Today in Books

What Are the Best Books of the 21st Century?

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Rebecca Joines Schinsky

Chief of Staff

Rebecca Joines Schinsky is the executive director of product and ecommerce at Riot New Media Group. She co-hosts All the Books! and the Book Riot Podcast. Follow her on Twitter: @rebeccaschinsky.

Welcome to Today in Books, our daily round-up of literary headlines at the intersection of politics, culture, media, and more.

NYT Names the 100 Best Books of the Century (So Far)

The New York Times polled more than 500 “literary luminaries”—including Roxane Gay, Jenna Bush Hager, Min Jin Lee, and three of us here at Book Riot—in a quest to identify the best books of the 21st century so far. Each voter was asked to submit a slate of 10 books, and let me tell you, that is an impossible task. My off-the-dome longlist had more than 30 contenders. Today, the Times revealed #100-80, with another block of twenty titles set to be announced each day this week. One of my picks (Siddhartha Mukherjee’s stunning “biography of cancer,” The Emperor All Maladies) made the cut so far. See the full lists from folks like Stephen King, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Marlon James, and follow along this week as the rest of the list rolls out.

Now tell me: what would you name as the top 10 books of the century? Shout them out in the comments.

Alice Munro’s Daughter Discloses Family Secret of Sexual Abuse

Andrea Robin Skinner, whose mother was Nobel Prize-winning author Alice Munro, has published a letter in the Toronto Star revealing that her stepfather, Gerald Frmelin, sexually abused her and that Munro knew about the abuse and chose to stay with him. Skinner states that the abuse began in 1976 when she was nine years old. After struggling with post-traumatic symptoms, including bulimia, migraines, and insomnia, for many years, she told her mother about the abuse when she was 25. In letters to the Munro family, Fremlin admitted to the abuse and blamed Skinner, calling her a “homewrecker.” In 2004, Skinner reported the abuse and shared Fremlin’s letters with the Ontario police. He pleaded guilty to indecent assault in 2005. Munro stayed with him until his death in 2013.

Skinner writes that “Many influential people came to know something of my story yet continued to support, and add to, a narrative they knew was false,” noting that “my mother’s fame meant the silence continued.” Now that Munro has died (she passed away in May at the age of 92), Skinner hopes her revelation will force the public to reckon with her mother’s legacy, an especially complicated and important challenge since Munro was considered to be a master of exploring the pain and minutiae of women’s lives.

Five Powerful Trans Memoirs

Writing for Lit Hub, KB Brookins recommends five trans memoirs that gave them permission to be themselves. Brookins says it beautifully:

Until you witness someone say the thing you thought was unspeakable, or make a turn of phrase that reminds you of the lingo of your people, or paint a city, a kith, a kinship so vivid, so crisp that it hurts to avert your eyes, you just don’t know that this life is possible. A life spent thinking up words to honor your people—especially when those people have been told by history that they aren’t worth lifting up. Especially when those people are no longer with us.

What to Read If You Loved Bridgerton

You want some swoony historical romances to tide you over until the next season of Bridgerton? Say no more.

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