Happy new release day, friends! Today is a special new release day because not one but two of today’s new books made the National Book Awards longlist for fiction: Night Watch by Jayne Anne Phillips and North Woods by Daniel Mason. I am very excited to read both, although I am rooting for one of my two favorite novels of the year to win: Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah or Loot by Tania James! And speaking of reading, for you today, I have an unsettling crime novel, a collection of dark fiction by Indigenous authors, and a wonderful middle-grade graphic novel from a former Book Rioter. And a special shout-out to another former Rioter Karina Yan Glaser, whose last book in the Vanderbeekers series, The Vanderbeekers Ever After, is also out today!
At the top of my list of today’s books that I want to buy, besides the two longlisted titles I just mentioned, are Bean The Stretchy Dragon by Ari Stocrate (possibly the cutest book ever!), The Collectors: Stories by A.S. King, and The Wren, the Wren by Anne Enright. You can hear about more of the fabulous books coming out today on this week’s episode of All the Books! Tirzah and I talked about some of the books we’re excited about this week, including Starter Villain, When a Brown Girl Flees, and Black Sheep.
Book Riot’s editorial team is writing for casual and power readers alike over at The Deep Dive! During the month of September, all new free subscribers will be entered to win Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler plus five mystery books from The Deep Dive. To enter, simply start a free subscription to The Deep Dive. No payment method required!
And now it’s time for everyone’s favorite game, “Ahhhhhhh, My TBR!” Here are today’s contestants!
Never Whistle at Night: An Indigenous Dark Fiction Anthology by Shane Hawk and Theodore C. Van Alst Jr.
I mentioned on this week’s show that I was looking forward to reading this collection, and hooray! I was able to squeeze it in this weekend, and it’s great. These are stories steeped in Indigenous cultures and beliefs, and are scary and unsettling and sometimes outright horrifying. A young man hooks up with a guy who has a collection of what he says are animal teeth; a teenager brings a vengeful spirit about by mentioning it; two children deal with their abusive foster mother in a supernatural way; a young man is bit by a tick after his father dies. (This one is SUPER gross.) Plus, many more! These stories are wildly imaginative, frightening, and fun. (They are horror stories, so be prepared to encounter most content warnings at some point, including the abuse and sexual assault of children and adults, racism, violence, injury, gore, murder, and the death of humans and animals.)
Backlist bump: Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty
Bright Young Women by Jessica Knoll
This one made my stomach drop and feel like it kept dropping until I got to the end! I could only read it during daylight hours. It’s an incredibly well-written and disturbing story about a young woman who survives a horrific crime at a sorority house in the 1970s. Pamela is the president of the sorority and the only one who saw the killer. As the news media and the police distort and mistake the truth, she now faces a world where she will never feel safe again. And then she is contacted by a woman who thinks the killer has struck again. Knoll does an amazing job teasing out details and the story, both in the 1970s and the present day. It is a gut-punch novel about the misogyny and victim blaming that permeates these kinds of crimes, and a dissection of our fascination with true crime stories. (This one also comes with all the content warnings, including violence, gore, and graphic depictions of sexual assault and murder on the page, so take care when you read it.)
Backlist bump: Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Enlighten Me by Minh Lê and Chan Chau
And last but not least, this delightful, thoughtful graphic novel written by former Rioter Minh Lê! Binh and his sisters are being taken on a vacation to a silent meditation retreat, and he is not looking forward to it. He’s had a rough week after fighting back against racist bullies and getting in trouble with the vice principal. At the retreat, Binh first finds it hard to be silent and keep his brain from having a million loud thoughts at once. But soon, Binh hears stories of the Buddha and thinks that maybe he can apply what he learns to his everyday life, especially when he approaches the teachings like a video game. This is a charming story, layered with lots of humor, and featuring wonderful drawings from the illustrator of one of the new Baby-sitter’s Club graphic novels.
Backlist bump: Lift by Minh Lê and Dan Santat
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This week, I am reading The Unsettled by Ayana Mathis and Land of Milk and Honey by C Pam Zhang. In non-book things, I started rewatching Will & Grace. I had watched the first eight seasons when it was on originally, but I haven’t seen the reboot. The song stuck in my head this week is “Anyway You Want It” by Journey (courtesy of a trivia game show question.) And here is your weekly cat picture: As many of you heard, that was Zevon yelling his head off in the background of last week’s episode of All the Books! He just wanted to say hello.
Thank you, as always, for joining me each Tuesday as I rave about books! I am wishing you all a wonderful rest of your week, whatever situation you find yourself in now. And yay, books! See you next week. – XO, Liberty