Books

Rachel is 24 and ravenous; for her mother’s love, for her Jewish faith which she’s strayed too far away from, and for all of the food she’s forbidden herself to eat. She maintains a sense of control by counting calories and going to the gym. But her rigidly structured days fracture when her therapist encourages her to take a 90-day break from her mother. The effort of this estrangement weakens her to Miriam—an Orthodox Jewish woman and new employee at Rachel’s favorite frozen yogurt shop,...
Lona, the main character in Georgina Young’s novel Loner, is just 19, but her plight is ageless. Having recently dropped out of art school, she’s unsure about her career prospects, questioning the point of dating and other social pursuits, and not convinced that art—her own or anyone else’s—is worth anything at all. She drifts in and out of her family, spending time with her best friend when she’s not taking shifts at a grocery store or DJing for middle schoolers at a roller rink, searching...
Like every girl in Otera, 16-year-old Deka must undergo a ceremony which will determine her place in society. It is a test of purity: if her blood runs red, she’ll be allowed to join the ranks of the “pure” women in her community. However, already an outcast by virtue of her skin color, Deka’s blood runs gold and she is deemed impure. She is then beaten, brutalized, and tortured until a mysterious woman makes her an offer: stay in her community, or join the Alaki,...
Everyone I know (myself included) wishes they were a bigger reader. With the world a complete mess right now, in every sense of the word, it’s truly challenging to fight off distractions for long enough to get through a whole novel. So, let’s get back into the swing of things by starting small with some fantastic short stories that encourage a complex, diverse view of the world. Oftentimes, short stories get the short end of the reading stick. They aren't exactly what publishers would consider market-friendly,...
Reese, a whip-smart 30-something trans woman living in Brooklyn, wasn’t always so disillusioned. At one point, she lived in a beautiful apartment right by Prospect Parkwith her girlfriend, Amy—also a trans woman—and dreamed of motherhood. But ever since a traumatic incident compelled Amy to detransition and torpedoed their relationship, Reese has been trapped in a cycle of relationships with narcissistic (and married) men. Her world is thrown for a loop when her ex—now named Ames—comes back into her life with a shocking announcement: Katrina—the woman...
In Nadia Owusu’s memoir Aftershocks, life experiences are like earthquakes. Fault lines break open around the loss of her beloved father, her mother’s abandonment, all the places around the globe she’s lived, the blue rocking chair she hoisted from the street and can’t get out of. Her compact, variously ordered recollections are set in myriad countries due to her father’s job with the United Nations, although both her parents were gone by the time she reached her teens. All the while, Owusu relies on her...
Girl, gurl, grrrl. Three words that represent, according to Kenya Hunt, the “unique love language between Black women, regardless of age.” These terms of endearment acknowledge the shared experiences of Black women, and Hunt’s first essay collection does the same, zig-zagging between merry dispatches from the U.K. premiere of Black Panther to the frustrating realities of renting an Airbnb while Black to the surprising religious alienation of Aretha Franklin’s funeral. The book’s epilogue leaves the American journalist living in London questioning the online eulogies of George...
Standup comedian and Netflix queen Michelle Buteau (from The Circle and Welcome to Buteaupia) delivers a debut essay collection with Survival of the Thickest that’ll have readers cackling devilishly one minute, then ugly-crying the next. Her off-the-cuff, pop-culture-laced humor translates seamlessly from the stage onto the page. While reading, one almost feels like she’s sitting right there, sharing how she unknowingly got roped into emceeing a janky-ass amateur male stripper night in a dive bar in Rochester. Yep, that happened. And while there are...
When author Ijeoma Oluo, 39, went to a women’s writing retreat to pen the follow-up to her 2018 bestseller So You Want to Talk About Race, she found inspiration in the discussions the other women were having about the career struggles they faced. Oluo realized that their experiences all had one common denominator: they had all been manipulated, dominated, and harassed by privileged white men. And in the resulting book, Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America (out December 1), she discusses how this...
Kimberly Drew (left) and Jenna Wortham Now more than ever, the world needs cultural projects that nourish the Black soul. Born out of this deep craving, author and art curator Kimberly Drew and her friend and collaborator Jenna Wortham—staff writer for The New York Times Magazine and co-host of the podcast Still Processing—have created a stunning new visual anthology, Black Futures, out December 1. The book is a compendium of images, photos, essays, memes, dialogues, recipes, tweets, poetry, and more, collected from over 100 contributors over...