by Sally Drake
Count the Ways by Joyce Maynard
A moving novel about marriage, idealism, parenting, grief, and acceptance. The story follows the life of Eleanor and Cam from their idyllic beginnings on a farm in New Hampshire through the challenges of a family tragedy, infidelity, regret, and separation. This novel challenges the pursuit of perfection in parenthood--especially by mothers. Eleanor’s struggles force her to confront her expectations and manage her greatest fears while staying true to her own life.
Intimacies by Katie Kitamura
A sparse, tense novel about an interpreter at the Hague navigating her first year working at high-profile, war-crime trials and pursuing a complicated relationship. Brilliantly written, this novel is focused on the question of language: what do we hear, how do we listen, what are we missing when we communicate across language barriers or through difficult emotions in complicated relationships? With a tone of suspense and a hum of terror, this short novel propels forward with thought-provoking force.
The Start-Up Wife by Tahmima Anam
A funny, relevant novel about a young couple who develop a pioneering social media app to connect agnostic people with spiritual rituals to manage the crises of the modern world: climate change, pandemic, political turmoil, economic anxiety, and, ironically, the loneliness of the internet era. The app is funded through a secretive tech start-up called Utopia and takes off, catapulting the couple into fame and notoriety neither they nor their marriage was ready for. This is a very entertaining novel with smart social commentary.
Land of Big Numbers by Te-Ping Chen
Included on President Obama’s summer reading list, this short story collection is about China and how its people adapt to the massive changes in the country’s turbulent modern history. From student dissidents to government employees, from small village farmers to professors working abroad, every story is about seeking opportunity, resisting change, or finding a way through strict regulations and government control. These are brilliant stories about how the political shapes the personal. The stories also break down barriers by focusing on what human beings everywhere seek: connection, happiness, fulfillment, and understanding.