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TIME's Best Summer 2020 Books

TIME's Best Summer 2020 Books

Explore this great list of summer reads from the beach, pool, couch, or park! From memoirs to fiction to history, the novels featured will keep you feeling the summer vibes!

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The Vanishing Half

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2020 | Brit Bennett

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR NAMED A BEST BOOK OF 2020 BY THE NEW YORK TIMES * THE WASHINGTON POST * NPR * PEOPLE * TIME MAGAZINE* VANITY FAIR * GLAMOUR "Bennett's tone and style recalls James Baldwin and Jacqueline Woodson, but it's especially reminiscent of Toni Morrison's 1970 debut novel, The Bluest Eye." --Kiley Reid, Wall Street Journal "A story of absolute, universal timelessness ...For any era, it's an accomplished, affecting novel. For this moment, it's piercing, subtly wending its way toward questions about who we are and who we want to be...." - Entertainment Weekly From The New York Times-bestselling author of The Mothers, a stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect? Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person's decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins. As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise.

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The Book of Rosy

2020 | Rosayra Pablo Cruz,Julie Schwietert Collazo

"Offers hope in the face of desperate odds" - ELLE Magazine, ELLE's Most Anticipated Books of Summer 2020 "[D]isturbing and unforgettable memoir...This wrenching story brings to vivid life the plight of the many families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border." - Publisher's Weekly, STARRED REVIEW "[The] haunting and eloquent...narrative of a Guatemalan woman's desperate search for a better life. -Kirkus, STARRED Review PEOPLE Magazine Best Books of Summer 2020 TIME Magazine Best Books of Summer 2020 PARADE Best Books of Summer 2020 Compelling and urgently important, The Book of Rosy is the unforgettable story of one brave mother and her fight to save her family. When Rosayra "Rosy" Pablo Cruz made the agonizing decision to seek asylum in the United States with two of her children, she knew the journey would be arduous, dangerous, and quite possibly deadly. But she had no choice: violence--from gangs, from crime, from spiraling chaos--was making daily life hell. Rosy knew her family's one chance at survival was to flee Guatemala and go north. After a brutal journey that left them dehydrated, exhausted, and nearly starved, Rosy and her two little boys arrived at the Arizona border. Almost immediately they were seized and forcibly separated by government officials under the Department of Homeland Security's new "zero tolerance" policy. To her horror Rosy discovered that her flight to safety had only just begun. In The Book of Rosy, with an unprecedented level of sharp detail and soulful intimacy, Rosy tells her story, aided by Julie Schwietert Collazo, founder of Immigrant Families Together, the grassroots organization that reunites mothers and children. She reveals the cruelty of the detention facilities, the excruciating pain of feeling her children ripped from her arms, the abiding faith that staved off despair--and the enduring friendship with Julie, which helped her navigate the darkness and the bottomless Orwellian bureaucracy. A gripping account of the human cost of inhumane policies, The Book of Rosy is also a paean to the unbreakable will of people united by true love, a sense of justice, and hope for a better future.

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Exciting Times

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2020 | Naoise Dolan

An intimate, bracingly intelligent debut novel about a millennial Irish expat who becomes entangled in a love triangle with a male banker and a female lawyer Ava moved to Hong Kong to find happiness, but so far, it isn't working out. Since she left Dublin, she's been spending her days teaching English to rich children--she's been assigned the grammar classes because she lacks warmth--and her nights avoiding petulant roommates in her cramped apartment. When Ava befriends Julian, a witty British banker, he offers a shortcut into a lavish life her meager salary could never allow. Ignoring her feminist leanings and her better instincts, Ava finds herself moving into Julian's apartment, letting him buy her clothes, and, eventually, striking up a sexual relationship with him. When Julian's job takes him back to London, she stays put, unsure where their relationship stands. Enter Edith. A Hong Kong-born lawyer, striking and ambitious, Edith takes Ava to the theater and leaves her tulips in the hallway. Ava wants to be her--and wants her. Ava has been carefully pretending that Julian is nothing more than an absentee roommate, so when Julian announces that he's returning to Hong Kong, she faces a fork in the road. Should she return to the easy compatibility of her life with Julian or take a leap into the unknown with Edith? Politically alert, heartbreakingly raw, and dryly funny, Exciting Times is thrillingly attuned to the great freedoms and greater uncertainties of modern love. In stylish, uncluttered prose, Naoise Dolan dissects the personal and financial transactions that make up a life--and announces herself as a singular new voice.

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Surviving Autocracy

2020 | Masha Gessen

"When Gessen speaks about autocracy, you listen." --The New York Times "The Platonic ideal of the anti-Trump Trump book." --The Washington Post As seen on MSNBC Morning Joe and heard on NPR All Things Considered: the bestselling, National Book Award-winning journalist offers an essential guide to understanding, resisting, and recovering from the ravages of our tumultuous times. In the run-up to the 2016 election, Masha Gessen stood out from other journalists for the ability to convey the ominous significance of Donald Trump's speech and behavior, unprecedented in a national candidate. Within forty-eight hours of his victory, the essay "Autocracy: Rules for Survival" had gone viral, and Gessen's coverage of his norm-smashing presidency became essential reading for a citizenry struggling to wrap their heads around the unimaginable. Thanks to the special perspective that is the legacy of a Soviet childhood and two decades covering the resurgence of totalitarianism in Russia, Gessen has a sixth sense for signs of autocracy--and the unique cross-cultural fluency to delineate its emergence to Americans. This incisive book provides an indispensable overview of the calamitous trajectory of the past few years. Gessen not only highlights the corrosion of the media, the judiciary, and the cultural norms we hoped would save us but also tells us the story of how a short few years have changed us, from a people who saw ourselves as a nation of immigrants to a populace haggling over a border wall, heirs to a degraded sense of truth, meaning, and possibility. Surviving Autocracy is an inventory of ravages but also a beacon to recovery--or to enduring, and resisting, an ongoing assault.

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A Burning

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2020 | Megha Majumdar

A TODAY SHOW #ReadWithJenna BOOK CLUB PICK! A New York Times Notable Book For readers of Tommy Orange, Yaa Gyasi, and Jhumpa Lahiri, an electrifying debut novel about three unforgettable characters who seek to rise--to the middle class, to political power, to fame in the movies--and find their lives entangled in the wake of a catastrophe in contemporary India. In this National Book Award Longlist honoree and "gripping thriller with compassionate social commentary" (USA Today), Jivan is a Muslim girl from the slums, determined to move up in life, who is accused of executing a terrorist attack on a train because of a careless comment on Facebook. PT Sir is an opportunistic gym teacher who hitches his aspirations to a right-wing political party, and finds that his own ascent becomes linked to Jivan's fall. Lovely--an irresistible outcast whose exuberant voice and dreams of glory fill the novel with warmth and hope and humor--has the alibi that can set Jivan free, but it will cost her everything she holds dear. Taut, symphonic, propulsive, and riveting from its opening lines, A Burning has the force of an epic while being so masterfully compressed it can be read in a single sitting. Majumdar writes with dazzling assurance at a breakneck pace on complex themes that read here as the components of a thriller: class, fate, corruption, justice, and what it feels like to face profound obstacles and yet nurture big dreams in a country spinning toward extremism. An extraordinary debut.

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The Dragons, the Giant, the Women

2021 | Wayétu Moore

A powerful and poignant memoir of survival and resistance by the critically acclaimed author of She Would Be King, about her family's dramatic escape from the Liberian Civil War, and how they were eventually reunited My Ol' Ma says the best stories do not always end happily, but happiness will find its way in there somehow. When Wayétu Moore turns five years old, her father and grandmother throw her a party at home in Monrovia, Liberia. Yet all she can think about is how much she misses her mother, studying in faraway New York. Before they can be reunited, the Civil War breaks out in Liberia. The family is forced to flee their home on foot, walking along dangerous roads to the relative safety of their ancestral village. Here they will hide until a remarkable rescue by a rebel soldier, who smuggles them across the border. The Dragons, The Giant, The Women spans this heartbreaking journey into childhood, and Moore's years adjusting to life in the USA, where she discovers a new kind of danger, as a black woman and an immigrant. This is an unforgettable memoir of the search for home in the midst of political upheaval, and an intimate story about the tenacious power of love and family. Wayétu Moore was born in Liberia and raised in Spring, Texas. She is a graduate of Howard University, Columbia University, and the University of Southern Carolina. She teaches at the City University of New York's John Jay College and lives in Brooklyn. Her debut novel She Would Be King is also published by ONE.

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Our Time Is Now

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2020 | Stacey Abrams

From New York Times bestselling author of Lead From The Outside and political leader Stacey Abrams, a blueprint to end voter suppression, empower our citizens, and take back our country. "With each page, she inspires and empowers us to create systems that reflect a world in which all voices are heard and all people believe and feel that they matter." —Kerry Washington A recognized expert on fair voting and civic engagement, Abrams chronicles a chilling account of how the right to vote and the principle of democracy have been and continue to be under attack. Abrams would have been the first African American woman governor, but experienced these effects firsthand, despite running the most innovative race in modern politics as the Democratic nominee in Georgia. Abrams didn’t win, but she has not conceded. The book compellingly argues for the importance of robust voter protections, an elevation of identity politics, engagement in the census, and a return to moral international leadership. Our Time Is Now draws on extensive research from national organizations and renowned scholars, as well as anecdotes from her life and others’ who have fought throughout our country’s history for the power to be heard. The stakes could not be higher. Here are concrete solutions and inspiration to stand up for who we are?now. "This is a narrative that describes the urgency that compels me and millions more to push for a different American story than the one being told today. It's a story that is one part danger, one part action, and all true. It's a story about how and why we fight for our democracy and win." ?Stacey Abrams

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