Regardless of what it’s going to look like, the beginning of the school year is nearly upon us. Here is a list of thirteen new titles to help you get you prepped for back to school reading assignments.
1. Refugee by Alan Gratz
Gratz’s novel Refugee looks in detail at three interrelated stories of the refugee experience across several decades: a Jewish boy named Josef Landau in 1938, a Cuban woman named Isabel Fernandez in 1994, and a Syrian man named Mahmoud Bishara in 2015.
2. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
Eddo-Lodge’s book Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race explores issues of race and racism in Britain and beyond from historical and contemporary perspectives.
3. Shell Shaker by LeAnne Howe
Howe’s novel Shell Shaker employs overlapping narration to examine the murders of two powerful men in Choctaw society across the span of two centuries.
4. A Wall of Fire Rising by Edwidge Danticat
Danticat’s short story “A Wall of Fire Rising” tells the story of a man named Guy who dreams of escaping a life of poverty in Haiti.
5. The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr
Karr’s The Art of Memoir serves as one of the foundational books on the memoir genre, providing an invaluable discussion of the craft, form, and composition of memoirs.
6. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
Morris’s novel The Tattooist of Auschwitz is about a Slovakian Jewish man named Lale who spends several years interned at the Auschwitz death camp during World War II, working as the camp tattooist.
7. Theme for English B by Langston Hughes
Hughes’s poem “Theme for English B” (1951) is a dramatic monologue that follows a young Black student’s attempt to write a paper for his “English B” class at a Columbia University in New York City.
8. Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of the Iliad by Rosemary Sutcliff
Sutcliff’s illustrated novel Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of the Iliad retells the story of the Trojan War for younger readers, following the storylines of Paris, Helen, Achilles, Odysseus, and more of the heroes from the original Greek tale.
9. The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks by Katherine Paterson
Paterson’s illustrated retelling of a Japanese folktale, The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks, is about beauty, kindness, and what people will do for love.
10. Invictus by William Ernest Henley
Henley’s poem “Invictus” (1888) has long been heralded as an exemplar of the so-called stoic, stiff-upper-lip mentality of someone who remains undaunted in her ability to control her own fate—despite whatever obstacles may come.
11. In the House of the Interpreter by Ngugi wa Thiong’o
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s 2012 memoir, In the House of the Interpreter, recalls his adolescent years studying at a British colonial school in Kenya amid the political turmoil of the 1950s.
12. The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance by Laurie Garrett
Garrett’s nonfiction book The Coming Plague focuses on the history of global epidemic diseases from the 1960s to the 1990s, describing how a number of key cases have drastically shaped how humanity handles epidemics.
13. Emerald City by Jennifer Egan
Egan’s short story collection, Emerald City, features eleven stories united by the characters’ longing for companionship and novelty on their journeys of self-discovery.