N Magazine‘s resident bookworm Tim Ehrenberg gives his ultimate back-to-school reading list.
CASTE: THE ORIGINS OF OUR DISCONTENTS by Isabel Wilkerson
Friends, we are all going back to school this month and your first assignment is to read Caste by Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson. If you don’t have a profound reaction to it—you fail! Just ask Oprah Winfrey who said this is “the most important book I have ever chosen for book club… this is a book for all humanity.” Caste is a beautifully written, expertly researched story of the unspoken caste system that has shaped America, revealing how our lives are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions. You’ll want to highlight whole pages and buy copies for your family, friends and community leaders.
THE COMEBACK by Ella Berman
I love books that tell a fictional story about a very real subject. Written pre-Weinstein scandal and before the #MeToo movement gained momentum, The Comeback is a deep dive into the psyche of a young actress manipulated and abused by a much older director. Written by a social psychologist, The Comeback is not celebrity-magazine fluff, but an exposé on power dynamics, abuse in Hollywood, secrets that can destroy a sense of self and finding the courage to fight back.
A TRAVELER AT THE GATES OF WISDOM by John Boyne
If you have been reading my recommendations for a while, you know The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne is one of my favorite novels of the last decade. Boyne is back with A Traveler at the Gates of Wisdom, an epic tale of humanity that is unique in its structure but universal in its appeal. A Traveler at the Gates of Wisdom is a novel of all of us, for all of us. Boyne proves that every human is more alike than they are different. The story starts with a family in Palestine in the year 1 A.D. We follow these characters to fifty countries and travel over two thousand years across human history. The world may change, their names may be slightly different, but their destinies remain the same.
THE EIGHTH DETECTIVE by Alex Pavesi
Ever since I was a young bookworm, I have loved murder mysteries. I devoured Agatha Christie’s entire canon one summer. And I still love playing detective by sitting down with a good old-fashioned mystery. The Eighth Detective is an ode to the classic murder mystery, featuring the character of Grant McAllister, a professor of mathematics who once wrote the equation for the perfect detective story and then penned seven examples in a book called The White Murders. Julia Hart, an editor, comes to his door wishing to republish the book. They dissect each story, but there are inconsistencies that turn out to be clues. Nothing is as it seems. Readers will love playing the gumshoe to find the clues and will be left stunned at the twists and reveals in the end.
THE LYING LIFE OF ADULTS by Elena Ferrante
The author of the “Neapolitan Quartet” saga, the pseudonymous Italian novelist Elena Ferrante returns to our shelves with one of the most anticipated books of the season, The Lying Life of Adults. A coming-of-age story, The Lying Life of Adults is a singular portrayal of the transition from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. I loved the voice of this novel. The characters leap off the page and stay in your heart and mind.
ACK! THE NANTUCKET DUCKLING by A.K. Spurway
This book is just too adorable not to mention. I have been gifting it to all of my friends and family with young children. Ack! The Nantucket Duckling is a celebration of unconditional love and self-acceptance—a Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer story for a new generation of Nantucket lovers. Ack! The Nantucket Duckling has an important message for parents to share with their children, with each page beautifully illustrated with artwork of Nantucket by Jacqueline East. For anyone who has stopped for ducks as they cross the road on Nantucket Island, this book is for you.
Support your Island Indies. All books are available at Mitchell’s Book Corner & Nantucket Bookworks, and are directly linked in the photos above!