There are so many wonderful books in the world and with more published every week it can be hard to know where to start, especially on Mondays, when everything is ten times harder than it usually is. So let us do the work for you. Here are the three books you need to be reading this week. You’re welcome. This week it’s The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy, Pops by Michael Chabon and Pretend I’m Dead by Jen Beagin.
1. The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy
Image Via Image Via Fiction Writers Review
A night out. A few hours of fun. That’s all it was meant to be.
They call themselves the May Mothers—a group of new moms whose babies were born in the same month. Twice a week, they get together in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park for some much-needed adult time.
When the women go out for drinks at the hip neighborhood bar,they are looking for a fun break from their daily routine. But on this hot Fourth of July night, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is taken from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but her fellow May Mothers insisted everything would be fine. Now he is missing. What follows is a heart-pounding race to find Midas, during which secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are destroyed.
Thirteen days. An unexpected twist. The Perfect Mother is a “true page turner.” —B.A. Paris, author of Behind Closed Doors
This book has been receiving serious amounts of hype, and for good reason. Challenging the notion that mothers must be perfect, totally infallible beacons of morality, Molloy plays on society’s views of mothers and the obligations and expectations of motherhood, while combining this complex critique with a thrilling plot that keeps you turning pages.
Book of the Month had this to say: “To have children, we are told, is to achieve our ultimate glory. It’s also our chance to be totally judged. Through the eyes of these moms, we experience the struggles—the loneliness, fears, and worries—of parenting. But this isn’t just a social commentary. It’s a hair-raising, terrifying, urgent thriller told with abundant complexity (and creepiness). I dare say once you start reading this, you will never be able to put it down.”
2. Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces by Michael Chabon
Image Via NY Blueprint
“Magical prose stylist” Michael Chabon (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times) delivers a collection of essays—heartfelt, humorous, insightful, wise—on the meaning of fatherhood.
For the September 2016 issue of GQ, Michael Chabon wrote a piece about accompanying his son Abraham Chabon, then thirteen, to Paris Men’s Fashion Week. Possessed with a precocious sense of style, Abe was in his element chatting with designers he idolized and turning a critical eye to the freshest runway looks of the season; Chabon Sr., whose interest in clothing stops at “thrift-shopping for vintage western shirts or Hermès neckties,” sat idly by, staving off yawns and fighting the impulse that the whole thing was a massive waste of time. Despite his own indifference, however, what gradually emerged as Chabon ferried his son to and from fashion shows was a deep respect for his son’s passion. The piece quickly became a viral sensation.
With the GQ story as its centerpiece, and featuring six additional essays plus an introduction, Pops illuminates the meaning, magic, and mysteries of fatherhood as only Michael Chabon can.
I am a huge Michael Chabon fan. Huge. He can do very little wrong in my opinion. I was first turned on to him when I heard him narrate half of his exquisite short story “Werewolves in Their Youth,” on an episode of This American Life. I subsequently made my family sit in silence and listen to it and talked relentlessly about it to anyone unfortunate enough to cross my pass in the month that followed. IT’S JUST SO GOOD. Anyway, everything he writes is brilliant and worth reading, regardless of whether it’s a short story, a novel, an essay or whatever. That’s why I’m as excited as I always am to read his new publication Pops.
It centers around his essay for GQ about bringing his son to Paris Fashion Week, which I read long before I knew who Michael Chabon was, and which is profoundly moving. I couldn’t believe it, when was in my Chabon honeymoon phase, obsessively Googling and reading up on everything he’s ever done, and discovered that he had written the essay that I remembered so fondly. He’s just great and you should read him.
3. Pretend I’m Dead by Jen Beagin
Image Via Powell’s
Miranda July meets Mary Karr in this brilliant debut novel from Jen Beagin, Whiting Award winner and “one of the freshest voices I’ve read in years—funny, wise, whip-smart and compassionate” (Jami Attenberg, author of The Middlesteins), about a cleaning lady on a quest for self-acceptance after her relationship with a loveable junkie goes awry.
Jen Beagin’s quirky, moving, “frank and unflinching” (Josh Ferris) debut novel introduces an unforgettable character, Mona—almost twenty-four, emotionally adrift, and cleaning houses to get by. Handing out clean needles to drug addicts, she falls for a recipient she calls Mr. Disgusting, who proceeds to break her heart in unimaginable ways.
In search of healing, Mona decamps to Taos, New Mexico, for a fresh start, where she finds a community of seekers and cast-offs, all of whom have one or two things to teach her—the pajama-wearing, blissed-out New Agers, the slightly creepy client with peculiar tastes in controlled substances, the psychic who might really be psychic. But always lurking just beneath the surface are her memories of growing up in a chaotic, destructive family from which she’s trying to disentangle herself, and the larger legacy of the past she left behind.
The story of Mona’s journey to find her place in this working-class American world is at once hilarious and wonderfully strange, true to life and boldly human, and introduces a stunningly one-of-a-kind new voice in American fiction.
Beagin’s novel, released earlier this month, is one of the most anticipated literary debuts of the year. Beagin won the prestigious Whiting Award before the book was published and it’s topping What’s Hot lists all over the place.
Kirkus Reviews said: “What gives this novel its heart is Beagin’s capacity for seeing: As Mona cleans peoples’ homes, we learn that the wealthy, well-dressed, superior individuals who pay her to scrub their toilets are just as messed up as the addicts and prostitutes and gamblers she encounters outside of work. This is not a new theme, of course, but Beagin makes it fresh with her sly, funny, compassionate voice. This is a terrific debut.”
Featured Image Via Clothes on Film