One part John le Carré spy thriller, one part Hidden Figures, and a dose of Ralph Ellison, American Spy is all page-turner. Set against the rise and eventual fall of African revolutionary Thomas Balkara during the Cold War, the novel centers on a young Black woman working in U.S. Intelligence who infiltrates Balkara’s inner circle and an intoxicating and dangerous world she never expected.
Michelle Obama was recently voted the most admired woman in Gallup’s annual poll, and Becoming makes it easy to see why. The former First Lady’s memoir is an intimate, witty, and candid look at the formative events that shaped her life, her relationship with Barack Obama, and her time in the White House.
My Best Friend's Exorcism
Have you ever wondered what The Exorcist would be like had it been written by John Hughes? Fortunately, Grady Hendrix has you covered. Hendrix cut his teeth on the paperback horror boom of the late 1970s and early ’80s, and it shows in every nostalgia-soaked page of his sophomore novel—a sharply written, surprisingly touching tale of high school friendship that nonetheless doesn’t flinch on the horror.
This multigenerational saga manages to be both epic in scope and surprisingly intimate in its storytelling conceit. It’s the story of a powerful matriarch beset by forces on all sides and struggling to survive in a seemingly ever-changing world, all set against the backdrop of some of the most stunning locales the American West has to offer. The fact that it’s the true story of an actual wolf named O-Six is just one surprising detail among many.
Who doesn’t love a good mystery? They’re the perfect page-turning respite from our everyday lives, and few novels provide the unique sort of respite that a Hiaasen yarn delivers. Razor Girl pulls together the mob, a con woman, a beach re-nourishment scheme, a disgraced detective turned health inspector, a Duck Dynasty-esque reality show, and more Floridian shenanigans than you can shake a flamingo at (don’t really shake a flamingo, it’s dangerous and the flamingo hates it). It’s unapologetically Hiaasen and a deliciously raucous read.
A Brief History of Seven Killings
Marlon James’s 2015 Man Booker Prize Winner is an epic and volatile piece of historical fiction centering around the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the late 1970s, which goes on to explore the fictional fates of the seven gunmen. Spanning decades and continents, A Brief History of Seven Killings is a sweeping, kaleidoscopic tour de force well worth getting lost in.
We Are Never Meeting in Real Life.
Samantha Irby strikes a balance between confidence and self-deprecation that is nothing short of glorious. Her delightfully over-the-top, oft-raunchy, always awkward escapades will have you doubling over in laughter and feeling divinely blessed that your night out—and all the attendant chances for catastrophe—was cancelled.
The Witch Elm
The Witch Elm may be a break from French’s Dublin Murder Squad, but it’s also her most intricately plotted and shocking novel to date. The novel centers around Toby, a man hoping to convalesce at his family’s ancestral home after a brutal home invasion. When a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree, everything Toby thought he knew about his family and his past is turned upside down. This is Tana French at the very height of her game.
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein
This inventive reimagining of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein frames the classic tale from the perspective of a young girl named Elizabeth who’s taken in by the Frankenstein family. Quickly caught up in her new life, she and the family’s young son, Victor, become inseparable, forcing Elizabeth to follow Victor as he careens toward his macabre and monstrous fate.
The benefits of decluttering and tidying up aren’t exactly a secret. There are myriad books aimed at helping you declutter your home and, by extension, your life. But what about our digital lives? Ones increasingly overtaken by too much—too much information, too much entertainment, too much to miss out on. Digital Minimalism offers a way out by decluttering our digital lives in order to rediscover the pleasures of the offline world and perhaps transform that dreaded fear of missing out into joy.
Depth of Winter
Craig Johnson’s latest Longmire mystery sees the laconic Wyoming lawman facing up to his worst fear: one of Mexico’s most dangerous cartels has kidnapped his daughter, Cady. With no options, Walt takes to the deserts of Northern Mexico on his own to bring his daughter home, no matter the cost. The setting may be different, but for fans of Walt Longmire, this is vintage Craig Johnson.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Marie Kondo and her tidying magic are once again making headlines thanks to a ridiculously charming Netflix series. If Tidying up With Marie Kondo has become a regular part of your JOMO rotation, now is the perfect time to pick up the book that inspired it. As a convert myself, I can say that the “life-changing” bit is not hyperbolic, and it’s entirely possible that Kondo is indeed magic.
Robert Jackson Bennett
Coming off his stellar Divine Cities Trilogy, expectations were high among fans for Robert Jackson Bennett’s latest project. Fortunately, Foundryside doesn’t disappoint. While he trades in the statecraft and espionage of the Divine Cities for a world of industrialized magic, charismatic thieves, and dangerous heists, Foundryside doesn’t miss a beat and lays the groundwork for a stunning new series.
Swing Time may be Zadie Smith’s best and most ambitious novel, which is really saying something when you’re talking about a talent like Smith. Through the prism of a complex friendship between two complicated women, Smith weaves a story of race and class that feels startlingly alive. As much a meditation on the power of dance and childhood friendship as cultural appropriation, inequality, and identity, Smith’s prose all but vibrates off the page.
We all know the feeling. You’ve made plans but feel drained from a hard week and really want nothing more than to simply curl up with a good book, relax, and get lost for a while. Then beautifully, mercifully, gloriously—those plans are cancelled. That, friends, is the Joy Of Missing Out (JOMO), and it is life-changing. We live in a world that increasingly pushes us to overextend, to experience everything, to dread the potential of MISSING OUT. But sometimes missing out is precisely what we need. That opportunity to tune out, turn off, and just relax is vital, and thankfully there is no shortage of excellent reads to help you do just that. Here are a few of our favorites.
Featured Image: @megivako/Twenty20