The best Sally Rooney yet. Beautiful World follows four friends as they navigate their late 20s in a world with increasing political and environmental turmoil. Rooney perfectly captures the whiplash of seeing the world on fire followed by baby announcements while scrolling your phone, feeling all-consumed with the oncoming collapse of society and yet still worried about if your friend is mad at you for that thing you said off-the-cuff last night. It's been a long time since I've related to a book so deeply.
Six girls who live behind The Iron Curtain change their leisurely summer swimming routine into something more intense and purposeful. Peeks into their lives as adults are bound together by atmospheric vignettes of their childhood in the river and journey into the world of synchronized swimming. The kind of book you could read in one sitting, one breath, or spread out over weeks of indulgent moments.
Hendrix returns with yet another tongue in cheek horror, this time focusing on the 'final girl' trope - the sole survivor at the end of the movie who's forced to kill her monster and whose following trauma is conveniently swept under the rug. But what happens when this very exclusive club decides to start going to group therapy together? And an opportunistic copycat murderer decides to take advantage of the situation? Reads like a campy 70s horror flick, except with less misogyny and more pithy humor.
The past year has rapidly accelerated the already growing problem of loneliness in America, and Radtke perfectly captures what it's like to live in a lonely body, as well as examining loneliness in a historical, scientific, and cultural context. Haunting illustrations accompany panels that deliver gut-punching truths about humanity and desire in many forms. Devastating and vital.
A gripping and violent tale of girls re-claiming their power, The Grace Year is sure to appeal to fans of The Handmaid's Tale and The Hunger Games. A society banishes all sixteen year old girls to a secluded base in order for them to 'expend their magic' and return a year later ready to be docile housewives. Tierney believes she's prepared for her grace year, but all of her preconceived notions will be challenged.
Ford's memoir of a physically absent father and emotionally absent mother is astounding. Detailed snapshots of her childhood illustrate her fortitude from a young age, and as she grows she learns and makes it clear to the rest of us: there are no heroes or villains in our stories, only humans, in all their messiness and glory.
If you're a fan of historical fiction about strong women, this is the book for you. In 1920's Texas, Elsa is forced into an arranged marriage that she is determined to make into a happy one. A decade and two kids later, her husband leaves in a desperate attempt to 'make it' in California. Elsa is left with an impossible decision: try to rescue the family farm that has been devastated by the Dust Bowl, or cut her losses and head west with her two children. A page turner!
When aging Annie Wilkins is told by her doctor she only has a few years to live, she buys a horse and sets off for California (from Maine). It's 1950's America, and along the way she (and we) get a true sampling of American life and humanity, and the incoming dominance of the automobile. A fun read about a strong and adventurous woman.
I've got a soft spot in my heart for graphic novel retellings, especially for children's literature. This one is especially beautiful, with full color illustrations and fairly sparse text - just enough to bring the well-known story back to life. Perfect for an introduction to Misselthwaite Manor, or a revisit to an old friend.
Poppy is a jetsetting eccentric, working for a travel magazine and getting all of her luxurious vacations paid for - including her annual buddy trip with her best friend from college, Alex. The hope for this summer's trip is rekindling their friendship. Or maybe something more? A fun follow up that holds its own against the debut.
Gordon-Reed has written an accessible yet thorough history of the events leading up to and surrounding Juneteenth, as well as weaving in her personal and family history in the state of Texas. Ideal for those looking to broaden their knowledge of this important holiday!
Written in interviews given by various members of the band Daisy Jones & The Six and those they encountered, the novel is an engrossing look at a fictional band in 1970s Los Angeles. It reads like a rock memoir, so much so that you often forget they were not a real band. I highly recommend listening to this one on audio from Libro.fm: it's read by a full cast that really brings the whole things to life.
The Anthropocene Reviewed contains the author's opinion on a plethora of topics, everything from scratch n sniff stickers to the Bonneville Salt Flats to sunsets. Green takes the mundane and turns it into something worth examining, something special. A balm on the wound that was 2020.
The Riva siblings are famous for their rock star father, but they are infamous for their end of summer parties. There are no invitations- if you know the location, consider yourself invited. The day of the 1983 party is broken down by hour, sandwiched between chapters of the Riva family history by year. Despite the plethora of characters and unique storytelling timeline, Malibu Rising was absorbing and propulsive.
Never before have I felt so deeply attached to the characters of a short story collection. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies explores exactly what you think it does - the mindsets and desires of Black women of faith, often fraught with contradiction and strife. Stunningly done.
If life has you feeling a bit listless, uncertain, or anxious, Like Streams To The Ocean is just the thing to help re-center and ground yourself. Jenkins is honest about the brutality and beauty life contains, and the struggles we as humans all grapple with. Broken down into sections such as Family, Home, Friendship, and Death, this memoir had me pausing the audiobook to soak in certain phrases, and going back 30 seconds to re-listen to particularly relevant paragraphs. Wonderful and contemplative!
A translated collection of short stories under 110 pages? We love to see it! Variations on the Body contains six short and powerful stories focused on women in Colombia and their interactions with society and each other, the city of Bogota as strong a character as each woman. Beautiful, snarky, and intense.
Dear Senthuran is the most unique and powerful memoir I've read in a long time. Written in letters, Emezi depicts their struggles with bodily and mental autonomy and a long-fought battle to find peace in this life. Take your time with this one - you'll regret it if you don't absorb every word.
Starting in a cigar factory in 1800's Cuba where a woman falls in love with the words of a man, and ending in present day Miami as a girl attempts to reconnect with someone who gave her shelter as a young child, Of Women and Salt is a fantastic examination of the intersection of womanhood and the immigrant experience. A brief book that encompasses many lifetimes and stories.
The Hollow Inside is an intense journey through small town connections and secrets. It follows Phoenix as she attempts to get revenge on a man who ruined her mother's life as a teenager, and finds herself in the center of a web far more tangled than she ever imagined. An excellent fast-paced read for fans of gritty and unstoppable female characters.
Oh, and the author? She works at Carmichael's. How cool is that?
Comparing things to The Handmaid's Tale is overdone and a bit trite...but hear me out. This book is The Handmaid's Tale but with witches. It's super spooky and creepy, but not because of the witches - because of the men.
Zadie Smith is the smartest person alive. You'll want to read her thoughts on the pandemic, lockdown, and racism - trust me.
Climate catastrophe fiction seems to be coming at us at a faster and faster clip...kind of like the oceans rising, or the ice caps melting. A Children's Bible begins during a hazy summer, where children have peeled themselves from their parents sides, and the parents couldn't be happier to be rid of them so they're free to indulge in hedonistic tendencies. Things are going swimmingly, for both kids and adults, until a catastrophic weather event strikes the East Coast and tough decisions must be made.
Millet's latest perfectly captures the sometimes flippant attitude of climate change deniers (or even acceptors who are also 'its-too-late'ers), and the immense weight it leaves on the shoulders of children, forced to grow up too soon to take care of their planet and themselves.
A sparse and stunning look at all-consuming grief, and how we heal from that loss. It's a story anyone can connect with, despite it taking place in a post-apocalyptic landscape. When a young girl finds herself suddenly and utterly alone, she must rely on her own gumption and connection with nature to return to the only place she's ever known as home.
Opening The Starless Sea was like settling down into a long-neglected cozy chair that you forgot existed. The writing that made everyone fall in love with The Night Circus comes right back to life in Morgenstern’s long-awaited follow up, which tells the story of grad student Zachary who finds an unmarked library book full of magical stories, one of which details a very memorable day from his childhood which no one was around to witness. A wonderful web of literature and adventure!
Calling Signature Dishes That Matter a cookbook seems almost insultingly reductive. Each page illustrates an iconic dish from history, starting three centuries ago, examining its importance and influence on the culture of dining out. Recipes are listed in the back, so you can give them a go for yourself, or simply enjoy learning the secrets behind culinary masterpieces before putting the book on your shelf to be admired for years as the beautiful object it is.
Jones depicts growing up black and gay in suburban Texas, the freedom he felt when heading off to college, and the relationship with this mother that was as solid as the one with his grandmother was strained, with shocking clarity. A single-sitting kind of read, this book will wreck you. And you’ll love it.
Like Bridget Jones’ Diary, but with casual racism and a frank conversation about mental health.
What starts as my ultimate dream - sleeping for days on end without interruption - soon turns into a nightmare for a small college town when students who’ve fallen into this deep slumber fail to wake. Walker turns this seemingly innocuous concept into a fascinating look at social and familial norms, and how they collapse in time of uncertainty.
A sleepy boarding school is shaken by allegations of a teacher sleeping with his students...it’s an old, well-trodden story. Vanessa, however, doesn’t believe she’s been abused- her relationship was special. My Dark Vanessa examines difficult questions of teenage agency and the validity (or not) of the relationships they choose to foster. This one will make you squirm, but you won’t be able to put it down.
Offill perfectly captures the essence of living in a world on the brink of disaster, having climate catastrophe at the forefront of your mind while it seems to be on the backburner for everyone else. Lizzie is approached by her old mentor to answer questions emailed into her climate change podcast, and she finds herself spiraling into the world of bleeding heart liberals and doomsday preppers. Her every waking moment is filled with angsty questions about the future - should she move her family, and if so, where to? Which skills should she make sure her son knows in order to have the best chance at survival? What medical procedures should she have done now, not knowing how long health care services will be readily available? Lizzie exists physically in our world, but mentally is in her own. Dark and twisty as it may seem, perhaps she’s actually the most sane of us all.
Coates’ first novel is just as important and relevant as his non-fiction, and just as powerful. What begins as a story of growing up in slavery becomes a warning against the separation of families and communities, and contains the perfect, slight amount of well-crafted fantasy elements.
An intense survival story with a tough, warm, and intelligent hero - who just so happens to be a wolf. Swift gets suddenly separated from his pack, and has to traverse the Oregon wilderness to try to find his way home. Based on the life of a real wolf and densely illustrated, A Wolf Called Wander is a fantastic addition to any adventure-lover’s bookshelf.
You know when you're going through a particularly rough time in life, and there's that one friend who sits you down and has a gentle, warm, firm, and terrifying conversation with you that opens your eyes to the fact that life happens whether or not you take time to appreciate it? This book is that friend. Mary Laura Philpott is that friend.