An Ordinary Age by Rainesford Stauffer
All too often, we’re told that young adulthood will be the time of our lives—so why isn’t it? Stauffer explores the diminishing returns of young adulthood in this soulful book, providing a meticulous cartography of how outer forces shape young people’s inner lives. From chronic burnout to the loneliness epidemic to the strictures of social media, An Ordinary Age leads with empathy in exploring the myriad challenges facing young adults, while also advocating for a better path forward: one where young people can live authentic lives filled with love, community, and self-knowledge.
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
In Ishiguro’s first publication since winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017, we meet the humanoid robot Klara, an Artificial Friend designed to be a child’s companion. Sunning herself in the display window of a store, Klara ruminates on the world passing her by, hoping all the while to be chosen. When she is at long last adopted by a teenager named Josie, their growing bond is threatened by Josie’s terminal illness. Tender and suspenseful, the novel probes timeless questions about personhood, morality, and what makes a good life.
Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
Debut author Angeline Boulley has crafted an immersive and heart-stopping thriller told through the eyes of 18-year-old Daunis, a biracial, unenrolled member of the Ojibwe tribe. With crystal meth abuse on the rise in her community, Daunis uses her knowledge of science and native medicine to go undercover as a confidential informant with the FBI, but what she uncovers makes her question everything she’s ever known. Boulley’s authentic depictions of the complexities of Native communities and the trauma and strength of Native women, specifically, make this book a complete standout for YA and adult readers alike.
Madhouse at the End of the Earth: The Belgica’s Journey into the Dark Antarctic Night by Julian Sancton
Meticulously researched and realized, with a deep novelistic flare, Madhouse at the End of the Earth reconstructs the action-packed survival story of an early expedition to the South Pole. Amundson, Cook and an inexperienced, undisciplined crew, on an ill-fated ship, imprisoned in the Antarctic ice and darkness. This tale of adventure, excitement and, indeed, terror will captivate those who were drawn to The Lost City of Z, In the Kingdom of Ice and In the Heart of the Sea. Julian Sancton has gifted us an insanely gripping book from start to finish.
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
Perfect for fans of Where the Crawdads Sing, Kristin Hannah’s stunningly beautiful and heart-wrenching dustbowl drama traces the conflicts and challenges faced by Elsa and her family, who journey west in search of a better life. Elsa’s critical choices shape the lives of the people around her for generations to come.
A Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses #4) by Sarah J. Maas
Nesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she’s struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can’t seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.
The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre’s Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta’s orbit. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other.
Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.
Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance-and healing-in each other’s arms.
Nora: A Love Story of Nora and James Joyce by Nuala O’Connor
With gorgeous and emotionally resonant prose, Nora is a heartfelt portrayal of love, ambition, and the quiet power of an ordinary woman who was, in fact, extraordinary.
Nora Joseph Barnacle is a twenty-year-old from Galway working as a maid at Finn’s Hotel. She enjoys the liveliness of her adopted city and on June 16—Bloomsday—her life is changed when she meets Dubliner James Joyce, a fateful encounter that turns into a lifelong love. Despite his hesitation to marry, Nora follows Joyce in pursuit of a life beyond Ireland, and they surround themselves with a buoyant group of friends that grows to include Samuel Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim, and Sylvia Beach.
But as their life unfolds, Nora finds herself in conflict between their intense desire for each other and the constant anxiety of living in poverty throughout Europe. She desperately wants literary success for Jim, believing in his singular gift and knowing that he thrives on being the toast of the town, and it eventually provides her with a security long lacking in her life and his work. So even when Jim writes, drinks, and gambles his way to literary acclaim, Nora provides unflinching support and inspiration, but at a cost to her own happiness and that of their children.
We Run the Tides by Vendela Vida
An achingly beautiful story of female friendship, betrayal, and a mysterious disappearance set in the changing landscape of San Francisco Teenage Eulabee and her magnetic best friend, Maria Fabiola, own the streets of Sea Cliff, their foggy oceanside San Francisco neighborhood. They know Sea Cliff’s homes and beaches, its hidden corners and eccentric characters—as well as the upscale all-girls’ school they attend. One day, walking to school with friends, they witness a horrible act—or do they? Eulabee and Maria Fabiola vehemently disagree on what happened, and their rupture is followed by Maria Fabiola’s sudden disappearance—a potential kidnapping that shakes the quiet community and threatens to expose unspoken truths.
Suspenseful and poignant, We Run the Tides is Vendela Vida’s masterful portrait of an inimitable place on the brink of radical transformation. Pre–tech boom San Francisco finds its mirror in the changing lives of the teenage girls at the center of this story of innocence lost, the pain of too much freedom, and the struggle to find one’s authentic self. Told with a gimlet eye and great warmth, We Run the Tides is both a gripping mystery and a tribute to the wonders of youth, in all its beauty and confusion.
But You’re Still So Young: How Thirtysomethings Are Redefining Adulthood by Kayleen Schaefer
From the author of Text Me When You Get Home, an investigation into what it means to be in your thirties, and to navigate some of the biggest milestones of adult life and how it is more okay than ever to not have every box checked off
On Kayleen Schaefer’s birthday she went dancing with friends, they broke a table, and she turned thirty standing on the sidewalk outside a club she got kicked out of.
Sociologists have identified the five markers of adulthood as: finishing school, leaving home, marriage, gaining financial independence, and having kids. But the signifiers of being in our thirties today are not the same—repeated economic upheaval, rising debt, decreasing marriage rates, fertility treatments, and a more open-minded society have all led to a shifting timeline. Americans are taking major life steps later, switching careers with unprecedented frequency, and exercising increased freedom and creativity in their decisions about how to shape their lives. So why are we measuring adulthood by the same metrics that were relied upon fifty years ago?
This book is cleverly structured around these five major life events. For each milestone, the book highlights men and women from various backgrounds, from around the country, and delves into their experiences navigating an ever-changing financial landscape and evolving societal expectations. The thirtysomethings in this book envisioned their thirties differently than how they are actually living them. He thought he would be done with his degree, she thought she’d be married, they thought they’d be famous comedians, and everyone thought they would have more money.
Kayleen uses her smart narrative framing, research skills, and relatable voice and her own story to show how the thirties have changed from the cultural stereotypes around them, and how they are a radically different experience for Americans now than it was for any other generation. And as she and her sources show, not being able to do everything isn’t a sign of a life gone wrong. Being open to going sideways or upside down or backward, means it has gone right: you found meaning and value in many different ways of living.