Anyone looking to add last minute books to their summer reading list? Team ATPB shares the books they’ll be diving into this summer. Whether you’re relaxing at the beach or enjoying some time off at home, consider one of our picks!
I wish there were more hours in the day, there are so many beautiful books that I would love to read and re-read. Here’s what’s on my current reading list:
- More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth – A brilliant literary debut by editor and television producer Elaine Welteroth. Every chapter is a thoughtful recounting of her extraordinary personal and professional journey. It is a manifesto for excellence founded on invaluable and bittersweet lessons and experiences.
- The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson – I missed reading this seminal work on the African American migration when it was published in 2010. I was drawn to pick it up after a profound dinner conversation with a white girlfriend two weeks ago. In our conversation she confided that even though she personally comes from a background of abject poverty and family addiction, is relatively highly educated, she was ignorant of the African American experience in the United States and shocked by the systematically caused struggles they endured during this period and beyond. I ordered the book as I drove home and am currently immersed in Wilkerson’s expert storytelling.
- Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown – As many of you know, I just finished my second American road trip. This year my friend Saidah and I traveled from Montana to Colorado. Last year while visiting Yellow Stone National Park, I was struck by something a park ranger stated in response to my goddaughter Maya’s question about Native Americans in relation to the park. The guide was explaining that 26 tribes called the territory covering Yellow Stone their home before the arrival of Europeans. Maya aptly asked whether members of these tribes still lived there, the guide responded that living descendants were not allowed to live in the park but could visit and stay at designated times throughout the year. The injustice of the Europeans’ barbaric stealing of the ancestral homes of the Native American hit me like a punch to the gut in that moment. Standing on the land that once belonged to tribes like Sioux, Blackfeet or Comanche and thinking that they are not free to roam it amplified any lesson I had ever learned in school. I picked up Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee at a certified Native American souvenir shop this summer in Arizona as a way to reset my knowledge of the Native American experience. This work is considered one of the most accurate accounts “of the systematic destruction of the American Indian during the second half of the nineteenth century.”
I don’t know about anyone else but I’m definitely a consistent re-reader and I love revisiting books that have a special place in my heart.
- I’ll be reading award-winning South African author Mohale Mashigo’s The Yearning, a book set in sunny Cape Town. The Yearning shares the story of Marubini, a young black woman with a life that many would aspire to have. But there’s a lot that lies beneath the surface, and this book is a whirlwind ride (and must-read for modern South African literature!)
- White Oleander is a book that holds a special place in my heart and I’ve revisited it many times during transition times in my life. One of the few books I’ve read that delves right into the complex single mother-only daughter relationship dynamic.
- With Toni Morrison’s passing I just feel like I want to immerse myself once again in some of my favorite books of hers: Song of Solomon and Tar Baby.
- I’m also loving Tangerine, by Christine Mangan. Set in 1950s Morocco, it’s a thriller that tells the tale of why two friends go their separate ways, and what happens when they’re reunited. I love how it makes me feel like I’m in Tangiers, wearing vintage dresses and gold jewelry!
I’ll be enjoying these as I end my summer beach hopping from Rimini to Ancona.
- Sula – With the recent death of Toni Morrison, I’ll also be rereading my favorite novel of hers. Sula follows the lives of two black heroines Nel and Sula, from childhood into their womanhood. I read Sula about ten years ago as a teenager so it’ll be interesting to revisit it as I’m approaching the final years of my 20’s.
- Sweetbitter – I had only briefly heard about this after seeing that it was picked up for TV adaptation by Starz. A friend suggested this to me a while back and now that I’ve finally started reading it, I’m hooked. The novel is a young woman’s coming of age story and begins with a twenty-two year old moving to New York and starting a job as a back-waiter. Immediately, you’re thrown into the uniquely chaotic world of being behind the scenes at an elite Manhattan restaurant. I can’t wait to finish so that I can start the tv series which has just started its second season.
I’m spending some time on the glorious beaches in Sardegna, Italy while diving into these reads:
- Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari – This is the sequel to Homo Sapiens and I’ve been reading it over the past couple of months to let the knowledge simmer into my brain slowly and surely.
- The White Album by Joan Didion – 10 years ago I visited Paris for the first time and my dear friend Pierre showed me directly to the Shakespeare and Company bookstore, where I met Joan. This collection of essays is great for travel and is very close to my heart.
- D.V. by Diana Vreeland – I recently picked up this fabulous find at The Abbey Bookshop, a Canadian bookstore in Paris.
- Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison – I saw Invisible Man: Gordon Parks and Ralph Ellison in Harlem at the Art Institute of Chicago a few years back and was inspired to add it to my summer reading list.
- Perfume by Patrick Suskind – This is, as the cover states clearly, “the story of a murderer”. I am already terrified, as a person regularly spooked by my own shadow. The cover fooled me, but it’s always good to try something new, so I’m in it until it disrupts my sleep.
I love reading multiple books at once, it makes me feel like I get a fresh start every other day when I get tired or too lazy to read. This summer I’m hoping to finish these ones, but no pressure. I’m also taking the initiative to stop forcing myself to break up with books I don’t like instead of forcing myself to finish (shoutout to the best advice from my friend Kelsey). It makes reading so much more joyful.
- The Easter Parade by Richard Yates: THIS BOOK. I am obsessed, it’s so easy to read, even though in true Richard Yates form it’s depressing af. It’s a book that tells the story of two New York City sisters over the span of four decades. It’s tragic and heartbreaking but at the same time about living mundane and unfulfilling lives. The book opens with: “Neither of the Grimes sisters would have a happy life, and looking back it always seemed that the trouble began with their parents’ divorce.” So, I think that’s enough to get anyone hooked.
- Source of Self Regard by Toni Morrison: I saw Toni Morrison’s documentary on my birthday earlier this month and it truly changed my perspective on what I could do with my life. She was not only an acclaimed novelist but also edited some of the most important books in history, like Angela Davis’ Women Race and Class. I bought this book earlier this year and planned to start reading in the fall, because it’s dense and I wanted to be cozy. With her passing, I decided to pick it up and start reading it that day. The first chapter is about the need for writers in times of chaos, and it felt like the call to action.
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