

Download Whereabouts, DB 103192

While We Were Dating

by Jasmine Guillory

DB 104313, LT 30524, Available as BARD Download

Ben Stephens has plenty of casual dates to keep him busy, family drama he’s trying to ignore, and his advertising job to focus on. When Ben lands a huge ad campaign featuring movie star Anna Gardiner, however, it’s hard to keep it purely professional. 2021.

Download While We Were Dating, DB 104313

White Hot Hate: A True Story of Domestic Terrorism in America’s Heartland

by Dick Lehr

DB 108870, Available as BARD Download

In the spring of 2016, as immigration debates rocked the United States, three men in a militia group known as the Crusaders grew aggravated over one Kansas town’s growing Somali community. The true story of an averted case of domestic terrorism in one of the most remote towns in the US, not far from the infamous town where Capote’s In Cold Blood was set. 2021.

Download White Hot Hate:, DB 108870

A Wild Winter Swan

by Gregory Maguire

DB 101444, Available as BARD Download

New York, 1962. Following her brother’s death and her mother’s emotional breakdown, Laura now lives in Manhattan with her strict grandparents. Grieving and in trouble at school, Laura is startled when a handsome swan boy with only one wing lands on her roof. 2020.

Download A Wild Winter Swan, DB 101444

Wish It Lasted Forever: Life with the Larry Bird Celtics

by Dan Shaughnessy

DBC 11643, Available as BARD Download

Takes readers inside the legendary Larry Bird-led Celtics teams, and gives the fans a chance to relive some of the best moments in Celtics history. The author, an award-winning sports columnist for The Boston Globe, was the beat reporter for the Boston Celtic’s from 1982-1986, a dominant time in the franchise’s history. 2021.

Download Whereabouts, DBC 11643