THE BOOK OF FORM AND EMPTINESS, Ruth Ozeki. A child who, after his father’s death, begins to hear the voices of the objects surrounding him, retreats to a library, where the books speak in whispers and he make friends with other societal misfits. “Clever without being arch, metafictional without being arcane, dark without being nihilistic, The Book of Form and Emptiness is an exuberant delight,” writes the Boston Globe. Aggregated critical reviews, Bookshop.
BEWILDERMENT, Richard Powers. From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Overstory. A widowed astrobiologist hopes to treat his troubled son’s increasing mental health struggles with an experimental…
MY SWEET GIRL, Amanda Jayatissa. An adoptee from Sri Lanka finds her life thrown into turmoil when she rents her spare room to a young Indian man, whom she finds dead in a pool of blood — and then he disappears. Read an excerpt here. Bookshop.
APPLES NEVER FALL, Liane Moriarty. From the author of Big Little Lies. A family of talented tennis players are put under the spotlight when a woman in need appears at their door, only to disappear without a trace soon thereafter. “Funny, sad, astute, occasionally creepy, and slyly irresistible,” writes Kirkus in a starred review…
MATRIX, Lauren Groff. Cast out of Eleanor of Aquitaine’s court, the ungainly and independent “bastardess” Marie de France becomes the prioress of a decrepit abbey, which she will elevate to glory over the course of her life. This clever, funny novel is undoubtedly one of the best books of the year. “Groff has outdone herself with an accomplishment as radiant as Marie’s visions,” writes Publisher’s Weekly in a starred review. Aggregated critical reviews, Bookshop.
It’s only August and yet, in New York City, the leaves are already turning; yellow patches dot the trees lining the Greenpoint street I live on, and at the park, my dog’s paws crunch happily over the thin layer of fallen leaves blanketing the lawn.
Summer is no less a season for reading than any other, but I genuinely believe that the hotter season’s fast-paced novels, which one can read in ten-page chunks while waiting for a friend to meet you for a sunny outdoor brunch, should make way for bigger stories as the temperatures dip. …
FERAL CREATURES, Kira Jane Buxton. In this sequel to the award-winning Hollow Kingdom, foul-mouthed crow S.T. stumbles upon a secret that could save humankind, which is on the verge of total destruction after a devastating virus. “Buxton balances the snarky humor and moving tenderness of her delightful protagonist with genuine tension. Fans of postapocalyptic dangers and witty narration will eat up this charming story,” writes Publisher’s Weekly. Bookshop.
VELVET WAS THE NIGHT, Silvia Moreno-Garcia. In 1970s Mexico City, a beautiful art student disappears, sending her romance novel-reading neighbor and a criminal working for a shadowy political organization on a journey to find her. “A noir masterpiece,” writes Kirkus in a starred review. Bookshop.
THE FAMILY PLOT, Megan Collins. A woman returns to the childhood home where her parents raised her and her twin brother, who disappeared when they were teens, but as she’s walking the grounds she discovers her twin’s skull — split open with an ax. “This is an entertaining as well as chilling tale of family…
THE OPHELIA GIRLS, Jane Healey. A seventeen-year-old girl whose cancer is in remission moves to the grand house where her mother grew up — and survived a tragedy alongside several friends as they became obsessed with pre-Raphaelite paintings, Ophelia, and each other. “A lush, seductive portrait of desire,” writes Publisher’s Weekly. Bookshop.
THE ETERNAL AUDIENCE OF ONE, Rémy Ngamije. In this coming of age novel that Queenie author Candice Carty-Williams calls “a delightful, witty and impeccably funny novel,” a Rwandan moves to Cape Town, South Africa for his final year of law school. Bookshop.
AFTERPARTIES, Anthony Veasna So. A stunning, often funny collection of short stories about Cambodian-Americans in Southern California. The New York Times calls it “witty and sharply expressed.” The New Yorker calls it a “remarkable début collection.” Aggregated critical reviews, Bookshop.
SONGBIRDS, Christy Lefteri. A wealthy widow in Cyprus searches for her missing migrant nanny when police refuse to help. “This well-crafted novel puts a poignantly human face on often invisible migrant workers,” writes Kirkus. Bookshop.
THE SECOND SEASON, Emily Adrian. In a novel evoking the career of Doris Burke, a successful NBA announcer makes a startling personal discovery during an important game, forcing her to reconsider her future. This sensitive, warm, and funny book is one of my favorites of 2021. “Even the sports-averse will be caught up in the drama,” writes Publisher’s Weekly. Bookshop.
A SONG EVERLASTING, Ha Jin. A musician faces spiraling consequences when he performs at a party for Taiwanese secessionists. “Impressive and touching,” writes the Boston Globe. Aggregated critical reviews, Bookshop.
VIRTUE, Hermione Hoby. A young intern at a NYC magazine becomes infatuated with a glamorous couple, but when tragedy strikes, he learns the consequences of his obsession with them. “A delicious meditation on morality, nostalgia, and art,” writes Booklist. Aggregated critical reviews, Bookshop.
THE LIABILITY OF LOVE, Susan Schoenberger. When her rapist grows up to be a famous movie star, a woman is left to grapple with the aftermath of the incident on her life and relationships. In a starred review, Kirkus calls it “a keenly observed, compassionate, and absorbing work.” Bookshop.