Rachel, as we all know, is an über-popular name, especially among Jews. Rachels are everywhere you look! Aside from your inbox — and ours — there’s Rachel from Friends, Rachel Zane from Suits (played by future Duchess Meghan Markle, whose first name is actually — you guessed it — Rachel), Rachel Berry on Glee, and so many more. There’s actresses Rachel Bloom, Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams, Rachel Bilson… should we keep going?
But there’s one more place where we’ve recently noticed a lot of Rachels: our bookshelves. These days, a host of authors named Rachel are making waves — with really, really good books. (Side note: Not all of these Rachels are Jewish, but some are.)
So, without further ado, here’s one of the more ridiculous lists we’ve published on Kveller: books we love by authors named Rachel. We’ve split it up into four categories: fiction, nonfiction, young adult, and coming soon. Since this list could really go on forever, we limited ourselves to 2018 and 2019 (with a few books published in 2017 sprinkled in, we couldn’t resist). There’s something for everyone, so enjoy!
1. The Mars Room – Rachel Kushner (May 2018)
The story of a woman in prison, a novel “so powerful and realistic you come away convinced that all… escapes are illusory, and that even for those who get out, prison is still a life sentence.”
2. Self-Portrait with Boy — Rachel Lyon (February 2018, paperback March 2019)
A young photographer accidentally photographs a boy falling to his death, “an image that could jumpstart her career, but would also devastate her most intimate friendship.”
3. Binstead’s Safari – Rachel Ingalls (Februrary 2019)
OK, this was originally published in 1983, but it was re-issued in 2019, so it counts. It is “a feminist, fabulist, magical realist romance set in London and Africa.”
4. The Weight of Ink — Rachel Kadish (June 2017)
National Jewish Book Award-winning historical fiction set in London — in the the 1660s and the early 2000s — tells the tale of two women: Esther, a scribe for a blind rabbi, and Helen, a Jewish historian.
5. The Music Shop — Rachel Joyce (November 2018)
A love story set in 1988 in a record shop in a suburb, focused on the healing power of music.
6. A Boy In Winter – Rachel Seiffert (August 2017)
Taking place over the course of three days in a Ukrainian town in 1941, this book tells the tale of one town’s experience of the Holocaust. The story reflects true wartime accounts; with this novel, Seiffert “unleashed literature’s unique power to analyze history’s scroll, to let fiction judge.”
7. Kudos — Rachel Cusk (June 2018)
A conclusion to the trilogy that began with Outline. “As trilogies of recent vintage go, these books…strike me as a stark, modern, adamantine new skyscraper on the literary horizon,” The New York Times writes.
8. When We Were Someone Else — Rachel Groves (November 2018)
Eleven linked stories follow a group of New Jersey teenagers into adulthood.
9. Suicide Club – Rachel Heng (July 2018)
A dystopian story set in a future NYC where people are given the chance to live forever. The novel “takes the moral and cultural imperatives around wellness and turns them into commands of the state.”
10. Boys: What It Means to Become a Man — Rachel Giese (December 2018)
Want to learn about today’s “boy crisis” and the culture of toxic masculinity (i.e. “boys don’t cry,” “man up”)? This book — drawing upon research and interviews with educators, parents, sociologists, and more — is for you.
11. A Savage Order: How the World’s Deadliest Countries Can Forge a Path to Security — Rachel Kleinfeld (November 2018)
Kleinfeld looks at how “extreme violence can cripple democracies.” In countries around the world, she interviewed generals, former guerrillas, activists, politicians, mobsters, and law enforcement to understand how societies deal with ingrained violence.
12. RX by Rachel Lindsay (June 2018)
A graphic memoir about the treatment of mental illness. Lindsay, diagnosed with bipolar disorder in her early 20s, takes a job in advertising. When she gets placed on the team developing ads for an antidepressant drug, she begins to destabilize. The memoir charts this and her hospitalization.
13. You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone — Rachel Lynn Solomon (January 2018)
Jewish twins Adina and Tovah navigate identity, love, going to college, and results from a genetic test that could change their future.
14. My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life — Rachel Cohn (December 2018)
From the author of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, a story about a foster kid who travels to Japan to find her long-last father.
15. Someday We Will Fly — Rachel DeWoskin (January 2019)
It’s 1940 and Lillia, 15, flees World War II with her father and sister to Shanghai. As Kirkus points out, this young adult novel “explores a rarely depicted topic: the struggles of the Shanghai Jewish refugees.”
Set in a medieval kingdom and hailed as an “exquisite fantasy for the #MeToo movement,” the story follows Tess, a young girl who runs away from a nunnery. There are dragons, if you’re into that.
17. Prince Charming (Royals Book 1) – Rachel Hawkins (March 2019)
A 16-year-old girl from Florida has an older sister who is about to be engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. “Princess Diaries turned-upside-down.”
18. Coventry — Rachel Cusk (Aug 2019)
We’re very excited for this: Cusk is following up her Outline trilogy with essays on family, gender, politics, and various writers.
19. Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime and Obsession – Rachel Monroe (Aug 2019)
A dive into our cultural fascination with true crime, looking at four crime archetypes (Detective, Victim, Defender, and Killer) and four true stories.
20. A Bend in the Stars — Rachel Barenbaum (May 2019)
The story of a young Jewish physicist in 1914 Russia; it explores the lives of Russian Jews during WWI and of the effort to prove Einstein’s theory of relativity.
21. The Risk of Us — Rachel Howard (April 2019)
The plot: “A couple fosters a 7-year-old girl in hopes of adopting her, but trauma in the girl’s past makes her future with the new family unclear.” A deep dive into the foster-care system and caring for kids with traumatic pasts.
22. Banshee– Rachel DeWoskin (June 2019)
The protagonist learns she has breast cancer, and then “ruins her own life.” A look at a catastrophic mid-life crisis.
23. Abused: Surviving Sexual Assault and a Toxic Gymnastics Culture – Rachel Haines (April 2019)
The heartbreaking tale of one of the gymnasts abused by Larry Nasser.