Staff Reads: July 12

Staff Reads: July 12

staff reads

Do you wonder what the Bookish team is reading? Do you want to take a peek at our bookshelves? You’ve come to the right place. Here are the Bookish staff’s personal weekend reading recommendations. Tell us what you think in the comments!

If you’re still looking for some inspiration, check out our Summer Previews for a look at the best books of the season.

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

I just finished reading Wilder Girls by Rory Power at the recommendation of Kelly’s Pick! As soon as I started reading, I was sucked in by the mystery surrounding Raxter Island and the Tox, and the lengths to which the young women of Raxter will go to survive, save one another, and uncover the truth of what’s happening to them.. The imagery is simultaneously gorgeous and grotesque. It’s not a book for the faint of heart, but I highly recommend it for those who love the darkest sides of fairy tales and don’t mind a little gore. I can’t wait to read more from Rory Power! —Kristina

(Psst: You can read an excerpt of the book here!)

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

I just finished Sarah Waters’ brilliant first novel Tipping the Velvet. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to read this book as I’ve read and loved many of Waters’ other novels. Waters uses both her knowledge of cultural history and her knowledge of literature to bring this evocative and thoughtful bildungsroman to life. While in many ways this is a novel about repression during Victorian-era England and the lives of the repressed and how they either accept their repression or fight against it, it is also a novel of desire, love, and bravery at all costs. Most importantly, it’s the story of Nancy and how she comes to accept who she is and find true love. It’s a simply beautiful page-turner of a novel. —Myf  

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

I’ve visited the NY Renaissance Faire for the last two years, so when I saw a romance novel that was set at a ren faire, I was sold. Well Met follows Emily who has moved in with her sister for the summer to help her and her daughter after an injury. Emily’s niece wants to work at the local ren faire for the summer but needs an adult to volunteer with her. Emily doesn’t have much else going on so she says yes, but doesn’t quite realize what she’s gotten herself into. The faire is run by Simon, whose late brother was the cofounder. Simon immediately singles Emily out because she doesn’t seem to care about the event as much as everyone else. Sparks fly in this hate-to-love romance as Emily and Simon begin to understand each other’s motivations and realize their chemistry as both their ren faire characters and in regular life. This is a slower paced romance novel, which worked for me because it has the backdrop of the faire. Well Met is Jen DeLuca’s debut, and I know that she’ll be a new must-read for me.  —Dana

Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi

One of our must-reads of the summer, this novel follows two high school girls as they find love in each other and start to shape their respective futures. Rachel is an aspiring filmmaker who’s struggling to complete her senior project, and Sana is a cheerleader tired of living her life according to others’ expectations. Over the course of the novel, Rachel learns to let her guard down and to accept help from others, while Sana finds the courage to tell her family about the pressure they put on her. I love a good enemies-to-lovers romance, but this YA really hit home for me in its depiction of teen girls who are unapologetically ambitious. Plus, author Aminah Mae Safi’s nods to Gilmore Girls were wonderful. If you’re looking for a YA romance driven by ambitious heroines taking control of their destinies, this is for you. –Kelly

The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang

Esmé Weijun Wang’s much-lauded essay collection explores what she terms the schizophrenias–the different ways that she experiences her schizoaffective disorder. The most powerful aspect of this collection is how Weijun Wang relates to other people who experience the schizophrenias. Part of her wants to hold on to the ways in which she is fundamentally different from people yelling in the street with disheveled clothes in the throes of a psychotic episode. She is fashionable, pretty, and knows how to do a great red lip even at her lowest moments. She has an MFA. She went to Yale and Stanford. And yet, at the same time, she knows that she isn’t really any different from them at all. And she details the ways in which she is not different–the ways that psychosis has manifested in her life and the delusions she has experienced. The Collected Schizophrenias is beautifully written and deals intimately with what it feels like to have a mind that is so deeply feared in our culture. —Nina

Fence, Volume 2 by C.S. Pacat, illustrated by Johanna the Mad

Earlier this year I started reading the Fence comic series and have since become addicted. This second volume follows the tournament to decide which fencers will make the school team. While Seiji finds himself rattled by an opponent, Nicholas channels his confidence and starts to show off his skills. The tension between them is growing as their faceoff inches closer. I know from C.S. Pacat’s other work that she’s a master at the slow-burn enemies-to-lovers romance. These two won’t be kissing and making up any time soon, and I love it. Meanwhile, this installment also gave a glimpse into Harvard and Aidan’s friendship, and I cannot wait to learn more about it. The third volume won’t be out until August, and I’m counting down the days until I can reunite with these fencers. –Kelly

Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West

It’s summer, which means my TBR is basically all romances and YA contemporaries! The queen of YA contemporaries for me is Kasie West. I’ve read and loved so many of her books, but had fallen behind on her recent releases so I recently picked up Listen to Your Heart. This book follows Kate Bailey whose best friend, Alana, has roped her into taking her school’s podcast class and Kate is picked to be one of the hosts. Kate’s not an out-going person and has to deal with this new spotlight. Alana has a crush on the new boy in school, Diego, and as Kate gets to know him she develops feelings for him too. While recording the podcast one day, they get a caller asking for romantic advice and both Kate and Alana recognize the voice as Diego’s. They are positive that he’s talking about Alana but as Kate spends more time with Diego she becomes even more conflicted. I loved that this book was a fun and angsty YA novel that followed a character who genuinely cared for her friend’s feelings. Alana is the more extroverted friend but she never seemed fake or self-obsessed. This was a very cute read–perfect for a day outside. —Dana

Cavedweller by Dorothy Allison

Dorothy Allison is a national treasure as far as I’m concerned. Like her terrific debut Bastard Out of Carolina, Cavedweller deals with rural poverty, addiction, family history, and the complicated social arrangements of small town life. Cavedweller tells the story of Delia Byrd, who left her two young daughters in Cayro, Georgia, to join a blues rock band. Then, after years of drinking, a few months of sobriety, many miles spent in a tour bus, the death of her fellow bandmate who is also the father of her third daughter, and a life built in LA, Delia impulsively returns to Cayro with her youngest in tow. The characters are gorgeously rich, their conflicts entirely understandable from all points, and consequently completely gutting. —Nina

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