The Startup Wife by Tahmima AnamStarring: brilliant coder Asha; her first love Cyrus (newly returned after a multi-year disappearance); his best friend Jules. Together, they're poised to disrupt social media by providing a way for people to connect based on what gives their lives meaning.
What happens: Though their startup uses Asha's programming, it's based on Cyrus' values and practices, and what once brought them together may be what tears them apart.
Read it for: a romance, a satire of start-up culture, and an insightful look at gender and racial politics in the tech world.
Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily AustinWhat it is: the dark but humorous tale of an anxious young woman who falls into a receptionist job at a Catholic church and becomes obsessed with her predecessor’s mysterious death.
What's the problem? Gilda is not Catholic (she's an atheist) and doesn't conform to Catholic ideals (she's gay). She also ends up impersonating her predecessor (Grace) and stalking the priest as she investigates Grace's death -- which make her a person of interest to the police.
Reviewers say: "What starts out as a genuinely bleak affair, with a depressed Gilda considering suicide, becomes a brisk story underpinned by a vibrant cast" (Publishers Weekly).
Rock the Boat by Beck Dorey-SteinThe set-up: Suffering from romantic rejection, Kate flees to her childhood home on the Jersey shore, where part-time jobs at the library and local bar must take the place of her successful PR career.
What happens: Kate reconnects with her childhood friends Ziggy (who's just lost his dad, a rock in the community) and Miles (who is trying to prove himself to his mother).
Why you might like it: there's small town charm aplenty, a vacation vibe, and just the right amount of menace in the form of an out-of-town developer.
Yoga Pant Nation by Laurie GelmanWhat it is: the irreverent 3rd in a series of novels starring imperfect mother Jen Dixon, now Class Mom (again) for her son’s fifth grade year.
What's on Jen's plate: parenting, grand-parenting, worrying about her own aging parents, having to raise $10k for the PTA, becoming a spin instructor, being a wife.
Read it if: you want a snarky, sarcastic take on the challenges of being a member of the sandwich generation.
Build Your House Around my Body by Violet KupersmithWhat it is: an intricate tale of 60 years of Vietnamese history that reveals the fate of: an unhappy, mixed-race, Vietnamese American woman who disappears in 2011 while living in Saigon; a teenager who gets lost in an abandoned rubber plantation in 1986; and a woman who captures a two-headed cobra in 2009.
Read it for: a strong sense of place, vivid writing that evokes both horror and humor, a troubling portrayal of Vietnam's history.
Hell of a Book by Jason MottWhat it is: a complex, metafictional work that explores the Black experience of white America through a child named Soot and an unnamed author.
Read it for: the humor (the Writer bids us remember, as he is chased by an angry husband, that "this is a love story"); the sadness of a bullied kid who'd rather be "unseen and safe" than anything else.
Book buzz: Hell of a Book is a Read with Jenna book club pick and is on must-read lists from Entertainment Weekly, NY Post, USA Today, Fortune, and The Root.
Filthy Animals by Brandon TaylorWhat it is: interconnected stories, many occurring within a 24-hour period in Madison, WI. Realistically complicated recurring characters -- like exam proctor and mathematician Lionel -- ground stories featuring tense relationship dynamics and difficult situations.
Don't miss: "Pot Luck," in which Lionel's attraction to another dinner party guest leads to unexpected consequences.
Read this next: American Histories, by John Edgar Wideman, which also centers African American characters in stylistically complex short stories.
Nightbitch by Rachel YoderWhat it is: a surreal take on motherhood, in which a working artist turned exhausted stay-at-home mom is convinced that she is turning into a dog.
Read it for: a painful portrayal of the challenges of motherhood and a satirical picture of multi-level marketing "parties" and other aspects of middle-class American motherhood.
For fans of: the surrealism of Mona Awad's Bunny or the dark take on the struggles of motherhood in Kristen Arnett's With Teeth.
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