While we love whiling away a few weekend hours on the latest movie or series, we firmly believe there’s nothing like the transporting power of a good novel.
Below we’ve pulled together a list with recommendations to satisfy everyone, from the voracious reader who burns through a book a week to the casual consumer looking for a vacation read. Without further ado, a few of our favorites, from page-turning thrillers to expansive family sagas. We promise there’s something for everyone.
Expectation by Anna Hope
Released in April 2020, just as the world began to shut down, Expectation did not receive the hype it deserved. Hope’s novel follows three best friends living together in London as they begin to diverge onto distinctly different life paths. First, there’s Hannah, the married workaholic whose life appears in perfect order from the outside, who is secretly fighting to save her marriage amidst round after round of unsuccessful IVF. Cate, an accidental new mother in a shaky relationship with her partner Sam, is struggling to get over a girlfriend from years ago. Lissa, the beautiful, free-spirited bohemian stage actress, is still desperate to break free from beneath her mother’s shadow. The book follows the friends from their childhoods through their late forties. It’s engaging with twists in all the right places, and beautifully written. Take this to the park on a spring afternoon and we dare you not to finish it in one sitting.
Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo
Stay With Me, a heartbreaking Nigerian novel, takes the reader through the marriage of Akin and Yejide during three tumultuous decades between 1980 and 2008. College sweethearts who reject the common polygamous marital construct, their relationship is tested when Yejide struggles to conceive a child. After years of trying, Akin’s family decides to take the step of introducing him to a potential second wife; a young girl who they hope will bear him a child. A phenomenal book at turns both funny and bleak, complete with a stunning but believable twist towards the end. And don’t just take our word for it: Stay With Me was nominated for the prestigious Women’s Prize for Fiction.
American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
A work of fiction loosely based on the life of Laura Bush, American Wife is a sweeping family saga about a political dynasty; and the stakes attached to becoming romantically entangled with a member of a family singularly focused on achieving political success. The story starts with protagonist Alice Blackwell’s small-town childhood and takes the reader all the way through to her husband Charlie Blackwell’s White House years. You don’t need to be affiliated with a particular–or any–political party to enjoy this wonderful read.
The New Girl by Harriet Walker
Somewhere between The September Issue and Gone Girl sits Harriet Walkers’ pacy new thriller. The New Girl follows Margot Jones, Fashion Editor of Haute Magazine, who is headed out on a year-long maternity leave, and Maggie, the freelance journalist she chooses to replace her. As Maggie’s work begins to gather acclaim and she becomes increasingly accustomed to the Fashion Editor perks, it begins hard for her to imagine ever relinquishing the role. Margot, already dealing with stress surrounding Maggie’s rapid rise, is also forced to come to terms with the end of her oldest friendship; and the consequences that come from its unraveling–including the reveal of a secret she’s kept for her entire life. Pick up this book for the deliciously detailed descriptions of the inner workings of a fashion magazine; given that the author once worked as Vogue and is currently the Fashion Editor at the UK’s Sunday Times Style, she knows a thing or two.
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
While Zadie Smith is known in many circles as one of the greatest living writers, those who love her work rarely seem to reference her 2016 novel Swing Time, focusing instead of her debut novel, White Teeth. While White Teeth was an ambitious portrait of working and middle-class immigrants in London, Swing Time is a quicker and easier read that packs a similar punch. This story follows two childhood friends, both girls dream of being dancers when they grow up. Only one, the narrator of the story, achieves fame, becoming a pop star seemingly on the level of a Beyonce or Britney Spears. The other girl, Tracy, becomes the narrator’s personal assistant. The novel explores their friendship–and its sudden conclusion. As always, Smith’s writing is stunning, her observations astute and her prose biting.
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
It’s hard to say if Girl, Woman, Other even really qualifies as a novel. Its structure is so unique, there’s no category it fits neatly within. It’s a story of twelve Black British (mainly) women, relayed in a poetic fashion that transcends the format. The book first charts the individual paths of each character, a wide-ranging cast featuring everyone from a successful Gen X playwright to a grandmother to a non-binary social media influencer, and then deftly weaves all of the narratives together. Author Bernardine Evaristo published the book in 2019, at age sixty, and won the Booker Prize for it in the same year, as good proof as any that you’re never too old to make magic.
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
Home Fire follows Isma, a young woman who moves to rural Massachusetts on a research grant following the death of her mother. Determined to start fresh and leave family tragedy behind, Isma is drawn back into a complicated familial web when she learns her brother, Parvaiz, has left home in a pledge to uphold the legacy of his Jihadist father, a man he never even knew. When Isma meets Eamonn, son of the UK’s Home Secretary, she’s convinced he can help extricate her brother from the increasingly dangerous situation. Promising at first, the two families ultimately become untangled in a situation that threatens all of their futures. A gripping read with a jaw-dropping ending.
The Farm by Joanne Ramos
On The Farm, women are surveyed regularly. They can’t leave the premises; they can’t socialize with outsiders; and they can’t eat a morsel of food that isn’t approved by the in-house nutritionists. Because the farm, called Golden Oaks, a gorgeous retreat in Upstate New York, exclusively houses surrogates; women who have agreed to carry babies for the wealthiest individuals in the world. Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines, accepts a residency at Golden Oaks to raise money to care for her own infant son, and wrestles with countless moral conflicts in the process. The Farm is more than just a novel, it’s a withering social commentary on America. You’ll come away galvanized and maybe a little scared.
The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir
The Book of Essie’s titular character, Esther “Essie” Hicks, has grown up in the spotlight on a reality TV show called Six For Hicks, that follows the every move of the Hicks’ family, headed by their hugely famous televangelist father. When Essie becomes pregnant at age sixteen, her reputation-obsessed mother attempts to force her into a marriage with a boy at school whose family is in financial trouble. Essie reluctantly agrees, and taps a conservative reporter, the aptly named Liberty Bell, to help sell her story to the masses. As Essie grows increasingly uncomfortable with living a lie, she starts to question her upbringing and begins uncovering secrets that threaten to ruin them.
If you find yourself picking up any of these page-turners, let us know by tagging #casadesuna on social media.