2019 Summer Reads
our staff’s 2019 summer reads
Our team of booksellers have taken on some of this summer’s biggest novels; read what they have to say and see what your favorites are!
Bunny is a wild story, hallucinogenic, sardonic, as well as intermittently, funny, gruesome, and absurd. Samantha, a writing student at the prestigious Ivy League school Warren University, is in something of a slump when she returns for her second year, dreading being isolated in her classes with her only peers, a clique of exclusive, posh young women, all of whom appear superficially devoted to each other, all of whom constantly call each other ‘Bunny’. The campus itself is a strange place, with occasional, extreme acts of violence (such as a serial decapitator that seems to elude the reluctant authorities) frequently playing out in the background, with little effect on the observing characters, but what is even more strange is the Smut Salon, a secretive event organized and executed by the Bunnies, to which Samantha suddenly and unexpectedly receives an invitation.
From here, Samantha is sucked into a bizarre and dark world of surreal violence, oddly timed sarcasm, insufferable hipsters, and cult-like rituals. Imagine if David Cronenberg decided to make his own version of Mean Girls, or maybe Heathers. This is a great story for the summer if you’re getting a little tired of the same old thing and want a new and refreshing (if not a little odd) story to round out the day.
The August adult book selection of the Well-Read Black Girls Book Club is Kali Fajardp-Anstine’s collection of short stories, Sabrina & Corina. This book’s inclusion in this particular club is important because of the intentional nature of the works selected. In Sabrina & Corina, now in its second printing, you enter a world where you are engaged in a way that you cannot help but feel the intense connection that Fajardo-Anstine has with her characters.
Fajardo-Anstine is a storyteller who shares the reality of her people: those who belong to the landscape of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico even when the land, for many, is becoming less theirs. By telling their stories of loss, abandonment, friendships, and love, Fajardo-Anstine honors the indigenous women, past and present who are not often recognized for their inner strength and their courage to carry on.
Sabrina & Corina is a must read for anyone interested in American literature. I am certain that Kali Fajardo-Anstine will be a powerful voice that will continue to tell important stories from a perspective that will give readers a greater understanding of the culture that she is a part of and writes about with love.
I've been hearing the term "speculative fiction" being used more and more in place of either Science Fiction or Fantasy, and I think this novella is a great example of it. This isn't really Science Fiction, and it's only sort of Fantasy, it's just a very creative (and abundantly beautiful) setting for a literary romance.
This book almost floats, it's very light and airy; don't get bogged down trying to understand and piece together exactly what happens. Just enjoy that it's happening, go along for the ride, enjoy the prose and the story and the feelings that Red and Blue have for each other. It's a little bit like flipping between channels on the TV and putting a story together from the little bits and pieces that appear, which all do have a unifying thread.
This was a nice way to try something different and discover some new authors. Definitely going to check out some of their other titles!
had such a fun time reading Recursion. I find there to be a fine line for a book to be thrilling instead of dragging. I was worried that the split narrative in Recursion would be tedious... but surprisingly, it isn't. When I was reading Helena's story, I wanted to know what was happening to Barry, and then visa-versa. While I was reading it over the 4th of July holiday, I was spending time at my relatives' house. I'd sit on a couch away from the family and every time they'd try to include me in the conversations, I would not hear them from being so absorbed in the book. Obviously the book is not as important, but it really is a page-turner! I loved all of the memory vs. reality science fiction stuff. People in the book have false memory syndrome where they can experience alternative timelines of memories. It is fun guessing which timelines are real and what that means to the characters experiences. Their intentions, drives, and regrets felt urgent and authentic. It feels oddly visceral and cinematic (I'm a movie buff, so that works for me). It twists and winds, though through it all, Recursion remains on solid ground story-wise. If you can appreciate an exciting, tense, vibrant book, please give this one a chance.
This is the perfect summer read! Light and enjoyable, it’s a good way to learn about what Tan France was up to prior to becoming the fashionable star that he is on Queer Eye. You’ll also learn how he came to be cast in the show (hint: He actually did NOT want to audition, he had to be convinced by someone else to grab this opportunity!). Tan hands out fashion tips left and right in this book, some of which I don’t agree with…let’s just say Tan isn’t a fan of bangs, and, as the proud wearer of adorable bangs, I may or may not consider that opinion to be a criminal offense. But for the most part, Tan gives out great advice that, if you’ve got a little extra money to spend on clothes, you can put to good use.
Overall, the king of French tucks has given us a great insight into the life of a Pakistani, gay man — A perspective that was sorely missed in popular media until now!
One of the most wholly engrossing works on non-fiction I've ever read. Reading it was intimate almost to the point of discomfort, which is pretty much what I should've expected reading a book explicitly about sex; however, it is so much more than that. "Three Women" peels back the delicate societal facade surrounding women's sexuality—that we are either demure, desireless beings or hyperbolically whoreish figures—and presents instead three contradictory, but incredibly raw and honest portraits of Maggie, Lina, and Sloane. Though there is a common thread through all of them of female desire not being met/being taken advantage of, each story is vastly different, unique, and interesting. Taddeo is both a gifted writer and reporter, and it's immediately obvious this work was a long time (8 years!) in the making. Some people seemed to take issue with the flowery language, but I actually loved it. Each sentence seemed special and meticulously crafted by Taddeo's hand.
There are so many reasons to read this book. If not to validate your own innermost thoughts and desires, at the very least, you'll learn something. For me, it was a little bit of both.