By Toni Brannagan
The sun is fiiiinally shining, and what better way to celebrate than putting your phone down for a couple hours and lounging in the park with a good book? Luckily, there are a ton of dope new books out this year (or are on the throes of their release date), so I’ve compiled a list long enough to keep you seriously LIT all summer long.
So my reading list is ridic right now, but let’s be real, I’m always down to add more – let me know what you’re reading in the comments below!
1. Not That Bad edited by Roxane Gay
Announced just weeks after The New York Times originally reported on Harvey Weinstein’s crimes, this anthology of first-person essays discussing rape, assault, and harassment isn’t the beachiest read, but completely necessary for the post-#MeToo era. Contributors include Ally Sheedy, Gabrielle Union, Brandon Taylor, and Amy Jo Burns.
Also, anything with Roxane Gay’s name printed on it is automatically categorized as required reading; sorry, I don’t make the rules.
2. The Girl Guide: 50 Ways to Learn to Love Your Changing Body by Marawa Ibrahim
Newly out in the US, this is the book you wish you had when you were a tween and growing hair in weird places and feeling weird feelings and, oh my god, ACNE! Check out Marawa’s blog on our Periodical, about how she accidentally broke her hymen – then go grab her book!
3. Barracoon: The Story of the Last Black Cargo by Zora Neale Hurston
Guys. Do y’all understand how rare it is to get new writing from amazing writers of the past??? This recently published new book by Zora Neale Hurston tells the story of Cudjo, one of the last known survivors of the Atlantic Slave Trade.
When Zora first tried to get the book published in 1931, she was turned down because some were uncomfortable with her account of African involvement in the slave trade, as well as her use of dialect. We’re pretty sure Mark Twain didn’t have the same problem.
4. The Wonder Down Under: The Insider's Guide to the Anatomy, Biology, and Reality of the Vagina by Nina Brochmann & Ellen Støkken Dahl
Being in the business of vaginas, this comprehensive guide to the aforementioned wildly complex part of the body is basically our new bible. Without sacrificing humor, Ellen and Nina will teach you everything you need to know about your down there, from the clitoris to contraception to cervical cancer.
5. You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld
Reese Witherspoon wants you to read this book, and who are you to deny Reese Witherspoon? This book of short stories is filled with characters just as complex and relatable as the protagonists in Sittenfeld’s best-selling novels – cut down to easily digestible, subway ride-sized bites.
6. Ask Me About My Uterus by Abby Norman
Somehow, in the year 20-freakin'-18, women’s health issues are not taken seriously. Whether you’ve experienced endometriosis, chronic pain, or you can sympathize with being dismissed, this memoir will definitely inspire you to speak up.
7. I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made For Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
This debut, out on May 15th, is a compelling, necessary account of growing up a black, Christian, middle-class woman in America. Austin Channing Brown grew up mostly in majority white spaces, beginning with her name, which her parents chose so she’d be more likely coded as a white man on job applications.
In an era of rising hostility towards minority communities, Austin invites readers to confront the failures of society's attempts at racial justice, and the apathy of the white middle class towards injustice.
8. Period: Twelve Voices Tell the Bloody Truth edited by Kate Farrell
OF COURSE, this would be on our list. This collection of essays discusses – you guessed it – periods, and features writers of various ages and across racial, cultural, and gender identities. Periods! Are! Normal! Talk! About! Them!
Writers include Emma Straub, Ingrid Nilsen, our girl Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, and more!
9. Autism in Heels by Jennifer O’Toole
As we have written about on this blog previously, women are often left out of conversations about autism, especially young girls – Jennifer O’Toole was only diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at 35 years old, explaining years of confusion. Out on July 3rd, this prominent autism activist is changing the face of autism, and shedding light on struggling between public and authentic personas.
10. Don’t Call Me Princess by Peggy Orenstein
Peggy Orenstein’s books should be required reading for all parents raising girls – probably boys, too. Now, all her best essays exploring topics ranging from motherhood to princess culture to girls’ sexual pleasure are collected in one cute, very aesthetically pleasing volume!
11. The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner
If the last season of Orange is the New Black left you… let’s just say wanting more, this book is for you! Romy Hall is starting a life sentence at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, and her new reality is the absurd resources (or lack of) provided to her fellow incarcerated women.
12. Sexographies by Gabriela Wiener
After you pick up this exploration of the kinks, obsessions, and messiness that makes up the human psyche, we bet you won’t put it back down until you’re done. Journalist Gabriela Wiener, with the help of first-person accounts, takes us on a journey that investigates immigration, maternity, fear of death, ugliness – but also threesomes. Out on May 29th!