Staff Reads: June 14

Staff Reads: June 14

staff reads 6.14

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.

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

I had never read any of Jennifer Weiner’s books, but picked up Mrs. Everything ahead of interviewing her at BookExpo. This book has an ambitious scope: Weiner follows her characters for their entire lives and she grapples with the question of how women can and should pursue happiness and fulfillment in the world. Weiner’s characters Jo and Bethie (one of whom is based on Weiner’s own mother and both of whom recall Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women with their names) struggle with a wide range of issues that have affected women in the last 50 years, and indeed, continue to affect them today. This book tackles gender thoughtfully, as well as the ways in which parents try to spare their children from the specific kinds of suffering that they faced as children. It was a treat to chat with Weiner after reading this book, and I was impressed by her insightful answers. –Elizabeth

Naturally Tan by Tan France

Memoirs aren’t typically a genre that I pick up, but my love of all things Queer Eye knows no bounds. I picked up the audiobook for Tan France’s new memoir Naturally Tan and I listened to it in one day. Of all the guys on the show, Tan is the one that I knew the least about. He’s a very private person, which made this book so much more interesting to me. Tan opens up about coming out, being gay as a South Asian, his first relationship, and his husband. I loved that this came out in June and I was able to read this for pride month. Tan also talks a lot about his love for fashion, how he started his businesses, and eventually ended up on the show. If you love Queer Eye or fashion, Tan France’s memoir is a must-read and I highly recommend the audiobook because Antoni Porowski makes a surprise appearance. —Dana

The Tea Dragon Festival by Katie O’Neill

Katie O’Neill’s Tea Dragon novels are as cozy as a mug of warm tea on a rainy day. This book doesn’t hit shelves until September, but I was lucky enough to receive a copy at this year’s BookExpo and I sat down to read it the first chance I got. The story follows Aedhan, a dragon who’s been asleep for 80 years and is only awoken when a villager named Rinn stumbles upon him. Aedhan isn’t sure where his clan is now, but with Rinn’s help he starts to feel at home. A prequel to The Tea Dragon Society, this book also featured appearances by two of my favorite characters, Hesekiel and Erik. I love the glimpses of their adventures and how they fell in love, so I can only hope I’ll see them again in future installments! O’Neill’s novels capture through their stories and stunning artwork an inclusive world built on kindness. If you haven’t yet visited, treat yourself to a trip there. —Kelly

Tough Enough by Deborah Nelson

My hackles raise whenever I feel like women are being told that they are too emotional and should be colder. You know, for patriarchy reasons. At first, I was skeptical about a book in praise of tough women. I was worried that it would be too “you go girl, be tough, #TeamArya.” But Tough Enough has been a great surprise so far. Deborah Nelson uses cultural figures including Joan Didion and Mary McCarthy to talk about the difference between sentimentality, unsentimentality, and nonsentimentality, and the ways that women are expected to perform emotional warmth. Tough Enough talks about how we as a society think about responses to pain, the inevitability of pain, and the mind-boggling scale of global pain post-WWII. And because it’s a library book, I’m taking notes on in it in my journal because I can’t annotate! —Nina

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

I had a weekend of romance reads recently and thoroughly enjoyed Tessa Bailey’s Fix Her Up. It had the perfect amount of quirky humor with steamy romance. Bailey hits so many of my favorite romance tropes with the book and she executes them all so well. This novel follows Georgie Castle who has always been in love with her brother’s best friend Travis. Travis has just moved back to their hometown after being forced into retirement from major league baseball because of an injury. Georgie is the youngest in her family and always has felt left behind, especially since she isn’t in the family business of construction. I’ve never related as much to a character as I have Georgie. Some of the lines Tessa Bailey has about that youngest child feeling hit me so hard and I’ve never see that sentiment enough in books. Georgie is a clown by trade and loves being able to entertain kids, which was both heartwarming and humorous. Travis comes home very depressed and desperately needing a way back into baseball, which is why the two start fake dating so he can fix his image and her family can take her seriously. I loved that Bailey didn’t make Travis immediately find Georgie attractive. Their dynamic felt much more realistic than many other books with the same trope. I can go on and on about this book! If you need a fun rom-com to take the beach this summer, then Fix Her Up is a great choice.—Dana  

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Henry and his sister Lucy, the children of London socialites growing up in a large house in Chelsea, suddenly find their world changing dramatically after another family is invited to stay in their home. Dark, twisted things happen that I’m sure will be lingering in my head long after I’ve finished this book. Every time you think you’ve figured out where she’s heading, Lisa Jewell throws another curveball at you in this one. And OMG that ending!? Wiping away triumphant, happy tears and wondering if we’ve come to the end of this incredible story. —Alicia   

The Sand Warrior by Mark Siegel and Alexis Siegel, illustrated by Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, and Boya Sun

I recently finished watching season two of She-Ra on Netflix and found myself looking for something to fill the magical-heroine-bolstered-by-the-power-of-friendship-fights-evil-forces hole in my life. I decided to pick up The Sand Warrior, a middle grade graphic novel that’s been sitting unread on my bookshelf for far too long, and was quickly swept away. I love a reluctant hero and Oona Lee fits the bill perfectly. She believes she’s the worst sand dancer student her school has ever seen, and when her world is in trouble, she thinks only her missing sister can save them. Oona ignores the signs that there’s something special about her, and I loved reading along as she grew more confident in her abilities and began to embrace her destiny. Packed with dynamic and colorful panels, this was also a visually stunning read. I can’t wait to dive into book two. —Kelly

Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp

I am fascinated by addiction memoirs, and it had been a little while since I’d read one, so I decided to pick up Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp. I know many consider this to be a classic of the genre, and so far, I’m enjoying it. I’m strongly reminded of Blackout by Sarah Hepola, which Kelly and I both dove into back when it came out in 2015. So far, I’m most interested in Knapp’s observations about how different kinds of addictions might be related. This is an insightful memoir, and I admire Knapp’s willingness to open up this part of her life to readers. —Elizabeth


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