There's a good deal more nonfiction on this weekend's list than usual. But we start off with two novels, one that Seira has been waiting to read, and one that Vannessa started a while back and intends to finish this weekend. As for the nonfiction, we're looking for guidance, knowledge, and a little inspiration during these times.
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
I was really excited to read this new young adult novel a few months ago, but then it got moved to a July 7th release date. At the time that seemed so far in the future, but suddenly, here we are in the middle of June.... Melissa Bashardoust draws on her Persian culture and the mythology she grew up with to craft a story descirbed by Kirkus Reviews as a "feminist fairy tale" that sounds as compelling as this remarkable cover. Princess or monster, a young woman with a curse has dangerous choices to make. Can't wait to start this one. —Seira Wilson
Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
Sometimes you start a book, and for whatever reason, you don't finish it. I was reminded that I needed to move Your House Will Pay back to the top of the TBR pile when I saw it's coming into paperback next month. Described by one reviewer as an unflinching look "into the complex emotions that drive families, violence, and the need to survive," it's even more topical now than when it first published last year. Following the murder of a young black man in Los Angeles, the city is like a powder keg, as ready to blow as it was just before the L.A. riots in the early '90s. A shocking crime will force two young people, Grace Park, the daughter of Korean immigrants, and Shawn Matthews, the younger brother of a girl murdered back in 1991, to confront a shared legacy of violence and of family demons. —Vannessa Cronin
Navigate Your Stars by Jesmyn Ward
It’s June and you will be hard-pressed not to trip over a copy of Oh, the Places You'll Go!, the most clichéd graduation gift for your four- or 40-year-old. (Still love it nonetheless!) I am well beyond my graduation days, ahem, but I plan on reading Jesmyn Ward’s Navigate Your Stars. Gorgeously illustrated by Gina Triplett, this is a book fashioned from a commencement address the two-time National Book Award winner delivered to Tulane’s class of 2018. Like the best of these speeches, this one promises to inspire at any stage of life. That might be a tall order these days, but if anyone can deliver, it’s Jesmyn Ward. —Erin Kodicek
Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt, PhD
I started Biased last year and definitely had ideas sparked by what I read. But I didn’t finish it—this is, alas, a not-uncommon occurrence when you read dozens and dozens of books a year—and so I plan to pick up Biased again this weekend. Spotlighting both personal stories and research data, Eberhardt reveals how unconscious racial bias plays out in everyday life, and also offers tools for how to counteract it. One memorable example she cites is how the Nextdoor app reduced racial profiling among its users who were posting messages about “suspicious” people in the neighborhood based on skin color. Looking forward to expanding my education further this weekend. —Adrian Liang
This America: The Case for the Nation by Jill Lepore
Jill Lepore is a Harvard historian, a New Yorker writer, and the author of These Truths, a single-volume history of the United States that was published in 2018 to great acclaim. At 955 pages, that book was a real doorstop. This America is a slimmer, more focused book. In it, Lepore repudiates nationalism at the same time that she makes the case for our nation and western liberalism. Admiral William H. McRaven recommended the book to us last year. He wrote in part: “The book is, at times, hard to read because the facts expose a history inconsistent with what we were taught in grade school. In the end, however, Lepore makes it clear that for all our past problems, we are still a nation that values equality and justice for all. And, as she writes, anyone who believes in these qualities, belongs in America.” —Chris Schluep
This weekend we will be hunkered down with books to teach, inspire, and guide us.