This past month has been an absolute whirlwind. It’s been fun and exhausting all at once, and despite being busy, I’ve found plenty of time to get some reading done, including tackling the absolute behemoth that is 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami.
Although it feels like summer is coming to a close, there’s still plenty of time to make it to a lake or a beach or even just an outdoor cafe, and read.
If you’re looking for something undeniably great: The Nickel Boys by Colston Whitehead.
Written by the same author as The Underground Railroad (which I read and loved last year), The Nickel Boys is the fictionalized story of a reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida (you can read about The Dozier School for Boys that the book is based on here).
Whitehead has the uncanny ability to write beautifully about terrible things, and to simply, yet eloquently explain the lasting effects of terror and abuse. One thing that stuck with me more than anything else in this book is the idea that we only heard about one of these reform schools because the mass gravesite was found a few years ago, but there had to be hundreds, probably thousands, of other similar places throughout the country, and countless kids who were sent there and abused. He also discusses the responsibility to speak up when you see or experience this kind of abuse, or else you become complicit.
I loved this book.
Also PS Barack Obama also recommended this book. I read it before he recommended tho 😉
If you’re tired of the “unreliable female narrator thriller” genre: The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
Like most people, I have reached my limit on thrillers claiming to be “the next Gone Girl.” I’ve found these mostly to be formulaic and ultimately disappointing, but I was pleasantly surprised by The Last Mrs. Parrish.
First of all, there’s no murder. So we’re not left trying to piece together a disappearance or a murder with fuzzy details. Instead, we start off the bat with a scammer, something I truly love. The mystery doesn’t really begin to unfold until halfway through, when the scammer is about to pull one over everyone.
In the end, I enjoyed this story and how it ended up being the story of two tough women triumphing over a truly shitty man. An excellent change of pace that I highly recommend if you like thrillers but are tired of the same old thing.
If you want to be emotionally disturbed: Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage
I found this book while searching for something similar to The Killing of a Sacred Deer and We Need to Talk About Kevin. This story fits well into the Kevin genre, in that it’s the story of a mother whose seven-year-old daughter does not love her, and maybe wants to kill her.
I don’t think this was hands down the best-written book I’ve read, and I have a few gripes about the ending, but the idea was so original, and the story so fascinating, I couldn’t put it down, needing to know who will “win”: the mother or a seven year old who refuses to speak.
If you want your heart torn out: Boy Erased by Gerrard Conley
I knew of this book for a while, and knew how heartbreaking it would ultimately be, but wasn’t persuaded to read it until I listened to Leland’s interview on “Las Culturistas” (side note: “Las Culturistas is truly a blessing of a podcast. 10/10 recommend) where they discussed how he helped Troye Sivan write Revelation for the film adaptation of the book.
Boy Erased is the memoir of a pastor’s son in Arkansas who is sent to conversion therapy when he is outed by a supposed friend in college. The story is heartbreaking and infuriating and eye-opening. It made me furious that folks still send their kids places to try and suppress who they truly are, and heartbroken for the kids who don’t understand fully what they’re going through. The book is beautifully done and incredibly upsetting.
I have infinite library books to read, as always, but I’m most excited to get my hands on Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino this month. She is an icon, and I will truly read anything she writes. Sneak peek of her on Into the Gloss here.