Maybe you have a vacation coming up and want to bring a great book with you. Maybe it’s your turn to pick your next book club read. Maybe, with Hanukkah less than a month out, you need some recommendations for readers on your list.
Personally, I don’t think you need an excuse. I read voraciously, keeping one book on my phone and another paperback on my bedside table (and if I’m being honest, a third one next to my tub/shower — I’m still working on the mechanics of the shower thing.) I burn meals as I cook if I am engrossed in a page-turner, and hide my phone while I drive so I am not tempted to read on.
But even if you don’t have a reading addiction, the following eight books will make you so grateful you picked them up that you will want to share them with everyone you know.
“The Power” by Naomi Alderman: Imagine Margaret Atwood of “The Handmaid’s Tale” fame had a kickass younger sister who wasn’t going to take that crap lying down. Alderman (author of the equally amazing though extremely different book “Disobedience”) has come out with a book that is part allegory, part science fiction that’s basically about women taking over the planet. I have not read a book that has gripped me like this one for a long time. The less you know going in, the better it is. Just trust me.
“This Is How It Always Is” by Laurie Frankel: “Don’t judge a book by its cover” might as well have been written about this one. I wasn’t so excited to read this book — the cover turned me off, what can I say, I’m superficial — but within pages, I was rapt and riveted. It’s a story of a family’s love for a young child struggling with gender, and the secrets they keep and how. Reading this, you will find yourself developing new muscles of empathy you never knew you had. And when you’ve reached the last page, you will find yourself homesick in a way, yearning for more.
“The Leavers” by Lisa Ko: Another book for the empathy muscles, this story of the child of an undocumented Chinese immigrant and how he finds himself adopted by a white family — even though his biological mother is indeed alive — is striking, raw and beautiful.
“The Resurrection of Joan Ashby” by Cherise Wolas: This book spoke to my soul. Maybe it hit home a little? It’s the story of a woman dealing with and fighting with the sacrifices of self and identity involved in becoming a mother – and what happens when your children betray you (as they all inevitably do, simply by growing older) in the most visceral way.
“Sourdough” by Robin Sloan: This quixotic story about Silicon Valley, visa drama and prized sourdough starter is a weird and delicious fun mix.
“Lucky Boy” by Shanthi Sekaran: Another adoption story, but this one told from the points of view of the educated and affluent would-be adoptive parents — and the illegal immigrant birth mother. This book is thoughtful and intriguing, and ultimately hits the reader right in the gut.
“Seven Days of Us” by Francesca Hornak: Probably the lightest read on the list, this one is a story of what happens when an extended family is sequestered in their old English familial estate (who can’t relate to this, amiright?) due to the prodigal daughter’s return from an African epidemic. Hint: Families are perhaps not meant to be trapped under the same roof.
“Young Jane Young” by Gabrielle Zevin: Actually, this is the lightest read on the list – a book about reconstructing life after a sexual indiscretion with a politician at a young age, and the impact on the extended (very Jewish – no English country estates here!) family.