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)
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
I know the world is feeling a little apocalyptic right now, and we all have our coping mechanisms for that. Maybe you read a fun, uplifting romance novel to make you believe in the power of love. Maybe you turn to murder thrillers to bring you comfort (weird flex, but ok). Or maybe you just lean into the dystopian feels and curl up with a nice post-apocalyptic fantasy novel. If that last one is your vibe, you’re going to want to get a copy of Veronica Roth’s adult debut, Chosen Ones, out April 7.
Nine years ago (pause to cry about how old we are), Veronica Roth published Divergent, the first book in the young adult trilogy that became a #1 New York Times bestseller and was turned into the blockbuster hit movie starring Shailene Woodley. Chosen Ones is her adult debut, that catches up with a group of young adults, 10 years after they saved the world from total destruction. As they try to adjust into normal life, one of the Chosen Ones turns up dead, and they realize maybe the universe still needs saving after all. Chosen Ones comes out April 7, but you can read the first chapter below.
The Drain looked the same every time, with all the people screaming as they ran away from the giant dark cloud of chaos but never running fast enough. Getting swept up, their skin pulling away from bone while they were still alive to feel it, blood bursting from them like swatted mosquitoes, oh God.
Sloane was up and panting. Quiet, she told herself. Her toes curled under; the ground was cold here, in the Dark One’s house, and he had taken her boots. She had to find something heavy or something sharp — both was too much to ask for, obviously; she had never been that lucky.
She yanked open drawers, finding spoons, forks, spatulas. A handful of rubber bands. Chip clips. Why had he taken her boots? What did a mass murderer have to fear from a girl’s Doc Martens?
Hello, Sloane, he whispered in her ear, and she choked on a sob. Yanked open another drawer and found a line of handles, the blades buried in a plastic knife block. She was just pulling out the butcher knife when she heard something creak behind her, the pressure of a footstep.
Sloane spun around, her feet tacky on the linoleum, and swiped with the knife.
“Holy shit!” Matt caught her by the wrist, and for a moment they just stared at each other over their arms, over the knife.
Sloane gasped as reality trickled back in. She was not in the Dark One’s house, not in the past, not anywhere but in the apartment she shared with Matthew Weekes.
“Oh God.” Sloane’s hand went lax on the handle, and the knife clattered to the floor, bouncing between their feet. Matt put his hands on her shoulders, his grip warm.
“You there?” he said.
He had asked her that before, dozens of times. Their handler, Bert, had called her a lone wolf, and he rarely made her join the others in training or on missions. Let her do her thing, he had told Matt once it became clear that Matt was their leader. You’ll get better results that way. And Matt had, checking in with her only when he had to.
You there? Over the phone, in a whisper, in the dead of night, or right to her face when she spaced out on something. Sloane had been annoyed by the question at first. Of course I’m here, where the fuck else would I be? But now it meant he understood something about her that they’d never acknowledged: she couldn’t always say yes.
“Yeah,” she said.
“Okay. Stay here, all right? I’ll get your medicine.”
Sloane braced herself on the marble counter. The knife lay at her feet, but she didn’t dare touch it again. She just waited, and breathed, and stared at the swirl of gray that reminded her of an old man in profile.
Matt came back with a little yellow pill in one hand and the water glass from her bedside table in the other. She took them both with shaking hands and swallowed the pill eagerly. Bring on the coasting calm of the benzodiazepine. She and Ines had drunkenly composed an ode to the pills once, hailing them for their pretty colors and their quick effects and the way they did what nothing else could.
She set the water glass down and slid to the floor. She could feel the cold through her pajama pants— the ones that had cats with laser eyes all over them — but it was grounding this time. Matt sat down next to the refrigerator in his boxers.
“Listen,” she started.
“You don’t have to say it.”
“Sure, I just almost stabbed you, but no apologies necessary.”
His eyes were soft. Worried. “I just want you to be okay.”
What had that awful article called him? “Quite possibly the kindest person alive”? She hadn’t disagreed with Rick Lane, Creepmaster 2000, on that point at least. Matt had eyebrows that squeezed together in the middle in a look of perpetual sympathy and the heart to match. He reached for the butcher knife that lay on the floor near her ankle. It was big, almost as long as his forearm.
Her eyes burned. She closed them. “I’m really sorry.”
“I know you don’t want to talk to me about it,” Matt said. “But what about someone else?”
“Dr. Novak, maybe? She works with the VA, remember? We did that talk together at the juvenile detention center.”
“I’m not a soldier,” Sloane said.
“Yeah, but she knows about PTSD.”
She had never needed an official diagnosis — PTSD was definitely what she had. But it was strange to hear Matt say it so comfortably, like it was the flu.
“All right.” She shrugged. “I’ll call her in the morning.”
“Anyone would need therapy, you know,” he said. “After what we’ve all been through. I mean, Ines went.”
“Ines went, and she’s still booby-trapping her apartment like she’s living out a Home Alone fantasy,” Sloane said.
“Okay, so she’s a bad example.” The floodlight on the back stairs glowed through the windows, all orange-yellow against Matt’s dark skin.
“You’ve never needed it,” Sloane said.
He raised an eyebrow at her. “Where do you think I kept disappearing to the year after the Dark One died?”
“You told us you were going to doctor’s appointments.”
“What kind of doctor needs to see someone weekly for months?”
“I don’t know! I figured something was wrong with . . .” Sloane gestured vaguely to her crotch. “You know. The boys or something.”
“Let me get this straight.” He was grinning. “You thought I had some kind of embarrassing medical condition that necessitated at least six months of regular doctor visits . . . and you never asked me about it?”
She suppressed a smile of her own. “You almost sound disappointed in me.”
“No, no. I’m just impressed.”
He had been thirteen and lanky when she met him, a body of sharp edges with no sense of where it began or ended, but he had always had that smile.
She had fallen in love with him half a dozen times before she knew she had — when he was screaming orders over the deafening wind of a Drain, keeping them all alive; when he stayed awake with her on long night drives through the country even after everyone else had fallen asleep; when he called his grandmother and his voice went soft. He never left anyone behind.
She curled her toes into the tile. “I’ve been before, you know. To therapy,” she said. “I went for a few months when we were sixteen.”
“You did?” He frowned a little. “You never told me that.”
There were a lot of things she hadn’t told him, hadn’t told anyone. “I didn’t want to worry anybody,” she said. “And I still don’t, so . . . just don’t mention this to the others, okay? I don’t want to see it in fucking Esquire with the headline ‘Rick Lane Told You So.’”
“Of course.” Matt took her hand and twisted their fingers together. “We should go to bed. We have to get up in four hours for the monument dedication.”
Sloane nodded, but they still sat on the kitchen floor until the medicine kicked in and she stopped shaking. Then Matt put the knife away, helped her up, and they both went back to bed.
AGENCY FOR THE RESEARCH AND INVESTIGATION OF THE SUPRANORMAL
October 4, 2019
Ms. Sloane Andrews
Dear Ms. Andrews:
On 13 September 2019, the office of the Information and Privacy Coordinator received your 12 September 2019 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for information or records on Project Ringer.
Many of the requested records remain classified. However, due to your years of service to the United States government, we have granted you access to all but those requiring the highest level of security clearance. We searched our database of previously released records and located the enclosed documents, totaling 120 pages, which we believe to be responsive to your request. There is no charge for these documents.
Information and Privacy Coordinator
Excerpted from Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth. Copyright © 2020 by Veronica Roth. Published and reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
Betches may receive a portion of revenue if you click a link and purchase a product or service. The links are independently placed and do not influence editorial content.
If you ever read 50 Shades Of Grey and thought, “This is pretty sexy, but it would be wayyyy sexier if I could hear these exact same events told from the perspective of a man,” then you’re in luck! Twilight fan fiction author-turned-porn-book-woman E.L. James will be releasing a new installment of the 50 Shades series called Darker: 50 Shades Darker as Told By Christian, which is, you guessed it, a retelling of the second 50 Shades book from the perspective of Christian, and with the longest book title known to man. E.L. James, you know don’t have to like, explain the entire premise of the book in the title, right? Like, Harry Potter books are just called Harry Potter And The XYZ not What It’s Like To Go To Wizard School From The Perspective Of Harry James Potter, Boy Wizard. It’s not necessary.
The new book will come out on Nov. 28th, just a few months after the release of the film version of Fifty Shades Darker, so those of us
me who only see the 50 Shades movies because we don’t want to be spotted reading a porn book in public will be able to hear Anastasia’s side of the story, before Christian gets his man thoughts all over it.
E.L. James teased pages from the new book on Facebook over a year ago and
horny soccer moms 50 Shades stans have been wet with anticipation ever since.
Ugh should I not have said wet? I’m sorry. That’s gross.
Anyway, this type of re-release is nothing new for the
sopping wet avid 50 Shades fans. E.L. James pulled a similar move back in June of 2015 when she released Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian. Again, there is no need for these titles to be so long. That’s what the inside of the book is for.
Not that E.L. James needs any advice from me. Grey: Fifty Shades of Blah Blah Blah sold over 1 million copies in its first week, despite the fact that literally every critic said it was hot, steamy garbage. It’s almost like the reason 50 Shades is so popular has nothing to do with literary merit or something…