And the winner is...
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
This time it was a landslide.
Scroll through these tantalizing temptations for some in-sun summer reading and select your top three choices for your summer companion in the survey at the bottom.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
*If* we order in time we might be able to get our hands on it
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect?
Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person's decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.
As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise.
The Fight by Norman Mailer
...fly like a 🦋 and sting like a 🐝. Non-fiction about the boxing title fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman at Kinshasa in Zaire in 1974. I mean I need to get in the sports!!!!!!
In 1974 in Kinshasa, Zaïre, two African American boxers were paid five million dollars apiece to fight each other. One was Muhammad Ali, the aging but irrepressible “professor of boxing.” The other was George Foreman, who was as taciturn as Ali was voluble. Observing them was Norman Mailer, a commentator of unparalleled energy, acumen, and audacity. Whether he is analyzing the fighters’ moves, interpreting their characters, or weighing their competing claims on the African and American souls, Mailer’s grasp of the titanic battle’s feints and stratagems—and his sensitivity to their deeper symbolism—makes this book a masterpiece of the literature of sport.
Paying for It by Chester Brown
A comic strip memoir about being a john. 2011 graphic novel by Canadian cartoonist!
Paying for It was easily the most talked-about and controversial graphic novel of 2011, a critical success so innovative and complex that it received two rave reviews in The New York Times and sold out of its first print run in just six months. Chester Brown's eloquent, spare artwork stands out in this paperback edition.
Paying for It combines the personal and sexual aspects of Brown's autobiographical work (I Never Liked You, The Playboy) with the polemical drive of Louis Riel. He calmly lays out the facts of how he became not only a willing participant in but also a vocal proponent of one of the world's most hot-button topics―prostitution. While this may appear overly sensational and just plain implausible to some, Brown's story stands for itself. Paying for It offers an entirely contemporary exploration of sex work―from the timid john who rides his bike to his escorts, wonders how to tip so as not to offend, and reads Dan Savage for advice, to the modern-day transactions complete with online reviews, seemingly willing participants, and clean apartments devoid of clichéd street corners, drugs, or pimps.
Complete with a surprise ending, Paying for It continues to provide endless debate and conversation about sex work.
Just Kids by Patti Smith
It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation.
Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence and enthusiasm, they traversed the city from Coney Island to Forty-Second Street, and eventually to the celebrated round table of Max’s Kansas City, where the Andy Warhol contingent held court. In 1969, the pair set up camp at the Hotel Chelsea and soon entered a community of the famous and infamous, the influential artists of the day and the colorful fringe. It was a time of heightened awareness, when the worlds of poetry, rock and roll, art, and sexual politics were colliding and exploding. In this milieu, two kids made a pact to take care of each other. Scrappy, romantic, committed to create, and fueled by their mutual dreams and drives, they would prod and provide for one another during the hungry years.
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
been thinking about this book title ever since this pandemic started - haven't read it in about 20 years!
In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs--yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.
The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
was given to me a long time ago and I never got around to reading it
A black swan is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: It is unpredictable; it carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, we concoct an explanation that makes it appear less random, and more predictable, than it was. The astonishing success of Google was a black swan; so was 9/11. For Nassim Nicholas Taleb, black swans underlie almost everything about our world, from the rise of religions to events in our own personal lives.
Why do we not acknowledge the phenomenon of black swans until after they occur? Part of the answer, according to Taleb, is that humans are hardwired to learn specifics when they should be focused on generalities. We concentrate on things we already know and time and time again fail to take into consideration what we don’t know. We are, therefore, unable to truly estimate opportunities, too vulnerable to the impulse to simplify, narrate, and categorize, and not open enough to rewarding those who can imagine the “impossible.”
For years, Taleb has studied how we fool ourselves into thinking we know more than we actually do. We restrict our thinking to the irrelevant and inconsequential, while large events continue to surprise us and shape our world. In this revelatory book, Taleb explains everything we know about what we don’t know, and this second edition features a new philosophical and empirical essay, “On Robustness and Fragility,” which offers tools to navigate and exploit a Black Swan world.
Elegant, startling, and universal in its applications, The Black Swan will change the way you look at the world. Taleb is a vastly entertaining writer, with wit, irreverence, and unusual stories to tell. He has a polymathic command of subjects ranging from cognitive science to business to probability theory. The Black Swan is a landmark book—itself a black swan.
Under the Skin by Michel Faber
Under the Skin is a 2000 science fiction novel by Michel Faber. Set in northern Scotland, it traces an extraterrestrial who, manifesting in human form, drives around the countryside picking up male hitchhikers whom she drugs and delivers to her home planet. The novel, which was Faber's debut, was shortlisted for the 2000 Whitbread Award.
How Much of These Hills is Gold by Pam C. Zhang
Ba dies in the night; Ma is already gone. Newly orphaned children of immigrants, Lucy and Sam are suddenly alone in a land that refutes their existence. Fleeing the threats of their western mining town, they set off to bury their father in the only way that will set them free from their past. Along the way, they encounter giant buffalo bones, tiger paw prints, and the specters of a ravaged landscape as well as family secrets, sibling rivalry, and glimpses of a different kind of future.