If you’re looking for a good book to sink your teeth into this summer, here are a few of the best books (according to the ‘experts’) of 2020 so far.
1. The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett
The Vanishing Half follows twin sisters Desiree and Stella Vignes, who were raised in the fictional town of Mallard, Louisiana, as they set out on two completely different paths to discover who they are.
Since initially hitting the shelves, Brit Bennett’s novel has received heaps of praise for her ability to effectively depict flawed characters with compassion, as well as her portrayal of racial identity and bigotry in American society.
“She hadn’t realized how long it takes to become somebody else, or how lonely it can be living in a world not meant for you.”
Get your copy of The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett.
2. A Long Petal of the Sea, by Isabel Allende
As the Spanish Civil War rages in the late 1930s, Roser, a pregnant young widow, and Victor Dalmau, an army doctor, are forced into a marriage neither of them wants. Together they depart from war-torn Spain on a refuge boat, finding themselves having to adjust to a completely new world–with no hope of returning to their old life.
“Nothing can grow in the shade of secrets, she would say, love needs light and space to flourish.”
Get your copy of A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende.
3. Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid
Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age begins with babysitter Emira (a young black woman) being called out of the blue by her employer (a white blogger named Alix) to take her daughter Briar to the local market for an outing. While at the market, a blatantly racist security guard accuses Emira of kidnapping Briar. In the aftermath of this event, Reid explores the consequences of ‘prioritizing allyism over structural change’ with thought-provoking and intentionally awkward prose.
“One day, when Emira would say good-bye to Briar, she’d also leave the joy of having somewhere to be, the satisfaction of understanding the rules, the comfort of knowing what’s coming next, and the privilege of finding a home within yourself.”
Get your copy of Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid.
4. The Dragons, the Giant, the Women, by Wayétu Moore
In her deeply personal memoir, Wayétu Moore takes readers into her early childhood in Liberia, her transitional period in Texas as a black woman and an immigrant, and her eventual return to her home country. The Dragons, the Giant, the Women is a beautifully poignant story about looking for home amidst chaos.
Get your copy of The Dragons, the Giant, the Women by Wayétu Moore.
5. The Secret Women, by Sheila Williams
The Secret Women begins with three distinctly different women, Elise Armstrong, Carmen Bradshaw, and DeeDee Davis, meeting in a yoga class. There they discover something they all have in common: each of their mothers has recently passed. The women develop a fast friendship and together they begin to discover old letters and diary entries from each of their mothers, revealing life-changing secrets.
Sheila Williams’ beautifully sincere and profound story showcases the power of sisterhood, family, and unconditional love.
Get your copy of The Secret Women by Sheila Williams.
6. Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick: Stories from the Harlem Renaissance, by Zora Neale Hurston
Read, for the first time, a collection of Zora Neale Hurston’s previously unpublished and extraordinary short stories, including eight “lost” Harlem Renaissance tales.
“Springtime in Florida is not a matter of peeping violets or bursting buds merely. It is a riot of color, in nature—glistening green leaves, pink, blue, purple, yellow blossoms that fairly stagger the visitor from the north. The miles of hyacinths are like an undulating carpet on the surface of the river and divide reluctantly when the slow-moving alligators push their way log-like across. The nights are white nights as the moon shines with dazzling splendor, or in the absence of that goddess, the soft darkness creeps down laden with innumerable scents. The heavy fragrance of magnolias mingled with the delicate sweetness of jasmine and wild roses.”
Get your copy of Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick: Stories from the Harlem Renaissance by Zora Neale Hurston.
7. The Glass Hotel, by Emily St. John Mandel
The Glass Hotel begins when a hooded figure scrawls a message on the glass wall of a five-star Hotel lobby: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” This event is followed closely by the collapse of an international Ponzi scheme. Two key characters, Vincent and Jonathan Alkaitis, meet and later separate, and then a woman vanishes while aboard a ship. The mystery unraveling around these seemingly separate events will have you captivated to the very end.
“Give me quiet, he thought, give me forests and ocean and no roads. Give me the walk to the village through the woods in summer, give me the sound of wind in cedar branches, give me mist rising over the water, give me the view of green branches from my bathtub in the mornings. Give me a place with no people in it, because I will never fully trust another person again.”
Get your copy of The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel.
8. The Pull of the Stars, by Emma Donoghue
Taking place during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic, The Pull of the Stars follows Julia Power, a nurse who works at an understaffed hospital in Dublin, Ireland where expectant mothers are quarantined together. When two strange women suddenly arrive, Power’s life changes in unexpected ways.
Emma Donoghue’s story about survival is a beacon of light in the darkness.
Get your copy of The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue.
9. When You See Me, by Lisa Gardner
FBI Special Agent Kimberly Quincy and Sergeant Detective D. D. Warren, alongside Flora Dane and Keith Edgar, follow a trail left behind by deceased serial kidnapper Jacob Ness. What they discover is something more eery and sinister than any of them could have ever imagined.
“Sometimes fear is like that: It leaves you with nothing but the desire for it to be done.”
Get your copy of When You See Me by Lisa Gardner.
10. Untamed, by Glennon Doyle
Glennon Doyle’s Untamed is an intimate and powerful memoir about womanhood, liberation, self-acceptance, motherhood, and overcoming staggering adversity.
“I can feel everything and survive. What I thought would kill me, didn’t. Every time I said to myself: I can’t take this anymore — I was wrong. The truth was that I could and did take it all — and I kept surviving. Surviving again and again made me less afraid of myself, of other people, of life. I learned that I’d never be free from pain but I could be free from the fear of pain, and that was enough.”
Get your copy of Untamed by Glennon Doyle.