Beacon Press Staff Recommends Summer Reads, 2019 Edition
July 03, 2019
The summer solstice has graced us with its yearly cameo. Time to bask in the warmth and light (and that charming humidity when it gets here) of longer nights! Which means more time to enjoy reading outside! Our staff has some recommendations for the season. Now, we know what you’re thinking: You already have a to-be-read pile that’s about ready to topple over and bury you up to your ears. But another recommendation won’t hurt. Trust us. After you’ve dug yourself out of your book avalanche, you’ll thank us later.
No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know about Domestic Violence Can Kill Us by Rachael Louise Snyder, published by Bloomsbury. Maybe not the perfect beach read, but a riveting, narrative driven book that is oh so important. Not to be missed, even if you do have to read it on the beach.
She Would Be King by Wayétu Moore, from Graywolf. A breathtaking debut about the founding of Liberia, blending historical fiction with a bit of magical realism. Read this anywhere!
The Not Good Enough Mother by Sharon Lamb, from us! A completely unique look at the complex and fraught job of evaluating families, skillfully blending narrative, factual background information, memoir, and even humor. This one you’ll want to read in one gulp, wherever you may be.
—Helene Atwan, director
If you’re an Octavia Butler fan and you’re exasperated with Hollywood blockbusters for showing only the US mainland getting all the first-contact action, crack open Cadwell Turnbull’s debut novel The Lesson. This is the first book I’ve read where an alien invasion takes place in the Caribbean—St. Thomas, actually. Turnbull leans into the influences from Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy and Ursula K. Le Guin’s anthropological approach while spinning a story completely his own that delves into Caribbean history, occupation, cycles of violence, and the complicated mess of different cultures interacting and struggling to find common ground. Extra points if you find all the Butler references!
—Christian Coleman, associate digital marketing manager
The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson starts with a question: Why would anyone want to steal old, dead birds from an obscure museum? The answer is fascinating, complex, and sad.
—Beth Collins, production manager
I have two!
#1: Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams. I read this book expecting to laugh a lot (which I did), but I also found myself so emotionally invested in the protagonist’s journey. For all of my fellow twenty-somethings who are attempting to figure out their lives, only to realize that things are kind of a mess, and for those with the added experience of being a Black woman, this book is an affirming must read.
#2: My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyikan Braithwaite. Funnily enough, my sister gifted me with this gem, but lucky for me, she is not a serial killer . . . I think. Braithwaite’s novel takes place in Lagos where two sisters with a complicated relationship and bond is tested, as older Korede is tasked with the burden of cleaning up her celebrated younger sister Ayoola’s habit of murdering her boyfriends. This dark and surprisingly humorous novel is a combination of crafted writing, witty characters, and a thrilling storyline that is difficult to put down. I would recommend taking this with you if you’ll be stuck in a car, train, or a plane, as it is a quick and engrossing read.
—Maya Fernandez, editorial assistant
Chandler Baker’s Whisper Network is a super timely “workplace thriller”—I don’t know another way to describe it—set firmly in the #MeToo era. A version of the “Shitty Media Men” list begins to circulate around an office, changing the company and a group of friends forever. I couldn’t stop reading this, and it brings up some really tough questions about gender politics at work, but it’s still a great book to read outdoors with a glass of wine (and then text your work friends about after!).
—Emily Powers, associate marketing manager