Thank heaven and earth, it is finally summer. Beaches, barbecues, fresh produce, and time in the sun are all on the brain right now, and I am beyond excited about it.
If you’re anything like me, you’re already looking for summer books to devour while soaking up some much-needed Vitamin D. I anticipated this, and proactively put together your perfect summer 2016 reading list. You’re welcome.
Anticipated New Release:
The Girls by Emma Cline
Hitting bookstores on June 14, The Girls is set in iconic 1960s San Francisco and follows the violent, bone-chilling efforts of Charles Manson as he recruited women into his cult. The book, which The New York Times says is “…told in sentences at times so finely wrought they could almost be worn as jewelry,” is a coming-of-age story of female friendship as girls become women under the darkest of circumstances. Girls was one of the only books of 2016 to be sold after a seven-figure bidding war from publishers, so critics and casual readers alike have high hopes. I’ll be reviewing the book for #TheEverygirlReads in the month of July.
Dawn by Octavia Butler
I know what you must be thinking: Why is a science fiction novel from the 1980’s on this list? To that I answer: Give it a chance. Octavia Butler, one of the first African American science-fiction writers (and a pioneer of afrofuturism, which challenges the overwhelming whiteness—and maleness—of the science fiction genre) wrote a breathtaking story about war, violence, race, consent, and what it means to be human. Read it and tell me I’m wrong for including it on this list…I dare you!
All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister
More women are unmarried by choice today than ever before, but as award-winning journalist Rebecca Traister learned while doing research for this book, the unmarried woman is not a new phenomenon. Traister explores the economic, sexual, and emotional politics of staying single and career-oriented in a monogamous world.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
I decided I would tackle the Russian writers after reading Gather Together in My Name (Maya Angelou’s sequel to I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings) in which Angelou professes her love for the likes of Tolstoy and Gogol. I determined that if one of my greatest idols loved the Russians, then I would make it my mission to find out what was so good about them—and learn to love them too. Anna Karenina is by no means a light read, but what better time to tackle it than during the slow days of summer? The book addresses love and lust and human folly against the opulent, bourgeois backdrop of pre-Soviet Moscow and St. Petersburg, and is worth the read (even if it takes a while!).
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
If Tolstoy sounds a little intimidating, try this lighter read instead. The collection of easy-to-devour essays, which walk the reader through Roxane Gay’s journey negotiating what feminism meant to her, was released to riotous praise in 2014. It is funny, biting, charming, smart, and it means the world to me as a woman who cares passionately about social justice—but also enjoys reality TV. That said, Gay reminds us we can all be a little easier on ourselves.