For when you have no idea what to read next. These books will challenge your perspective, make you laugh and cry, nostalgic for the past, intrigued by the present and hopeful for the future. Our resident bookie, Angela Ledgerwood, gives you the lowdown on the best September reads.
Fashion Climbing: A Memoir with Photographs by Bill Cunningham
For decades past, if you’d walked down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan you might have been lucky enough to spot Bill Cunningham, the beloved fashion photographer for The New York Times, dressed in his usual blue jacket snapping a picture of an exquisitely or outrageously-dressed fashionista going about their business. That weekend you’d glimpse his mosaic of photos in The Sunday Styles—from teenagers to heiresses—that would reveal a trend, or at the very least, plenty of playful ingenuity. This posthumously published memoir, with a touching forward by New Yorker staff writer Hilton Als, gives insight into the private man behind the lens. This captivating read will reinvigorate the way you see the world, and hopefully inspire some radical dressing too. (If you want to find out more about Cunningham and his life, watch the 2011 documentary Bill Cunningham New York.)
Crudo: A Novel by Olivia Laing
Beloved British cultural critic and writer Laing was known most recently for The Lonely City, an investigation into loneliness by way of several iconic artists, including Warhol, Hopper and David Wojnarowicz. Her new book is a real-time novel about the summer of 2017, Trump and Brexit, love and anxiety. She draws from her own life—what it was like to be an artist adjusting to married life while Trump was tweeting about nuclear war—and from the life of punk poet, writer and counterculture experimentalist Kathy Acker. Combining forces, she creates one of the most compelling commitment-phobic protagonists in years.
Ponti by Sharlene Teo
Hailed as a Singaporean spin on Elana Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, Ponti also conjures the intense and conditional friendships of Mean Girls and the alluring glitz of Crazy Rich Asians. Szu is a friendless outcast at school, obsessed with her beautiful and cruel mother, Amisa. Amisa is a former actress, known for her starring role in the cult horror film Ponti, in which she played the Pontianak, a kind of vengeful vampire who preys on men. When Szu meets Circe, their budding friendship quickly cures Szu’s acute loneliness. But what starts out sweetly, soon morphs into an insidious rivalry, the repercussions of which reverberate throughout both of their lives and the lives of generations to come.
American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures by America Ferrera
In this timely collection of essays, Emmy-winning actress and political activist America Ferrera mines her own cross-cultural Honduran and American upbringing and gathers thirty-one influential friends and change-makers, such as Lin-Manuel Miranda, Roxane Gay, Issa Rae, Kumail Nanjiani, Uzo Aduba, to talk about what it’s like to be an immigrant, a child or grandchild of immigrants, an indigenous person, or someone with deep connections to more than one culture. Even though this anthology speaks to the American experience, the themes of belonging and identity will hit home for anyone who’s ever felt torn between two cultures or two places equally dear to them.
Imagine Forward by Beth Comstock
Beth Comstock’s career has been defined by her ability to usher companies through periods of change with courage and creativity. The former Vice Chair of General Electric expedited the 32 billion-dollar company’s clean-energy and digital transformation. During her three decades at GE she also held the position of President of Integrated Media at NBC Universal where she developed the streaming service Hulu. A self-proclaimed professional explorer, Comstock shares how to be a bold leader in the face of uncertainty, her secrets for invigorating the people around you, and how she gave herself permission to be the provocative thinker she is today.
Untrue by Wednesday Martin
Eager to jump out of your comfort zone and learn more about your erogenous zones? Following her bestselling memoir and anthropological study of privileged Manhattan motherhood, Primates of Park Avenue, comes Wednesday Martin’s bold reconsideration of female infidelity and sexuality. The renowned social researcher interviews sex researchers, scientists and women from all walks of life, and what she finds usurps the long-held belief that women tend toward fidelity more than men. In fact, her research suggests that women may struggle with sexual exclusivity more than men. Martin also makes a compelling argument for why she believes that sexual autonomy is the ultimate metric of gender equality. There’s never been a better time to understand the impact of sexual politics on our lives and this candid and humorous book will help you get there—with a few fun facts and ingenious sex tips along the way.
Can We all Be Feminists? Edited by June Eric-Udorie
Audre Lorde once said, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different than my own.” This collection of essays is edited by Nigerian-born, UK-based, June Eric-Udorie—Elle UK’s female activist of the year and co-founder of “Youth for Change”, an initiative that works to combat female genital mutilation and forced marriage around the world. The essays explore modern-day feminism through a much-needed intersectional lens. Seventeen writers from across the globe, inclusive of LGBTQA+ people, people of color, people with disabilities, religious minorities, and more, confront what it means to shed exclusivity to ensure that feminism works for everybody.
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