- The Arsonists’ City by Hala Alyan
- Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
This novel is intense and delightful and grief-laden. Angeline Boulley weaves 18-year-old Daunis Fontaine into a story of loss, drug addiction, and familial bonds. I couldn’t put it down after the fourth chapter. I don’t want to spoil it too much so just trust me, you’ll be swept up in the drama and beauty of this story.
- Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid ($16.99 at Bookshop.org)
Wow! If you’re familiar with Taylor Jenkins Reid’s previous works, — particularly The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones & The Six — it’ll come as no surprise to you that Malibu Rising knocks it out of the park again. This story follows a family living in Malibu from the 1960s through 1983; four siblings throw an annual party and unlock secrets of their parents’ past, grapple with financial strains and gains, and learn how to become their own persons, separate and lively outside of the expectations of others and the eyes of the public.
- The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson
This novel is perfect for those whose hearts are tugged at the slightest mention of soil quality deterioration, water pollution, and pesticide overuse. The Seed Keeper details the homegoing of Rosalie Iron Wing, a farmer who retraces her Dakota roots; then, the novel turns and begins retelling the slaughter and displacement of the Dakota peoples in the 1800s, tribal recollections rich with wisdom and yearning. Through the weaving together of generational stories, this book reminds readers of the importance of seeds, Indigenous worldviews, and each other.
- Home Is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo
This haunting novel-in-verse follows young Nima as she decodes the truth behind her birth and chases a higher self-esteem and sense of belonging. Outstanding story and gorgeous writing, although I’d expect nothing less from Safia Elhillo!
- Tell Me How To Be by Neel Patel
I was completely unfamiliar with Neel Patel before picking up Tell Me How To Be, so I’ll admit I judged it by its cover and was blown away by the intricate prose and quick-paced narration. The story follows two narrators: Renu, an immigrant mother who has just lost her husband and is figuring out where her life will go after his passing; and her son Akash, an amateur music producer and lyricist who has never come out to his family as gay and is struggling to love and live and find freedom. A five-star read. Such a fantastic and emotional journey.
- The Rock Eaters by Brenda Peynado
- Imagine a Death by Janice Lee
- Heartwood by Nikky Finney
- Mixed Company: Stories by Jenny Shank
- When the Apricots Bloom by Gina Wilkinson
Memoirs, Essays, Politics
- Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally by Emily Ladau
Hello! Disabled reader here! This book is truly amazing and a MUST-READ for everyone. @emilyladau has done a fantastic job of explaining, empathizing with, and encapsulating what it’s like to be a disabled person in an ableist world.
I learned so much about my own experiences and gained vocabulary to discuss barriers to access. Pain and chronic illness is something that ALWAYS exists in my functioning and living. I’m never not-disabled. I’m never in a situation where my disabilities and pain aren’t affecting my experience. I also learned how much of my language is still stuck in ableist patterns (particularly the words stupid and dumb, which I’m now actively trying to replace).
I also learned about the history of disability activism and the fight for rights, which extends into today and will continue to be a major fight for years to come (unfortunately).
This book is hella important, hella wise, and hella necessary. As Emily points out, disability is the only identity that anyone could take on at any time (especially right now with so many folks experiencing severe long-term effects from covid).
- Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner ($24.79)
Michelle Zauner, the voice and musician behind Japanese Breakfast, writes through her childhood and teen years, exploring both the closeness and standoffishness of her relationship with her mother. When her mother becomes sick, she and her partner change their lives to pause their creative pursuits and make the last months of her mother’s life memorable and lasting; this memoir is grief-heavy in the best way possible.
- Goodbye, Again by Jonny Sun ($18.39)
Outstanding mini-essays that can be both meditations and discussion starters. Both written and illustrated by Jonny Sun, Goodbye, Again offers insight into his life and anxieties that is sharp and relatable. I highly recommend this collection, especially for the busy reader.
- Space-Time Colonialism: Alaska’s Indigenous and Asian Entanglements by Juliana Hu Pegues
- Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed: 15 Voices from the Latinx Diaspora edited by Saraciea J. Fennell
- New Moons: Contemporary Writing by North American Muslims edited by Kazim Ali
- Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab
- The Precipice by Noam Chomsky
Fantastic political writing that’s helped me personally understand what the $*%)# is going on in the minds of many I care about who are misguided and trusting in an ideology that harms everyone but the rich.
- Dear Memory: Letters on Writing, Silence and Grief by Victoria Chang
- Sexual Justice by Alexandra Brodsky
- Sunbelt Blues: The Failure of American Housing by Andrew Ross
- A Carnival of Snackery by David Sedaris
- I’m Possible: A Story of Survival, a Tuba, and the Small Miracle of a Big Dream by Richard Antoine White
- The Unseen Body: A Doctor’s Journey Through the Hidden Wonders of Human Anatomy by Jonathan Reisman
- Being a Human by Charles Foster
Nonfiction: Nature Writing
- The Atlas of a Changing Climate by Brian Buma
- The Nature of Oaks: The Rich Ecology of Our Most Essential Native Trees by Douglas W. Tallamy
- Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach
- Our National Forests: Stories from America’s Most Important Public Lands by Greg M. Peters
- Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard
Book of the Other: small in comparison by Truong Tran