Summer is looking a bit different this year thanks to 'Rona, and though things have been a bit rough, all is not lost. With all the stress from everyday life and world crises, adding a bit of reading to the mix is always a good look. The benefits of reading a great book are undeniable and includes increasing intelligence, reducing stress, and relieving anxiety and depression. We could all use a bit of escape and brain food right now.
So let's get into 10 books worth checking out this summer and beyond---all raved about by bookstagrammers and lit lovers around the world. And don't worry sis. These aren't all the same ole' titles you've seen on other popular lists---there's a variety of genres and authors to wake up the book geek inside of all of us. (Yes, you sis. She's in there. Trust me.)
*This list is specially curated by the xoNecole team and some links are affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an affiliate link, xoNecole might earn a small commission.
'The Care And Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls' by Anissa Gray
Generational curses. Family drama. Redemption and understanding. If you're into stories about love, unity, transformation, and sisterly bonds, this book might be your pick of the summer. Described as "well-written" and "stunning," it has multiple narratives surrounding three sisters in the aftermath of one of them getting prison time for white-collar crimes. It's been a favorite on 2019 book lists including that of Vogue, Essence and Refinery29. Even Insecure star Issa Rae has "devoured" it.
'Little Book of Big Lies: A Journey to Inner Fitness' by Tina Lifford
This Queen Sugar actress has been dropping jewels of wisdom for a while via her IG, and Auntie Tina, as I like to call her, tells it like it is. Her latest book takes that to a whole 'nother level, with personal stories and insights on how to push through the hurts, dramas, and fears of life. "We must learn to see lies for what they are---distortions that are not the truth---and say no to their limiting lies," she writes. "From this point forward, there is never a justifiable reason to think poorly of ourselves or speak harshly to ourselves, not for any reason, at any time, under any circumstances." Who doesn't need that extra real, cool Auntie perspective in their lives?
'The City We Became' by N.K.Jemisin
Some reviewers have said that this book is an appropriate read for the COVID-19 times we live in, and Jemison's book offers a suspenseful other-world version of New York that has intrigued critics from NPR to The New York Times. This piece deviates from the usual science fiction into a more "rich and generous" alternative reality that resonates in today's environment of tragic deaths, quarantines, and social distancing.
'Transcendent Kingdom: A Novel' by Yaa Ayasi
Any book featuring a central character that is a scholar making sense of the everyday struggles of being a human being and recommitting to faith is worth a try, and this one is set to intrigue. Ghanaian-American writer Yaa Ayasi adds a bit of her own background in the book, writing about a Ghanaian immigrant family in Alabama grappling with issues of depression, grief, faith, religion and love. If you're not going to pre-order, you might want to go ahead and at least put this on your Amazon wish list. This author's debut book, Homecoming landed spots on both The New York Times Best Seller and Oprah's 10 Favorite Books lists.
'Affording Travel: Saving Strategies for Financially Savvy Travelers' by Danielle Desir
There are so many books out there with tips for investing, budgeting, and the like, but this book goes a bit off the beaten path and satisfies that sad wanderluster inside of of all of us. True, COVID-19 has put a boulder-sized dent in our travel plans, but it doesn't hurt to get a head-start this summer in planning that dream Africa tour or European adventure in time for summer 2021 or 2022. Along with advice, Desir shares her own stories of travel, how she was able to get over fears of not being able to afford trips and adventures of living abroad.
'A Tall History of Sugar' by Curdella Forbes
For all my Caribbean history and culture lovers, this is a story that takes one into the history of an industry that shaped Jamaica's economy and the link between the "mother country" and the island. It also infuses the sweet stickiness of a decades-long love story bound by folklore, colonialism, struggle and triumph. Epic, indeed.
'More Myself: A Journey' by Alicia Keys
We all know her signature voice and swag, from "You Don't Know My Name" to New York's classic anthem to her fab no-makeup movement, and this book is an extension of the Harlem-bred phenom's transitions through womanhood and self-actualization. The candid behind-the-scenes insights are intriguing enough, but the refreshing rawness of her storytelling in this book---about life, music, love, and self-confidence--- just shows why our love for Alicia Keys continues to grow. The words in this book are---like her songs---a breath of fresh air, and at the very least, you'll get inspired by a woman constantly on the glow up.
'We Want Our Bodies Back: Poems' by Jessica Care Moore
The title alone draws you in and the poetry is just as strikingly strong, assertive, and honest. Her work prompts the same deep sighs of understanding, empathy, and relatability as Ntozake Shange's classic For Colored Girls, and the subject matter features issues all women can relate to. If you don't see yourself and your own life in the words, you probably see your sister, mother, cousin or best friend.
'90 Days to C.E.O.: A Guide To Avoid Business Pitfalls And Unlock The Secrets Of Entrepreneurship' by Rochelle Graham-Campbell
It's no small feat to take $100 and build a haircare product line from your kitchen and expand into an international company with products on Target's shelves. Sharing the how-to tools and tips is an added bonus and truly a labor of love and service. Along with personal anecdotes about launching a business and tapping into the hustler and entrepreneur within, this book includes an action plan that would light a fire under the tail of anyone who dreams of becoming a self-made boss.
'Bloggers Can't Be Trusted' by Starrene Rhett
We can all relate to a time when we wanted a change---both in love and in career---and Nyela Barnes is both relatable and believable in her plight to find both. The blogger-focused, Internet nostalgia in this book is noteworthy, and if you've been fantasizing about that fine neighbor you never knew you had until you were forced to work from home for weeks on end, this book might spark the urge to shoot your shot. If not, you'll at least find a juicy escape into sticky drama and black love.
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