Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

Peek Over Our Shoulders: What Rioters are Reading on December 21, 2017

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Jessica Pryde

Contributing Editor

Jessica Pryde is a member of that (some might call) rare breed that grew up in Washington, DC, but is happily enjoying the warmer weather of the desert Southwest. While she is still working on what she wants to be when she grows up, she’s enjoying dabbling in librarianship and writing all the things. She can be found drowning in her ever-growing TBR and exclaiming about romance in the Book Riot podcast (When in Romance), as well as on social media. Find her exclamations about books and pho on twitter (JessIsReading) and instagram (jess_is_reading).

In this feature at Book Riot, we give you a glimpse of what we are reading this very moment.

Here is what the Rioters are reading today (as in literally today). This is what’s on their bedside table (or the floor, work bag, desk, whatevskis). Gird your loins—this list will make your TBR list EXPLODE.

We’ve shown you ours, now show us yours; let us know what you’re reading (right this very moment) in the comment section below!

Liberty Hardy

Cult X by Fuminori Nakamura,‎ Kalau Almony (Translator) (Soho Crime, May 22, 2018): Set around the time of the Tokyo subway gas attacks, this novel is about a man whose girlfriend goes missing, and the search for her that leads him to a cult with a charismatic leader. I’m a big fan of Nakamura’s bleak, gritty novels, and super excited to sink my teeth into this one, his biggest book so far. (Over 500 pages!) (egalley)

Emma Nichols

At the Mouth of the River of Bees by Kij Johnson: this had been on my list for a while (because that title is amazing & it’s published by Small Beer Press) but I finally picked it up after a friend told me I’d love it and I hosted an author event with Kij. So far—with stories of disappearing monkeys, foxes masquerading as women, and a literal river of bees—it has not disappointed.

Steph Auteri

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera: I saw Rivera speak on a panel (about novelists-turned-comics-writers) at the Brooklyn Book Festival the other month, and she was so vibrant and fun that I knew I had to check out her work. Within the first paragraph of this book, I could see that the main protagonist was just as vibrant and fun, so I’m all in. (paperback)

S.W. Sondheimer

Persepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey: Strap in, kids. There’s a thirty year time jump between book six and the most current Expanse novel. Some things have changed and some remain the same, but Persepolis Rising is, as has always been the case with this series, a phenomenal space opera, an honest look at the best and worst of humanity, and many other things besides. And lest you find yourself concerned, Avasarala’s love of the profane has not dimmed with age. (ebook)

Alison Doherty

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds: Wow. I love everything Jason Reynolds writes, but this is the most unique book I’ve seen from him yet. Told in verse, he combines beautiful language with the powerful story of fifteen-year-old Will, visited by ghosts from his past on an elevator ride in which his must decide if he will try to avenge the shooting of his older brother with more violence or let it go, breaking the rules Will has always known. Suspenseful. Emotional. Fast paced. I’m so glad I picked this one up and, frankly, am having a hard time putting it down. (hardcover)

Claire Handscombe

An Almost Perfect Christmas by Nina Stibbe: I’m getting in the mood for the season, and hoping this won’t make me too homesick! (hardback)

Elisa Shoenberger

Collecting the World: Hans Sloane and the Origins of the British Museum  by James Delbourgo: This is a new biography of the great and complicated Sir Hans Sloane. His name is found throughout London but many do not know about this man. While he was a respected doctor of his day, he did not formulate new scientific theories or classification systems. Instead he set up an effective network of correspondence throughout the world and collected everything. His collection would be the foundation of the British Museum, and later split off to the British Library and the Natural History Museum. It does talk about his involvement with the slave trade, an important and often neglected part of the story. It’s thorough, sometimes overly so but it’s an important work. I should add that I’m reading it for a presentation I’m doing later this month. (hardcover)

Erin McCoy

Wickedly Dangerous by Deborah Blake: The covers and premise of Blake’s Baba Yaga series have always intrigued me, but I’ve never taken the time to dive into the books. Based loosely on the Russian fairy tales of the Baba Yaga, the first book in this series follows one of Babas, a professor, after she is called to a small town when three children go missing. So far this book is light on romance with the mystery and fantasy elements taking center stage, so I’m hoping to see more of the local sheriff and Baba together the second half of this book. (audiobook)

Laura Sackton

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab: I’ve been putting this one off for a while because I don’t want the magic to end. I was not that into the first installment of Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy, but I’d heard so many good things about it that I picked up the second book anyway, and that’s when I fell in love. I’m only 100 pages into the final book, and so far it’s everything I loved about the second: non-stop action, fantastic characters, superb world-building. (hardcover)

Elizabeth Allen

All the President’s Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward: With the dumpster fire that is our current political climate and with the release of the new Slate podcast “Slow Burn,” I decided I really would like to learn more about Watergate. I know the basics…hotel break in, Nixon’s “not a crook,” he ends up being pardoned any-damned-way. But I hear references to it all the time and never really know their origins. Given the focus on the institution of journalism lately, I wanted to hear more about this from two young journalists who persisted through personal attacks from the White House (sound familiar?), the Press Secretary insisting the administration was above-board (sound familiar?), and a president who insisted that even if he was guilty, you can’t indict a sitting president on obstruction of justice (sound familiar?). Bernstein and Woodward pushed through every obstacle to get the true story of the Nixon administration and their book about this experience is a page-turner that reads more like fiction than a true account of one of the darkest times in our nation’s history.

Danielle Bourgon

My Life, My Love, My Legacy by Coretta Scott King: I find it fascinating how little I knew about this woman before I started listening to this audiobook. It’s such a fantastic listen so far. Fair warning, the sections dealing with the death and funeral preparations for Martin Luther King Jr. had me weeping on a train. So be prepared for ALL of the feelings. Also, kudos to whoever made the decision to have the narrator change after that pivotal life moment. The change in narrator helps keep momentum going for what is a very long audiobook, but it also highlights how her life as a widow was inherently different than her life before Martin was shot. (audiobook)

Carina Pereira

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid: There were so many recommendations regarding this book that I had to read it next, and I am loving it. The writing is very soothing, even if the story itself is rather upsetting, especially because it makes us face something very real that is happening right now: the refugee situation. I’m a bit over halfway through and I can’t fathom where the story is going, but I hope that there is a good, happy ending, to it.

Mya Nunnally

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor: I’m a huge fan of African sci/fi fantasy so this has been on my to-read list forever. Not even fifty pages in and a scene disturbed me so much I had to take a walk. Beautiful, terrifying, violent read. Not for the faint of heart. (library paperback)

Jessica Yang

Tam Lin by Pamela Dean: It’s winter, which means I’m deep into my “read books and drink hot chocolate” zone. My current book is an old favorite, Tam Lin. Slice of life college shenanigans with a touch of fantasy and fairy tale? Yes, please. (paperback)

Brandi Bailey

Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah: I stumbled across this one doing research for an upcoming article and everything about it called to my soul. It didn’t quite fit the parameters of my research, but you better believe I took it home with me ASAP. (library paperback)

Christina Vortia

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell: I’ve had this on my TBR list for years, and when I saw it available on my library Overdrive app, I jumped on the opportunity, and I’ve not been disappointed.

Hannah Engler

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood: I’m so unbelievably late to the party on this book, which I’ve wanted to read since I went to a reading at Bluestockings where one of the performers there raved about it. I’ve just started (neglecting my two other current reads, Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Marlena by Julie Buntin, in the process) and it really is that good.

Katie McLain

Soul Cage by Tetsuya Honda: Grad school finals have been keeping me from any non-audiobook reading this week, but I’m finally ready to pick up this book, which Rincey and I talked about on an early episode of Read or Dead. Unidentified severed hands ftw! I’m really excited to start this one! (library hardcover)

Derek Attig

How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective edited by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor: The Combahee River Collective Statement is one of the most important documents of the twentieth century and should, by rights, be one of the most influential of the twenty-first. So I was delighted to see this reassessment and reflection on its power, from both CRC founders and contemporary voices. (paperback)

Emma Allmann

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez: This is one of those books that I’ve talked about reading for years. I’m visiting my parents and it was sitting there on the bookshelf and I figured there is no time like the present! So far it has been well worth the wait! (paperback)

Amanda Kay Oaks

It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too) by Nora McInerny Purmort: This book has been on my to-read list, waiting for me to feel emotionally ready. And now, I’m ready! This memoir instantly had me both laughing and crying with its raw, funny take on living with grief. (hardcover)

Kate Scott

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: I’ve read so many positive reviews of this book over the last couple years since it was first published. I’ve had a review copy sitting around collecting dust for a while and I’m just now finally getting around to reading it. (paperback)

Cecilia Lyra

Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak: This was recommended to me by a friend from book club. I think it’s winner because I’ve had to cancel my Friday night plans—I can’t put it down! (ebook)

Emily Polson

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie: This is one of my all-time favorite books. I read it several times growing up and even did a major research project on it in college. Whenever I need something familiar and magical and bittersweet, I revisit Neverland alongside Peter, Tink, and the Darlings. At this point I’ve got so many annotations in my copy that it also feels like I’m reading alongside several of my past selves. (paperback)

Margaret Kingsbury

Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel by Megan Morrison: After having my first baby a couple weeks ago, I was texting with fellow Rioter Jen Sherman about needing fast paced, easy reads. Knowing my love for fairy tales, she recommended Grounded, a fun middle grade novel featuring a team-up between Rapunzel and Jack the Giant Killer. It’s a perfect read on my kindle during feedings! (ebook)

Ilana Masad

The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman: I loved, loved, loved the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman, and even though I haven’t read it in years, I have fond memories of it and of him. This is the first book in ages that I’m also reading purely for pleasure, so it’s been a lovely ride so far. The book has enough nostalgic stuff in it that I recognize from the previous series (the beloved daemons, of course) but it’s also entirely its own thing and doesn’t require any prior knowledge or memory. I’m in love. (hardcover)

Rachel Brittain

The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk (Delacorte Press, March 6th, 2018): Intertwined stories about three teenagers trying to move forward after losing someone they love. Beautiful and heartbreaking. I’m getting close to the end, and it’s so hard to put down! (egalley)

Rebecca Hussey

The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich: I picked this up because I’d heard it’s a good companion to the Little House on the Prairie series. This is basically Little House in the Big Woods from a Native American perspective. I’m loving it. (paperback)

Tasha Brandstatter

The Lure of the Moonflower (Pink Carnation #12) by Lauren Willig: Writing up my must-read mystery romance post reminded me I hadn’t gotten to the last book in this series yet. (audiobook)

Sarah Ullery

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey: I found this book on NPR’s Book Concierge, and I thought: a western with hippos, yes please! And I love it, which is truly a miracle, because I’ve abandoned four books this month, and was wallowing in a terrible pre-holiday book slump. But this is a definite book slump buster! The characters are great, the story is fast-paced and gripping, and it has hippos! Also, an added bonus: the female characters kick some major ass.

Deepali Agarwal

The Elephant in the Room: Women Draw Their World by multiple authors (December 25, 2017, Zubaan Books and Spring Collective): Each page of this book is a different piece of art worthy of framing and putting up on the walls. A collection of feminist art and graphic essays from sixteen women from India and Germany, I am already in love with this one.

image from interior of anthology Elephant in the Room

James Wallace Harris

Arcadia by Iain Pears: This 2015 novel has a plot like a Rubik’s Cube, combining fantasy, science fiction, religion, myth, and philosophy. The story begins inside what appears to be the beginning of a fantasy novel, and then switches to 1960 England, at a pub, where a group of writers (like the Inklings) are discussing this very novel. Henry Lytten wants to write a perfect fantasy that is completely realistic. The others ask when do the dragons and the fairy people show up. Lytten says his story will not have dragons and magic. Arcadia is a novel about storytelling and its philosophical implications. I’m surprised it is not more famous, because I feel it’s equal to The Golden Compass in cleverness.

Jamie Canaves

From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon (June 5, 2018, Simon Pulse): Being that I spent the end of 2016 and aaaaallll of 2017 shouting my love for When Dimple Met Rishi, it was a given that I would squeal so loud that I’d give myself a headache when the opportunity to get a galley of Twinkle arrived. I’m halfway through and it is as lovely, and wonderful, and magical as Dimple and my only complaint is that I don’t want this reading experience to end. (egalley)

Priya Sridhar

Heir to the Sky by Amanda Sun: A princess of a floating sky island finds out that her fiancé, whom she likes but doesn’t love, is involved in a conspiracy. He proceeds to toss her off, hoping the fall will kill her. So far the conspiracy is slowly growing. (paperback)

Adiba Jaigirdar

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee: I’m participating in a twitter readathon where we basically read all the books where women are romantically interested in women. Not Your Sidekick is the 5th book I’m reading for it and so far it’s brilliant and queer…with superheroes! (ebook)

Teresa Preston

I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Maryse Condé: I love historical fiction that looks at familiar stories from new angles. This book about Tituba, an enslaved woman accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials, has been on my list for years. I’m really enjoying her voice so far. (library hardcover)

Holiday Romance Anthology | Book RiotJessica pryde

The Perfect Present by Rochelle Alers, Cheris Hodges, and Pamela Yaye: I don’t read a lot of holiday romance, but I keep coming across this one so I figured I might as well pick it up. (library paperback)


What are you reading today?