Summer is still very much with us so we thought you’d want to peek at our TWE Bookshelf: July Book Picks.
We want to make sure you are not running out of wonderful books to read. Here are more suggestions from our featured authors who love books like we do. If you want even more, check out our recent Summer Bookshelf.
1. TWE Bookshelf: Laura Munson
New York Times best-selling author and founder of the acclaimed Haven Writing Retreats on Why Bother? by Jennifer Louden
“Jennifer Louden’s book Why Bother? is the perfect companion book for anyone who is wondering what’s next in their lives…which is all of us, especially right now.
It’s like she and I have been living in the same question for the last years as writers and wonder-ers, and without knowing it, birthed twin books—hers an excellent self-help book, and mine a novel.
Together they’re like the yin to each others’ yang! In my recent book, Willa’s Grove, the four women, all at major crossroads moments in their lives, do exactly what Jennifer is calling for in Why Bother?— they “take stock” by having the conversations they need to be having with trusted kindreds.
They “settle” by leaving the stress and pace of their normal lives for a week of introspection and connection in Montana, allowing themselves to dig deeply into their next chapters.
As retreat leaders, it’s no surprise that we speak the same language. This book has been on my bedside table throughout the pandemic and will remain there until I find the answer to my own Why Bother?”
2. TWE Bookshelf: Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha
Pediatrician and public health advocate, on Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (Simon & Shuster) by David Blight
“A few of my pandemic reads: Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David Blight; How to be an Antiracist by Ibram Kendi; A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende; The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai.
Why these books? This pandemic has been a chance to finally catch up on a growing pile of books. The Douglass book was HUGE – I think over 800 pages – but so so important to understand.
It also has given me pause to think more about the concept of “reconstruction” – obviously it failed post-civil war (so much so that in Michigan we had a state senator wear a Confederate flag mask recently) – but the concept of rebirth is important as we envision a more fair, just, equitable America post-pandemic.
The Antiracist book is excellent – quick, moving, practical book with terminology clarification. I love Allende – her most recent book is framed during the Spanish Civil War – with timely lessons of resistance and fighting fascism.
My great uncle fought in the Spanish Civil War so this had added relevance. Lastly, the Great Believers book was about the beginning of HIV/AIDS in Chicago – a different time and a different virus – but lots of parallels to today.”
Make sure you check out Dr. Mona’s book about the Flint water crisis, What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance and Hope in an American City!
3. TWE Bookshelf: Natalie Jenner
“I am reading an absolutely essential and heartbreaking book right now called Daughters of Smoke and Fire by debut author Ava Homa, which is the first novel ever published in English by a female Kurdish writer.
I tend to only be able to read fiction when not writing myself, and I gave myself the month of May off from creative writing to enjoy these weeks leading up to and following publication.
Diving into Ms. Homa’s book has been a true privilege as a reader and as a fellow debut author. After that I will be starting A Tender Thing by another debut, Emily Neuberger, who released right in the heart of the chaos of the pandemic. This is historical fiction set in one of my favourite time periods, 1950s New York, and involves a Midwestern girl who gets caught up in the mounting of a controversial Broadway musical.
I miss NYC and theater so much right now, and this book is sure to be a real balm for me, like all good books are.”
4. TWE Bookshelf: Zahra Hankir
“I’m currently reading Bandit, a dazzling memoir by the late Molly Brodak which was first published in 2016. Brodak had a whimsical and hilariously playful way with words.
This isn’t your average coming-of-age story: Brodak’s memoir traces what it was like to grow up with a felon father, who robbed more than 10 banks in the Detroit area to pay off steep debts.
While Brodak is unsparing and unwavering in her writing, she seems to hold something back from the reader; there’s an aura of mystery about her, despite her honesty. There is also sadness in her writing, even when it is at the height of humour and satire. I’m generally drawn to nonfiction works about dysfunctional families with troubled father-daughter dynamics.
This book had been on my shelf for months (it was required reading for a nonfiction writing workshop I took with Catapult). I picked it up again after hearing that Brodak tragically died by suicide at just 39 in March, and am now re-reading the book in an entirely different light.
I am, in a way, mourning the loss of this incredible woman who I did not know – may she rest in power and peace – and am thankful to her for offering us this glimpse into her fascinating and ultimately tragic life story.”
Check out the books on our Summer Bookshelf if you haven’t seen them. Enjoy!
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