What are you reading right now? Without a doubt, my favorite part of summer is the number of big book releases. Every time I wander into my local bookstore (way too often), there are more exciting titles on display. As we head into the weekend, here are nine books I’ve recently loved or can’t wait to read soon…
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
26-year-old Gyasi’s incredible debut novel follows the divergent paths of two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, born in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married to an Englishman and lives in a castle, while Esi is sold into slavery and shipped off to America. With a sweeping 300-year scope, we meet the generations that follow, straight up through the present day. Ta-Nehisi Coates raves, “I think I needed to read a book like this to remember what is possible… Homegoing is an inspiration.” This is what I’ll be dipping into this weekend.
The Assistants by Camille Perri
The hilarious tale of Tina Fontana, a 30-year-old executive assistant who “accidentally” pays off her entire student loan debt with the help of a technical glitch. She soon finds herself embroiled in an elaborate scheme that’s way more than she bargained for. Think Robin Hood meets The Devil Wears Prada. Light and clever, this had me laughing out loud. Bonus: If you’re grappling with a thankless job or crippling student loan debt (or both!) reading this feels somewhat therapeutic.
The Bed Moved by Rebecca Schiff
If you’re in the mood for something different, check out what O Magazine called, “A wildly assured debut short-story collection featuring tales of bat mitzvahs, high school ennui, nudist hot springs, and women much smarter than the men they’re sleeping with.” Sharp, witty and wise, these stories are perfectly digestible bites to read on your subway commute or in between dips in the pool. But Schiff’s words — and the depth they convey — will stay with you long afterward.
Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti
Every so often, a book comes along that makes you want to applaud the author’s bravery and honesty, and this is one such book. Valenti’s fifth book, which has drawn comparisons to Joan Didion and Mary Karr, explores the ways she has been a sex object throughout her life. By sharing her own truths, she illustrates the myriad ways all women are objectified, in ways we may not even be aware of. Valenti reminds us of the tremendous value in sharing our stories — even and especially the messy, difficult ones.
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
A modern re-telling of Pride and Prejudice, Eligible is consistently entertaining. Liz is a magazine writer in her late 30’s, Jane is a yoga instructor, and Chip Bingley was the star of a Bachelor-like reality show, Eligible. Heart surgeon Darcy is swoon-worthy as ever. Austen purists may find some of the updates to be sacrilegious, and those looking for a literary tome are advised to skip it. But anyone open to a clever satire will likely laugh out loud.
Pen and Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood, by Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen
This coming-of-age memoir (from the writers of food blog Pen & Palate) is told from the alternating perspectives of two best friends. NYC-based Lucy and Chicago-based Tram spare no detail of their twenty-something struggles: first jobs, bad apartments, ill-advised flings, and friendship are all here… as are charming illustrations and recipes. Reading this book feels like sharing dinner with a trusted friend, and is every bit as fulfilling.
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
You may have seen this title in one of eight gazillion features in the last few weeks (including the glowing New York Times review), but I’m including it here because it is good. Set against the backdrop of a famous NYC restaurant, we watch Tess, a recent transplant, navigate work, love and life with no shortage of drama. I especially loved the glimpses of 2006 Williamsburg, before the condos and construction fully took over the neighborhood.
Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe
This novel’s unforgettable protagonist is 17-year-old Vera, recently recovering from a psychotic break. Over the course of one summer, her father takes her to the city of Vilnius, Lithuania which he hopes will aid in her recovery. Full of beautiful prose and intricate emotions, this is not a book to be taken lightly. Thorpe explores family secrets, mental illness, the Holocaust, and the bond between generations. Read it on a beach if you’d like, but don’t expect “beach reading.”
Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
Emma Straub has done it again. Fans of realistic contemporary fiction will enjoy this compulsively readable story of three former bandmates nearing fifty. A lot has changed since their college days, and as secrets are revealed, their comfortable everyday lives begin to unravel. Readers are reminded of their own lives and passions, and how some things will always stay the same.
Have you read any of these yet? Any other recommendations?
Thank you so much for the interest and excitement surrounding a more interactive book club! We’re figuring out the logistics and are excited to discuss soon.