The temperature has dropped, the social calendar relented, and the long weekend finally arrived. If that doesn’t scream ‘go put on your comfy pants and read several books’, I don’t know what does. But then I’m an introverted bibliophile and that’s my reaction to most things.
But even if you’re not, it’s a great time to pick up a book.
Whether you’re craving a consuming page-turner that will make you forget about the outside world and that passive aggressive email Barry sent at 4PM on Friday, or a quietly told literary novel to consume slowly as you stoke your Airbnb’s fire, we’ve got you covered. Here are eight recent releases to match your mood this long weekend.
The addictive publishing world thriller: Yellowface by R.F. Kuang
The kind of book you pick up if you have zero plans (or want an excuse to cancel them), Yellowface is a propulsive read as shocking as it is wildly entertaining. The novel begins when a white author steals the just-finished manuscript of a Chinese American novelist who has died in a freak accident. The white author rebrands herself as Juniper Song, complete with an ambiguously ethnic author photo and publishes the novel. Come for the twisty thriller and stay for the blistering satire of the publishing industry, specifically its relationship to diversity, racism and cultural appropriation. Featured on just about every 2023 anticipated releases list, the book is giving readers (and the industry) a lot to talk about!
The sad girl novel: Sad Girl Novel by Pip Finkemeyer
The title says it all. A novel very much aware of the genre it is contributing to and commenting on, Pip Finkemeyer’s meta debut is about a 27-year-old woman living in Berlin trying to write her own sad girl novel over the course of a year. Unsure if she’s a creative genius or completely delusional, the book asks the question: in the face of probable failure, how do we convince ourselves to try and become something anyway? It goes without saying that this will be enjoyed by anyone who loves Rooney or Rooney-adjacent fiction, but less appreciated by those with minimal tolerance to millennial ennui.
Short stories to dip in and out of: Games and Rituals by Katherine Heiny
If you’re less of an introverted bibliophile and more of a calendar-is-full-and-have-very-little-time-to-chill extrovert, you may want to consider a short story collection this long weekend. A recent favourite is Katherine Heiny’s Games and Rituals. Told in the Heiny’s classic blend of charm meets wit meets offbeat farce, the 11 stories cover “love, relationships, ageing, mortality, teenagers, parents, roommates, people, sex, food, people having sex and thinking about food”, according to the author herself.
The Nora Ephron-esque memoir about life and cooking: Heartbake by Charlotte Ree
Part memoir, part recipe book, and part battle cry for those who find themselves lonely at any age, Heartbake is Charlotte Ree’s personal story of self-discovery in the wake of a divorce. Exploring therapy through food and the ways we feel deserving of love, this book will resonate with readers who want more from life and those who know the life-affirming worth of a home-cooked meal.
Mesmerising literary fiction (to impress your book club): August Blue by Deborah Levy
The hypnotic new novel from the twice Booker-shortlisted author of Hot Milk and Swimming Home, August Blue follows a piano virtuoso named Elsa who briefly encounters a woman who looks exactly like her while visiting a flea market in Athens. What follows is a search across Europe both for the woman and Elsa’s search for self. Exploring themes of identity, love and art, Levy has written a mesmerising portrait of
The rom com to reassure you that everything is ok: Happy Place by Emily Henry
If you’re in the mood to be swept off your feet (from the comfort of your own home), then any Emily Henry novel will be a good match for you this weekend. Her latest offering, a classic tale of fake dating and second chances, is especially satisfying. Happy Place is about the perfect couple. The kind of couple who never break up. Except that this particular perfect couple did. And now they have to pretend to still be together for their annual weeklong vacation with their best friends. A delightfully fun premise delivered with Henry’s signature charm, wit and wisdom. Excitingly for EmHen fans, each of the author’s previous three novels have been optioned for film.
The raw Australian novel: Thirst for Salt by Madelaine Lucas
This mesmerising and melancholy debut tells the story of a young woman on holiday with her mother in an isolated Australian coastal town. There she meets an older man and begins losing herself in the simple, seductive rhythms of his everyday life. Poetic and emotionally astute, Thirst for Salt is a quietly told story of desire and its complexities. Best read by a fire somewhere cold and rugged.
The compulsive summer thriller: The Guest by Emma Cline
It’s no coincidence that Emma Cline’s latest book was released to coincide with the American summer. Sultry, suspenseful and seductive, The Guest explores female identity and desire from the point of view of an escort who spends a week amongst the rarefied wealthy on Long Island. Compulsive and intense, The Guest captures the latent heat and potential danger of a summer that could go either way for a young woman teetering on the edge.
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