The Binti trilogy, winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards, sat on my To Be Read list for too long. This novella drops you right into another galaxy where Binti is the first of her people to receive an offer to attend Oomza University, basically an ivy league college. Accepting the offer requires a huge sacrifice and a treacherous journey. I sped through this quick audiobook, thanks to excellent narration and a propulsive plot. Hear my full recommendation in <a href="https://modernmrsdarcy.com/256-episode/">Episode 256: The perks and pitfalls of omnivorous reading</a> with Cliff Cullen.
For as long as ZJ can remember, his dad has been everyone’s hero. As a charming, talented pro football star, he’s as beloved to the neighborhood kids he plays with as he is to his millions of adoring sports fans. But lately life at ZJ’s house is anything but charming. His dad is having trouble remembering things and seems to be angry all the time. ZJ’s mom explains it’s because of all the head injuries his dad sustained during his career. ZJ can understand that–but it doesn’t make the sting any less real when his own father forgets his name. As ZJ contemplates his new reality, he has to figure out how to hold on tight to family traditions and recollections of the glory days, all the while wondering what their past amounts to if his father can’t remember it.
- by Tayari Jones
From Tayari Jones, author of the New York Times best seller and Oprah’s Book Club pick An American Marriage, comes an intimate, powerful story of two sisters. Identical twins Amelia and Camelia Hall were born with the same face, and that’s about it: By the time the girls were through school, the matching set of names could no longer contain them. Now there’s Cam, whose contrarian streak led her to a career in law, and Lia, who followed more closely in her parents’ footsteps with her dermatology practice and married-with-children lifestyle in Atlanta’s Glenwood Park. But the bond between the sisters is deep and unshakable - Cam serves as the maid of honor on Lia’s wedding day and as her attorney 15 years later, when Lia’s life and the lives of her two teenage daughters are rocked by divorce. And two years after her separation, the dust is finally starting to settle. But in the hazy glow of their first years of marriage, Lia gifted her then-husband a precious, irreplaceable family heirloom, and she decides that now, she must do whatever she can to get it back, starting with breaking and entering. In Half Light, Jones explores the complex, profound bond of family, both the family we’re born with and the family we choose, against the vibrant backdrop of present-day Atlanta.
From the publisher: "Dear stranger… A desperate young woman in Southern California sits down to write a letter to a man she’s never met—a choice that will forever change both their lives. My heart goes out to you, David. Even though I do not know you... The correspondence between Carrie Allsop and David Mayer reveals, piece by piece, the painful details of a devastating affair between their spouses. With each commiserating scratch of the pen, they confess their fears and bare their souls. They share the bewilderment over how things went so wrong and come to wonder where to go from here."
- by Martha Wells
From the publisher: "A murderous android discovers itself in All Systems Red, a tense science fiction adventure by Martha Wells that interrogates the roots of consciousness through Artificial Intelligence. 'As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure.' In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety. But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn't a primary concern. On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as 'Murderbot.' Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is. But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it's up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth."
Some stories in this collection are quick five page reads, and others are closer to 40 pages—all of them make you feel like you're right there in the main character's life. These stories are about love, sex, relationships, work, mistakes and successes. Each story explores the unique predicament of one character, but they flow seamlessly from one woman's life to another, thanks to Philyaw's evocative prose and rich detail. I read my favorite story “How to Make Love to a Physicist” twice through because I loved it so much. Janina Edwards narrates this fabulous collection.
For a short-but-sweeping read, I recommend listening to the audiobook performed by Daveed Diggs. Yetu takes on the role of historian for her people, descendants of pregnant African women who were thrown overboard built a new society underwater. Holding everyone's painful memories is too much for Yetu, so she flees to the world above water where she learns more about the past and the future of her people. Originally inspired by a song from rap group Clipping that aired on This American Life We Are In The Future,” this imaginative fantasy novella presents a powerful allegory.
From the publisher: "Rilke's powerfully touching letters to an aspiring young poet, audio read by Dan Stevens. At the start of the 20th century, Rainer Maria Rilke wrote a series of letters to a young officer cadet, advising him on writing, love, sex, suffering, and the nature of advice itself. These profound and lyrical letters have since become hugely influential for generations of writers and artists of all kinds, including Lady Gaga and Patti Smith. With honesty, elegance, and a deep understanding of the loneliness that often comes with being an artist, Rilke's letters are an endless source of inspiration and comfort."
- by Matt Haig
A book that is “as messy as life” for those moments when you need a little extra encouragement. In a wide assortment of essays, lists, quotes, recipes, and musings, Matt Haig shares his “life rafts,” the things he turns to for comfort and reassurance when he’s feeling low. As someone who has lived with depression and suicidal thoughts for many years, Haig collects snippets to cling to when it feels like life has thrown him overboard, such as an ode to peanut butter toast, 10 books that helped his mind, or an essay titled “Ferris Bueller and the Meaning of Life,” and shares them here with tenderness and wit. Because it’s designed to be read in any order or manner that meets your needs, it’s the perfect fit for do-as-you-wish summer reading.
- by Anne Bogel
Our books shape us, define us, enchant us, and even sometimes infuriate us. Our books are a part of who we are as people, and we can't imagine life without them. I'd Rather Be Reading leads readers to remember the book that first hooked them, the place where they first fell in love with reading, and all of the moments afterward that helped make them the reader they are today.
Members of the Modern Mrs Darcy team rejoiced over this brand new novella from one of our favorite sci-fi authors. With her knack for combining quirky characters with surprising science fiction plots, Chambers helps us step outside the “real world” to examine modern society with fresh eyes. In the first installment of her next series, a tea monk dedicates their life to comforting humans in times of need, until they meet a robot friend with an important question. Endearing and delightful, this novella isn’t just for sci-fi lovers. In fact, Chambers dedicates it to “anybody who could use a break.”
Acevedo's first novel-in-verse won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. Xiomara finds her voice as she pours her soul into her notebook. Every frustration, every harassment, every triumph and every secret is turned into a poem. When she gets invited to share her work in slam poetry club, Xiomara isn't sure if she can keep her passion secret from her strict family. But she soon learns that speaking up and living her truth is the only way to be fully herself.
From the publisher: "A rediscovered classic and international best seller that recounts the gripping tale of a friendship destroyed at the hands of Nazi Germany. In this searing novel, Kathrine Kressmann Taylor brings vividly to life the insidious spread of Nazism through a series of letters between Max, a Jewish art dealer in San Francisco, and Martin, his friend and former business partner who has returned to Germany in 1932, just as Hitler is coming to power. Originally published in Story magazine in 1938, Address Unknown became an international sensation. Credited with exposing the dangers of Nazism to American readers early on, it is also a scathing indictment of fascist movements around the world and a harrowing exposé of the power of the pen as a weapon. A powerful and eloquent tale about the consequences of a friendship—and society—poisoned by extremism, Address Unknown remains hauntingly and painfully relevant today."
This tense and tautly-written novel-in-verse takes place in the short span of sixty seconds. Fifteen-year-old Will gets on the elevator with his brother's gun tucked into his waistband. His brother Shawn is dead, and he wants revenge. The elevator stops on the sixth floor, and Buck enters. He tells Will to check the gun; one bullet is missing. Did Shawn ever use his gun? And then Will remembers: Buck is dead. Another figure from Will's past enters a few floors later, and then another, all connected to Shawn. Each one reveals pieces of Shawn's story, and Will has a decision to make as the elevator reaches the ground floor.