Our popular non-fiction book this month is actually from 2020, proving the enduring appeal of self-help books. And in fiction, we have an author who hasn’t appeared in this series before, Rebecca Makkai – one of her previous novels, The Great Believers, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2019, however! Take a look at these books below as well as a few to tide you over during the wait in the queue.
I Have Some Questions For You by Rebecca Makkai
A successful film professor and podcaster, Bodie Kane is content to forget her past—the family tragedy that marred her adolescence, her four largely miserable years at a New Hampshire boarding school, and the murder of her former roommate, Thalia Keith, in the spring of their senior year. Though the circumstances surrounding Thalia’s death and the conviction of the school’s athletic trainer, Omar Evans, are hotly debated online, Bodie prefers—needs—to let sleeping dogs lie.
But when the Granby School invites her back to teach a course, Bodie is inexorably drawn to the case and its increasingly apparent ﬂaws. In their rush to convict Omar, did the school and the police overlook other suspects? Is the real killer still out there? As she falls down the very rabbit hole she was so determined to avoid, Bodie begins to wonder if she wasn’t as much of an outsider at Granby as she’d thought—if, perhaps, back in 1995, she knew something that might have held the key to solving the case.
Read-Alike 1: True Story by Kate Reed Petty
2015. A gifted and reclusive ghostwriter, Alice Lovett makes a living helping other people tell their stories. But she is haunted by the one story she can’t tell: the story of, as she puts it, “the things that happened while I was asleep.”
1999. Nick Brothers and his lacrosse teammates return for their senior year at their wealthy Maryland high school as the reigning state champions. They’re on top of the world—until two of his friends drive a passed-out girl home from of the team’s “legendary” parties, and a rumor about what happened in the backseat spreads through the town like wildfire.
The boys deny the allegations, and, eventually, the town moves on. But not everyone can. Nick descends into alcoholism, and Alice builds a life in fits and starts, underestimating herself and placing her trust in the wrong people. When she finally gets the opportunity to confront the past she can’t remember—but which has nevertheless shaped her life—will she take it?
Read-Alike 2: Long Bright River by Liz Moore
In a Philadelphia neighborhood rocked by the opioid crisis, two once-inseparable sisters find themselves at odds. One, Kacey, lives on the streets in the vise of addiction. The other, Mickey, walks those same blocks on her police beat. They don’t speak anymore, but Mickey never stops worrying about her sibling.
Then Kacey disappears, suddenly, at the same time that a mysterious string of murders begins in Mickey’s district, and Mickey becomes dangerously obsessed with finding the culprit–and her sister–before it’s too late.
The Mountain Is You by Brianna Wiest
This is a book about self-sabotage. Why we do it, when we do it, and how to stop doing it—for good. Coexisting but conflicting needs create self-sabotaging behaviors. This is why we resist efforts to change, often until they feel completely futile. But by extracting crucial insight from our most damaging habits, building emotional intelligence by better understanding our brains and bodies, releasing past experiences at a cellular level, and learning to act as our highest potential future selves, we can step out of our own way and into our potential.
For centuries, the mountain has been used as a metaphor for the big challenges we face, especially ones that seem impossible to overcome. To scale our mountains, we actually have to do the deep internal work of excavating trauma, building resilience, and adjusting how we show up for the climb. In the end, it is not the mountain we master, but ourselves.
Read-Alike 1: Lighter by yung pueblo
yung pueblo’s path to deep healing began only after years of drug abuse had taken a toll on his mind and body. Searching for a way forward, he found that by honestly examining and addressing the anxieties and fears that he had been running away from, he no longer felt like a stranger inside of his heart and mind. And once he dedicated himself to meditation and trusting his intuition, he started to finally feel mentally lighter, with more love emerging from within. This was not an easy journey, and it’s one that he is still on, but it showed him that real healing is possible.
In Lighter, yung pueblo demonstrates how we can all move forward in our healing, from learning self-compassion to letting go to becoming emotionally mature. As the heaviness falls away, our minds will stop feeling overburdened with tension, we’ll be able to reconnect with the present, and the world around us will become more inviting, crisp, and newly vibrant. But these are just the first steps. As we grow stronger and expand our self-awareness, it’s our responsibility—and part of the healing journey—to take actions to support the health and harmony of all people. The final section of Lighter shows how we can and must contribute to building a world that is no longer structurally harmful, but instead, structurally compassionate.
Read-Alike 2: Welcome Home by Najwa Zebian
The powerful metaphor of home provides a structure for you to customize your journey to personal transformation as Najwa Zebian shares her own experiences in building a home within herself, and shows you how to construct the following “rooms”:
• Self-Love: Learn how to build an individualized self-care routine to reflect your daily needs.
• Forgiveness: Learn how to allow yourself time, reflection, and space to accept and let go of painful events.
• Compassion: Discover the three different types of compassion and learn how you can let people in while maintaining boundaries.
• Clarity: Learn how to remove the walls you put up around your authentic self.
• Surrender: Learn how to lower your defenses and give yourself space to feel and process your emotions.
• The Dream Garden: Learn how to nurture your dreams and create an authentic, original path.
With practical tools, poetry, and prompts for journaling and meditation to lead to self-understanding in each chapter, Zebian shows you how to build each room in your house. Written with her trademark power, candor, and warmth, Welcome Home is an answer to the pain we all experience when we don’t feel at peace with ourselves.