14 ways to get out of a reading slump
“The Red Widow: The Scandal that Shook Paris and the Woman Behind it All,” by Sarah Horowitz (Sourcebooks, September 6)
More than a century before Anna Delvey swindled her first socialite, Marguerite “Meg” Steinheil orchestrated her rise to the upper echelons of French society. As she made her way into the halls and bedrooms of powerful men, including a French president, she used secrets as weapons to protect herself from accusations of the double murder of her husband and her mother. Horowitz deepens the allure of this true crime page turner by contextualizing how sexuality was used by and against women in belle epoque Paris, and the lengths the police went to protect elites.
“Sugar Street” by Jonathan Dee (Grove, September 13)
A man with $168,548 stashed in an envelope under his car seat is on the road and off the grid. Money is all he has from a previous life that he is determined to give up. While he avoids modern surveillance, his life is reduced to the basics: a roof over his head with a landlord who doesn’t ask questions and food from a family market with no cameras. Dee’s Pulitzer Prize Finalist avant-garde literary thriller consider what a privileged white man seeking a guilt-free life might do when he’s on the run from himself.
“How not to drown in a glass of water”, by Angie Cruz (Flatiron, September 13)
Twelve sessions with a job counselor provides the framework for Cruz’s job endearing portrait of a ferocious and funny woman whose 26-year career at “the lamp factory” has come to an abrupt end. To continue receiving checks from “El Obama”, she must look for a job, but her resume is scarce despite extensive life experience. In each session, she shares more of her life story, her love and marriage, how she is affected by gentrification in Washington Heights, her overwhelming medical debt, and why. he quarreled with his son.
“A Girlhood: Letter to My Transgender Daughter,” by Carolyn Hays (Blair, September 13)
Recent news has documented how parents of transgender children are being falsely accused of wrongdoing; Hays has already experienced “the call,” the day an investigator from the Department of Children and Families came to her door with anonymous reports of child abuse. Framed like a missive to her teenage daughter, she tells of the terrifying incident and their lives before and after that day. Through it all, the author and her husband learn to love their youngest son exactly as she sees herself.
Bobby Finger’s “The Old Place” (Putnam, September 20)
If you miss Molly Ivins, the irascible Texan comedian who doesn’t mince words, look no further than the fictional Mary Alice Roth, a forcibly retired school teacher who refuses to be forgotten. Her remaining position of power in Billington is the allotment of plates for the town’s annual picnic, doled out based on her ability and her own personal vendettas. When shocking news arrives, Mary Alice reconsiders her carefully constructed life. finger reading playful portrait of small-town southerners embracing and forgiving their many flaws feels like laughing with your best friend over sweet tea on the back porch.
12 releases from July and August worth reading
Martha Anne Toll’s “Three Muses” (Regal House, September 20)
In Toll’s exquisite, novel set after World War II, dance serves as a catalyst for an attraction that lasts for decades. After witnessing prima ballerina Katya Symanova perform, Dr. John Curtin is so delighted that he waits with white roses at the stage door. Over the years, his paths will diverge and cross again as they each grapple with the lingering effects of trauma. However, their mutual gravitational attraction offers glimpses of a possible life filled with peace and happiness.
“The Last Dreamwalker,” by Rita Woods (Forge, September 20)
Layla just inherited an island off the coast from South Carolina when she discovers she has the power to enter and affect other people’s dreams, a power that has been passed down through her family for generations. Her ownership, along with the nightmares that have always plagued her, are the keys to understanding her long-buried family secrets and her link to a Gullah ancestor who had her own nightmares. Woods, Hurston/Wright Legacy Award-winning author, offers a comprehensive view about how suffering and secrets can burden families for generations.
“Best of Friends” by Kamila Shamsie (Riverhead, September 27)
Although their families are from different social classes and have different values, Pakistani high school students Maryam and Zahra had been loyal friends. After a dangerous encounter leaves them shaken, they take different paths to adulthood. They eventually move separately to London, reconnecting decades later when a threat from the past emerges, and discovering that their current identities are rooted in their shared history. Shamsie, whose previous novel, “Home Fire,” won the 2018 Women’s Fiction Award, offers a captivating portrait of two women trying to find out if a friendship that was once a treasure can overcome differences.
“Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm” by Laura Warrell (Pantheon, September 27)
Circus Palmer, a 40-year-old jazz trumpeter, has been running from romantic entanglements all his life. In his wake are all the ex-wives, single mothers and other women he has avoided, including his teenage daughter Koko. by Warrell captivating debut novel highlights their stories, weaving together the lives of indelibly created characters as they struggle to forge and maintain intimate connections.
A note to our readers
We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide us with a means of earning fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.