The Betches Winter 2020-2021 Reading List

I don’t care what the calendar says (I feel like all my book roundups start this way), it is winter. And you know what that means: a winter reading list, because it’s that time of year again where we just cozy up with a good book. Or at least, that’s what I do. In honor of that, I’ve compiled my winter reading list. Please note that this is not a comprehensive 2021 reading list, which will be coming ASAP. (In more realistic terms, probably like, January.) But for now, here are 14 books you can dive into, from spicy romance to twisty thrillers to poignant historical fiction. 

‘A Princess For Christmas’ by Jenny Holiday (October 13, 2020)

I could have included this in a fall roundup, but given that Christmas is in the title, it didn’t feel right. If you already watched The Princess Switch: Switched Again and all the other Christmas movies on Netflix but still need your holiday romance fix, pick up a copy of A Princess for Christmas. It’s basically got everything you loved from Princess Switch or Princess Diaries: a fictional kingdom called Eldovia, a princess who’s in way over her head, finding love in unexpected places. Leo, a cab driver in New York City, picks up Princess Marie of Eldovia and ends up with more than he bargained for—namely, a gig driving Princess Marie around for the remainder of her NYC trip. He doesn’t expect to fall for the princess, or that he will end up in Eldovia for Christmas.

‘Every Last Secret’ by A.R. Torre (December 1, 2020)

What would you do for the “perfect” life? That’s what Cat and Neena, two neighbors in Silicon Valley, are duking it out over. Cat Winthorpe seems to have it all: a beautiful house, social standing, and William, her dreamy husband. And that’s precisely what Neena Ryder wants: Cat’s husband. Neena tries to scheme her way into William’s life; meanwhile, Cat has a secret of her own that could blow up her charmed life. While the ending may not completely take you by surprise, Every Last Secret is a fun and fast ride.

‘Heiress Apparently’ by Diana Ma (December 1, 2020)

If you, like me, are still sad you finished Last Tang Standing, Diana Ma’s latest novel serves up a similar dose of fun, relatable, hot mess fiction, with a Lizzie McGuire Movie-esque twist. Really doesn’t get more fun than that. Gemma Huang disappointed her parents by foregoing college to pursue an acting career, which is how she finds herself living in LA with three roommates, barely scraping by. Things start looking up when she takes a gig in a production of M. Butterfly in Beijing, only to realize she apparently is the doppelgänger of one of Beijing’s most notorious socialites. And there might be a reason for that…

‘How To Catch A Queen’ by Alyssa Cole (December 1, 2020)

If the name Alyssa Cole sounds familiar, good—it should! I’ve been raving about her new thriller, When No One Is Watching, and she also has a romance novel coming out. And I can’t even figure out how to do my job plus one hobby and still have a somewhat normal sleep schedule. SMH, some people can really do it all. Anyway, How To Catch a Queen is the first book in the new Runaway Royals series. Shanti Mohapi weds the king of Njaza, and with it, her dreams of becoming a queen finally come true. What she hadn’t imagined since she was a little girl? Nobody in the kingdom respects her. The King is equally perplexed, since Shanti has all the answers to solve Njaza’s problems… except nobody will listen to her.

‘This Time Next Year’ by Sophie Cousens (December 1, 2020)

If you want Love, Actually but in book form, this is basically it. It’s about Minnie Cooper, whose New Year’s birthday has always been a source of woe in her life—especially because her mother missed out on winning the cash prize for giving birth to the first baby of the year born in London, thanks to a guy named Quinn Hamilton, who was born just moments earlier. Even worse, he stole her name! When Minnie runs into Quinn at, where else, a New Year’s party, she’s surprised to find herself wanting more.

‘White Feminism’ by Koa Beck (January 5, 2021)

We didn’t stop reading antiracist books in the summer, and Koa Beck, former Editor-in-Chief of Jezebel, has a new book out that is a necessary read. Beck explores how feminism has been commodified, and how it excludes women of color, from the suffragettes to corporate feminism, and how we can fix it for future generations.

‘You Have A Match’ by Emma Lord (January 5, 2021)

Protagonist Abby signs up for a DNA test and gets more than she bargained for: she finds out she has an older sister. But not just any sister: Savannah Tully, an Instagram model. Abby’s plan to find out how tf this happened? Meet up with Savannah at summer camp and find out the truth. But there are a few problems, or else this would be a sentence and not a book: Savannah is a total narc, so getting the truth isn’t as simple as it seems. Plus, Abby’s crush works at the camp. Oh, and Abby’s parents are hiding a secret that could blow everything up.

‘Lana’s War’ by Anita Abriel (January 12, 2021)

Ok, so. I think we’ve maybe reached a point where WWII fiction is an escape again and not a harbinger of things to come? Fingers crossed it stays that way. With that said, Lana’s War is set in 1943 Paris, where Lana Antanova witnesses her husband being executed by the Gestapo—right when she was about to tell him she was pregnant. A few months later, Lana is approached to join the resistance, putting her face to face with the man who killed her husband. Taking up residence with a wealthy Swiss industrialist in a villa, Lana helps Jews escape. Obviously, the Nazis want to stop her, and Lana has to try to protect herself, everything she’s worked for, and the people she’s beginning to love. 

‘The Perfect Guests’ by Emma Rous (January 12, 2021)

From the author of The Au Pair comes another suspenseful read set in a creepy Gothic manor. Raven Hall is a sprawling manor in a coastal plain in eastern England. In 1988, 14-year-old Beth Soames is taken there by her aunt to stay with the Averell family. Beth quickly becomes like one of the family, until the Averells ask her to play a twisted game, and nothing is the same after that. Cut to 2019, when Sadie Lawson, a struggling actress, shows up with a suitcase and a dossier of the role she’s meant to play: a weekend guest. Can’t be too hard, right? Right, except the house feels haunted, the party guests feel off, and the host is not what they seem.

‘Waiting For The Night Song’ by Julie Carrick Dalton (January 12, 2021)

Julie Carrick Dalton’s debut gives me serious Where The Crawdad Sings vibes. Its protagonist is forestry researcher Cadie Kessler, who’s on the verge of a breakthrough that could help prevent serious damage to the wilderness. But then she gets a message from her estranged childhood best friend, and the two have to face a dark secret that they’ve kept hidden for over 25 years. As drought, foreclosures, and wildfires spark tensions between locals and displaced migrant farm workers, Cadie has to decide how far she’ll go to protect herself and the forest she loves.

‘Your Corner Dark’ by Desmond Hall (January 19, 2021)

Hall’s debut tackles gang life in Jamaica and pushes the limits of how far a teen will go for his family. Frankie Green gets a coveted scholarship letter, which should be his ticket out. Until his father gets shot, and he finds himself joining his uncle’s gang to pay for his father’s medical bills. Is there such thing as a point of no return? And is it too late for Frankie to build the life he’s always wanted?

‘The Obsession’ by Jesse Q. Sutano (February 2, 2021)

Think of The Obsession like the YA book version of You. Instead of Joe, we have Logan. Instead of Beck, we have Delilah. Some might call Logan a stalker, but he just thinks he’s romantic. Besides, nobody likes Delilah like he does, and they’re meant to be together. All he needs is the right moment to convince her they’re meant to be. When Logan witnesses Delilah kill her abusive stepfather, she may not have much of a choice but to be with Logan.

‘Wild Rain’ by Beverly Jenkins (February 2, 2021)

A little bit of romance, a little bit of historical fiction, Wild Rain tackles women’s rights, suffrage, and Black American history in Reconstruction-Era Wyoming. Did you know Wyoming was a pioneer in women’s rights and women’s suffrage? I didn’t either, but its territorial legislature passed a law in 1869 that gave women the right to vote. So with that in mind, Spring Lee, a property-owning Black female rancher, moves to Paradise, Wyoming. She has one rule: she does not need a man. Until she meets Garrett McCray, a Washington reporter who escaped slavery. When a dark spot from Spring’s past comes back to light, her ranch, her safety, and her newfound love are all on the line.

First Comes Like’ by Alisha Rai (February 16, 2020)

The third book in Rai’s Modern Love series, First Comes Like is about Jia Ahmed, a 29-year-old beauty influencer who doesn’t have time for love. But when a Bollywood legend slides into her DMs… well, that only happens once in a lifetime. Meanwhile, Dev Dixit grew up as Bollywood royalty, but his world was rocked by his brother’s unexpected death, and Dev finds himself as the guardian for his teen niece. Unable to deal with the constant public scrutiny, Dev sets off for America, where, one night in Hollywood, he meets a beautiful Instagram influencer. He’s surprised that he’s intrigued by her, and all the more surprised to find out someone has been catfishing her, posing as Dev. Who tf is catfishing Jia? And is Jia and Dev’s relationship doomed from the start?

‘Honey Girl’ by Morgan Rogers (February 23, 2021)

Twentysomething Grace Porter is a straight-laced overachiever who just got her PhD. Which is why it’s totally out of character when she goes to Vegas, gets hammered, and gets married to a woman whose name she doesn’t even know. After that trip, Grace does yet another unexpected thing and goes to New York for the summer to spend time with her new wife. But you can’t run from your problems forever, and soon, Grace’s come knocking at her door.

Images: Sincerely Media / Unsplash; Bookshop

6 Summer Book & Cocktail Pairings To Make You Forget Summer Is Almost Over

The best—if we’re being honest, maybe the only good—part of the summer of 2020 has been the books. From twisty thrillers to steamy romances, we’ve had it all. Our summer 2020 reads are hot, sweet, evocative—kind of like a really good cocktail. And since you’re likely reading any number of these with a drink in your hand anyway, I thought I’d do the work of pairing some of the biggest summer reads with the perfect drink. You’re welcome.

‘Luster’ + Death In The Afternoon

I love a Death in the Afternoon—and no, that’s not just when my coffee crash hits—because this cocktail almost begs you to drink it. It’s so glamorous, yet kind of out-there (tell me the last time you saw one of these on a cocktail menu… exactly). Not to mention, it’s delicious. I think Raven Leilani’s Luster is just as compelling. So much of this book is about that all-too-familiar striving for satisfaction, electric and desperate and wry. Luster is the perfect accompaniment to this cocktail because it hits those same dark and quixotic notes. Another irresistible point of symmetry is that this drink has only three ingredients, mirroring the open marriage at the center of this story.

Pour the absinthe into a champagne glass. Slowly add the chilled prosecco; if you do it right, your drink will turn an enchanting, iridescent green. Drop in the sugar cube and enjoy that gratifying fizz while it lasts.

‘Hysteria’ + Tequila And Habanero Sour

This book burns with sensual urgency, sort of like the burn from the habanero in this twist on a sour. Jessica Gross’ immersive and dark debut is complex and beautiful, hitting every note in that virtuosic range between desire and shame. I couldn’t resist matching Hysteria with this spicy tequila sour, a drink that encompasses an equally impressive range of flavor and fragrance.

Add the tequila, lemon juice, and agave into a shaking tin. Throw in the hot sauce and five to seven ice cubes, then shake vigorously for almost a full minute (if your arms can hold up). Fill two rocks glasses with ice and pour out the mixture through a strainer, dividing the cocktail between the glasses equally. Garnish each glass with a freshly sliced lemon wheel.

‘The Death Of Vivek Oji’ + Mezcal Aperol Gimlet

Akwaeke Emezi’s story about community and loss is the real deal. The masterfully rendered characters and shifting points of view create a poignant vision of the kaleidoscopic world surrounding Vivek. I found it nearly impossible to put this book down, which is why I had to pair it with a drink that I also find impossible to put down: this complex, bittersweet, vibrant mezcal Aperol gimlet.

Combine the mezcal, agave, Aperol, and lime in a shaking tin. Add five to seven ice cubes and shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds. Strain your cocktail into a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with a generous strip of grapefruit zest, if you have it.

‘Pizza Girl’ + Rum And Cherry Coke

Pizza Girl will take you for a ride in the very best way. Jean Kyoung Frazier so clearly, brilliantly—and almost harshly, because it’s so relatable it may feel like an attack—renders the mistakes, tragedies, and miracles of youth. I couldn’t resist going a little more literal with this one and pairing Pizza Girl with a riff on a rum and coke. This one’s hopefully a step up from what you were drinking in your high school friend’s basement while your parents thought you were studying, but it’s still a throwback to those days. (Not to mention, it goes great with pizza.)

You know this song, right? Fill a tall glass with ice and add your rum and cherry coke. Give it a little stir and add a maraschino cherry so you can practice tying the stem into a knot with your tongue when you’re finished.

‘Last Call On Decatur Street’ + Sazerac

Iris Martin Cohen’s Last Call on Decatur Street perfectly captures the blurry beauty of a long night out in one of the most bewitching cities in the world. (Ugh, remember nights out?) A Sazerac is really the only match for this dazzling ode to New Orleans, since the drink was created there in the early 19th century. The dreamy absinthe rinse along with a bold bolt of rye will bring you to the exact sort of summer night Cohen conjures in her page-turning second novel. Just maybe pace yourself with this drink, or you may find yourself having a blurry night of your own.

Pour the absinthe into a glass along with two ice cubes; swirl the glass and coat the interior. Set aside and add rye, both bitters, simple syrup, and ice to a separate mixing glass. Stir for about a minute. Then, empty the absinthe and ice from the first cup and pour—through a strainer—the contents of the mixing glass into the rinsed glass. 

‘Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop’ + St. Germain

Aside from my friends and family, I probably miss traveling the most. Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop is a tonic for anyone craving adventure. For a more immersive experience, fix yourself a St. Germain champagne cocktail to go along with it. This drink is as lovely, effervescent and delightful as Roselle Kim’s transportive tale of Vanessa’s voyage to Paris. Plus, it’s French AF so it will really set the scene.

Add the St. Germain and lemon juice in a shaking tin over ice.  Shake vigorously for 30 seconds and pour into a champagne glass. If you want to get really fancy with it, chill the glass first. But if you can’t wait, don’t worry about it. Top with cold sparkling wine and garnish with a twist of lemon zest. If you don’t have a shaking tin, you can make this one right in the glass—just make sure you pour in the St. Germain and lemon juice first.

Image: Dragon Images / Shutterstock.com

15 Instagrammable Books To Read This Summer

Before this weird excuse for that season we used to call summer ends, it’s about time I publish my list of the best books to read solely for your IG aesthetic. That’s right, I’m talking about my annual Instagrammable books roundup! They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but that’s exactly what we’re doing here. But don’t worry, because the books themselves are obviously worth reading.

‘Three Perfect Liars’ by Heidi Perks

(March 12, 2020)

This book has been described as Mad Men meets Big Little Lies, which is funny because the cover is very Little Fires Everywhere. And for good reason, I think! It starts when a fire (Little Fires Everywhere) destroys the office of a prestigious ad agency (Mad Men) and three ambitious women all find themselves under the microscope, since each of them has a motive for revenge.

‘The Golden Cage’ by Camilla Läckberg

(April 2, 2020)

Truthfully, I opened this book and was already not excited: woman marries super-rich, handsome guy who is clearly abusive but she’s too blinded by his looks and status to see it, then she’s left high and dry when he leaves her for a younger model? Yawn—or so I thought. What makes The Golden Cage not cliche, and, actually, a gripping page-turner, is that protagonist Faye is incredibly smart, with a dark past of her own. She won’t go down without a fight, and not before her ex-husband’s life is ruined.

‘A Burning’ by Megha Majumdar

(June 2, 2020)

Told through three different points of view, this beautiful novel is a debut for the ages that you’ll fly through in one sitting. Themes like class, fate, corruption, and justice make this book perfect for your summer reading list as three unforgettable characters with big dreams find themselves entangled in the wake of catastrophe in contemporary India.

‘Ordinary Girls’ by Jaquira Diaz

(June 16, 2020)

Fudging the requirements of this list a bit because the paperback is what’s new this summer, but I’m still counting it. And who wants to lug a hardcover to the beach anyway? Diaz’s debut earned her the 2019 Whiting Award, as well as a whole slew of critical praise, so you know it’s good. The memoir chronicles her upbringing in housing projects of Miami and Puerto Rico. She was, by her own admission, a runaway, a high school dropout, a suicide risk, and a street fighter. She was also the queer, biracial, displaced daughter of an absent father and a mother who struggled with mental illness.

‘Sex and Vanity’ by Kevin Kwan

(June 30, 2020)

From the king who brought us Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan is back with a dazzling love triangle that’s sure to spice up your summer. It follows Lucie Churchill, who is torn between her WASP-y fiancé and George Zao, the man she adamantly denies having feelings for (so relatable). This book gives those of us stuck inside our studio apartments a look at fame, fortune, and travel, all while taking a jab at racism and snobbery. 

‘One To Watch’ by Kate Stayman-London

(July 7, 2020)

If you watch The Bachelor, this book is the takedown we’ve all been waiting for, and Stayman-London is hardly subtle about it, which I love (ABC is called ABS in the book, Fleiss is Faust, need I say more?). In One To Watch, plus-size fashion blogger Bea Schumacher gets drunk one night and writes a scathing hit piece on the Bachelor Main Squeeze franchise’s lack of diversity, which goes viral overnight. But then, ABS does a surprising thing: they ask Bea to be the next Bachelorette Main Squeeze. Fun, sexy, and full of heart, you’ll devour this book in a day.

‘The Safe Place’ by Anna Downes

(July 14, 2020)

Emily Proudman just lost her job, her acting agent, and her apartment—all in one day. Rough. To say the least, she’s desperate. But when she runs into Scott Denny, the charming and successful CEO of the company she just got fired from, he offers her a summer job at his remote French estate that seems too good to be true. Her summer starts out totally Instagrammable, filled with plenty of day-drinking by the pool with Scott’s wife Nina and their mysterious daughter Aurelia, but soon, Emily realizes that Scott and his family are hiding something. If she doesn’t stop snooping, things may turn deadly.

‘The Boys’ Club’ by Erica Katz

(August 4, 2020)

I’m not even a lawyer, but this book feels so quintessential Big New York Law that anyone who even has one friend who went to law school will probably find this relatable. Alex Vogel has always been a high achiever who played by the rules: Harvard Law School, prestigious job at the biggest law firm in NYC, longtime boyfriend. But soon she gets seduced by the money of big law and the charm of her coworkers… and suddenly she might want to take a walk on the wilder side. When an incident reveals the dark culture of the firm (you can probably guess what), Alex is thrust in the middle and forced to decide between keeping her job and friends and doing the right thing.

‘The Death of Vivek Oji’ by Akwaeke Emezi

(August 4, 2020)

When a mother in southeastern Nigeria opens her front door to find her son’s body wrapped in colorful fabric, it sends a shockwave through the family. The Death of Vivek Oji explores the electrifying story of one family’s struggle to understand their mysterious child and a heart-stopping act of violence that changes their lives forever.

‘Love After Love’ by Ingrid Persaud

(August 4, 2020)

After her abusive husband dies, Trinidadian native Betty Ramdin and her son, Solo, take in a lodger, Mr. Chetan, and the three eventually pull a Modern Family and form an unconventional bond. But one night, Solo overhears his mom spill a secret, causing him to flee all the way to NYC. Mr. Chetan continues to love and support his adopted family—until a secret of his own is revealed.

‘Luster’ by Raven Leilani

(August 4, 2020)

New Yorkers, I dare you to not find this novel relatable af. Edie is stumbling around her 20s, sharing an apartment in Bushwick, hooking up with the wrong people, working a job she doesn’t care about. But then she meets Eric, a digital archivist in an open marriage with a woman who performs autopsies for a living. (I always said the next time I’d open up to someone would be on an autopsy table…) Edie then finds herself unemployed and invited to stay in Eric’s home—though not by Eric, by his wife. And then sh*t gets compliated.

‘You Had Me at Hola’ by Alexis Daria

(August 4, 2020)

Telenovela lovers unite! For those of us who have felt empty since Jane The Virgin ended, You Had Me at Hola is the cure. After Jasmine Lin Rodriguez goes through a messy public breakup, she returns home to New York City to star in a new bilingual rom-com. Jasmine is determined to be a leading lady who doesn’t need a man, but when she gets partnered with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez, they both end up with more than they bargained for. Will their mounting feelings for each other upend their lives?

‘A House Is A Body’ by Shruti Swamy

(August 11, 2020)

Even people who are “not short story people” (me tbh) will find themselves captivated by A House Is Not A Body, which has stories ranging from a young painter living alone in San Francisco who begins a secret romance with one of India’s biggest celebrities to an exhausted mother who watches as a California wildfire approaches her home and more.

‘The Heatwave’ by Kate Riordan

(August 18, 2020)

heat wave

The cover is so gorgeous I can’t stop staring at it. And once you pick up this gripping thriller, you won’t want to put it down. Sylvie Durand has tried to forget La Reverie, her paradoxically named country home in the French countryside. Let’s just say, bad things have happened there. But when a fire calls her back to care for the property, she’s forced to confront the past she wants to put behind her. And that means confronting the memory of her first daughter, Elodie: beautiful, manipulative, reminiscent of one of the Manson girls, gone by age 14.

‘His Only Wife’ by Peace Adzo Medie

(September 1, 2020)

So this isn’t out until September, sue me. That’s what preorder is for!! So. Set in Ghana, His Only Wife is like a Crazy Rich Asians for West Africa. It follows Afi Tekple, a young seamstress, who is arranged to marry Eli, the successful son of her family’s benefactor. Score. Eli’s family agrees to the marriage because they want to get him away from his mistress, and Afi and Eli marry sight unseen (*Love Is Blind voice*), meaning Eli isn’t even at the wedding. Afi moves into his luxury apartment, gets used to her fancy new lifestyle, and finally meets Eli. The problem? Eli doesn’t magically stop caring about his mistress just because he’s married. *Pretends to be shocked*

Images: Jairph / Unsplash; Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (3); Farrar, Straus & Giroux; Gallery Books; HarperCollins (2); Knopf Doubleday (3); Penguin (2); Random House (2); St. Martin’s

The Betches Summer 2020 Reading List

The summer solstice happened last weekend, meaning it’s officially summer (even if we all think summer begins on Memorial Day). That means we have a whole new bunch of books to get through! Guess the f*ck what, even if we can’t get drunk on rooftops, we have so much time to read. Wow, okay, I sound like a middle school librarian, but it’s true. From gripping thrillers to LGBTQ romances, from vivid historical fiction to empowering memoirs, there are so many good books coming out this summer (or that are already out). If there were ever a time when we needed an escape, it would be the middle of a goddamn pandemic. So here are some books coming out this summer that you need to read, whether on the beach (wearing a mask, six feet from others) or just in your bed. 

The Summer Set‘ by Aimee Agresti

May 12, 2020

Attention theater kids, you’ll love this charming read that takes place at a theater camp. Once upon a time, Charlie Savoy was the hottest actress in Hollywood, destined for superstardom—until she got too caught up in the partying (you hate to see it). Ten years later, she’s forced to spend her summer volunteering at the summer theater in the Berkshires that launched her career. Even though Charlie is born to do this, it’s not smooth sailing. The artistic director of the camp is none other than her former flame aka ~the one that got away~, and when Charlie’s old rival gets brought on set, her summer threatens to turn into a tragedy real quick.

Happy & You Know It‘ by Laura Hankin

May 19, 2020

Have you ever said a hilarious joke that got no laughs, only to have your friend repeat it a little louder and get all the credit? I imagine that’s a small-scale version of what Claire Martin feels when she gets kicked out of her band right before they get super famous for a song she wrote. Dejected, Claire takes a gig as the playgroup musician for a group of young Manhattan moms. As she befriends the moms, she discovers these ladies have much bigger problems to worry about than which Lululemon leggings to wear that day. The perfect summer read, Happy & You Know It is basically like The Assistants but with rich moms, or like Mean Girls mixed with The Nanny Diaries.

The Prettiest Star‘ by Carter Sickels

May 19, 2020

It’s 1980, and 18-year-old Brian has just moved to New York City from his suffocating hometown in Ohio with hopes of a free, bright future. Soon, the AIDS epidemic ravages the city, taking the lives of his partner and many of his friends. It leaves Brian to contemplate staying in New York, where he can embrace his sexuality but is surrounded by death, or returning home to Ohio, where his family’s ignorance prevents him from being his full self. Cue the more heartbreaking songs on the RENT soundtrack.

Parachutes‘ by Kelly Yang

May 26, 2020

Claire is a “parachute,” a teenager from China sent to study abroad at an American high school and live with a host family. Claire’s host family includes smart and shy Dani, who’s being raised by her single mom. Though they’re going to the same school and living under the same roof, Claire and Dani couldn’t be more different. Claire is beyond wealthy, while Dani is on scholarship, working at her mom’s house cleaning business to make extra money to keep the family afloat. They spend most of the year avoiding each other, until an act of violence forces them together and they realize they’re not as different as they think.

Something To Talk About‘ by Meryl Wilsner

May 26, 2020

Berkley’s first queer romance book is here, and it’s about damn time. Anyone who loves celebrity gossip and is fascinated by the ins and outs of Hollywood will enjoy this tale of a high-powered Hollywood producer who falls in love with her assistant—smack dab in the middle of the #MeToo era.

Again Again‘ by E. Lockhart

June 2, 2020

So, We Were Liars is one of my top five favorite books, which is why I’m so excited E. Lockhart is back with another fun read that’s full of surprises. Adelaide Buchwald survives a near-fatal family catastrophe and a breakup, after which she spends a summer falling in and out of love a thousand times (me after going on one date), all while confronting her ideas about love and her own secrets.

A Song Below Water‘ by Bethany C. Morrow

June 2, 2020

If you like fantasy but prefer your fantastical elements to be injected into a real-world setting as opposed to a completely new world, then A Song Below Water, which is about teen mermaids who live in Portland, will be just the thing for you. Tavia is forced to keep her siren identity a secret, and what makes it even harder is that Portland doesn’t have many Black people, let alone Black people with magical powers. But she has her best friend Effie, and together they navigate crushes, family secrets, and the ins and outs of high school. That all changes, though, after a siren murder trial, and when Tavia and Effie’s favorite fashion icon reveals she’s also a siren, tensions start escalating.

The Guest List‘ by Lucy Foley

June 2, 2020

Want to get the thrill of watching Knives Out again? Lucy Foley’s latest page-turner is the next best thing. Very reminiscent of Agatha Christie, The Guest List takes place on an island off the coast of Ireland, where unsuspecting friends and family have gathered to celebrate a wedding. You can probably see where this is going: choppy waters, spotty cell service, and then one of the wedding guests turns up dead.

The Vanishing Half‘ by Brit Bennett

June 2, 2020

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Mothers comes a new novel about two twins who grew up in a small southern Black community and ran away at age 16. As adults, one twin finds herself back in the very community she tried to escape, while the other secretly passes for white, her white husband knowing nothing about her past. But you can’t run from your past forever, which will become evident when the twins’ daughters’ paths cross.

#VERYFAT #VERYBRAVE‘ by Nicole Byer

June 2, 2020

We’ve all heard celebrities called “#brave” for Instagramming with no makeup or filter (never mind their lip fillers and Botox injections). In this book, Byer reclaims the hashtag to detail her personal journey towards body confidence and to advise her readers on how to say f*ck you to the trolls and haters.

You Should See Me In A Crown‘ by Leah Johnson

June 2, 2020

Liz Lighty has never felt like she fit in at her small, rich, prom-obsessed Midwestern high school. She’s just counting down the days until she can GTFO of there. Her grand plan? To get accepted into the elite Pennington College, play in the orchestra, and become a doctor. NBD. When Liz’s crucial financial aid falls through, her plan starts to crumble—until she remembers her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. Liz doesn’t want to open herself up to all the judgment and social media trolling that running for prom queen would bring (her school even has its own gossip app, Campbell Confidential, so you know it’s catty), but she has no choice if she wants to get into Pennington.

The Boyfriend Project‘ by Farrah Rochon

June 9, 2020

Think John Tucker Must Die, but with an uplifting, female-empowerment twist. In The Boyfriend Project, three women learn they’re all dating the same man. But instead of ruining his life, they band together to invest in themselves: no men and no dating for the next six months. Samiah, a software developer, is finding it particularly hard to put herself first (can relate). But just when she’s on track to finally start developing the app she’s been dreaming of bringing to life, she meets her hot new coworker who’s hard to resist. Ugh, why does it always happen that way?

Last Tang Standing‘ by Lauren Ho

June 9, 2020

If you loved Crazy Rich Asians then you’ll want to put Last Tang Standing in your cart immediately, because it’s like Crazy Rich Asians, but more relatable and funnier.

You: so controversial

Living in Singapore, 34-year-old Andrea Tang is still single, which, as far as Andrea’s well-to-do family is concerned, may as well be a crime. Andrea is married to her job, though she is keenly aware of her family’s pressure. Told through diary entries, Andrea tries out dating apps, gets wasted (see, I told you it was relatable), falls in love with a rich businessman, dukes it out with a newcomer at her law firm, and navigates the laser minefield that is her family’s intricate dynamics and expectations.

Head Over Heels‘ by Hannah Orenstein

June 23, 2020

Head Over Heels is Orenstein’s third romance novel, and she’s really nailed the millennial romance market. Avery Abrams trained her whole life to become an Olympic gymnast, but when an injury crushes those dreams, she’s forced to reassess her life and move back to her hometown. She begins training a promising young local gymnast, and you know sparks are going to fly. But when a scandal rocks the sport, as well as Avery’s past relationships, she must reevaluate her world and her past relationships.

Mexican Gothic‘ by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

June 23, 2020

Set in 1950s Mexico, Mexican Gothic is “a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror” according to Kirkus Reviews. Noemí Taboada receives a letter from her cousin, begging someone to save her from some sort of mysterious peril. Noemí heads to High Place, a house in the Mexican countryside. There she meets her cousin’s scary yet handsome husband, his father, and the shy yet mysterious youngest son. Oh, and the house is probably haunted. Will Noemí be able to leave the house?

Party Of Two‘ by Jasmine Guillory

June 23, 2020

Fans of The Wedding Party, Jasmine Guillory is back this summer with yet another steamy romance, this one set in L.A. Lawyer Olivia Monroe flirts with Max Powell, who turns out to be a senator. Their whirlwind romance leads to them going on secret dates and trying to ditch the paparazzi, until they’re forced to go public with their relationship and Olivia faces a ton of scrutiny, which causes her to question if the relationship is really right for her.

Take A Hint, Dani Brown‘ by Talia Hibbert

June 23, 2020

One of Oprah Magazine’s 21 Romance Novels That Are Set to Be the Best of 2020, Take a Hint, Dani Brown is another charming romantic novel from Talia Hibbert. Danika Brown is over romance—it only brings disappointment (relatable). What she wants is a no-strings-attached, friends with benefits situation. Which is what she thinks she’s found in Zafir Ansari, the hunky security guard at her workplace. That is, until he rescues her in a fire drill gone awry, and the video of that rescue goes viral and people from all corners of the internet start shipping them. So Dani thinks, what the hell, might as well fake it for the publicity for a little while. We all know where this is going to go! Should I start fake-dating more people “for the publicity”?

A Woman Alone‘ by Nina Laurin

June 23, 2020

If you liked The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney, then get ready for more robots behaving badly in Nina Laurin’s newest thriller (and if that name sounds familiar, it’s because Laurin’s The Starter Wife landed on my reading list last summer). But this one is like Smart House, but deadly. After a brutal home invasion, Cecelia, her husband, and 3-year-old daughter move into a new house with a complex AI-operated security system. All is well and good, until Cecelia starts suspecting that the system has killed the occupants of the house, and she’s next.

Self Care‘ by Leigh Stein

June 30, 2020

Fans of Diet Starts Tomorrow will love this one! Millennials Maren Gelb and Devin Avery create Richual, a wellness app for women that’s founded on the principle that women being happy with themselves and practicing self-care are forms of resistance against the patriarchy. Devin is the perfectly toned body and face of the app, while Maren is the behind-the-scenes cynic who makes everything work. Self Care is a smart critique of the wellness industry and how toxic, fake, and white-washed it is—but it’s also a very fun read.

Someone Else’s Secret‘ by Julia Spiro

July 1, 2020

This one starts out as a breezy beach read, then gets real dark, real quick. Lindsey graduates from Bowdoin at the height of the recession with dreams of working in art galleries and a mountain of student debt. She ends up working as a nanny for a rich family on Martha’s Vineyard for the summer, where she befriends Georgie, the 14-year-old girl she babysits along with her 5-year-old brother.

Cinderella Is Dead‘ by Kalynn Bayron

July 8, 2020

Pretend we live in whatever world Cinderella takes place in. It’s 200 years after she found Prince Charming, and now teenage girls are required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select their wives. If they do not find a suitable match, the unchosen girls are never heard from again. Harsh. Enter: 16-year-old Sophia, who would much rather marry Erin, her best friend. At the ball, Sophia flees and finds herself face-to-face with Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella. They team up to bring down the king once and for all. This fantasy-meets-queer romance-meets-patriarchy smashing novel is a fun read for everyone waiting for their fairytale ending.

Crooked Hallelujah‘ by Kelli Jo Ford

July 18, 2020

Taking place in 1974 in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, 15-year-old Justine is part of a family of tough, loyal women, presided over by her mother and grandmother after Justine’s father abandoned the family. Justine’s mother becomes heavily involved in the Holiness Church, a community Justine finds kind of terrifying and definitely restrictive. Justine tries her best to be a good daughter and devoted follower until an act of violence changes her thinking forever. As an adult with a daughter of her own, Reney, Justine tries to find stability in Texas amidst the oil bust of the 1980s—which is easier said than done.

10 Things I Hate About Pinky‘ by Sandhya Menon

July 21, 2020

Need a fun, flirty YA novel that takes on the “fake-dating” trope Netflix loves to push on us in all their teen movies? Look no further than NYT bestselling author Sandhya Menon’s latest release, which follows two frenemies, Pinky and Samir, who each have their quirks. After Samir loses an internship, Pinky invites him to be her fake boyfriend, offering a new internship if he accepts. He needs something to do; she needs her parents to stop coming at her over her life choices. What could go wrong? Well, aside from them bickering constantly and struggling to sell their relationship…

He Started It‘ by Samantha Downing

July 21, 2020

Samantha Downing’s highly anticipated novel He Started It is finally here! If you’ve read any of my book roundups in the past, then I feel like you can recite my little summary from memory, but here we go one more time. He Started It follows a family of liars and grifters who are on a road trip to disperse their grandfather’s ashes, and at the end, collect a big insurance payout. But as you can guess, when scamming runs in your blood, you can’t even trust your own family members.

The Woman Before Wallis‘ by Bryn Turnbull

July 21, 2020

The Woman Before Wallis is historical fiction, but stay with me! It’s so dramatic you’ll think you’re reading a tabloid, or like, watching The Crown, I guess. Picture this: the summer of 1926. Thelma Morgan, the daughter of an American diplomat, marries Viscount Duke Furness and becomes a member of the British aristocracy (sounds familiar…). Because she’s now a member of the ~elite~ she meets the handsome young Prince of Wales, with whom she starts having an affair. This is already precarious AF, and only gets more wild when Thelma’s sister, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, gets embroiled in a scandal of her own.

A Star Is Bored‘ by Byron Lane

July 28, 2020

First of all, love the title, even though it has now knocked one potential off my prospective memoir titles list. But anyway, influenced in part by the author’s time as Carrie Fisher’s beloved assistant, A Star Is Bored is about Kathi Kannon, a famous actress known for her role in a blockbuster sci-fi movie, and Charlie Besson, her new assistant. They laugh, they cry, they go on late-night shopping sprees, and they form a friendship that goes beyond that of the typical boss/assistant relationship.

The Wife Who Knew Too Much‘ by Michele Campbell

July 28, 2020

After A Stranger On The Beach, Michele Campbell is back with her latest thriller, The Wife Who Knew Too Much. Tabby is a waitress living a fairly modest life, but she never forgot her high school summer love, Connor. He was handsome, kind, and extremely wealthy—which was why his family hated her, and broke them up. So when he shows up back in her life, it seems like a miracle, except there’s a catch: he’s married. And not just married—married to the incredibly wealthy and powerful Nina Ford. But he of course assures Tabby they’re getting a divorce (sure, Jan), but there’s another catch: if he’s caught cheating, he gets nothing in the divorce settlement. So Tabby and Connor continue their affair in secret, until Nina winds up dead. Guess who’s the number one suspect?

This Is My America‘ by Kim Johnson

July 28, 2020

17-year-old Tracy Beaumont diligently writes letters every week to Innocence X, asking the organization to look into her father’s case. Her father is an innocent Black man on death row, and after seven years of begging Innocence X, Tracy’s father only has 267 days left to live. Then, things get even worse for Tracy: her brother Jamal is accused of killing a white girl. With Jamal on the run and her father on death row, it’s up to Tracy to investigate what really happened and try to save her family.

Today Tonight Tomorrow‘ by Rachel Lynn Solomon

July 28, 2020

Named a most-anticipated book of 2020 by Entertainment, Today Tonight Tomorrow is an instant classic rom-com. This enemies-to-lovers plot involves Rowan and Neil, two high school students who have been bitter rivals on everything: test scores, student council elections, and even gym class. When Neil is named valedictorian, Rowan’s last chance at victory is to defeat him in Howl, a senior class scavenger hunt. Of course these two decide to form an alliance, and I think you can guess where this alliance ultimately takes them.

Caste‘ by Isabel Wilkerson

August 4, 2020

In her latest work of nonfiction, Pulitzer prize-winning author and journalist Isabel Wilkerson demonstrates, through deeply researched stories about real people, how America has been shaped by a hidden caste system. She traces the caste systems of India, America, and Nazi Germany, exploring eight different criteria that link them all. In addition to diving deep into how this insidious system affects us every day, she offers ways America can break these divisions and try to move past them.

The Comeback‘ by Ella Berman

August 4, 2020

In a fiction debut that’s all too timely, The Comeback is about Grace Turner, a young actress who returns to Hollywood after retreating from the public eye. Nobody but Grace knows the reason for her disappearance from Hollywood: the manipulation and abuse from a director who controlled her life. When she’s asked to present this same director with a Lifetime Achievement Award, Grace must come back into the public eye to demand justice.

The Night Swim‘ by Megan Goldin

August 4, 2020

If you read Sadie and binged Serial, then The Night Swim was basically written for you. Rachel Krall started a true crime podcast that became a viral sensation and set an innocent man free. Her podcast’s success has turned her into a go-to figure for people hoping to be exonerated for crimes they didn’t commit. Now, her podcast has taken her to a small town torn apart by a rape trial: a golden boy—a swimmer destined for the Olympics—is accused of sexually assaulting the granddaughter of the police chief. But as Rachel investigates this case, she’s also getting mysterious notes sent to her by someone who claims their sister who officials say was drowned, was in fact murdered. When Rachel starts asking questions about the drowning, suddenly everyone in town clams up, and the past and present collide as she investigates both cases.

The Silent Wife‘ by Karin Slaughter

August 4, 2020

New York Times bestselling author Karin Slaughter is back this summer with her 20th novel, The Silent Wife. In Atlanta, a young woman is attacked and left for dead. The case goes cold until FBI investigator Will Trent gets an assignment that brings him to a prisoner who recognizes the M.O. of the attack—because he’s been falsely sitting in prison for it. Now, Trent must solve the old case in order to solve this new one.

Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop‘ by Roselle Lim

August 4, 2020

If you enjoyed Lim’s debut, Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune, then get ready for her follow-up, which is just as full of heart, heritage, and food. Lim’s latest tells the story of Vanessa Yu, a fortuneteller who’s been able to see people’s futures at the bottom of their teacups for as long as she can remember. Try as she might to avoid using her powers, people’s fortunes seem to find their way into Vanessa’s life to f*ck things up. When Vanessa sees death for the first time after an appointment with a matchmaker (because, oh yeah, her romance life is also nonexistent), she decides she needs to get rid of her abilities, so she jets off to Paris. There, she learns more about her gift, and comes to realize that knowing your destiny isn’t a curse, but not being able to change it is.

Color Me In‘ by Natasha Díaz

August 11, 2020

In this coming-of-age novel, 16-year-old Nevaeh Levitz never thought much about her biracial identity as a girl with a Black mom and Jewish dad, until her parents split up and she moves to her mom’s home in Harlem. There, she gets sh*t from family members who think she’s too privileged, pampered, and white-passing to relate to the injustices Black people face. On the other hand, her dad wants her to have a belated bat mitzvah instead of a sweet 16, which would earn her sh*t from the privileged kids at her private school. You can’t win! Neveah stays silent until a secret from her mom’s past, falling in love, and witnessing the racism her family faces firsthand forces her to find and use her voice.

Raybearer‘ by Jordan Ifueko

August 18, 2020

Need a good YA fantasy read? Look no further than the debut from Jordan Ifueko, which is already getting buzz from Seventeen, Buzzfeed, Entertainment Weekly, and now me, and is based on West African traditions and mythology. Protagonist Tarisai was raised in isolation by an absent mother called The Lady, but she has always longed for a family. The adventure begins when The Lady sends Tarisai to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If chosen, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood—what Tarisai has always wanted. But The Lady has other plans, and wants her to kill the Crown Prince. Will Tarisai be strong enough to stand up on her own?

Winter Counts‘ by David Heska Wabli Weiden

August 25, 2020

When the American justice system consistently fails you and your people, you become a vigilante of sorts—or at least, that’s what Virgil Wounded Horse does for the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Things get personal, though, when heroin enters into the reservation and finds its way to Virgil’s own nephew. With the help of his ex-girlfriend, he decides to find out where the drugs are coming from and how to make them stop. As Virgil starts to put the pieces together, he’s forced to come to terms with his own demons and grapple with what it means to be Native American in the 21st century.

Images: Dan Dumitriu / Unsplash; Barnes & Noble (36)

Book Series To Binge While You Wait For ‘Game Of Thrones’ To Come Back

Summer is officially over and I know this because yesterday a girl in Uggs spilled her pumpkin spice latte all over me. We’ve now moved into that weird in-between stage of seasons where summer is dead but none of your favorite shows are back on so you don’t have an actual excuse for why you ignored your BFF’s text about getting your ass down to the bars ASAP. Like, b*tch LET ME LIVE (my best life on the couch). But never fear, because where there’s a will, there’s a way for me to get out of being social, and that way is to binge read myself into a coma. That said, we’ve got some bangin’ book series to educate you with that are legit better than binge watching all seven seasons of Game of Thrones. You’re so welcome.

The ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ Series by Sarah J Maas

I’d been hearing about this series for years and never picked it up because I thought it would be another boring YA fantasy series, and also because I’m stupid. But once I started reading, I could not put these books down. It has all the intrigue and action of Game of Thrones but with twentysomethings and hotter people (if that’s possible). The books follow 19-year-old huntress Feyre who accidentally kills something she shouldn’t and ends up having to spend the rest of her life in a faerie realm. If I lost you just there, HEAR ME OUT THOUGH. At first it’s a little like Beauty and The Beast, but it’s so much more than that by the end of the book. Think epic world building, feuding kingdoms, and badass leading ladies who aren’t afraid to scheme the sh*t out of some men. The books are long AF, but, like, so is a Law & Order: SVU marathon and you people never miss that sh*t.

A Court of Thorns And Roses

The ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Series by Kevin Kwan

Would it be a comprehensive reading list if we didn’t include Kevin Kwan and the bougiest family we’ve ever f*cking seen? I think not. The Youngs make your family drama look like child’s play and theirs goes down on private jets. Advanced warning: You might want to settle in with your own order of dumplings, otherwise you’re bound to get very, very hungry while reading. And then go see the movie.

The ‘Addicted To You‘ Series by Krista & Becca Ritchie

Just gonna be real up front and say right now that this is a romance series, so don’t @ me in the comments when you get all hot and bothered on the subway because someone said the word “climax.” Let’s be real, these books are no dirtier than whatever you’re texting your ex after three vodka crans. Just saying. The books follow Lily Calloway and Loren Hale, two members of Philadelphia’s most elite families who both happen to be battling secret addictions while also trying to date each other. If that sounds a little heavy, that’s because it kind of is, but in the immortal words of Kim Kardashian West “it’s the good kind of baggage, like Louis Vuitton.” Seriously, this series is INSANE. Think Kardashian-level family drama meets the lux inner circle of Gossip Girl. Now go forth and binge.

Addicted To You

The ‘Thousandth Floor’ Series by Katherine McGee

I know I keep comparing sh*t to Gossip Girl, SO SUE ME. It’s not my fault that show was the voice of a goddamn generation. Anyway, moving on. Set in a futuristic Manhattan, the Thousandth Floor series follows five teens who live at the Palace hotel but on, like, steroids. You’ve got all the Upper East Siders and a Lonely Boy living in the year 3000 where not much has changed but they live underwater. I paraphrase; the book actually takes place in 2118. Whatever. In any case, it’s about a group of rich teenagers who all are hiding dark secrets. Dun dun dunnnn. This book is a fast AF read. It reads like a thriller element because each book opens up with someone dying—and you know we betches love death. Feel blessed, because there’s three books already out so that’s at least four happy hours you can miss in favor of binge reading.

thousandth floor

The Last Time I Lied’ by Riley Sager

This isn’t technically a series but both of Riley Sager’s books involve campy, Final Destination-like plots that are seriously addictive from page one. We love, love, LOVED The Final Girls and the author’s second book is just as binge-worthy. The book follows Emma Davis who, in a very Pretty Little Liars twist of events, realizes all of her BFFs have disappeared after playing a game of two truths and a lie at summer camp one night. It’s kind of like if all the Liars went missing and only Aria had to find out what happened to them (god help them). I’m telling you right now, once you start this book you won’t be able to put it down.  

The ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ Series by Jenny Han

Look, I’m not trying to be judgmental, but if you haven’t watched Netflix’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before THEN WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE. I’m sorry, that was aggressive. But really, I’ve never loved a teenaged boy more and I hate how that sounds coming out of my mouth but it’s the honest goddamn truth. If you watched the movie and have a pulse then you obvi fell in love with Peter Kavinsky. I’m telling you now, the books are even better. Plus there’s already three books out in the series so if you’re looking for some more Peter in your life you’ve got at least 900 pages worth of reading material. You can thank me in the comments.

To All The Boys I've Loved Before

When’s Happy Hour? By The Betches

Not a series, but you should read it anyways because it’s our third book and we wrote it and it will literally change your life. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Images: Vanessa Serpas / Unsplash; Amazon (7)

The Betches Holiday 2017 Reading Guide: A Book For Everyone On Your List

The holidays are coming up, and for most of us that means a significant amount of downtime where we have like, nothing to do. All the TV shows are on hiatus, and despite the stereotype, there are rarely ever any good movies to see on Christmas. (I would know, I was forced to go see Unbroken a few Christmases ago because nothing else remotely decent was playing.) That’s where this archaic invention called “books” comes in. There’s a book for every occasion and every person. Whether you’re book shopping for yourself or your friends and family, here are a selection of new releases for everyone in your life. 

‘I’m Judging You’ by Luvvie Ajayi: For Your Sassy Friend

Listen up, judgy judges (so like, all of you if you read this site, I assume). I’m Judging You is probably the most entertaining book you will read all year. In a series of essays, culture critic and blogger Luvvie Ajayi slams basically every part of modern culture, from everyone’s godawful social media habits (no, it’s not okay when you do it) to organized religion to people in relationships and many other areas in between. She says everything you’ve ever thought while angrily scrolling through Facebook, only way funnier and more eloquently. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry… of laughter, you’ll fucking love this book and be gifted with a new set of vocab words with which to judge people. And you’ll (probably) be motivated to do better. The hardcover copy with a new bonus chapter just came out on November 21, so there’s even more comedic material to savor.

I'm Judging You

‘Dinner At The Center Of The Earth’ by Nathan Englander: For Your Woke Bae

If you have that one friend who won’t STFU about politics—and I’m not talking about your uncle when he has too many Scotches at any family meal, but I guess maybe him too—they would probably enjoy the latest from Nathan Englander. Basically, this novel centers around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but not in a pedagogical way. It’s a work of fiction, and all the characters’ lives are shaped by this conflict in varying ways—it’s at once political and an escape from the political. Does that make any sense? IDK.

Dinner At The Center Of The Earth

‘Seven Days Of Us’ by Francesca Hornak: For Your Dysfunctional Family Members

If you liked The People We Hate At The Wedding from our summer reading list, the next stop on your dysfunctional family book train needs to be Seven Days of Us. If you thought your family was fucked up, just wait till you read about the Birches, a British family who is forced to quarantine themselves for seven days over Christmas when Olivia, the eldest daughter, returns from curing the HAAg virus in Liberia. Think of it like, if one of your family members was traveling to South Sudan at the height of the Ebola crisis. Yep. Stressful. And like any dysfunctional British family, everybody’s got their fair share of life-ruining secrets they’re trying to keep—not so easy to do when you’re cooped up in a house with only each other for a week.

Seven Days Of Us

‘The Broken Girls’ by Simone St. James: For Your Dead Inside Friend

If your friend is truly dead inside in every sense of the word, and a little bit indecisive, she will breeze through The Broken Girls. Set in a quaint town in Vermont where a creepy abandoned boarding school is located, The Broken Girls flips back and forth between 2014 and 1950. This book has a little bit of everything—murder, ghosts, corruption, and more—for whatever morbid cause she’s into.

The Broken Girls

‘Girl In Pieces’ by Kathleen Glasgow: For Anyone Who’s Going Through Some Shit

A fictional, more poetic Go Ask Alice, this heartbreaking book follows Charlie Davis, who, at 17, has already gone through more shit than I hope any of us will have to face in a lifetime. Along the way Charlie has developed some unhealthy coping mechanisms and picked up some bad influences, but setback after setback, you’ll nonetheless root for her from start to finish. Anyone who’s dealing with something tough—or really, anyone who’s human—will take comfort in reading this testament to human resilience. Or at the very least, it will be reassuring to know you could have it much, much worse.

Girl In Pieces

‘One Of Us Is Lying’ by Karen M. McManus: For Your Angsty Little Cousin

Truth be told, this book is basically The Breakfast Club, but with murder. Are you sold? Because that’s all I’ve got—but really, it’s all you should need. Your angsty teenage cousin probably won’t know the difference, because they’re too young to think The Breakfast Club is anything other than the name of your brunch crew’s group chat. *Sobs* I am ancient. 

One Of Us Is Lying

‘We Were Liars’ by E. Lockhart: For Anyone Whose Life You Want To Fuck Up

We Were Liars E. Lockhart

Full disclosure, this book came out in 2014, but I only just read it this year and I was so affected by it that I keep recommending it to everyone I know at all times, regardless of the current topic of conversation. This YA novel is about Cadence, a 15-year-old who lives for the summers which she spends with her family on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts. Don’t be fooled by the YA categorization; the writing is stunning, almost like a series of prose poems, and will grab you by the collar and pull you in from the very first sentence. At the climax comes a revelation that will shake you—I’m not exaggerating when I say I had a visceral reaction to it. I almost cried; I almost puked; I was haunted for days afterward. Anyone who is the same after reading this book probably isn’t human, so gift it with caution and be prepared to ruin lives. In the best way, I mean.

‘I Had A Nice Time And Other Lies: How To Find Love And Sh*t Like That’ by The Betches: For Your Single Friend

Would it be a reading list if we didn’t include one of the best books ever? Hardly. This cuffing season (kill me), get your single friend a no-nonsense dating advice book. Let’s be real, she’s not doing anyone any favors by “being herself” or “waiting for love to come find her” like all the bullshit clichés suggest, so let us violently push gently nudge her in the right direction.

I Had A Nice Time And Other Lies The Betches

Images: Ben White / Unsplash; Amazon (7)

Read: The Betches Summer 2017 Reading List