Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.
I’ve hit a nice little just-before-summer groove where I have a pleasant walk to the library where I read for a few hours on the weekends. I’m relishing it before summer comes because I’ve been known to spoil in certain climates.
Today I’ve got a few coming-into-adulthood books for you. After I’d gotten the idea for this theme and had started collecting a few books to mention, I realized that I define these kinds of books as ones where characters who are already adults have to figure things out, maybe even from scratch. This could mean having to start over or coming to terms with the fact that they hadn’t even “started” yet. Basically all of the books I talk about have characters contending with societal exceptions and how those expectations maybe don’t quite mesh with who they really are.
And they all have messy relationship dynamics, obvi.
Before we get to the books, make sure to check out First Edition. It’s the new Book Riot podcast that will include interviews, lists, rankings, retrospectives, recommendations, and much more, featuring people who know and love books. You can subscribe to First Edition on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or your podcatcher of choice.
Nibbles and Sips
Tequila-soaked pineapple, suggested by Bustle
This is more of a good idea for summer than a recipe-recipe. You just need a fresh, ripe pineapple, tequila, pineapple juice, simple syrup (or agave), and lime juice. Soak your cut up pineapple over night in the liquid and stick popsicle sticks into each piece the next day. Sprinkle with tajín. For a visual, check out Bustle’s instagram account.
Bumpy Rides into Adulthood
Filthy Animals by Brandon Taylor
Similar to Taylor’s latest release, The Late Americans, Filthy Animals explores the messy personal lives of young creative people living in the Midwest. Following a stay in a psychiatric hospital, a queer mathematician meets a dancer and enters into a tenuous open relationship with him and his girlfriend. Other stories show the same situation from different perspectives and bring in characters connected to each other, but also struggling with their own relationships.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Keiko Furukura has never quite fit in, but since she was 18 and applied to a convenience store job in Tokyo on a whim, she feels like she at least has some things figured out. Like, she knows how to dress and act when she’s at work in order to look like she belongs, even if there is a “real” her that exists outside this persona. But now at 36, the normalcy she thought she’d maintained since her teenage years starts to crumble once her younger sister gives birth, and those close to Keiko start pressuring her to achieve society-set milestones. Giving in, she attempts a deal of sorts with a questionable co-worker, and though her life now appears to be “normal,” to her it feels like anything but.
Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers
Grace Porter has thus far adhered to her strict (and financially supportive) father’s path for her — at only 28, she’s just achieved a PhD in the very white male-dominated field of astronomy. Despite the accomplishment, she doesn’t feel quite fulfilled. And when she goes on a trip to Vegas with friends to celebrate, she totally shakes up her life. By getting married one drunken night. When she wakes to her new wife, Yuki, she decides to stray from the path her father has set, and even her supportive group of friends, to try to make a go of it in New York with Yuki.
Sea Change by Gina Chung
I discussed this book not too long ago, but it also fits here perfectly. Ro is freshly 30 and is suspended in the past and is slowly becoming even more unmoored from the present. She has a distant relationship with her mother, her boyfriend broke up with her to colonize Mars, and her bestie is getting married. All she has left is the giant octopus named Dolores that she cares for at her lackluster job at the mall aquarium. But Dolores has been sold to a wealthy investor and will be moved soon. As Dolores leaves Ro’s life, all of Ro’s childhood trauma comes bubbling back to the surface.
This article did some numbers on Twitter: Sex Ed Books Don’t “Groom” kids and Teens. They Protect Them.
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I hope this newsletter found you well, and as always, thanks for hanging out! If you have any comments or just want to connect, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or holla at me on Twitter @erica_eze_. You can also catch me talking more mess in the new In Reading Color newsletter as well as chattin’ with my new co-host Tirzah Price on the Hey YA podcast.
Until next time,