This year I set out to read only books by womxn and focused on #OwnVoices books by BIPOC, TGNC, LGBTQ, and international writers.
I’m on track to read 50 titles and have really enjoyed most of them. I even read a few by men (still #OwnVoices) that I would recommend (you can read those reviews here, here, and here).
In this post, I want to share with you my favorites, by womxn, just in time for gift-giving season! All of these would be great ideas to give to your friend or family member who enjoys reading #OwnVoices.
One of the first books I read this year, Freshwater blew my expectations away and set a high bar for my reading during the rest of 2018. Complex and unique, this coming of age story is set against a backdrop of Nigerian spirituality and tradition. With strong themes of gender, sex, relationships, identity, health, violence, and more, Akwaeke Emezi shares their journey and I am here for it.
I adore this little book! I’ve read it three times already; it is my book girlfriend. It just really resonated with my own experiences in many ways and I dig Genevieve Hudson’s writing style. The book is genre-defying in that it is part history lesson, part memoir, part biography, part book review, part manifesta, and all homage to Alison Bechdel.
I didn’t write reviews of these books (yet?) but LOVED them. I am skeptical that I could write reviews that could do them justice. I was so ready for the (often very different) tones of these books. Juxtaposing them makes sense to me; I feel both – sometimes in the same day.
Gift Black Queer Hoe to readers who like poetry, readers who don’t like poetry, fans of spoken word, queer friends, your best girl friend from waaay back who is apologetically strong and takes no shit. Also consider pairing this with José Olivàrez’s Citizen Illegal, which is equally amazing.
Gift Heart Berries to friends who enjoy creative memoir, poetic writing, and deep or emotional books; those looking to hear Indigenous womxn’s voices; those who don’t mind books that make them cry.
This is a beautifully written book; Ingrid Rojas Contreras is just a fantastic storyteller. Her characters are fully and meticulously developed and I felt invested in them, their lives, and their survival. It inspired me to learn more about Colombia, its past and present, especially regarding womxn’s roles and rights. An amazing debut based on the life the author.
Gift to: Friends who enjoy historical fiction, creative memoirs, rich character and plot development, coming of age stories. Those looking for Latina/x voices and great writing will not be disappointed.
I read this book very early in the year and was excited by its brave girl lead characters. This alone is reason enough to read the book but I knew it was important to push myself past the initial awe at this story of strength and resiliency. When I did, I experienced an even deeper story of multidimensional characters navigating their lives and attempting to balance tradition with self-realization.
Despite the premise of the book, I found this one fun! One of the strengths of Heng’s writing – and there are many – is her commitment to detail. Her ability to describe this near-future world is rivaled only by her presentation of it; while she is descriptive in her storytelling, Heng also trusts her reader to put the various pieces together.
Gift to: Those who enjoy dystopian and speculative fiction and books that make you wonder what you would do in that situation; those who like family dramas, strong character development, and unique plots.
I haven’t reviewed this one (yet?) but it is an amazing resource. Accessible and pragmatic, the book explains the Black Queer Feminist (BQF) framework and provides examples of it at work.
Gift to: Your activist friends and your academic friends; your friend who runs a local non-profit org doing imperative, yet largely invisible, work for amazing, yet largely invisible, people in the community; you funder friends (with a card stuck inside the cover of your friend who runs the non-profit).
This is another one that I loved and didn’t review. Another one that I honestly got stuck trying to figure out how to do it justice. This book was not written for me and I am sure some of the nuances were lost. But it was one of the most important reads of the year for me. It deserves a second and third reading.
Gift to: Busy readers who dig powerful, witty short stories with meaning; those who enjoy really good writing; readers who like literary fiction with sharp corners.
While Naomi Klein’s book explores only one facet of the effects of Maria on Puerto Rico – disaster capitalists setting their sights on Puerto Rico in its vulnerable post-Maria state – it is an imperative issue to address. Only a brief (although necessary) introduction, the book offers a firm foundation to understanding disaster capitalism, the shock doctrine phenomenon, and how Puerto Rico was susceptible to more than just hurricane damage when Maria struck.
I hadn’t planned to read this one but when I received a copy from the publisher at a conference, I couldn’t help but race through this short but powerful work that feels like having a meaningful and candid conversation with a girlfriend.
Gift to: Queer or TGNC friends, accomplices who appreciate reading #OwnVoices books, friends who like reading memoirs, friends who want to understand more of the nuances of gender identity and non-comformity to established binary norms.
This was the biggest surprise of the year for me. I knew it was going to be good but as one who doesn’t read reviews before I pick up a book, I was pleasantly surprised by the unexpected turns, the complex lead characters, and the surprising plot twists.
I wouldn’t have known about this book if it wasn’t for the author herself reaching out to me and I am so glad she did! This is a case of self-publishing that succeeds. Based on Hawaa Ayoub’s own life experiences, this book is a brave retelling of a girl’s coming of age against a backdrop of forced child marriage in Yemen.
Gift to: Friends who like creative memoirs, stories from international authors, tales of resilience and family drama; those who are passionate about gender equality and interested in understanding (or resisting) traditional gender roles; those who appreciate detailed character and setting development.
Have you read any of these? What are your thoughts?
What were your favorite reads of 2018?
This post contains affiliate links; I write what I like.
Hawaa Ayoub’s chilling debut novel centers on 14-year-old Eve who, after being taken from her home to remote Yemen under the pretense of a temporary visit, is forced into marrying a man over ten years older than her. The story is terrifying, infuriating — and that of Ayoub herself.
The author, Hawaa Ayoub
Eve, a schoolgirl in the UK, is extremely intelligent, has plans to attend university, and is focused on a bright future. Her father takes the family on what he said would be a brief visit to Yemen, the family’s country of origin, but the truth is that he intended for the family to stay. Worse yet, he forces Eve to marry a man much older than her.
The book opens with the terrifying marriage scene with Eve being dragged through the process, begging for it not to happen. From the start of the book, the reader experiences Ayoub’s talent for description and detail. From clothes, to traditions, to smells and sounds, the author’s descriptions of life in Yemen are — frighteningly at times — brought to life.
We follow Eve’s story throughout the next 15+ years. The circumstances she endures are heartbreaking and infuriating: rape, abuse from her father and in-laws, losing her right to education and autonomy. But while our heroine surrenders to her new (temporary) life, she never agrees to it or stops fighting for her freedom.
Throughout her entire marriage, Eve demands to be free. She asks to return to Britain, or at the very least to a more urban center of Yemen or to Saudi Arabia. She constantly schemes for ways to escape the situation and begs for a divorce, all to no avail.
While she is adept at sharing its horrors, Ayoub also provides an honest portrayal of the daily life of a young girl forced to marry. She describes the isolation, the boredom, the repetition of her days, and the relationships with her husband’s family. The conflict and guilt Eve feels as a young woman who enjoys sex but despises the situation she’s been forced into is described as only one who has been there can. While a bit protracted at times, I appreciated these candid reflections. Ayoub is particularly skilled at providing her readers insights into the dichotomies of Yemen: experiencing a beautiful land surrounded by strong traditions and people but all the while being held prisoner there where the traditions are particularly vicious towards women and girls.
After 19 years in Yemen, Hawaa Ayoub now lives in London and shares her story to help fight against child marriage in Yemen and throughout the world.
Rich and descriptive, When a Bulbul Sings is an important book that candidly describes one girl’s harrowing experiences being forced into marriage and her seemingly unending drive for freedom. The book is well-written and well-edited. I highly recommend it to those fighting violence against women and girls, those who enjoy reading international women writers, and those interested in creative non-fiction and memoirs.
Welcome to the October 2018 New Reads for the Rest of Us!
With these monthly lists, I aim to amplify the books written by those who are historically underrepresented including, but not limited to: womxn, women of color, women from the Global South, women who are Black, Indigenous, dis/abled, queer, fat, immigrants, Muslim, sex-positive, and more. My lists meant to be intersectional, feminist, and trans-inclusive. I also want to highlight books by gender non-conforming people (who may or may not be described by the term “womxn”).
If you’d like to learn more about which books I focus on, see my Review Policy. These are just guidelines and I reserve the right to include (or not!) any books I see fit. I usually add to this list as I learn of others; if you have a suggestion, please share it in the comments below!
So here’s the October 2018 New Reads for the Rest of Us list. These lists are getting long; I may have to start dividing them up! There are so many great titles here, which will you read??
Tags: Memoir, Native American (Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes), women writers, family, adoption, #OwnVoices
University of Nebraska Press, 352 pages
“One Salish-Kootenai woman’s journey, this memoir is a heart-wrenching story of finding family and herself, and of a particularly horrific time in Native history. It is a strong and well-told narrative of adoption, survival, resilience, and is truthfully revealed.”–Luana Ross (Bitterroot Salish), codirector of Native Voices Documentary Film at the University of Washington and author of Inventing the Savage
Tags: Women writers, memoir, Native American (Crow Creek Sioux), education, Indian studies
University of Nebraska Press, 232 pages
“As a Native intellectual and a Dakota intellectual, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn constructs indigeneity as well as her own life while deconstructing U.S. settler-colonialism. She is one of the world’s experts on the subject area, which gives the subjective text a solid foundation. The book is beautifully written, poetic, lyrical, a signature style. It is truly a brilliant work.”–Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, winner of the American Book Award
“Lorna has travelled around the world to produce this collection of illustrations of street art in urban landscapes. Visiting London, Bristol, Helsinki, Berlin, Cairo, Bethlehem, New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Christchurch, Melbourne, Painted Cities demonstrates how the architecture shapes the unique street art in each city and tells the story of the painters and people who live there.”–Description
“Fiction. Latinx Studies. Women’s Studies. Translated from the Spanish by Suzanne Jill Levine and Aviva Kana. A fairy tale run amok, The Taiga Syndrome follows an unnamed female Ex-Detective as she searches for a couple who has fled to the far reaches of the earth.”–Description
Tags: Memoir, women writers, politics, Kenya, history
Potomac Books, 288 pages
“Prudence Bushnell’s name is not household familiar—but it should be. She was at the center of one of the most infamous terrorist attacks on American people and property in history. And she was a woman in the highest ranks of the State Department when such a thing was rare. She tells her story with integrity and intelligence—and gives lessons on leadership based on life experience.”–Barbara Kellerman, James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School
Tags: Adoption, Korea, family, women writers, memoir, #OwnVoices
Catapult, 240 pages
An Indies Introduce Pick
The Rumpus, What to Read When You’ve Made It Halfway Through 2018
The Millions, Most Anticipated in the Second Half of 2018
“In her memoir, All You Can Ever Know, Nicole Chung takes the qualities that make her writing sing―warmth, inquisitiveness, and deep personal investment in the words she types―and turns them inward. Her debut is an investigation into her past in which she aims to leave no stone―or emotion―unturned.”–Shondaland
“The artful, profound, and sometimes funny stories Gay chose for the collection transport readers from a fraught family reunion to an immigration detention center, from a psychiatric hospital to a coed class sleepover in a natural history museum. We meet a rebellious summer camper, a Twitter addict, and an Appalachian preacher—all characters and circumstances that show us what we ‘need to know about the lives of others.'”–Description
“Lively, compelling . . . the raw, informal approach to the subject matter will highly appeal to young people who crave understanding and validation . . . This highly readable and vital collection demonstrates the multiplicity of ways that mental health impacts individuals.”–Kirkus Reviews
Tags: Memoir, women writers, immigration, Latinx, #OwnVoices
Atria, 336 pages
“Candid and emotionally complex, Grande’s book celebrates one woman’s tenacity in the face of hardship and heartbreak while offering hope to other immigrants as they ‘fight to remain’ and make their voices heard in a changing America. A heartfelt, inspiring, and relevant memoir.”–Kirkus Reviews
“Reyna Grande’s A Dream Called Home is a moving memoir about building a family, becoming a writer, and redefining America. Writers in need of inspiration should read this book.”–Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times bestselling author of The Sympathizer
Tags: Dance, history, feminism, women writers, biographies
Counterpoint, 336 pages
“Zemeckis has once again given us a fascinating history of entertainment, a bold story of two brave women and the origins of the fan dance. A page-turning time machine to another era. Don’t miss it.”–Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants
Footprints in the Dust: Nursing, Survival, Compassion, and Hope with Refugees Around the World by Roberta Gately
Tags: Women writers, globalization, politics, activism
Pegasus Books, 304 pages
“Roberta Gately calls herself nurse, a humanitarian aid worker, and a writer. To that list I would add hero. Her willingness to step outside herself, to see and feel the pain of others is as inspiring as it is admirable. Gately nimbly uses tools of a novelist to tell this story, and as a result, the people she writes about spring fully to life in our imaginations. Here is a book filled with compassion, wisdom and yes, grace. Read it and weep.”–Yona Zeldis McDonough, author of The House on Primrose Pond
Tags: Nonfiction, politics, Black women, women writers, #OwnVoices
“For Colored Girls is basically part history book and part biography but wholly significant. I’m so glad this book exists because the stories of these 4 women, who were instrumental in so many moments of history needed to be told. I’m honored that we can take a sip of their life tea in this way, because what they’ve done and been a part of are the watershed moments of this nation’s contemporary politics. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s super juicy. The transparency of The Colored Girls as they tell their stories, is admirable. Thank you for showing Black girls and women, that we too belong in the rooms we’re in.”–Luvvie Ajayi, New York Times-bestselling author of I’M JUDGING YOU: The Do-Better Manual
“A true spiritual seeker must eventually search inside her own self. This Zainab Salbi does with great consistency and courage in Freedom Is an Inside Job. Sharing her discoveries with determination and resolve, she demonstrates what is possible for anyone who sincerely desires to be part of a new imagination for changing the world.”–Alice Walker,author of The Color Purple and The World Will Follow Joy
“Good and Mad is Rebecca Traister’s ode to women’s rage—an extensively researched history and analysis of its political power. It is a thoughtful, granular examination: Traister considers how perception (and tolerance) of women’s anger shifts based on which women hold it (*cough* white women *cough*) and who they direct it toward; she points to the ways in which women are shamed for or gaslit out of their righteous emotion. And she proves, vigorously, why it’s so important for women to own and harness their rage—how any successful revolution depends on it.”–BUZZFEED
“Readers of all ages, across the globe and socioeconomic spectrum, can find an icon to look up to within these pages. Filled with strength, this collection is incredibly inspiring and will instill in teens a take-charge attitude and powerful mind-set.”–School Library Journal, Starred Review
Tags: Violence, Illinois, addiction, #OwnVoices, women writers
“A riveting, raw, and brutally honest portrayal of a roller-coaster street life fueled by gang violence and drug addiction; a real page-turner that sucks you in from the get-go and takes you on an adventure you can only imagine in your wildest dreams. Awe-inspiring and nothing short of a miracle, Bianca is a force to be reckoned with and an unlikely heroine and role model. She has proved that nothing is impossible and it’s never too late.”–Vera Ramone King, author of Poisoned Heart
“Microaggressions are brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership (e.g., race, gender, culture, religion, social class, sexual orientation, etc.). These daily, common manifestations of aggression leave many people feeling vulnerable, targeted, angry, and afraid. How has this become such a pervasive part of our social and political rhetoric, and what is the psychology behind it?”–Description
Tags: Black women, poetry, women writers, #OwnVoices
Atria, 256 pages
“Presented in both English and Spanish, Alice Walker shares a timely collection of nearly seventy works of passionate and powerful poetry that bears witness to our troubled times, while also chronicling a life well-lived.”–Description
“This book is truly special. Not only do the authors present the problems, but they also offer potential solutions and inspirational tools that are so crucial in driving the conversation forward. Their charming tone combined with the incisively detailed breakdown of all the ways in which the patriarchy affects women make Unladylike a must-read.”–Morgan Jerkins, author of This Will Be My Undoing
Tags: Violence, education, women writers, #OwnVoices, Florida, journalism
Crown Books for Young Readers, 272 pages
“A journalistic look at the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and the fight for gun control–as told by the student reporters for the school’s newspaper and TV station.”–Description
“To fight for her future, she must first discover the magic of her past
Once great and powerful sorcerers, the Amasiti were hunted to the brink of extinction by the Hir and his followers. For four hundred years, their legacy faded from memory waiting for the hope of Aferi to be renewed…
In the Land of Yet
At the edge of the Forbidden Forest
A young woman lives alone.”–Description
The Broadcast 41 is a must-read book for media scholars who want to understand the historical origins of entertainment media as a powerful reinforcer of sexism, racism and classism in American culture.–Caroline Heldman, Associate Professor of Politics, Occidental College
Tags: Native American, YA, romance, race, #OwnVoices, women writers
Candlewick Press, 304 pages
“New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith turns to realistic fiction with the thoughtful story of a Native teen navigating the complicated, confusing waters of high school — and first love.”–Description
“The Long Term is a powerful collection of voices, curated and edited by a powerful line-up of veteran organizers and radical thinkers. The writers in this collection make a compelling and eloquent case against ‘the prison nation’ and give us a glimpse of the resistance and the alternatives that are already in the works.”–Barbara Ransby, historian, writer, activist and Distinguished Professor of African American Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, and History at the University of Illinois at Chicago
Tags: Debut, women writers, queer, short stories, women of color
“White Dancing Elephants is a searing and complex collection, wholly realized, each piece curled around its own beating heart. Tender and incisive, Chaya Bhuvaneswar is a surgeon on the page; unflinching in her aim, unwavering in her gaze, and absolutely devastating in her prose. This is an astonishing debut.”–Amelia Gray, author of Isadora
“Gender and racial politics were at the center of the 2016 US presidential contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Contributors to the volume examine the ways that gender and racial hierarchies intersected and reinforced one another throughout the campaign season.”–Description
“How do you imagine trans liberation while living in a cis world? On My Way To Liberation follows a gender nonconforming body moving through the streets of Chicago. From the sex shop to the farmers market, the family dinner table to the bookstore, trans people are everywhere, though often erased. Writing towards a trans future, H. Melt envisions a world where trans people are respected, loved and celebrated every day.”–Description
Tags: Lesbian, queer, US history, literary criticism, women writers, feminism
University of North Carolina Press, 241 pages
“In this essential study of southern literature, Jaime Harker uncovers the complex networks of affiliation, sometimes antagonistic and sometimes loving, that shaped southern lesbian feminism, and the rich literary archive that women in these networks produced. A must-have for any reader.”–Michael Bibler, Louisiana State University
Tags: Gender, anthropology, women writers, nonfiction
Polity, 120 pages
“Taking on the long brewing battle between true democracy and the pervasive ‘ghost’ of patriarchy, this compact book exists in a category of its own. The voices of its authors are accessible, incisive and engaging – the perfect book to launch almost any conversation about our current socio-political times.”–Jill Gentile, author, Feminine Law: Freud, Free Speech, and the Voice of Desire
Tags: Humor, essays, Black women, women writers, #OwnVoices
Plume, 336 pages
“Phoebe Robinson brings her infectious charm and utterly delightful sense of humor to her second essay collection, Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay. From body image to contemporary feminism to our culture of overwork, Robinson offers deft cultural criticism and hilarious personal anecdotes that will make readers laugh, cringe, and cry. Everything may indeed be trash but writing like this reminds us that we’re gonna make it through all the terrible things with honesty, laughter, and faith.”–Roxane Gay, New York Times bestselling author
Tags: Translation, women writers, Portugal, historical fiction, literary fiction, queer
AmazonCrossing, 205 pages
“In Your Hands is another work in the fine tradition of European literature. Told from a definite feminist perspective it focuses on the inner feelings of its principal characters, each a finely drawn and vital woman as they navigate the turbulent times of twentieth-century Portugal.”–Writers & Readers Magazine
“By forcefully interrogating the problematic notion of the Rainbow Nation, and by daring to address the broken promise of an ANC in dire need of strong leadership, Memoirs of a Born Free is a must read—a book that reveals just how inadequate political freedom without socio-economic freedom truly is.”–Independent Online (South Africa)
Tags: Music, Black women, women writers, #OwnVoices, memoirs
Atria Books, 272 pages
“Tina Turner—the long-reigning queen of rock & roll and living legend—sets the record straight about her illustrious career and complicated personal life in this eye-opening and compelling memoir.”–Description
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 368 pages
“[T]ruly intersectional and…a useful guide for activists inspired by this work…A smart, honest, and comprehensive education on movement building and menstrual rights.”–Kirkus, starred review
“If you’re looking for a way to turn your anger about gender inequality into action, this book is a must read. You’ll learn a great deal about menstrual inequities and the intersectional impacts created because of our failure to address them. This is a how-to handbook on what you can do to change that.”–Former state Senator Wendy Davis
“Most writers hide in memoirs, sharing little real stories. With generous openhearted honesty, courage, and compassion, Soloway invites us to hear true stories. They share the difficult painful revelations, triumphs, and failures. Listening to them, readers laugh, cry, love, and most important, learn.”–bell hooks
Tags: Nonfiction, work, women writers, Black women, US history
Univ Of Minnesota Press, 176 pages
“Thursdays and Every Other Sunday Off is an exploration of the lives of African American domestic workers in cities throughout the United States during the mid-twentieth century. With dry wit and honesty, Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor relates the testimonies of maids, cooks, child care workers, and others as they discuss their relationships with their employers and their experiences on the job.”–Description
Tags: YA, Islam, racism, family, identity, women writers
HarperCollins, 320 pages
“Mafi tackles the life of an American Muslim teenager in the wake of 9/11 in this visceral, honest novel. Shirin’s captivating story opens a window onto a different narrative than the one typically dominating airwaves after 9/11. Rich characters, incisive writing, and a powerful story will thrill readers.”–Booklist (starred review)
What We Owe by Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde and Elizabeth Jane Clark Wessel (Translator)
Tags: Literary fiction, family, women writers, translation, Iran
Mariner Books , 208 pages
“I read this ferocious novel in one sitting, enthralled by the rage of its narrator. Nahid confronts her own suffering with dark humor and noisy honesty, while taking aim at a patriarchal tradition that expects her to be silent.”–Leni Zumas, author of Red Clocks
Tags: Education, women writers, Chicago, US history, #OwnVoices
“…Ewing gives direct voice to those served by those schools often dismissed as failing. What she finds is that these schools are often among the last working institutions in neighborhoods which have been systematically stripped of everything else. Mixing history, sociology, and even memoir, Ghosts in the Schoolyard is an important addition to any conversation about the future of public schools and those they were designed to serve.”–Ta-Nehisi Coates
Tags: Politics, Chicago, US history, women writers, education
University of North Carolina Press, 344 pages
“This is a brilliant and necessary expose of a collision that we all know too little about. Using Chicago as a case study, Elizabeth Todd-Breland shares the devastating collision between Black community-based education reformers and corporate education reformers since the 1960s. Black education organizing comes alive–and fights on and on against all odds–in this expertly framed and vividly told book.”–Ibram X. Kendi, National Book Award winning author of Stamped from the Beginning
“Wedding bells are ringing for Kat Morehart―just not her own. When the church she works for refuses to let a gay couple marry in the sanctuary, she aims to make it up to them by offering her home as the perfect venue. Caterer Wendy Archer enjoys the business Kat directs her way and their friendship even more. As they work together to create the perfect setting for the wedding, Kat and Wendy struggle to fight what simmers between them.”–Description
Tags: Lesbian, women writers, science fiction, romance
Bella Books, 304 pages
“What is terrorizing a nature preserve near a small town in rural Idaho? Half the town believes it’s the Lake Lowell Ghost and the rest are convinced it’s a diabolical beast. With no end in sight, they need help. Can two women work together when one faces east toward logic and the other faces west toward the realm of impossibility? In an age where science and facts rule, blind trust can be a lot to ask of anyone.”–Description
“The Mental Load, a feminist comic by Emma, takes readers on a journey of awakening that is at once delightfully whimsical and frustratingly serious. The graphic stories take aim at the way women’s unpaid caregiving and labor is invisible, undervalued and expected at home, and how it shapes and limits their experiences and career trajectories at work. An eye-opening gem.”–Brigid Schulte, award-winning journalist, author of the New York Times bestselling Overwhelmed: Work, Love & Play when No One has the Time
Tags: China, women writers, short stories, #OwnVoices
“With insight, compassion, and clarity, May-lee Chai vividly illustrates the reverberations of migration―both physical and psychological; between countries, cities, and generations; and within families and individuals. You won’t forget these characters.”–Lisa Ko, author of The Leavers, finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction
“As an unapologetic fan of a great rom-com, This is Kind of an Epic Love Story gave me all I was looking for, including the one thing that’s challenging to find—a beautiful LGBTQ love story. Kheryn’s novel is hopeful, romantic, and everything my gay heart needed!”–Angelo Surmelis, author of The Dangerous Art of Blending In
My new book release lists are undergoing a name change!
Welcome to New Reads for the Rest of Us for July 2018.
I updated the title to better represent my purpose for these lists. You’ll be able to read more about this soon in a new post and an updated values statement but for now, just know that I will continue to offer you all the latest titles by womxn writers. (You might also notice that I added additional info about each title including tags and page counts.)
Essentially, I aim to amplify the books written by those who are historically underrepresented including, but not limited to: women of color, women from the Global South, women who are black, indigenous, disabled, queer, fat, immigrants, Muslim, sex-positive, and more. My lists are intersectional, feminist, and trans-inclusive. I also want to highlight books by gender non-conforming people (who may or may not be described by the term “womxn”).
So here’s July’s list! There are so many great titles here, which will you read??
Tags: South Africa, women writers, biography, #OwnVoices, Black women, Mandela
Jacana Media, 224 pages
“The idea to gather the memories of those who served Madiba into a book came from an understanding that most people in South Africa, and those around the world, knew him as an icon; as a public figure. It was important to me that the stories of those close to him be published so that fifty years from now, even a hundred years from now, when future generations want to know who Nelson Mandela was, they would not only be told the story of the head of state, but they would be able to read the story of a human being with a caring heart and generous soul.“–Mrs. Graça Machel
Tags: Historical fiction, World War II, Turkey, Jewish women, women writers
Amazon Crossing, 316 pages
“World War II scattered families across the globe, with only the luckiest remaining together in their new homes. In this poignant, timely novel, we meet the Jewish scientists who move from Germany to Istanbul to develop their vision of the world’s best universities. Based on the true story of neuropathologist professor Philipp Schwartz, Without a Country tells the story of one family’s migration, with all the challenges and triumphs of laying down roots in a new land.”–Gabriella Page-Fort (editor)
“Using an intersectional approach, Marriage, Divorce, and Distress in Northeast Brazil explores rural, working-class, black Brazilian women’s perceptions and experiences of courtship, marriage and divorce. In this book, women’s narratives of marriage dissolution demonstrate the ways in which changing gender roles and marriage expectations associated with modernization and globalization influence the intimate lives and the health and well being of women in Northeast Brazil. Melanie A. Medeiros explores the women’s rich stories of desire, love, respect, suffering, strength, and transformation.”–Description
Tags: Child marriage, Yemen, #OwnVoices, debut, women writers
Hawaa Ayoub, 402 pages
Hawaa Ayoub, author of When a Bulbul Sings, has experienced the traumas of forced child-marriage first hand. She hopes to raise awareness through writing about child-marriage.
This is a story about the inequality, injustice and violations of human rights millions of girls around the world face due to their gender when forced or entered into underage marriage as child brides.”–Description
Tags: Plays, Michigan, black women, #ownvoices, women writers
Theatre Communications Group, 240 pages
“Detroit ’67 is Morisseau’s aching paean to her natal city. . . . A deft playwright, Morisseau plays expertly with social mores and expectations. She also reframes commonplace things so that we see them in new light.”–StarTribune on Detroit ’67
“A deeply moral and deeply American play, with a loving compassion for those trapped in a system that makes sins, spiritual or societal, and self-betrayal almost inevitable.”–The New York Times on Skeleton Crew
“In Don’t Let Them See Me Like This, Jasmine Gibson explores myriad intersectional identities in relation to The State, disease, love, sex, failure, and triumph. Speaking to those who feel disillusioned by both radical and banal spaces and inspired/informed by moments of political crisis: Hurricane Katrina, The Jena Six, the extrajudicial executions of Black people, and the periods of insurgency that erupted in response, this book acts as a synthesis of political life and poetic form.”–Publisher description
“An enchanting evocation of the brilliant Mughal Empire and a tender tribute to India’s first female leader. Lush and sensuous, a jewel box of a book.”–Rosalind Miles, author of Who Cooked the Last Supper? The Women’s History of the World
“This is an outstanding book, not only incredibly important but also a fabulous piece of writing. Here, India’s greatest empress is reborn in all her fascinating glory in a luminescent account of her life and times. Ruby Lal has written a classic―one of the best biographies to come out this year and certainly the best ever of Nur Jahan.”–Amanda Foreman, author of The World Made by Women
“What a book! Gologorsky is at her best, weaving a tapestry of the lives of very real people, people whose lives deserve her care, her unsparing eye, and her compassion. Here is a story that cuts to the core of the way things are, and the way they can — all of a sudden — become. You heart might be ripped out by this book, but it will get placed back inside with a larger capacity to love and beat on — what a book, indeed.”–Elizabeth Strout, author of My Name is Lucy Barton and Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge
Tags: China, women writers, memoir, Taiwan, history
Columbia University Press, 480 pages
“The Great Flowing River is one of the great memoirs of modern China. Telling the story of one woman’s odyssey through the twentieth century, this is not just a deeply moving account of Chi Pang-yuan and her family, but a window into how the Chinese people came through the trauma of war and turmoil, and created a new set of civilized values in their aftermath.”–Rana Mitter, author of Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937-1945
“This is a memoir of epic proportions. Chi’s work is a testimony of this tremendous historical period that is the long twentieth century for the Chinese and the Taiwanese peoples. The English translation of this epochal memoir is most certainly significant.”–Letty Chen, author of Writing Chinese: Reshaping Chinese Cultural Identity
Tags: Feminism, memoir, essays, art, women writers
Coffee House Press, 132 pages
“This small and beautiful book about feminism and motherhood and art is perfect for those of us who like thinking outside of the box when we’re looking for something lovely to read.”–Vulture
“. . . Fusselman bounds with great dexterity from theme to theme—covering topics including addiction, motherhood, gender, and art—until she has transformed the traditional essay into something far wilder and more alive.”–Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Last year author Sheena Kamal introduced readers to Nora Watts in what Kirkus called ‘a searing debut’ in their starred review for The Lost Ones. […] Now Kamal returns with her highly-anticipated follow-up, It All Falls Down and the brilliant, fearless, deeply flawed Nora Watts is back and in deadly trouble…”–Publisher’s description
“Kamal laces her narrative with a palpable melancholy, effectively capturing the urban decay of Detroit while emphasizing the vibrancy and hope of the people who inhabit it. An explosive finale…sets the stage for more to come from this complicated, flawed, and utterly enthralling heroine. A stunning, emotionally resonant thriller.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred)
Tags: Queer, pansexual, bisexual, genderqueer, urban fantasy
Less Than Three Press, ebook (30k words)
“In Temperance City, the streets are ruled by spelled-up gangsters, whose magic turf wars serve as a constant backdrop to civilian life. With magic strictly regulated, Eli Coello—whip-smart jewelry salesman by day, sultry torch singer by night—has always found it advantageous to hide his magical affinity for ink.
All that goes up in smoke the day Eli is forced to use his magic to foil a jewelry heist, and in doing so unwittingly catches the eye of Duke Haven, leader of the fire-flinging Pyre gang. Seeing a useful asset, Duke promptly blackmails Eli into providing unregistered spellwork.
Duke needs Eli’s ink-magic to help him pull a dangerous con against a rival gang. As the heist comes together, Eli finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into the Temperance underworld—and, perhaps most dangerously, to Duke himself.”–Description
Tags: Puerto Rico, Latinx women, debut, #ownvoices, short stories, women writers
Feminist Press, 200 pages
“Wise, ferocious, and beautifully executed, these tales trace the tangled roots of trauma and desire.”–Patricia Engel, author of The Veins of the Ocean
“An insightful look into girlhood, race, and the wounds of growing up, Love War Stories is a searing collection. Rodriguez has a rare gift for describing the minutiae of contemporary life, the heartaches as well as the dangers, without flinching.”–Mark Haber, Brazos Bookstore
Tags: Politics, social justice, non-fiction, women writers
Melville House, 224 pages
“For too long, a privileged, pale, male minority have long claimed to speak for America. But as Onnesha Roychoudhuri shows, they are in fact profoundly out of touch with a society that’s increasingly progressive and diverse. This book is a clear-eyed pep talk for those who stand on the brink of despair and a welcome reminder that a new, true majority has the potential to rise up and change the world.”–Astra Taylor, author of The People’s Platform
“We have the numbers, strength, and vision to beat back the resurgent right and set a new people’s agenda. But it won’t happen until we start telling new stories about change, shedding the tired ones that have silenced and demoralized us. This book is a daring intervention to get us back in the game—and a witty, delightfully personal meditation on collective power.”–Naomi Klein, author of No Is Not Enough and This Changes Everything
“Moshfegh has a keen sense of everyday absurdities, a deadpan delivery, and such a well-honed sense of irony that the narrator’s predicament never feels tragic; this may be the finest existential novel not written by a French author. . . . A nervy modern-day rebellion tale that isn’t afraid to get dark or find humor in the darkness.”–Kirkus, starred review
Tags: Arab women, women writers, humor, friendship, #ownvoices
Pantheon, 240 pages
“Novelist and memoirist al-Shaykh delivers an elegant story of a friendship that is anything but easy. . . . [The] novel is full of quiet regrets as it speaks gracefully to the challenges of friendship, challenges that threaten to drive the two women apart but that, in the end, instead strengthen their bond. Another winning book by one of the most distinguished Arabic-language writers at work today.”–Kirkus Reviews
“Lebanese-born, Cairo-educated, and London-based, al-Shaykh writes piercingly about Middle East upheaval and especially women in the Arab-Muslim world. Somewhere along the French Riviera, two young women from Beirut—Muslim-raised Huda and Christian-raised Yvonne—reflect on their tumultuous lives and struggles with work and love.”–Library Journal
Tags: Debut, dystopian, immigration, women writers
Touchstone, 320 pages
[T]he novel oscillates between the present and future—a jarring juxtaposition that’s equally touching and heartbreaking… Lim’s writing shines brightest when she’s ruminating on time, memory, and love… A beautiful debut exploring how time, love, and sacrifice are never what they seem to be.–Kirkus
Lim’s enthralling novel succeeds on every level: as a love story, an imaginative thriller, and a dystopian narrative.–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Tags: Michigan, non-fiction, politics, environment, women writers
Metropolitan Books, 320 pages
“The story of the Flint crisis is disturbing enough even if one knows only a few details. But the entire case, as laid out by Anna Clark, is enraging. Clark has sifted the layers of politics, history, and myopic policy to chronicle the human costs of this tragedy. Flint is not an outlier, it’s a parable – one whose implications matter not just to a single municipality but to every city in the country and all who live in them.”–Jelani Cobb, Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism, Columbia University
“Anna Clark’s book on the Flint water crisis rises to a great challenge: it sacrifices neither complexity nor moral clarity. And by etching this story’s outlines in decades of racist neglect, it is not just a splendid work of journalism. It is a genuine contribution to history.”–Rick Perlstein, author of The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan
Tags: Speculative fiction, debut, dystopian, women writers
Henry Holt and Co., 352 pages
“Fans of modern speculative fiction and readers who love stories that warn us to be careful what we wish for will be enthralled by Heng’s highly imaginative debut, which deftly asks, “What does it really mean to be alive?”–Library Journal, starred review
“In exquisitely crafted prose, Rachel Heng gives us a startling look at a version of the world that seems simultaneously wild and plausible. Heng is a bold new talent and a writer to watch.”–Liz Moore, author of Heft and The Unseen World
“What We Were Promised is a big beautiful novel. Lucy Tan’s dazzling debut grapples with the persistence of the past, the inevitability of the present, and the difficulty of balancing individuality with community.”–Hannah Pittard, author of Visible Empire and Listen to Me
“Tan’s talent as a storyteller clearly shines through her strong plot lines and characterization; readers will want to know more about each well-crafted player in the story . . . . A novel of class, culture, and expectations; readers who enjoyed works like Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians will likely find Tan’s surprising and down-to-earth tale an entertaining read.”–Library Journal
Relating Worlds of Racism: Dehumanisation, Belonging, and the Normativity of European Whiteness by Philomena Essed, Karen Farquharson, et al.
Tags: Europe, whiteness, race, women writers
Palgrave Macmillan, 436 pages
This international edited collection examines how racism trajectories and manifestations in different locations relate and influence each other. The book unmasks and foregrounds the ways in which notions of European Whiteness have found form in a variety of global contexts that continue to sustain racism as an operational norm resulting in exclusion, violence, human rights violations, isolation and limited full citizenship for individuals who are not racialised as White.–Description
“Tightly plotted, expertly choreographed…. Stage palpably conveys Suzette’s fear, anger, frustration, and desperation while exploring the deleterious effects that motherhood can have on one’s marriage and self-worth. …Stage fuses horror with domestic suspense to paint an unflinching portrait of childhood psychopathy and maternal regret.”–Kirkus (starred)
“Stage’s deviously fun debut takes child-rearing anxiety to demented new heights. Stage expertly crafts this creepy, can’t-put-it-down thriller into a fearless exploration of parenting and marriage that finds the cracks in unconditional love.”–Publishers Weekly (starred)
I included this one just because… I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
“[A] fierce thriller….de Campi delivers a script packed with righteous femme fatales full of wit and moxie…[and her] masterful writing is punctuated by the coolness of Santos’s block shading artwork and moody coloring; simplistic and reminiscent of the pop art style of the 1950s. Readers will revel in this fast-paced noir, embracing both its elegant period detail and pulpy genre roots.”–Publishers Weekly
“Cuba before the fall has long been a subject of interest in [the crime] genre….[and] Alex de Campi and Victor Santos…both partake of this long tradition and turn it on its head….The gorgeous colors and clean lines of this graphic novel complement the stylish storytelling, for a noir comic not to be missed.”–CrimeReads
Tags: Immigration, Mexico, family, women writers, memoir, debut, #ownvoices
One World, 352 pages
“Crux is everything I want in a memoir: prose that dazzles and cuts, insights hard-won and achingly named, and a plot that kept me up at night, breathlessly turning pages. Jean Guerrero has a poet’s lyrical sense, a journalist’s dogged devotion to truth, and a fast and far-reaching mind. This is a book preoccupied with chasing—that is one of its harrowing pleasures—but, like all great memoirs, it is ultimately a story about the great trouble and relief of being found.”–Melissa Febos, author of Whip Smart and Abandon Me
“Jean Guerrero has done excellent reporting from the U.S.–Mexico borderlands. Now she examines the more mysterious borders of family history and that unknown region of the heart. You will be moved by Crux—this book is powerful and true.”–Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Devil’s Highway
“This is the book I would have written—but only if I had had a brilliant grasp of literature, politics, and history, and the ability to weave them together in a uniquely original way. The Death of Truth goes indelibly to the dark, dark heart of what is ailing our democracy as no recent book has done.”–Graydon Carter
“Kakutani’s The Death of Truth is politically urgent and intellectually dazzling. She deftly goes behind the daily headlines to reveal the larger forces threatening democracy at home in America, and elsewhere around the globe. The result is a brilliant and fascinating call-to-arms that anyone who cares about democracy ought to read immediately.”–Jane Mayer
“An increase in the number of transgender children…means that all primary schools need to ensure they are safe environments respectful of all genders. This book draws on the ‘Gender Respect Project’, which identified the need to address gender stereotyping and gender-based violence with children and young people.
The book is full of lesson plans, case studies, clear guidance and recommended actions as well as further reading and resources. Extending beyond awareness of other genders, this book provides a framework for a gender equality approach in the classroom, and empowers children to think critically about gender and to respect themselves and others.”–Description
“When their daughter Rosie was born, Eric and Stephani Lohman found themselves thrust into a situation they were not prepared for. Born intersex – a term that describes people who are born with a variety of physical characteristics that do not fit neatly into traditional conceptions about male and female bodies – Rosie’s parents were pressured to consent to normalizing surgery on Rosie, without being offered any alternatives despite their concerns.
Part memoir, part guidebook, this powerful book tells the authors’ experience of refusing to have Rosie operated on and how they raised a child who is intersex. […] This uplifting and empowering story is a must read for all parents of intersex children.”–Description
Tags: Jamaica, Caribbean, black women, #ownvoices, coming of age, short stories, women writers
Ballantine Books, 256 pages
“I am utterly taken with these gorgeous, tender, heartbreaking stories. Arthurs is a witty, perceptive, and generous writer, and this is a book that will last.”–Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties
“Stylistically reminiscent of Toni Morrison’s Paradise, this successful debut will appeal to readers of literary and Caribbean fiction.”–Library Journal
Tags: Family, suicide, business, feminism, memoir, women authors, #ownvoices
Little, Brown and Co., 288 pages
“This is more than a book: it’s a phenomenon. It kept me up nights with its urgency and insistence, following Rowbottom, in her masterfully clear-eyed grief, on the hunt for understanding and explanation. JELL-O GIRLS is a heart-wrenching confession, an exacting cultural history and an important and honest feminist story for right now.”–Aja Gabel, author of The Ensemble
“Allie Rowbotton is a talent not to be overlooked! I love this book with all my heart. I couldn’t put down this strangely sparkling cultural and family history.”–Porochista Khakpour, author of Sick
“Motherhood across Borders is a vivid and engaging ethnography about how mothers, grandmothers, caregivers, and children fare when they are divided by, but also connected despite, the U.S.-Mexico border. Focusing on the voices of those directly impacted—people of all ages, across generations, and in both Mexico and the United States—Oliveira provides an intimate portrayal of the ways that motherhood, and caregiving more generally, is shifting in transnational context.”-Deborah A. Boehm,author of Returned: Going and Coming in an Age of Deportation
“Name Me a Word is an indispensable guide for readers of Indian writing, animating the powerful impulses of the country’s famous writers and introducing the multiple voices that have gone into the making of the most important literature of our time.”–Simon Gikandi, Princeton University
“This ambitious collection conveys the astonishing and reflective literary vitality in modern India. Alexander guides the reader through this vast area with her well-written and illuminating headnotes for each writer in turn.”–Margery Sabin, Wellesley College
“In Pretend We Live Here, characters bleed and breathe with a caustic energy that dares the reader to keep pace as they are taken from the Deep South to Western Europe and back again. Genevieve Hudson is a new, coming-of-age voice that spotlights rural America, injecting it with a queer freshness that makes her writing impossible to forget.”–Jing-Jing Lee, author of How We Disappeared
Tags: Sports, Muslim women, memoir, #ownvoices, coming of age, women writers
Hachette Books, 288 pages
Named one of TIME‘s 100 Most Influential People
The first female Muslim American to medal at the Olympic Games
The first woman in hijab to compete for the United States in the Olympics
“Proud is the inspiring story of how Ibtihaj rose above it all with grace and compassion. She provides an unflinching and honest portrayal of how she managed to stay true to herself and still play by the rules. A coming-of-age story, a hero’s journey, and a moving memoir from one of the nation’s most influential athletes.”–Description
Tags: Memoirs, women writers, queer, trans, family, #ownvoices
Bedazzled Ink Publishing, 260 pages
“It is increasingly evident that Eliot is not only autistic, but is also an uncommon girl. Eliot’s mother, Carla, recounts their journey down an unfamiliar path riddled with dismissive medical consultations and mental health referrals to clinics with epic waiting lists. Eliot transitions to Ella, with ambitions of being a trophy wife. Her parents attempt to set limits but Ella, in a typically teenage way, resists anything she deems as trying to squelch her true feminine self. Ella is ‘outed’ repeatedly by teachers she trusted and stops attending school. Carla’s rage morphs into a motivating sense of injustice and she engages in a successful campaign for her child’s civil rights. Carla and Ella are not superheroes, they are just a couple of uncommon girls determined to leave a bumpy road a little smoother for the next travelers.”–Description
“Other, Please Specify illustrates and celebrates the intellectual courage and honesty that are indispensable to truly advance sociology as a discipline and a profession. These deeply engaging and insightful voices will inspire the reader to embrace sociological research without fear and to nurture an academic life with genuine freedom and authenticity.”–Gloria González-López, Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin
“A testament to the power of collaboration, this bracing and timely collection brings together rigorously self-reflexive, politically committed work by a rising generation of queer, trans, feminist, and anti-racist scholars.”— Heather Love, University of Pennsylvania
“The volume describes city spaces as sites where bodies are exhaustively documented while others barely register as subjects. The editors and contributors interrogate the forces that have allowed QTBIPOC to be imagined as absent from the very spaces they have long invested in.”–Description
Tags: Debut, #ownvoices, Colombia, mystery, coming of age, Latinx, women of color, women writers
Doubleday, 320 pages
“A coming of age story, an immigrant story, a thrilling mystery novel, thoroughly lived and felt—this is an exciting debut novel that showcases a writer already in full command of her powers. Make room on your shelves for a writer whose impressive debut promises many more.”–Julia Alvarez, author of In the Time of the Butterflies and How the García Girls Lost Their Accents “When women tell stories, they are finally at the center of the page. When women of color write history, we see the world as we have never seen it before. In Fruit of the Drunken Tree, Ingrid Rojas Contreras honors the lives of girls who witness war. Brava! I was swept up by this story.”–Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street
Tags: Korea, extremism, #ownvoices, debut, women writers
Riverhead Books, 224 pages
“The Incendiaries probes the seductive and dangerous places to which we drift when loss unmoors us. In dazzlingly acrobatic prose, R. O. Kwon explores the lines between faith and fanaticism, passion and violence, the rational and the unknowable.”–Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere and Everything I Never Told You
“One of those slim novels that contains multitudes, R.O. Kwon’s debut novel shows how unreliable we are as narrators when we’re trying to invent — and reinvent — ourselves.”–Vulture
Tags: Black women, queer, mystery, feminism, women writers, series
Harper Voyager, 304 pages
A selection in Parade’sroundup of “25 Hottest Books of Summer 2018”
A Paste Magazine’s Most Anticipated 25 books of 2018 pick
A Medium’s Books pick for We Can’t Wait to Read in 2018 list
“A Study in Honor is a fast-moving, diverse science-fictional Holmes and Watson reinterpretation set in near future Washington DC. As a deliciously intersectional makeover of a famous literary duo it’s enormously satisfying. Clean, clear, and vastly enjoyable.”–Nicola Griffith, Lambda Literary award-winning author of So Lucky
Now, I want to point out that Claire O’Dell is a pseudonym for Beth Bernobich, a middle-aged white woman from Connecticut. Despite the accolades I’ve read about Bernobich’s previous works, I honestly am not sure how I feel about a (straight?) white woman writing black queer women (don’t @ me!). That being said, she is writing queer black women sleuths, a feminist take on Sherlock Holmes they say, so I am not mad about it (yet?). I am very interested in learning more about the author and the inspiration behind this series. I am cautiously optimistic… how do you all feel about this?
What books are you most excited for in July?? Let me know in the comments below!
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