Zibby Owens is the host of award-winning podcast “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books” and author of “Moms Don’t Have Time To: A Quarantine Anthology.”
While summer is coming to a close, there’s still time to squeeze in some more reading before heading back to work and school.
The 15 books listed below are interesting, immersive and powerful. Among the list are a memoir and novels. Themes include immigration and identity; loss and strength; female friendship; sexuality; and race and marriage.
“The Husbands” by Chandler Baker
This feminist thriller by the author of bestselling novel “The Whisper Network” will question the lengths women will go to to get help at home. Nora Spangler is an attorney who also runs the show at home. The story gets really interesting when Nora’s family relocates to Dynasty Ranch, a neighborhood in which men actually help. But is murder involved? What’s the secret? Is this community too good to be true? Reminiscent of “The Stepford Wives,” this fast-paced read will make you think twice before asking your dear beloved to take out the trash.
‘The Husbands’ is also “Good Morning America’s” book club pick for August.
Read along with us and join the conversation all month long on our Instagram account — GMA Book Club and #GMABookClub
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‘All’s Well’ by Mona Awad
In her follow-up to “Bunny,” author Mona Awad’s central character, Miranda Fitch, suffers from chronic pain from an accident that ended her acting career. Her marriage has ended and she’s addicted to painkillers. A college theater director, Miranda is dead set on puttting on a production of Shakespeare’s “All Well That Ends Well.” She also meets three strangers who support the play yet seem to know too much about her. The novel is an examination of female pain.
‘Ladyparts: A Memoir’ by Deborah Copaken
The author of “Shutterbabe,” shares all her pain, both physical and emotional, in this searing look at her life. But Deb doesn’t just stew. She uses her story to shine a light on the plight of other women like her, a byproduct of the current health care crisis, the crush of the middle class and societal issues that make her panic and strapped for resources. Short spurts of statistics break up the dramatic, emotional tale of Deb’s marriage to a man on the spectrum, her many medical odysseys, and how she pulls back in from peering over the window of her office wondering if she should just jump to publishing this powerful, memorable, raw and stunning memoir. By the end, you’ll be rooting for her while wanting to give her a hug.
‘The People We Keep’ by Allison Larkin
April Sawicki, an aspiring songwriter, lives in a small town where she waits tables at a diner and risks failing out of school — then, she snaps. She steals her neighbor’s car and leaves town, arriving in Ithaca, New York, where she settles into a job at a welcoming cafe. As she moves through the world, she writes songs about people she meets along the way and realizes that her home isn’t necessarily where she was born but where she has arrived. Written by international bestselling author Allison Larkin, “The People We Keep” is a lyrical coming-of-age novel that will have you humming.
‘Once There Were Wolves’ by Charlotte McConaghy
McConaghy turns her environmentalist eye on a sister duo from Alaska who travel to Scotland to relocate a pack of wolves. While there, one sister, Inti, falls in love with a man who becomes the main suspect in a crime. Torn between her need to protect him and her precious wolves, Inti must face off against the elements and find the howls inside her. Lyrical, captivating, thought-provoking and thrilling, this immersive read will capture your attention from the first page.
‘Made in China: A Memoir of Love and Labor’ by Anna Qu
Told in the present tense, this memoir by Chinese American author Anna Qu, her debut memoir, highlights the conditions at a Queens garment factory and the impact of working there as a teen. Forced to work at the factory and treated terribly at home, Anna stands up for herself and reports the abusive environment to an office for children and family services. Twenty years later, now working at a startup, she rethinks the past and analyzes what it means to work in America. The book is a modern, insightful look at the often impossible situations immigrants must often do to survive.
‘The Family Firm: A Data-Driven Guide to Better Decision Making in the Early School Years’ by Emily Oster
Brown University economics professor and author of two bestselling: “Cribsheet” and “Expecting Better,” Emily Oster, Ph.D., uses a business school framework based on her time at the University of Chicago to help parents make sense of all the overwhelming data in terms of school, health, activities and more. As a mother of two, Emily also helps navigate the logistics involved in raising kids to assist frazzled parents in making better decisions.
‘Edge Case’ by Yz Chin
A debut novel about immigration, identity and relationships, “Edge Case” is about a female worker at a New York City tech startup who comes home from work one day and realizes her husband has left. She isn’t sure why but wonders if it’s because of the hopelessness of their shared quest to procure green cards or risk being sent back to Malaysia. She hides her husband’s disappearance from her mother, rebuts the advances of a male colleague and searches her mind and her city for traces of the one she loves.
‘The Showgirl’ by Nicola Harrison
Set in 1927, the book follows Olive McCormick, a Ziegfeld Follies wannabe, who moves from Minneapolis to give entertainment her best shot. Somehow, she makes it, then she snags a guy, Archie Carmichael, who quickly becomes her fiancé. But things quickly change. Can Olive share her secret and give up her career to be with the one she loves? Told with colorful descriptions of a bygone era, this captivating relationship tale centered on a strong, independent woman is historical in setting but completely modern in the interior lives of the characters.
‘Everything I Have is Yours: A Marriage’ by Eleanor Henderson
New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Henderson writes a reflection on the powerful intersection of mental and physical illness while watching her husband of 20 years undergo a lesion-filled mysterious malady. Was it the depression, addiction and childhood trauma coming back in physical form? Eleanor has to maintain her own sanity while watching her husband disappear before her eyes. The book is a reflection of love, acceptance and the bounds of marriage.
‘This Will All be Over Soon: A Memoir’ by Cecily Strong
Written almost like an email update from a relative or friend, Strong, the “Saturday Night Live” star and current Emmy nominee, welcomes readers into her inner thoughts as she grapples with her cousin’s loss, her new paramour’s COVID plight, and her own anxiety and depression.
‘Center Center: A Funny, Sexy, Sad, Almost-Memoir of a Boy in Ballet’ by James Whiteside
He’s a principal dancer in the American Ballet Theater. A drag queen. A pop star. And a man in ballet. James Whiteside leaps through his life in this collection of essays about what he has twirled through on his own life stage. The book is a frank examination and celebration of queerness.
‘Getaway’ by Zoje Stage
Pull up the covers! The author of “Baby Teeth” returns with a thriller about two sisters and their friend hiking deep into the Grand Canyon to recover from a traumatic event. But a week away in the backcountry veers off course when their supplies start to vanish and loyalties and friendship are questioned. What will happen next?
‘Seeing Ghosts’ by Kat Chow
A mediation on loss, Kat Chow’s memoir about her mother’s death from cancer and the impact of it on her sisters and father, is a cross-cultural examination of what it means to love and lose. Kat, an NPR reporter in her early thirties, follows her family from China and Hong Kong to Cuba and America as she attempts to reclaim their story and recover herself.
‘The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois’ by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers
Nation Book Award finalist for poetry Honoree Fanonne Jeffers’ debut novel follows an American family from the colonial slave trade era through the Civil War to present day. Ailey Pearl Garfield’s parents’ journeys shaped her identity with her father’s light skin-worshipping, to her mother’s Jim Crow ancestors who survived slavery. Ailey’s own family embodies the tense racial history and as she digs deeper, she’s forced to discover her true heritage along the way, confronting racism and sexism within America along the way.
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