This September will likely be full of back-to-school to-do lists and pandemic-induced anxieties for many, especially as the delta variant has made things more uncertain than ever, travel is up-for-grabs and masks are back. So, how can you handle the stress? Read. Pick up any of these fabulously-written books and escape to other lands and times. Head to Sweden, Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, the Catskills, Wall Street, old school Hollywood, Sydney, Turkey, the outer banks of North Carolina, Idaho, Constantinople and even outer space. You'll forget all about school forms as you immerse yourself in other cultures, relationships, mysteries and dramas, all from the comfort of your home -- or wherever you are. What could be better than that?!
'In Every Mirror She's Black' by Lola Akinmade Akerstrom
A beautiful novel that interweaves the lives of three Black women in Sweden and America, this novel -- which Taylor Jenkins Reid says is "sharply written" and will "stay with you long after you've turned the last page" -- highlights what it's really like to be a Black woman today. The story centers around a man, Jonny von Lundin, CEO of a large marketing firm. Kemi, a high-powered marketing and PR exec, is brought in to help him fix a PR disaster. Brittany-Rae becomes the object of his affection. Muna, a refugee, cleans the toilets in his office. Contemporary and vivid, this story will captivate and educate.
'L.A. Weather' by Maria Amparo Escandon
The story of a Mexican-American family, the Alvarados, "L.A. Weather" is a deep examination, both humorous and moving, of a marriage. The patriarch, Oscar, is obsessed with the weather and fears fires are coming. His wife, Keila, decides to end the marriage, a decision that shocks their three grown children: a TV chef, an architect, and a social media manager, who all have issues of their own. This smoldering tale will light up your bookshelf and make you rethink the weather from now on.
'Paper Airplanes' by Tabitha Forney
To honor the 20th anniversary of the attacks on September 11th, 2001, Tabitha Forney paints a vivid, fictitious, heartbreaking picture of what it felt like to lose a loved one on that horrific, historic day. When exec Erin O'Connor's new husband dies in one of the towers, she has to accept the loss and then find a way to move on, which she does. A look into trauma, this story will resonate with anyone who has ever loved and lost.
'Fault Lines' by Emily Itami
A debut novelist, Emily Itami tackles love, marriage, motherhood and more in "Fault Lines." Set in Tokyo, "Fault Lines" follows Mizuki, a happy enough housewife and mom who, at her core, is unfulfilled. When she falls into a relationship with another man, rediscovering her city and herself, she has to confront her own love affair and figure out which path she ultimately wants to take -- and who she really wants to be.
'Friends Like These' by Kimberly McCreight
A literary thriller with many twists and turns, "Friends Like These" follows the success of Kimberly McCreight's previous works, "A Good Marriage," and her debut Edgar-Award-nominated novel, "Reconstructing Amelia," a New York Times bestseller. A group of five college friends gather in the Catskills 10 years after graduation, drawn together in part to make sure nothing else happens to their friend group. Unlike what happened to one of their own years ago.
'The Antisocial Network: The Gamestop Short Squeeze and the Ragtag Group of Amateur Traders That Brought Wall Street to Its Knees' by Ben Mezrich
For fans of bestsellers "Bringing Down the House" and "The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook," Ben Mezrich's latest book will not disappoint. This time, Ben turns his keen, sarcastic and astute eye towards the complicated Gamestop takedown that threatened to topple the establishment. Told as a riveting minute-by-minute investigative account, "The Antisocial Network," will make you feel like you've lived the rollercoaster-like four days of drama that everyday investors incited.
'Forever Young: A Memoir' by Hayley Mills
The child star of Disney classics like "Polly-anna" and "The Parent Trap," Hayley Mills, now a grandmother, recounts her Tinseltown adventures from meeting Walt Disney himself at London's Dorchester penthouse suite to becoming quite close to him over the course of several years filmmaking together. The narrative tracks Hayley's role in her family as she examines her mother's alcoholism and depression along the way. On set scenes, body image confessions, relationship drama, sibling relationships, and the allure of fame make Hayley's story hard to put down. In the end, what truly comes across is how smart and grounded she is.
'Apples Never Fall' by Liane Moriarity
Following the smash hit and TV series "Big Little Lies" and "Nine Perfect Strangers," Liane Moriarity writes another family drama. This one centers on Jane Delaney, a Sydney, Australia native who is almost 70 years old. A podcast listener who hasn't adjusted well to having an empty nest or to her new retirement, Jane enjoys going about her business and hoping her kids call. When Jane suddenly goes missing, her four grown children and her husband, Stan, have to put the pieces together to figure out if her text saying she was "going off the grid" was really her choice. A year prior to her disappearance, a barefoot young woman showed up bleeding at Stan and Jane's front door, maintaining that she'd just escaped from an abusive relationship. Does Savannah have something to do with Jane's disappearance!? Stan, a former tennis coach who ran a tennis academy and camp with Jane, is suddenly a suspect as a pair of detectives sweep in. Told alternating from a year ago to the present from everyone's viewpoint, this riveting thriller will have you wondering what anyone really knows about their family.
'He Gets That From Me' by Jacqueline Friedland
Told from the point-of-view of a gestational surrogate, "He Gets That From Me" follows Maggie, who left home as a teenager and works as a checkout counter clerk. She longs to finish college and live a better life. Although she'd never considered being a surrogate, she gets swayed by the money and the promise of a different future. After she delivers twins, she finishes college and starts to achieve all she ever wanted. Until a phone call comes in ten years later from the fertility clinic that changes everything.
'The Spectacular' by Zoe Whittall
Three generations of women seek out lives that are spectacular, navigating issues of gender, family and love along the way. Twenty-two-year-old Missy is a cellist in an indie rock band who meets a tomboy drummer. Forty-something Carola, Missy's mom, finds her daughter on the cover of a magazine while recovering from a sex scandal of her own. Ruth, age eighty-three, Missy's grandmother, wants to return to her native land, Turkey, but then Missy arrives for a visit. Their stories intersect in a commentary on women's lives and what our relationships can mean.
'The Book of Form and Emptiness' by Ruth Ozeki
Thirteen-year-old Benny hears voices coming from all the objects around the house, a problem exacerbated by his mother's hoarding. Taking refuge from the voices in a library, he meets an interesting cast of characters. He also meets a book that seems to narrate Benny's own life. Written by the Zen Buddhist priest and former filmmaker Ruth Ozeki, this imaginative, immersive novel will change your relationship to material possessions.
'Please Don't Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes: Essays' by Phoebe Robinson
Stand-up comedian, actress and bestselling author Phoebe Robinson is back with her third collection of essays. These hilarious, enraging, thought-provoking and timely pieces will make you think, feel, and, as she says, perhaps pee a little. Phoebe shares her experience running multiple companies, describes her mother's quest to meet Michelle Obama, delves into Black Lives Matter, and her time spent in quarantine. The creator and star of Two Dope Queens, a WYNY podcast and HBO show, Phoebe has also starred in What Men Want, Ibiza: Love Drunk, hosts the podcast Sooo Many White Guys, and launched her own production company.
'Cloud Cuckoo Land' by Anthony Doerr
Anthony Doerr, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of bestselling novel "All the Light You Cannot See," takes us back to fifteenth century Constantinople with his brilliant voice and elegant, unique prose. Then he moves us to present-day Idaho and on to the future on an interstellar ship. His novel is about interconnectedness across time and space, relationships, and how the more things change, the more things stay the same. Anna, 13, takes to reading to her ill sister as Constantinople is attacked. Then, 500 later, an 80-something-year-old named Zeno teaches acting to a group of students when a bomb is found. Konstance, writing the same story that Anna reads and Zeno rehearses, is on a ship having never stepped foot on earth. Doerr dedicates the book to librarians, now and in the future.
'Black Girls Must Die Exhausted' by Jayne Allen
It’s a good thing that this is only the first book of a trilogy, because after getting to know Tabitha Walker, you won’t want to leave her at the end. When we meet Tabitha, she has just found out about her infertility and has to confront her current paramour to see if he’s in. Written intimately as if you’re peering into the mind of a close friend, this book is a true testament to the stresses on women today and how great girlfriends (and grandmothers) are often the key to our sanity.
'Pony' by R.J. Palacio
The bestselling author of 'Wonder' has written what on the outside seems like a nineteenth century adventure tale of a 12-year-boy on a quest to find his father aided by an imaginary friend. But it’s really a story about the meaning of life, what it means to love, the power of family, and even how the magic of photography reflects life in general. It’s a book that will make you feel deeply, surprise you, and take you wandering through the dark haunted woods and into posh Philadelphia life in another era. The one constant? “Love will find its way through the ages."