Ahh the reading list, that old quintessential summer favorite. Summertime and while traveling are my two favorite times to really make a dent in my reading list. There’s something so magical about sitting in the sun and getting lost in a good story. And while we can’t really travel right now we still have the summer–even if we’re rocking more mask tans lines than bikini tan lines this year!

I chatted to some of the lovely ladies of SOBDL–Erica, Jaime, Jess, Shannon and Drea–and together we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite books we’re reading right now.

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan 

If you’re fascinated by the brain and human behaviour, you’ll find this book really interesting. Brain on Fire is an award-winning memoir and instant New York Times bestseller that goes far beyond its riveting medical mystery–it’s a powerful account of one woman’s struggle to recapture her identity.

High School by Tegan Quin and Sara Quin 

Because who doesn’t want to know what it was like to be Tegan and Sara in the 90s? First loves, first songs, and the drugs and reckless high school exploits that fueled them—meet music icons Tegan and Sara as you’ve never known them before in this intimate and raw account of their formative years. HOT TIP It’s also great on audiobook as it’s read by T&S themselves! 

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo

White Fragility explores the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality. A great read for anyone committed to the ongoing process of self-assessment and anti-oppression work.

Take Back The Tray: Revolutionizing Food In Hospitals, Schools, And Other Institutions by Joshna Maharaj

Take Back The Tray chronicles beloved chef Joshna’s time spent working to change food systems in Toronto’s hospital system (no small task!) The book is light and entertaining: a good mix of frustration with the current shortfalls of food in with hope and optimism that affordable solutions are possible. HOT TOP Joshna is a long-time pal of my Erica’s partner, Scott Vivian,  who runs Beast Bodega and has the books in stock and for sale!

The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman  

A truly eye-opening fictional exploration of the catholic run orphanages in 1950s Quebec. Philomena meets Orphan Train in this suspenseful, provocative novel filled with love, secrets, and deceit—the story of a young unwed mother who is forcibly separated from her daughter at birth and the lengths to which they go to find each other.

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby 

If you’re looking to read something that will make you cackle in public this is it. Samantha Irby relatably and hilariously writes about her creative process, moving to the Midwest and girls night out in your 30s (reservations and a place to sit down are mandatory.) 

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor

This eye-opening book challenges you to do the essential work of unpacking your biases, and helps white people take action and dismantle the privilege within themselves so that you can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of color, and in turn, help other white people do better, too.

They Said This Would Be Fun by Eternity Martis

An emotional and deeply personal memoir about her experiences as the only Black student on a predominantly white campus (Western University in London ON).  But this book is so much more than that, as Eternity unflinchingly reflects on growing up in a mixed-race family, navigating relationships that range from tokenizing to downright abusive and finding her voice as a Black woman and a feminist.

Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory by Raphael Bob-Waksberg

A collection of short stories from the creator of the series Bojack Horseman, if you’re a fan of the melancholic weirdness of that show this book is for you.

Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta

This book takes place in Toronto’s very own “Little Jamaica” (Eglinton West). It’s a first-generation coming of age tale of a Jamaican Canadian girl who is navigating life through the lens of two worlds. Frying Plantain does an excellent job of providing a second-generation Canadian account of coping with first-generation cultural expectations and identifying the Black experience as an adolescent living in Toronto. 

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

The haunting true story of the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California during the 70s and 80s, and of the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case—which was solved in April 2018. HBO is airing the documentary now but in case you don’t have HBO or you believe the book is always better, give this a read. So scary and dark but checks all the true-crime boxes for me. Not recommended before bed!

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi takes listeners through a widening circle of antiracist ideas – from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilities – that will help listeners see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a novel that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the inescapable challenges of family and friendships. Normal People is a book that you will read in one sitting, and then immediately share with your friends. The novel has also been made into TV show for BBC 3 and Hulu and it’s as unmissable as the book!

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

Tiny Beautiful Things is a collection of the best of The Rumpus’s Dear Sugar advice columns plus never-before-published pieces. Rich with humor, insight, compassion—and absolute honesty—this book is a balm for everything life throws our way.