As summer fades into fall, suffering from seasonal FOMO isn’t just common – it’s inevitable. No matter how enjoyable or epic your summer has been, you will undoubtedly find yourself wishing you had a little more time to take a few more daytrips to the beach with friends, to finish writing your manuscript, or to finally assemble that bookcase that’s been sitting in your apartment for months. Luckily, we’ve got a couple more precious weeks before the Equinox. Whether you’re holding tight to summer or slipping back into the daily grind, we’ve got the perfect roundup of recent (and remarkable) titles guaranteed to make what’s left of your summer memorable.
Ayobami Adebayo’s riveting debut, Stay with Me, is a vividly modern portrait of thwarted dreams, longing, and intimacy. With heart-wrenching prose and effervescent characterization, Adebayo’s novel tells the story of a Yejide and Akin, a bride and a groom, who find their aspirations – as well as their marital bliss – out of reach when they experience fertility problems. A captivating testament to how far we are willing to go for those we love, Stay with Me will remind you of the limitless depth of familial love.
Told from the perspective of a ten-year-old white girl coming of age in rural Johannesburg during the late 1970s, Hum if You Don’t Know the Words depicts South Africa’s tumultuous transition from apartheid to liberation with unwavering empathy. When the novel’s young protagonist befriends a black Xhosa woman on the heels of a family tragedy, readers witness the transformative power of community and the resilience of the human heart. A timely tale about race and the way history can haunt a nation, Bianca Marais’s breathtaking story will offer you solace and hope.
A refreshingly candid collection of essays that toes the line between commentary and memoir, Carina Chocano’s lively meditations on pop culture explore the many implications and facets of womanhood in a postmodern world. From deconstructing the allure of the “basket case,” Bugs Bunny, and beloved films like “Flashdance,” You Play the Girl unpacks and exposes the many ways in which sexism and misogyny have shaped the truths we believe about others and the truths we believe about ourselves. Each of these essays is bound to make you shout, “Amen!”
A fitting novel for the dog days of summer, Ladee Hubbard’s debut is an imaginative and lively dramedy that follows the misadventures of the loveable yet sly seventy-two-year-old Johnny Ribkins. The son of a once-famous African American family that possesses superpowers, Ribkins, who is on the brink of financial ruin, avoids catastrophe in the present by reconnecting with his past on a life-altering road trip. An inspiring and perceptive reflection on the American dream and racial uplift, The Talented Ribkins is not to be missed.
Megan Stielstra’s follow-up to 2014’s Once I was Cool is an unforgettably affirming look at how to cope with the ups and downs of life. Through unabashed honesty and ethos, The Wrong Way to Save Your Life examines what it means to be alive on a macro and micro level with unwavering warmth and wit. Her ruminations on motherhood, marriage, politics, and familial love are a welcome respite from current off-page realities. Despite what its title might suggest, this collection could easily serve as a lifesaver – or life preserver at the least.
Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
A lush and illuminating historical novel, Margaret Wilkeson Sexton’s debut follows three generations of a family whose lives are interwoven with the legacy of New Orleans. Through shifting points of view and gripping protagonists, A Kind of Freedom unveils with astonishing prose how the lingering aftermath of Jim Crow and the redemptive persistence of a dream can simultaneously break and make a person. This novel is a celebration of survival.
A dystopian tale about a reclusive cult community reminiscent of Margaret Atwood’s Gilead, Gather the Daughters introduces readers to a society maimed by “flame, war, and ignorance,” a world where young women are viewed as vessels for childbearing and nothing more. Within the pages of this hauntingly compelling debut, coming of age coincides with public and private acts of rebellion that lead to irrevocable change for the community that its heroines call home. A quintessential companion to A Handmaid’s Tale and thematic preface to American Horror Story: Cult, Jennie Melamed’s novel is a dark yet empowering read.
Opening in Atlanta, Rabbit is an inarguably moving memoir that charts Patricia Williams aka Ms. Pat’s journey from a troubled girlhood during the onset of the crack epidemic, to the trials and triumphs of life as a single mom and her eventual fame as a stand-up comedian. Brutally earnest and filled with determination, Rabbit is as sincere as it is courageous. P.S. You might want to read this one with a box of tissues nearby.