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Welcome to Quality Reads, a monthly rundown of our editors’ most loved reads.
The temperatures are (finally!) starting to cool, and naturally we’re dreaming of cozy autumnal feelings: a favorite sweater, a cup of tea or cider, and being cuddled up with a crisp hardcover that’s guaranteed to sweep you away for the afternoon. Read on for the reads that have captivated us most this month.
“Personal essays are why I’m a writer (and a reader, for that matter). They’ve always felt so straightforwardly intimate to me. Reading someone’s writing of any genre is technically an insight into how they think, but there’s something so satisfying about personal essays. How do we explain ourselves, when people go into it knowing that’s exactly what we’re trying to do? There’s kind of nowhere to hide, and I like seeing variations on how people approach it.
In a society that is so stubbornly unable to grasp nuance when it comes to race, this book is a stunningly creative example in how to approach such a complex topic with the honesty, idiosyncrasy, and contradiction it requires. Part memoir, part history, part cultural criticism, Hong’s essays approach a deeper understanding of racial identity in America. Her background as a poet and visual artist is important here: she is able to show the very violent, intentional limits of the English language, as well as the beauty that arises when you stop trying to abide by its rules so diligently.
The through line here are ‘minor feelings,’ which, Hong coins, are those that occur when you internalize the lies and stereotypes you’re told about your own race. As the daughter of Korean immigrants growing up in 90’s Los Angeles, she cites shame, suspicion, and melancholy in particular. I shudder at how vaguely I just described that, but it’s almost impossible to summarize her work with such little space. Just read it, for real.” – Jordan
Credit: Il Papiro Firenze.
“Exploring other cultures has always been a pastime of mine. Any books that can give me an insight on the way other people do things are right up my alley! This charming book details the Italian lifestyle, but also gives some historical and philosophical context as to how these traditions and ways came to be. From art and culture, fashion and cinema, food and drink, and how to love and socialize, this gives bite size glimpses into la dolce vita and ultimately encourages readers to incorporate some of these little pleasures into their own lives, even if you're not actually Italian!” – Bernadette
“Lately I've been into emotion-driven fiction where there's a big relationship component between main characters. So, not really the modern romance genre, but more a narrative focused on a couple and their dynamic. If you liked Call Me By Your Name, you must read the author's follow-up book. There is some truly stunning writing in here, plus some excellent observations on life, love, and the choices we make. This also gave me major Before Sunrise vibes for my fellow Linklater fans!” – Kaleigh
“I love psychological thrillers and any book that captures my attention from the very beginning. I finally found some time to read a book while at the beach this summer and this was one I couldn’t put down. If I'm being completely honest, I didn't love the ending, but it's still totally worth reading. It easily kept my attention and I was done within a week of starting. Putting it in my top five, regardless of the end. Psychological thrillers are my favorites and this definitely lived up to the reviews.” – Aliza
“This was my first Kristin Hannah novel and it will not be my last! This novel takes place in France at the start of WWII (and takes us through 1945) and brings the author front and center to the emotional and physical turmoil that so many in France dealt with during the course of the war. There's a little bit of everything in this book, and I couldn't put it down. For those who want to dive into different times, this is one to grab. ” – Laura
“As someone who’s lived in both Florida and Hawai’i, I'm big into the concept of 'blue mind' — that our lives are improved by being in and around water — and I also love microhistories that interweave personal and sociological insights. Naturally, Why We Swim was a perfect fit. Bonnie Tsui combines graceful personal reflections with scientific discoveries, historical oddities, and psychological notes that paint a portrait of why we find ourselves drawn to swimming. I also love any book that centers our experience of awe. It’s thorough, beautiful, and illuminates a lot of our cultural notions around athleticism, nature, and more.” – Grace
Is there another book we should bump up our list? Send it our way: email@example.com.