From old faithfuls to new releases, graphic novels and heart-wrenching memoirs — below are all the recommendations from the team here at WABE. Click on the staff member’s picture to see what they thought of a title or why they are excited to read. And be sure to check out our official WABE Summer Reading List for even more great things to add to your list.
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Emily Wu Pearson
Sherri Daye Scott
“All The Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doeer
When I saw that this book was about WWII and radio (shortwave radio) I had to get it. The book did not disappoint. It was written with chapters that were sometimes just a few paragraphs long, which made it an easy and interesting read. Oh ya, the storyline was also fascinating. Which is — more than likely — why it also won the Pulitzer Prize.
“About Grace” by Anthony Doeer
After finishing one of his recent books, “All the Light We Cannot See,” I went back to his first book. Again I found his writing style simple, vivid and empathetic. This is a story about a father who can — brace yourself — get accurate flashes of the future. When he sees that the future holds a sad fate for his daughter, Grace, he takes action to change what he fears will be her future. Maureen Corrigan would have put it better than that, but those are my thoughts on “Grace.”
SVP of Philanthropy & Corporate Support
“The Guest List” by Lucy Foley
The story of a wedding taking place on a remote Irish Island and the drama that ensues when the various guests begin to realize that they all have some secrets in their otherwise idyllic lives.
“Dream Town” by David Baldacci
The 3rd in a series of “film noir” type stories from David Baldacci. I recommend reading all three in order. Great protagonist and wonderful characters he finds along the way. The three stories take place from the late 1940s thru the mid-1950s in the American West and on to Southern California and Hollywood. Great fun!
Host of “All Things Considered” and “The Brief”
“The New Analog” by Damon Krukowski
It strikes me as odd that in the race to embrace the Digital Age, there’s a collective abandonment of analog. It’s not a relic, but it’s how we hear and see. We’re analog creatures, and while digital communication opens fascinating and empowering new doors, I often wonder what we’re leaving behind. Damon Krukowski evidently had a similar pondering, but unlike me, he wrote an excellent inquiry in search of answers. “The New Analog: Listening and Reconnecting in a Digital World,” is not about sappy nostalgia, nor is it saber-rattling about the doom of a digital future; instead, it’s a well-thought-out lens where a digital future carries with it the best of an analog past. In the process, we (society) reconnect and are better for it.
“Being There” by Jerzy Kosinski
This is a re-read, more than two decades since I last picked it up as a junior English major at Wabash College. By chance, the main character (whose name happens to be Chance) seems to be in the right place at the right time. Over the course of time, and through no effort of his own, Chance’s approachable demeanor and glowing generalities somehow leave others hanging on every word, eventually elevating him into a top media expert and renowned political pundit. None of those words carry any weight or value. But that’s an easily overlooked detail. After all, because he’s “in” the media, he’s got to be qualified, right? “Being There” is brilliant satire, a quick read, and a reminder that media are powerful — and power can be used for good…or not.
Deputy Managing Editor
My summer beach read this year will include two fun books that should take me far away from the reality of Georgia politics.
“Meant to Be” by Emily Giffin
I’ve been a fan of her writing ever since her breakout hit “Something Borrowed” in 2004 and I have not been disappointed by any of her subsequent works. The blurb for her latest book says “A restless golden boy and a girl with a troubled past navigate a love story that may be doomed before it even begins.” So there is some great escape beach reading.
And Emily lives in Atlanta, so there’s the added benefit of supporting your local author.
“Home Wrecker” by Mary Kay Andrews
Speaking of local authors for beach reads, you can also grab the latest from Georgia’s own Mary Kay Andrews. She’s out with her book “Home Wrecker,” a likely delight for anyone who’s ever had a fixer-upper.
“Spy x Family” by Tatsuya Endo.
It’s about a spy named Twilight that has been given an assignment to spy on a foreign diplomat and prevent a war. This diplomat frequents the school his son is enrolled in, so the spy is told to create a pretend family and enroll his child in the school. But his adoptive daughter turns out to be telepathic, and his new wife a secret assassin! The whole story is filled with cute domestic scenes along with the craziness of a pretend family trying to keep their secrets from each other.
“Darling Girl” by Liz Micalski.
This one is a Peter Pan rewrite about Wendy’s granddaughter, Holly Darling and her mysterious past. Holly’s 10-year comatose daughter suddenly goes missing, and Holly knows Peter Pan must be behind it. It explores the darker side of fairy tales and even paints Peter Pan as a villain. This is on my to be read for this summer!
“Flipped” by Greg Bluestein
How did Georgia turn from a red state to a purple one in the last election cycle? There’s more at work behind the scenes than you might realize. This book, written by AJC reporter Bluestein, is a sharp look at Georgia’s political scene. It has glimpses from the campaign trail, partisan infighting, and political horse-trading, but most of all it’s just a fun read — especially for those of us who lived through it!
Interview with Greg Bluestein
“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
This is a fun novel about a fictional movie star who rose to fame in the 1940s and 50s. As the title suggests, she was married seven times and almost every marriage was a calculated career move. It’s fast-paced, fun, and would make a great beach read this summer.
Director of Foundation Relations & Grants
“God Spare the Girls” by Kelsey McKinney
I read this in a single weekend because I could not put it down. It’s an original and modern coming-of-age story set in a hot Texas summer.
“When it Happens to You” by Molly Ringwald
Yes, that Molly Ringwald. This is a collection of short stories woven together into a novel. I didn’t expect to like it so much, but it was a real surprise.
Sherri Daye Scott
SVP of Marketing and Communications
“A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole
Whenever my brain and spirit need a break, I turn to Toole’s rolling tale of the unrecognized genius Ignatius J. Reilly and the colorful cast of French Quarter characters who make up Reilly’s world. I laugh a lot when I read it. And I revel in Toole’s writing. The book is simply just a wonderful piece of literature that always brings me joy.
“I’ll Never Write My Memoirs” by Grace Jones and Paul Morley
It’s Grace Jones. THE Grace Jones. Iconic model/actress/singer. Muse to many. Grace Jones!! The NYC disco scene stories alone! But what I really love about this easy, intriguing read is the glimpse into how a middle-class, conservative Jamaican childhood shaped a woman who help define and amplify a decadent era and aesthetic.
“Running with Sherman” by Christopher McDougall
I listened to this audiobook, and I was delighted to hear about the true adventures of the McDougalls as they moved to Amish country in Pennsylvania, rescued an abused donkey from a nearby animal hoarder and rehabilitated the donkey to run in the Leadville, Co Burro Race. Throughout the book, you meet compelling, colorful characters who struggle with very serious issues and tend to use community, animal partnerships and movement to rehab their lives. McDougall provides research and wonderful tangents on subjects such as serotonin addiction from intense exercise, the long history of animal/human partnerships, Amish culture and the world of extreme endurance athletes. A very fun and enlightening book. It’s not a G-rated book but could be good co-listening with tweens/teens.
“The Island of Missing Trees” by Elif Shafak
I loved this work of fiction for its intricate characters, fascinating setting (Cyprus Civil War in the ’70s and modern London) and enchanted narration partly from a fig tree! I learned a great deal about the turbulent history of Cyprus and enjoyed the compassionate accounts of the trauma, resilient community, relationships, culture and natural world. There is pain, hope, trauma, healing and renewal. A family generational saga with several twists, lyrical writing and a unique setting.
Sr. Producer – “City Lights”
“Out on The Wire: The storytelling secrets of the New Masters of Radio” by Jessica Abel and a foreword by Ira Glass
Previously read and loved.
“How to Tell a Story: The Essential Guide to Memorable Storytelling from The Moth”
Looking forward to reading.
Producer – “City Lights”
“All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr
I love historical fiction, and this was a unique perspective on World War II. The story goes back and forth between the perspective of a blind French girl and a German boy. You get to see through innocent eyes how the war affected these two countries.
“Arcadia” by Lauren Groff
This was a really cool read due to where the book takes place: a utopian commune in upstate New York. It’s told from the perspective of a young boy growing up there in the 1960s with his parents in this tight-knit, hippie community.
Sr. Community Engagement Manager
“Leave the World Behind” by Rumaan Alam
I enjoyed reading a book about a very mysterious and non-sensical pandemic…during a pandemic. The themes in the book ring true to what a lot of us have gone through in the past few years.
“The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig
This was such a fun read — magical stories about “what ifs.” This book will make you think about your life’s journey and why you would not change anything.
“The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig
I am super excited to read this book because I heard it’s about all of the lives we could have lived. Making one small change in our life could affect everything in the future, and that concept is interesting to me.
“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
One of my favorite things about this book is that it centers around a journalist and her friendship with celebrity, Evelyn Hugo. As you learn more about Hugo, you can’t help but to become immersed in her world.
“Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry
I am slowly making my way through the classics and this one kept coming up from friends and family as one of the best novels they had ever read. I’m loving it so far, especially the character development.
“State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity” by Esther Perel
This one is a heavy read. It’s uncomfortable and unsettling, but furthermore, engaging and enlightening.
Digital News Editor
“Constructing A Nervous System” by Margo Jefferson
Although it bears the subtitle “a memoir,” what Jefferson achieves in this book is closer to a hybrid form that integrates elements of both cultural criticism and personal history. A Pulitzer Prize-winning critic, Jefferson takes stock of the influence of a wide range of artists, writers and musicians upon her life and work – including figures such as Ella Fitzgerald, Willa Cather, Ike Turner and Josephine Baker – deftly exploring the ways in which we construct a sense of self through our encounters with others. But the chief pleasure of the book might be Jefferson’s writing itself: her prose is electric and theatrical, making for a captivating literary performance.
“Devil House” by John Darnielle
This is the third novel published by John Darnielle, who was previously best known as the singer-songwriter behind the band The Mountain Goats. While I’m familiar with Darnielle’s music, I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as a Mountain Goats fanboy, and by no means is that identification necessary to enjoy this book. What drew me to “Devil House” was the fact that its plot contains so many of my favorite tropes: a (fictional) true crime mystery, urban legends of teenage occultists, and a writer protagonist whose own books introduce metafictional elements. Beneath what could be potentially sensational trappings, however, “Devil House” has a lot of heart – part of the narrative is concerned with a misfit group of high school friends as they approach the precipice of adulthood, a period Darnielle renders with genuine poignancy.
Promotions and Traffic Manager
“The Stand” by Stephen King
After surviving a pandemic, people battle between good and evil!
Read the un-cut version.
“Island Of The Blue Dolphins” by Scott O’Dell
It’s a story of survival. It’s a YA book.
But for me, it was such a great read when I was 11 and 12. I recommend it to friends for light reading.
“The Sweetness of Water” by Nathan Harris
I just started it … historical fiction about the South during reconstruction.
“Verity” by Colleen Hoover –
I could not put it down!!!
Producer – “All Thing Considered”
“Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls” by T. Kira Madden.
📖 I’ve spent years searching for a memoir that will match the feeling I got while reading this. Madden is the niece of shoe mogul Steve Madden. It’s her story of growing up bi-racial and queer in South Florida’s extravagant Boca Raton community. It’s also about sex, defining what it means to be a good parent, battling addiction, and finding a long-lost sister.
“The Pessimists” by Bethany Ball
It’s kind of a domestic thriller, where white suburban helicopter parents pay thousands of dollars to send their kids to a private school and they don’t actually learn anything. Full of dark humor and people’s lives unraveling. I read this book in less than a day.
Emily Wu Pearson
Population & Immigration Reporter
“Seeing Ghosts” by Kat Chow
I’m eager to read any work by Kat Chow – some of my favorite stories from NPR’s Code Switch were hers – because I am interested in the question of how culture and grief interact and the space Asian American stories have in overall stories about American families.
“Crying in H Mart” by Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast
When I was growing up, stories about biracial Asian people were kind of few and far between. I have been slowly making my way through this memoir because of how close and personal it feels to my own story of reconnecting with my own culture.
“Cokie: A Life Well Lived” by Steven V. Roberts
Written by her husband, Steven V. Roberts. It’s a great story about Cokie Roberts, but more so, it’s a look at NPR from an angle I don’t really see and very empowering. It reinforces what a great product we have.
Host of “All Things Considered” and “Political Breakfast”
I love biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, etc. I have since high school. Two of my most favorite are Dorothy Dandridge and Ed Kennedy. My newest favorite is “Just as I am,” Cicely Tyson’s memoir.
“Dorothy Dandridge” by Donald Bogle
“True Compass” by Edward M. Kennedy
“Just as I am” by Cicely Tyson
Host of “City Lights”
“Chasing Me to my Grave” by Winfred Rembert
I most highly recommend the book, “Chasing Me to my Grave: An Artist’s Memoir of the Jim Crow South,” by Winfred Rembert as told to Erin I. Kelly. The book had a profound impact on me – an unforgettable story about overcoming adversity and the redemptive power of art. I was thrilled to learn last month that it received the Pulitzer Prize in the biography category.
Interview with Erin I. Kelly and Patsy Rembert
“Liarmouth” by John Waters
If you don’t mind risqué humor and unsavory language, John Waters’ new novel, “Liarmouth” is laugh-out-loud hilarious. And so clever. I can’t remember reading a book where I laughed as hard or as much. But please know that if you don’t like foul language, you should avoid the book.
Interview with John Waters
“The Vixen” by Francine Prose
Another book I read this year and thoroughly enjoyed was the novel “The Vixen” by Francine Prose. It’s set in 1953 in New York City, about a recent college graduate who gets a job at a prestigious publishing house, and accidentally discovers some intrigue.
“Every Good Boy Does Fine,” by Jeremy Denk
I look forward to reading a book I received for Mother’s Day from my kids – “Every Good Boy Does Fine,” by Jeremy Denk. He is an amazing pianist and witty as well. This is his memoir, and I can’t wait to read it.
This summer, I plan on stuffing my brain with as much afrofuturism and fantasy as possible!
“When We Were Birds” – Ayanna Lloyd Banwo
It’s a story about the things that touch us all – death, grief – and finding love amidst it. It follows Yejide, the youngest in an ancestral line of women that shepherd souls into the afterlife, and Darwin, a Rastaman trying to lift himself out of poverty. The mythical storytelling is as vivid and lush as the setting: Trinidad & Tobago.
“The Deep” – Rivers Solomon
“The Deep” is an imagining of the living descendants of pregnant African slaves thrown overboard and how they live with such a painful history. It’s heavy and emotional yet dreamy and transformative.
Sr. Environment Editor
My personal reading habits skew away from the news that I spend all day thinking about at work. If you want Georgia-related science and nature book recommendations, I have a roundup here, but in my free time, I love reading science fiction.
“Saga” by Fiona Staples/Brian K. Vaughn
This summer I am excited to catch up on new issues of “Saga.”
“Far Sector” by N.K. Jemisin
And to finish the “Far Sector” Green Lantern series, which is now collected in book form, too.
“Moon Witch, Spider King” by Marlon James
I’m also looking forward to reading “Moon Witch, Spider King,” the second in Marlon James’s fantasy trilogy based on African myths.
“The High Sierras: A Love Story” by Kim Stanley Robinson
“The High Sierras: A Love Story,” a new memoir from one of my favorites, Kim Stanley Robinson, who’s known for his sci-fi books about terraforming Mars and living with climate change on Earth, and is also a seasoned hiker in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains.
I buy my comics at My Parents Basement. For the books — A Capella Books, but I bet anyone local would carry them.
Host of “Closer Look”
“Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker ” by Alice Walker (edited by Valerie Boyd)
Interview with Alice Walker
“Don’t Cry for Me” by Daniel Black
“The Yellow House” by Sarah M. Broom
Author Sarah M. Broom explores the story of her family and her connection to home through one house in New Orleans East, a house that is eventually destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. I loved how she combined personal narrative with the history of New Orleans, showing how it often has ignored its own residents as it caters to tourists. “The Yellow House” won the National Book Award in 2019, so it’s no secret that it’s good.
“Time Is a Mother” by Ocean Vuong
This is a poetry collection I’m looking forward to reading this summer. I really enjoyed Ocean Vuong’s two previous books—the novel “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” and his first poetry collection “Night Sky with Exit Wounds.” Each was full of so much beautiful writing and wisdom. Vuong seems to speak in the same way. I had the chance to hear him talk in Atlanta and he captured the audience’s attention from the moment he took the stage.
Donor Relations and Premiums Sr. Coordinator
“Goodbye, Things” by Fumio Sasaki
If you are striving to become a minimalist as I am, then this is the perfect book for you.
Director of Photography
“Music is History” by Questlove
It’s an anthology of moments from various years throughout American History and how the creation of certain hits, or the songs they were inspired by, told the story of life at that time through music. If you’re looking to dig into the crate or expand a playlist, this is the way.
“Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl
Chronicle of Vicktor Frankl’s experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during World War II, the methods he and others in the camps used to remain positive, and the effects of the camps on their lives after escaping.
Director of Donor Relations & Stewardship
“The Good Fairies of New York” by Martin Millar
Not your typical fairy story! Quick read! Great escape!
“Conjure Women” by Afia Atakora
A mother and daughter are skilled at healing and conjuring spells! Riveting story!
Chief Content Officer
“Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law,” by Mary Roach
I first heard the author on “Bullseye with Jesse Thorn,” and as a fan of good science writing, I was immediately hooked by the stories she told. I was not disappointed once I picked up the book. Roach has an eye for the unusual and evokes humor in ways that support the science and the stories she’s telling. Well-researched and expressed with the perfect mix of wonderment and wit.
“How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question,” by Michael Schur
When Lois Reitzes sat down to interview Michael Schur, creator of TV comedy hits such as “Brooklyn 99,” “Parks and Recreation,” and “The Good Place,” I expected his book to be a “wink-wink” exploration of pop philosophy in support of a few jokes. Instead, I was riveted by how thoroughly Schur plunged into both classic and modern philosophy and applied it to the questions we all face. Don’t be daunted by the topic. Schur uses simple questions that we might ponder in the course of our lives and brings centuries of thinking to bear on how we can make the right choices. Funny and insightful.