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Arts + Culture

10 Books to Take Along On Your September Travels

Our packing list may change from one season and destination to the next, but one thing you'll always find in our bag? A compelling, dog-eared read. This September, we've got eyes on 10 titles that run the gamut from hotly anticipated political tell-alls to resilient coming-of-age tales.

A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.

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The Golden House, Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie’s latest page-turner starts on the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration when Nero Golden—a mysterious, wealthy-beyond-measure foreigner—moves himself and three sons to a mansion in an ultra-exclusive corner of NYC’s Greenwich Village. Our narrator and window into not only the Golden’s posh Manhattan lifestyle, but also their numerous sibling quarrels, romantic infidelities, cold-blooded crimes, and cast-off homeland, is René—an aspiring filmmaker—who, as their neighbor, happens to find his latest subjects right next door. Tapping into the realities of America's current political climate with everything from commentary on the Tea Party to the introduction of a vanity-driven, publicity-pivoting villain, Rushdie treats readers to an all-too-real tale of modern-day love, loss, terror, and identity.

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What Happened, Hillary Rodham Clinton

In 2016, America saw its most divisive, controversial, and unpredictable presidential election to date. Now, 7.5 months after the nation’s collective jaw-drop, democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has come forward with a hotly anticipated memoir that takes a look at what the hell just happened. Discussing sexism and double standards, the media that vilified her, unprecedented Russian interference, and her indignant opponent with humor, candor, and a self-reflective lens, HRC digs into the mistakes she made, what’s it’s like to live life in the public eye, and how she picked herself up post-election.

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My Absolute Darling, Gabriel Tallent

Fourteen-year-old Julia “Turtle” Alveston leads a precarious, isolated life in Northern California. Always under the watchful eye of her mentally and sexually abusive father, Martin, a survivalist who has pushed shooting and hunting on his withdrawn daughter, she interacts with next to no one. That is until Jacob, a funny, well-mannered high-schooler who shows immense interest in her, enters the picture. Driven by her first real friendship and infatuation, Turtle considers her tormented home life and contemplates escaping with the set of skills her father imparted. In the end, debut novelist Gabriel Tallent wows with a resilient heroine who isn’t waiting for someone to rescue her, but one who's willing to comes forward as her own savior.

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Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng

Mia Warren, an eccentric artist and single mother, makes major waves when she moves to Shaker Heights, a carefully-ordered Cleveland suburb. Renting space from the Richardsons—an affluent family who consummately defines the community’s status quo, Mia and daughter Pearl settle in and start to form close relationships with Elena Richardson and her children. But when the town sounds off on one family’s complicated adoption and ensuing custody battle, and Elena and Mia find themselves on opposite sides of the argument, Elena obsessively digs into Mia’s mysterious past. In Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng (Everything I Never Told You) explores adoption, abortion, surrogacy, class privilege, and what it means to be called a mother.

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The Origin of Others, Toni Morrison

In The Origin of Others, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison (Beloved) pulls from her own volume of work as well as history, politics, and celebrated literature to examine pressing issues of race, identity, and otherness. Morrison contends that if racism is taught by example, then certainly representations of slavery and perceptions of racial purity found in seminal 19th-century works—think those from Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O’Connor, and William Faulkner —play a role in how we conceive and internalize racial prejudices. In light of our current social and political climate, now—as in right now—is the time to read her illuminating essay collection.

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The Burning Girl, Claire Messud

Childhood friends Julia and Cassie have long held tight to a shared dream of escaping their quiet Massachusetts hometown. But as the two enter adolescence, their priorities—and ultimately, friendship—begin to drift apart. In her coming-of-age story, Messud (The Emperor's Children) crafts vulnerable, sometimes self-destructing characters who are just learning the complexities of adulthood, friendship, romantic relationships, and how important it is to know ourselves as much as we know others.

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At the Strangers' Gate: Arrivals in New York, Adam Gopnik

Moving from Montreal to NYC in the 80s, young and ambitious artists Adam Gopnik and soon-to-be wife Martha are enthralled by everything the vibrant city has to offer. But as they settle in—moving from one low-rent basement apartment to the next, and working unfulfilling jobs—it becomes abundantly clear that the best of the Big Apple goes to the greedy. With topics ranging from his career growth (graduating from graduate student to Condé Nast and MoMA positions) to what it’s like to live in NYC’s increasingly-confined spaces, Gopnik's At the Strangers' Gate reminisces on the city in both a highly personal and universal way.

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Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook, Alice Waters

Before Alice Waters opened her acclaimed flagship Chez Panisse, pioneered California’s organic food scene, and became one of America’s most influential culinary figures, she was rebelling against her dull suburban upbringing. Moving to Berkeley in the mid-60s, she was active in the Free Speech Movement, and joined forces with other students and activists who profoundly influenced her views on politics, film, and food. In Coming to My Senses, Waters shares recipes, photos, letters, and stories that proudly recall the counterculture experiences that led her to where she is now.

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Five-Carat Soul, James McBride

Following his National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird and bestselling The Color of Water, James McBride is back with a new fiction collection that humorously and insightfully explores the human condition (identity, humanity, and history included). By now, readers are familiar with McBride’s acute character and detail development, but perhaps the most impressive aspect of Five-Carat Soul is its ability to deliver moral counsel without hitting us over the head.

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David Bowie: A Life, Dylan Jones

Few artists have rocketed to fame and influenced the music scene as radically as David Bowie. Now, a year after his passing, GQ editor Dylan Jones has pulled together an oral history that comprehensively covers Bowie’s five-decade career—from unglamorous issues like his financial problems and drug use, to fan-facing facets of his identity like his interest in Buddhism and his fluid sexuality. With the aid of more 180 articles, books, and original interviews, as well insight from Bowie’s bandmates, childhood friends, lovers, and fellow musicians (Iggy Pop, John Lennon, etc.), Jones presents an intimate portrait of one of world’s most iconic figures.

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