The Beekeeper of Aleppo
When civil war breaks out, ordinary lives are turned upside down, regardless of beliefs, affiliations, or ideologies. For Nuri and Afra, a couple living in the hills of Aleppo, the consequences are dire: their son dies, and Afra—an artist who’s relied on her vision for her landscape paintings—is blinded. Nuri, a beekeeper by trade, becomes Afra’s caretaker as the two flee Syria in the hopes of joining Nuri’s cousin in England, where he’s training other refugees in the art of beekeeping. With a journey as traumatic as war itself, will they survive?
In 1893 in the Arizona Territory, two very different people’s stories become mysteriously intertwined. Nora is a homesteader with a husband, three sons, and a daughter who died as a baby but is becoming a woman in Nora’s imagination. Lurie, who killed a boy and has been on the run from the law, also sees and speaks to the dead in his own way, trekking across the drought-ridden West to try to solve their problems. Nora finds herself alone with only her youngest son while Lurie draws closer—but you won’t guess where and how their lives intersect.
The Ghosts of Eden Park
During Prohibition, lawyer George Remus became one of the prime bootleggers in the nation, and so wealthy that he and his second wife built a huge estate that included an indoor pool where they hosted lavish parties and gave away cars as party gifts. But it wasn’t to last—the highest-ranking woman working for the government, Mabel Walker Willebrandt, was in charge of prosecuting Prohibition cases, and she went after Remus with verve. With a cat-and-mouse chase, a love triangle, and murder, this is a true-crime narrative to rock your socks off.
How to Be an Antiracist
Ibram X. Kendi
In this powerful book by Ibram X. Kendi, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, racism isn’t framed as a simple set of wrongheaded personal beliefs. Instead, Kendi breaks down the ways policy and rhetoric perpetuate racist systems upheld by racist ideas, and positions antiracism as the opposite: as policies, rhetoric, and ideas that lead to racial equity. Delving into his own history of internalized racism, Kendi exposes the toxic policies and narratives at the heart of American society, but also explores how to pull the wool from our eyes in order to promote change.
Big Brother + Big Business = Big Trouble. Paxton, a security guard at monopoly tech company Cloud, doesn’t like the corporation, but really, what choice does he have when you either work for Cloud, buy their products, or both? Zinnia, meanwhile, is keeping her enemies close as she works on the warehouse floor while attempting to infiltrate the company’s deepest secrets. If you think the biggest of algorithm-based online retailers slowly (or not so slowly) encroaching on our lives is bad now, Rob Hart has gone next level, thinking through the possible outcomes and consequences in this new thriller.
What Red Was
Kate Quaile and Max Rippon are from drastically different worlds. Where Kate was raised by a single mom and had an otherwise average upbringing, Max was a child of intense privilege, son of an aristocrat and a well-known Hollywood director. Still, college is a time for connecting with people you might never have met otherwise, and Kate and Max begin a friendship that lasts throughout their undergraduate career. When Kate, who’s become a familiar visitor at Max’s family’s place, is sexually assaulted at a party there, she keeps silent about it at first. But soon, she can’t repress it any longer.
Through family and love connections broken, healing, and somewhere in between, Edwidge Danticat explores the ways in which we can become strangers to one another. In “The Gift,” the devastation of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti seems to separate two once-lovers’ ties even years later; in “Dosas,” Elsie gets a call from her ex whose new girlfriend has been kidnapped—but he’s conned Elsie in the past, so is this the real deal? In another story, a New Yorker rushes to Haiti to meet her dying father. Danticat is back, and we’re thrilled.
Gods of Jade and Shadow
In 1920s Mexico, Casiopeia Tun’s life is about to change forever. Charged with cleaning her wealthy grandfather’s floors in his big house in rural Yucatán, Casiopeia’s fate changes when she accidentally frees Hun-Kamé, a Mayan god of death locked away after his twin brother overthrew his rule. Hun-Kamé requests Casiopeia’s help, and it’s not like she’s going to refuse. An adventure, even with a god of death, has to be better than scrubbing floors, right? Off they go, a mad dash across Jazz-age Mexico. Rooted in Mayan mythology and a rich setting, this is a novel you shouldn’t miss.
The Wolf Wants In
When Sadie’s brother Shane dies, his wife claims she came home and found him unresponsive, and the coroner rules natural causes. But Sadie’s not convinced, and in Blackwater, Kansas, a rural community where many people have an opoid-use disorder, there’s plenty to keep folks busy, so Sadie decides to investigate on her own. Meanwhile, Henley is a teenager who wants out—of her family and of Blackwater—but she becomes entangled with the son of her wealthy employers. When a child’s skull is found in the woods, both Sadie and Henley’s lives get more complicated.
All the Flowers in Paris
Céline, widowed and living in Nazi-occupied Paris, is trying to take care of her daughter and find love again, but trouble comes knocking when a soldier finds out about her Jewish heritage. How will she stay safe, and more importantly, how will she keep her daughter safe? Years later, Caroline suffers amnesia and confusion when she wakes up in the hospital. Uncertain of her past, she discovers she’s been living alone for years in a big apartment, and as she tries to recall the narratives of her life, she finds a stack of letters that changes everything.
See Jane Win
After the 2016 elections, a whole host of women began running for public office, many for the first time. Journalist Caitlin Moscatello, who covered some of these campaigns in real time, takes a deeper dive in this book and examines the trajectories of four candidates: Abigail Spanberger, Anna Eskamani, Catalina Cruz, and London Lamar. Along the way, she breaks down the varying challenges women politicians face, from the biases against their gender, sexuality, and racial identities to the media coverage that focuses on elements men candidates don’t need to face. A political analysis for our time.
What do you do when you have a knack for business and suicide prevention as well as a need to survive in a political reality you’re caught in? In a near and dystopic future, Britta’s morality becomes a bendy thing, as she uses her suicide-prevention clinic in Braunschweig, Germany, to also screen for and recruit people who will make dedicated, precise suicide bombers for varying political groups—and she’s cornered the market. But when bombs and bombers Britta’s unfamiliar with begin popping up, she has to figure out who’s behind them, and whether she might be in danger herself.
Timothy C. Winegard
History and political science professor Timothy C. Winegard reminds us of the power of the mosquito. After all, he argues, the mosquito has been the cause of about half of all human deaths throughout the relatively few millennia of our existence as a species. From Julius Caesar’s awareness of the dangerous breeding grounds in marshes outside Rome to the plague of mosquitoes that struck during the American Civil War, these biting nasties have had a hand in toppling empires and changing civilizations. Pour yourself a G&T—originally invented to make malaria-fighting quinine palatable—and buzz off to read this.
When Alex begins her new job as a creative writing teacher at Stonebridge Academy, a boarding school in Vermont, she’s not super thrilled, but beggars can’t be choosers, and she has to make a living somehow. Sure, there’s the dead rat on her desk and the threatening notes, but that’s just children’s antics, right? Maybe not, she discovers, as Gemma, one of her students, makes her aware of the Darkroom, an online group the boys in the school use to post pictures and reviews of the girls and their sexual exploits. As tensions rev, Alex has to lead by example.
Family of Origin
When half-siblings Elsa and Nolan Grey’s father dies off the coast of a remote island, the pair—who haven’t spoken to each other or other members of the Grey family for a dozen years—find themselves thrust together, along with the biologists that Dr. Ian Grey was working with. Chasing down the last of their father’s obsessions among a group of ducks that seem to be losing the evolutionary resources they developed over millions of years—evolving backwards, in a sense—Elsa and Nolan have to face their own family’s evolution and where it all went wrong. Will everything come crashing down again?
The Perfect Son
Tess Clark’s husband, Mark, died only two months ago, but since then, she’s been doing her best to make life go on for her and her 8-year-old son, Jamie. When she wakes up in the hospital with a stab wound and Jamie missing, she’s frantic, but no one seems to be taking the situation seriously. Suspicious of her brother-in-law, who claims Mark was in debt to him, and of the grief counselor she’s been seeing who lost a son around Jamie’s age, Tess doesn’t know what to think or who to trust. As the truth comes out, you won’t either.
The Girl Who Lived Twice
In the newest Lisbeth Salander thriller, the woman herself has apparently disappeared—or maybe just gone to ground, preparing for a final assault on her arch-nemesis twin sister. Trouble is, her friend Mikael Blomkvist needs her help: he’s just discovered that a ragtag man who died on the streets of Stockholm had Blomkvist’s number in his pocket, and his last words indicate that he had a story bigger than the Second Coming to share with the righteous journalist. As Salander and Blomkvist circle around each other, they’ll be surprised to find their newest obsessions might just be related.
Travel Light, Move Fast
Tim Fuller was a man who, as the title suggests, traveled light and moved fast, but his heart was large and his sense of humor magnificent. In this memoir, his daughter, author Alexandra Fuller, pens a moving yet celebratory tribute. She moves from Tim’s final days in a Budapest hospital and his blasé attitude toward the meaning of life (“Now that I think about it,” he says, “maybe there isn’t a secret to life. It’s just what it is, right under your nose.”) to his involvement in the Rhodesian Bush War, his marriage and life in Zimbabwe, and beyond.
All the Wrong Moves
Canadian journalist Sasha Chapin first played chess with her wonderfully pun-infused high school chess club, the Pawnishers, and got sucked in fast. Still, the game disappeared from his life for years, until he rediscovered it during his travels and became newly obsessed with becoming a master of the game, capable of competing in the Los Angeles Open. Over two years of training and renewed dedication, Chapin begins competing in tournaments around the world, seeking mentorship with a wacky—if effective—grandmaster in St. Louis, and grappling with the strategic and lifelike qualities of this ancient and revered game.
Welcome to another month of our favorite list—or rather, our list of favorites! This summer has been full of amazing literature, from Edwidge Dandicat’s exciting new short story collection (her first in over a decade!), riveting true crime from Karen Abbott, and essential nonfiction like Ibram X. Kendi’s new work on anti-racism. You’re sure to find something that fits your mood, taste, and reading habits. Take a whirl with a retelling of Mayan myth, delve into dystopias, or get your heart pumping with a thriller. We’ve got it all, and so can you.