Labor Day typically means barbecues, beach days and outdoor gatherings, but this year looks a little different. Since there’s no need to put yourself at risk for a little extra time at the bar, we’re staying in and picking up a good book. These books will keep you so engrossed over the long Labor Day weekend, you’ll never want to leave the comfort of your couch. They’re the definition of unputdownable.
Read on and grab yours before Labor Day is upon us!
Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan
This domestic drama explores how friendships form, especially across generational and socio-economic lines. Elisabeth, an accomplished author, slips into suburban malaise after having a baby and moving from New York City to Philadelphia where she hires Sam, a self-possessed college senior, to babysit. Their relationship quickly gets complicated as Sam makes her way into Elisabeth’s world.
Gimme Everything You Got by Iva-Marie Palmer
Think Judy Bloom meets Amy Schumer. It’s a coming-of-age novel that will have you cracking up the entire time. Set in 1979, the story deals with changing friendships, 1970’s-era sexism and feminism and discovering your true passions.
The Girl With The Louding Voice by Abi Daré
This debut novel is a must-read if you enjoyed Etaf Rum’s A Woman Is No Man and Tara Westover’s Educated. In this story Adunni, a 14-year-old Nigerian girl, endures a series of unfortunate events in her quest to get an education. The alternative is a life of servitude, something Adunni experiences firsthand when, after escaping an arranged marriage, she lands herself in an even more precarious position in the employ of a sadistic wife and her debauched husband.
The Tradition by Jericho Brown
So this is technically a book of poetry, but it reads like a beautiful novel. Brown details the normalization of evil and its history at the intersection of the past and the personal. The collection includes poems of fatherhood, legacy, Blackness, queerness, worship and trauma all written in Brown’s invention of the duplex—a combination of the sonnet, the ghazal and the blues.
The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
This is one of the best books I’ve read in 2020. It’s a quick read that you’ll easily finish over Labor Day weekend. Set in Nigeria, it follows the story of the death of Vivek Oji after his body is left naked and wrapped in a cloth on his parents’ front door. It’s an incredibly beautiful and devastating story about embracing your true self even if your culture and family don’t accept it.
Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth
Did you love Fleabag? You’ll eat this novel up. It’s an insightful and acerbically funny, observant and timely look into the life of a social media-obsessed, thirtysomething woman going through a breakup . . . but really having more of a breakdown. Told in live-wire prose, texts, emails, script dialogue and social media messages, Adults is a neurotic dramedy of 21st-century manners for the digital age.
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
In the mood for a feminist fairy tale? This story takes your expectations of a fairy tale and turns them on their head, creating an elaborately unconventional story, complete with heroes who are morally questionable and villains who you’ll fall in love with. At its heart, it’s a book about a girl who may be monstrous claiming her own power, filled with twists and a fascinating queer romance that will steal your own heart.
Other People’s Pets by R.L. Maizes
We all know the person who’d rather hang out with the dog at the party. This novel is about a young woman who relates more to dogs than to people, but with a twist. When she’s not in veterinary school, La La Fine spends her time burglarizing homes with her locksmith-turned-thief father Zev. But when her dad is arrested, La La has to carry on and provide financially by continuing to rob homes, but this time she lets her animal empathy take over and she cares for the animals of the homes she robs. It’s funny and quirky and the perfect read for Labor Day weekend.
What You Wish For by Katherine Center
We could all use a little boost of happy these days, and this book is a burst of happiness in the form of a book. The heart of this lighthearted story deals with why we should choose joy even in difficult and painful times of our lives. This book is bubbly and quirky and beautifully celebrates the power of joy.