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July Book Recommendations

Curated by Mariel Ariwi
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Click on the book cover to read the review

Passing by Ella Larsen

A fast-paced story about the shifting relationship between Blackness and whiteness and the complexity of female friendships. In the 1920’s, Irene encounters an old friend, Clare. While both women can “pass” as white, only Clare chooses to do so. Clare’s secret increasingly complicates and endangers Irene’s comfortable existence and forces both women to confront their allegiances to both race and gender. 

Nella Larsen’s tight and subtle writing added the tension to this story that makes it so powerful.

 

She also draws upon her own experiences as a Biracial woman who lived in the margins of both the Black and white communities of her time as she explores racial identity through her characters. This book also heavily influences The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, a popular (and also good) book this summer. 

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Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

This masterpiece of a novel explores the lives and diverse  experiences of 12 Black British women. The characters’ backgrounds and choices couldn’t be more different, but they are woven together perfectly by Evaristo’s stellar mix of poetry and prose. The women that Bernardine Evaristo brought to the page were so alive and captivating, their different perspectives and struggles portrayed so vividly, that I couldn’t put this book down. Spanning several decades and examining the intersections of many different identities, this book is full of imagination, love, and joy. One of my favourite books that I’ve read this year! 

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The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang

Esmé Weijun Wang blends science, pop culture, and her own experiences through a collection of essays portraying  what it is like to live with schizophrenia. Her essays detail her initial diagnosis with bipolar disorder as a student at Yale, her multiple hospitalizations, and her eventual diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder years later as psychosis increasingly intrudes on her life. 

 

Wang’s brilliance and sharp mind shines through her prose. She sheds light on the inner chaos of mental illness with her candid retelling of her suffering. Her essay on considering motherhood while knowing that there is a large genetic component to her illness was particularly moving. Her writing is a valuable window into a world that remains little understood. 

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076F4CBA-DCB2-4F49-9B05-08968ECE2DDF.jpg

The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang

Esmé Weijun Wang blends science, pop culture, and her own experiences through a collection of essays portraying  what it is like to live with schizophrenia. Her essays detail her initial diagnosis with bipolar disorder as a student at Yale, her multiple hospitalizations, and her eventual diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder years later as psychosis increasingly intrudes on her life. 

 

Wang’s brilliance and sharp mind shines through her prose. She sheds light on the inner chaos of mental illness with her candid retelling of her suffering. Her essay on considering motherhood while knowing that there is a large genetic component to her illness was particularly moving. Her writing is a valuable window into a world that remains little understood. 

F507F831-3651-4D87-A10E-E1F649DACC38.jpg

Passing by Nella Larsen

A fast-paced story about the shifting relationship between Blackness and whiteness and the complexity of female friendships. In the 1920’s, Irene encounters an old friend, Clare. While both women can “pass” as white, only Clare chooses to do so. Clare’s secret increasingly complicates and endangers Irene’s comfortable existence and forces both women to confront their allegiances to both race and gender. 

Nella Larsen’s tight and subtle writing added the tension to this story that makes it so powerful.

 

She also draws upon her own experiences as a Biracial woman who lived in the margins of both the Black and white communities of her time as she explores racial identity through her characters. This book also heavily influences The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, a popular (and also good) book this summer. 

87461901-9E02-44BE-B19D-E1A8ABEFF45D (1)

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

This masterpiece of a novel explores the lives and diverse  experiences of 12 Black British women. The characters’ backgrounds and choices couldn’t be more different, but they are woven together perfectly by Evaristo’s stellar mix of poetry and prose. The women that Bernardine Evaristo brought to the page were so alive and captivating, their different perspectives and struggles portrayed so vividly, that I couldn’t put this book down. Spanning several decades and examining the intersections of many different identities, this book is full of imagination, love, and joy. One of my favourite books that I’ve read this year!