The Magic Of Story

Ah, books. Few things offer us the warmth and comfort of a riveting novel or captivating memoir. From adventure and romance to poetry and personal narratives that invite us to reflect on our own lives, stories help us heal and offer hope—and those are two things we’re especially clinging to this summer.

Here are a few of our team favorites to keep you company this season. Read on your own or consider starting a book club for summer. And please feel free to share your own book recommendations in the comments below! 🌸

Alyssa’s Pick: Crying in H Mart

Author | Michelle Zauner
Recommended By
| Alyssa, Social + Community Lead

Michelle Zauner’s memoir, “Crying in H Mart,” powerfully recounts her complicated maternal relationship as navigated through food, identity, illness, and grief. Zauner, who grew up half-Korean in a small town in Oregon, details the urgency she felt to remain tethered to her Korean heritage throughout (and after) the loss of her mother—and how she learned to foster her culture through Korean cooking. Her re-telling of her mother’s experience with cancer forces the reader to look at mortality in an entirely new way—a somber reminder that not everything can be persevered with hope and strength.

Alyssa’s Review | “Michelle Zauner, frontwoman of Japanese Breakfast (an indie shoegaze band you should def listen to), wrote a New Yorker essay by this same title back in 2018, and it destroyed me. Her book is no different—that very essay serves as the first chapter, and she builds a beautiful story built upon culture, love, identity, and grief from there.” 

Price | $26.95, or less secondhand

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Danielle’s Pick: Disability Visibility

Author | Alice Wong
Recommended By | Danielle, Partnerships Manager

This collection of first-person essays, testimonies, and blog posts from more than 30 disabled authors was released last year in time for the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It details, celebrates, and educates readers on the experiences of an often intersectional and underserved community. 

Danielle’s Review | “The format of this book, a series of short chapters, makes it a quick yet captivating read. Split into four sections—Being, Becoming, Doing, and Connecting—‘Disability Visibility’ gives such a comprehensive look into a unique yet widespread experience. No matter how enlightened you think you are, these stories compel you to address your privilege, naiveté, and allyship.”

Price | $16.95, or less secondhand

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Emily’s Pick: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

Author | Ocean Vuong
Recommended By | Emily, Managing Editor

Ocean Vuong’s debut novel is written as a letter from the narrator, nicknamed “Little Dog,” to his mother who cannot read. The emotive and winding letter reveals stories about the narrator’s experiences with racism, sexuality, abuse, and a fraught family history. Masculinity and identity, too, are common threads as the narrator comes of age, comes out to his mother, and explores the dimensions of life as a young Vietnamese immigrant in Connecticut.

Emily’s Review “The language in this book is rich, immersive, and the experience of this story will linger with me for a long time. Vuong’s poetic gifts shine through the narrative without sacrificing clarity or understanding of the characters’ deepest emotions. I loved reading this book, and advise new readers with sensitivities to certain topics to take a look at the synopsis—it’s beautiful, heartbreaking, and weaves trauma and poetry together masterfully and impactfully.”

Price | $26, or less secondhand

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Henah’s Pick: World Travel: An Irreverent Guide

Authors | Anthony Bourdain & Laurie Woolever
Recommended By
| Henah Velez, Editor

Published posthumously, this new release from chef, author, and host Anthony Bourdain and longtime collaborator Laurie Woolever explores the world as only Bourdain could, through the eyes of food and one-of-a-kind experiences. From Borneo to Tanzania, this collection shares practical and entertaining suggestions on where to stay, what to eat, and also what to avoid—supplemented by commentary from the people who knew Bourdain best.

Henah’s Review | “I was a longtime fan of Anthony Bourdain and devastated by his loss back in 2018, but this book makes me feel reconnected to him in a new way. I’ve long missed Bourdain’s witty commentary, thoughtful perspective, and curious way of seeing the world combining my two favorite things: food and travel. And that’s just what this book is, punctuated throughout with beautiful illustrations. I’m especially excited to keep this charming and engaging resource nearby as I cautiously begin to explore the world again.”

Price | $35, or less secondhand

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Kayti’s Pick: Revival Season

Author | Monica West
Recommended By
| Kayti Christian, Senior Editor

Teenage Miriam is the daughter of one of the South’s most famous evangelical preachers, and every summer, their family piles into a minivan to travel to small towns for healing gatherings (called “revival season”). But one summer, things don’t go as planned and an act of violence tests Miriam’s belief in her father and her faith. What follows is an unraveling of sorts, in which the main character discovers that she herself has the power to heal—a dangerous and denied gift for women. What will she do with this newfound power? And how will her father react to the discovery?

Kayti’s Review | “A story that blends feminism, faith, and family drama is right up my alley. Monica West’s debut novel has been called ‘spellbinding’ and ‘explosive’—and I could not agree more. It’s a quick and captivating read, which is exactly what I’m looking for when choosing books for summer. West’s writing is both evocative and intimate, and I found myself caring deeply for the main character Miriam, so much so that I continued thinking about her even days after finishing this one.”

Price | $26, or less secondhand

Buy New | Buy Used

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Kayti Christian (she/her) is a Senior Editor at The Good Trade. She has a Master’s in Nonfiction Writing from the University of London and is the creator of Feelings Not Aside, a newsletter for enneagram 4s and other sensitive-identifying people. Outside of writing, she loves hiking, reading memoir, and the Oxford comma.