Don’t Call Me Home by Alexandra Auder
This memoir chronicles the author’s bohemian youth, from the moment Viva went into labour in the lobby of the Chelsea Hotel in New York City to her time partying in East Village nightclubs to the present day, when an 80-year-old Viva visits Auder at Christmas. At the core of this meditation on family is a story about motherhood, daughterhood, and what it means to become your own woman.
The Half Moon by Mary Beth Keane
Forty-five-year-old Malcolm Gephardt bought the Half Moon, the bar where he worked for 24 years, without including his wife, Jess, in the financial decision. After 15 years together—and a long, heartbreaking struggle to get pregnant—Jess, a successful lawyer, moved out. Now she’s been spotted with Neil Bratton, a fellow lawyer who’s divorced with three kids and lives in a nice house. In Keane’s tale of midlife musings on second chances, Malcolm must contend with the shock of his wife’s new relationship, a blizzard in their small town, and a missing bar patron.
You Are Here by Karin Lin-Greenberg
Karin Lin-Greenberg’s debut novel stemmed from a short story, “The Sweeper of Hair,” which was originally published in the Chicago Tribune. “The Sweeper of Hair” follows Tina Huang, the last hair stylist at Sunshine Clips in an upstate New York shopping mall. The mall, though slowly dying, is the sun around which the characters in You Are Here orbit. Tina’s son Jackson sweeps up hair and studies magic tricks. Jackson’s friend Maria works at the food court fried chicken place and dreams of being an actor. Tina’s loyal, curmudgeonly customer Ro Goodson lives next door to Kevin, who manages the bookstore across from the salon. Lin-Greenberg’s web of characters illustrate the complex lives of ordinary people.
The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese
The Covenant of Water is a 736-page work of historical fiction set in 20th-century India—the southern state of Kerala, to be specific. In 1900, a 12-year-old girl (later known as Big Ammachi) marries a 40-year-old widower. Big Ammachi becomes the matriarch of the cursed Parambil family: at least one person in each generation drowns. Over the course of three generations, two seemingly disparate, deeply connected narratives unfold in an ode to India, family, and medical marvels.
The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece by Tom Hanks
In 2017, Tom Hanks published the short story collection Uncommon Type, but The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece marks the Oscar-winning actor’s first foray into novel territory. In 1947, Bob Falls is having a hard time reacclimating to civilian life after wielding a flamethrower in World War II. He meets his 5-year-old nephew, Robby Andersen, who will go on to write a comic book series, The Legend of Firefall, inspired by his uncle, in 1970. In the present day, the comics get a big screen adaptation as a Marvel-esque superhero movie. Going behind the scenes of lead actors and big egos, Hanks posits that the real stars in Hollywood are the people who make movie magic possible.
The Three of Us by Ore Agbaje-Williams
An unnamed Nigerian wife, her unnamed devoted husband, and her sarcastic best friend, Temi, form the three points of a complicated constellation in Ore Agbaje-Williams’ debut novel. Over the course of one day, readers hear from the wife in the afternoon, the husband in the evening, and Temi at night as long-standing tensions finally unspool. Temi is the wife’s ride-or-die, but she doesn’t like the husband—she thinks he has relegated the wife back into a traditional gender role—and hasn’t made that much of a secret.
Yellowface by R.F. Kuang
In R.F. Kuang’s latest novel, Athena Liu is a Chinese American literary darling whose star is on the rise. Her college friend June Hayward isn’t particularly pleased with Athena’s success, and is frustrated that she hasn’t also broken out in the industry. But when a freak accident occurs that leaves Athena dead, June ends up walking away with the manuscript of her frenemy’s latest work. June, who is white, edits the novel about Chinese laborers during World War I and passes it off as her own. It’s an immediate hit, and June has finally reached the top of the literary world—until the cracks begin to show in her scheme, and inevitable fissures surrounding cultural appropriation, diversity, and racism emerge.
Beware the Woman by Megan Abbott
Jacy and Jed are newlyweds with a baby on the way when they set out on a summer road trip from New York City to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to meet Jed’s father, Dr. Ash. At first, Jacy feels cocooned by a warm welcome. (At least by Dr. Ash—the house manager, Mrs. Brandt, is another story.) But the expecting mother soon learns that Jed’s own mom died in childbirth, and a miscarriage scare leads to her feeling trapped in the house. Abbott spins an enigmatic web of foreboding and unease as she delves into family secrets and gender politics.
The Celebrants by Steven Rowley
Just before graduation, an apartment of students at Berkley is shocked when their roommate Alec overdoses. Gathering together, they make a pact that when they are in desperate need, they can each request a living “funeral” – a gathering where they are reminded that life is still worthwhile. They’ve been there through Marielle’s divorce, Naomi’s parents’ death, and Craig’s art fraud conviction. But now Jordan’s diagnosis has him and his husband facing a living funeral that might precede an actual funeral.
Museum of Ordinary People by Michael Gayle
In this book, Jess finds her mother’s set of encyclopedias while emptying her house after her mother’s death. When trying to find the encyclopedias, a new home, she comes across a curious museum called The Museum of Ordinary People.
Fourteen Days by Margaret Atwood and Others
Set in a Lower East Side tenement in the early days of the pandemic, Fourteen Days is a heartwarming novel with an unusual twist: each character has been secretly written by a different, major literary voice – from Margaret Atwood and Douglas Preston to Dave Eggers and Celeste Ng.
One week into the COVID-19 shutdown, tenants of a Lower East Side apartment building in Manhattan have begun to gather on the rooftop and tell stories. With each passing night, more and more neighbours gather, bringing chairs and milk crates and overturned pails. Gradually the tenants – some of whom have barely spoken to each other – become real neighbours. Fourteen Days reveals how beneath the loss and suffering, some communities managed to become stronger.
The Guest by Emma Cline
Summer is coming to a close on the East End of Long Island, and Alex is no longer welcome.
A misstep at a dinner party, and the older man she’s been staying with dismisses her with a ride to the train station and a ticket back to the city.
With few resources and a waterlogged phone, but gifted with an ability to navigate the desires of others, Alex stays on Long Island and drifts like a ghost through the hedged lanes, gated driveways, and sun-blasted dunes of a rarefied world that is, at first, closed to her. Propelled by desperation and a mutable sense of morality, she spends the week leading up to Labour Day moving from one place to the next, a cipher leaving destruction in her wake.
Summer Reading by Jenn McKinlay
What happens when a dyslexic chef falls for a library interim director? The attraction between these two inspires Sam to want to create the cookbook she has always dreamed of while helping Ben find the father he never knew.