This past week, we stopped by the 2018 Book Expo, where dozens (hundreds? thousands? millions?) of publishers, unveil their upcoming rosters and the book world places their bets on what America will want to read in the coming year. While BYT is terrible at high stakes gambling (Aside from that obviously we will ALL read Michelle Obama’s Becoming), here is what, gut check wise, we think you should mark on your calendars and pack into your beach bags, buy people you love for their birthdays and/or just read at your leisure.
Tara Isabella Burton dives in and delivers exactly the kind of book you have been looking for this Summer (and every summer for that matter): a twisty, glamorous, hard-as-nails-but-also-polished, game of murder and identity in a “modern” New York setting that feels like some unholy matrimony between Fitzgerald and Highsmith. Served best with a stiff drink and increased privacy settings on all your account passwords.
Mainly, as we plan to announce our upcoming Death Becomes Us, A True Crime Festival, the premise just seems SO DELICIOUS: “Kim Lord is a giant in the Los Angeles art scene: avant garde figure, feminist icon, and agent provocateur. And her new exhibition “Still Lives” is expected to be just as groundbreaking. Comprised of self-portraits depicting Lord as famous, murdered women—the Black Dahlia, Chandra Levy, Roseann Quinn, and many others—the works are as compelling as they are disturbing, implicating a culture that is too accustomed to violence against women. As L.A.’s richest art patrons pour into the Rocque Museum’s opening night, all of the staff, including editor Maggie Richter, hope the event will be big enough to save the historic institution’s flailing finances. Except Kim Lord never shows up to her own exhibition.” Where is she, what happened to her, who did it?
The author of The Hundred-Year House, is back with potentially her most ambitious project to date, a new-fashioned redemption tearjerker set in the 1980s AIDS crisis, and 2000s Paris, about lives, loves and connections gained and lost.
Set at The Beijing Duck House in Rockville, Maryland, Li’s ambitious, darkly funny novel tells the story of a family losing control, multi-generational (head-on) collisions, of our relationships with our work and our families and, most importantly, the things we try and keep away from the surface.
If you have read any Moshfegh before you will guess that there is likely to be very little rest and relaxation here and you would be right. It’s the year 2000 in a (New York) city aglitter with wealth and possibility; our protagonist is young and pretty and skinny and …. what could be so terribly wrong? This book, perfectly timed for the the opiate crisis conversation that was not happening when it was written, offers a disturbing, compulsively readable answer.
The debut story collection from Arthurs has the likes of literarly heroes like Zadie Smith and NoViolet Bulawayo letting you know you NEED TO READ IT (AND LOVE IT), and frankly with story titles like “Light-Skinned Girls and Kelly Rowlands” and “Mash Up Love”, we can’t argue too much. Add to that obvious spirit and humor the poignancy of immigrant life and love, and this may be the book-club read of the summer we can FINALLY all get behind.
Lisa Brennan-Jobs is Steve Jobs’s and Chrisann Brennan’s daughter and she has written a memoir about, well, what it felt life to be growing up Brennan-Jobs. It is funny (see that title) and poignant and non-sensationalist-though-intimate, and surprisingly scrappy in spirit. Plus, the theme is universal, even is the setting is not: Brennan-Jobs offers a unique, honest insight into disparate worlds every teenager straddles to some extent, only here, amplified.
Gary Shteyngart writes seriously funny books about serious pain and Lake Success, his story of money and an America divided is no different. The cast of characters in this road-trip-to-life-meaning includes as hedge fund manager on the verge of a nervous breakdown, his supersmart first generation wife, and people they left behind and are moving towards. If past Shteyngart’s are anything to go by – you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll laughcry.
Did you know that Nabokov’s Lolita was inspired by a true (crime) story? Weinman, a literary detective of the first order, dives into the 1948 abduction of 11-year-old Sally Horner and the result is both riveting and disturbing, just like the masterpiece it inspired. We’re placing our bets on this being the true-crime read of the second half of the year.
Ellie Kemper provides the PERFECT antidote to the year of our increasing discontent: a free-wheeling, unstoppable, fundamentally optimistic look at life as a woman, actress, funny person. Stories involve offering Steve Carell, a maxi pad, crushing hard on Dave Letterman, falling on Doris Kearns Goodwin and “dressing like a mom” (since she was four). We’re here for it all.
The book’s title may as well be the anthem of making it through 2018, and Robinson may very well be the right tough-talking, hilarious person to deliver us the sing-along chorus. In her new essay collection, she tackles a wide range of topics, such as: giving feminism a tough love talk in hopes it can become more intersectional; telling society’s beauty standards to kick rocks; and demanding that toxic masculinity close its mouth and legs (enough with the manspreading already!), and get out of the way so true progress can happen. BONUS: Phoebe is coming back to our Bentzen Ball Comedy Festival the week after the book is out, so save those dates!
The author behind Killers of the Flower Moon and Lost City of Z is back with a new world for us all to dive into (whether we come alive is another question) – a story of a man’s solitary journey across Antartica, an honorable, brave, obsessed man. Read the New Yorker excerpts here.
A quick, outrageous, funny, dark read about a Nigerian woman whose younger sister has a problematic habit of killing her boyfriends. Just the thing you needed to pack in your bag before you face your family Thanksgiving week.
Tim Johnston’s Descent is one of the most gut-punch thrillers of the past years that also happened to be heartbreakingly, searingly poetic. His follow up is another (inevitably beautiful and terrifying) story about young women, and their communities: “When two young women leave their college campus in the dead of winter for a 700-mile drive north to Minnesota, they suddenly find themselves fighting for their lives in the icy waters of the Black Root River, just miles from home. One girl’s survival, and the other’s death—murder, actually—stun the citizens of a small Minnesota town, thawing memories of another young woman who lost her life in the same river ten years earlier, and whose killer may yet live among them.” We know this one is pretty far out time wise, but save the date.