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October 2021: Kristen

Kristen is the Outside Sales Coordinator and Institutional Sales bookseller. She’s a Jersey Girl, Ravenclaw, and sad-book enthusiast.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

I’m obsessed with Emily St. John Mandel’s brain. No one weaves a story quite like she does. Don’t be turned off by the post-apocalyptic, pandemic backdrop—this is a rich, beautiful character study about what it means for humans to connect.

Know My Name by Chanel Miller

Miller is a such a lovely, natural writer—she recalls her 2015 Stanford campus assault with art and grace, taking the reader not just through the night of the attack, but the complicated aftermath as well. The impact of the trial on her career, family, and mental health was staggering and often unexpected. This book is essential.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

This coming-of-age novel is a gut punch in all the best ways. Vuong’s writing is lyrical, and his raw reflections on immigration, sexuality, identity, and love will leave you breathless.

Hell of a Book by Jason Mott

If Hunter S. Thompson were writing about racism in 2021 America, this might be that book. Mott’s novel is a surreal, genre-bending trip that seamlessly blends the fantastical with black experience. The book is both timely and poetic.

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

The tension! The longing! I truly devoured this book. Rooney’s story of a young woman who falls for a married man is intoxicating, cool, and crisp, and I was blown away by how realistic and modern it all felt.

With Teeth by Kristen Arnett

With Teeth is such a gem. This slice-of-life novel follows a modern woman as she navigates marriage, motherhood, and dating in Central Florida. Arnett forgoes a true “plot” in favor of a real character study. Sammy is so messy and insecure, and yet...she is so perfectly realized and incredibly relatable. I loved spending time inside her mind.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Transcendent Kingdom is such a surprising and impactful departure from Gyasi’s first novel. While Homegoing was so large in scope and concept, this book is an intimate slow burn. It beautifully tells the story of a young scientist struggling to make sense of her relationship with her parents, her place as a first-generation American, and her brother’s descent into addiction.

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Michelle Zauner’s mother died less than a month before mine did. We are the same age. To say that I related to this book is an understatement. I ugly-cried through its climax. Zauner’s book is a love letter to her mother and Korean food, as well as the complicated nature of mother-daughter relationships.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

This stunning book is so far from your typical Netflix true crime—more than anything, it is a memoir about a writer’s dedication and, ultimately, obsession. Michelle McNamara died before finishing the book, and before the police finally found its ghostly subject, the Golden State Killer. It’s so chilling to be inside her mind in the last days of her life, but the book she left behind is an absorbing and monumental achievement.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

I typically gravitate towards the dark and depressing, so it was such a lovely surprise when this Pulitzer Prize winner turned out to be a charming little love story. Less is equal parts warm rom-com and a deep, literary meditation on aging and relationships.

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