Kelly's Summer Reading List — 2018

Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens. For those of you who’d like your reading to be more like your binge watching. Dickens published this novel in installments, 19 of them, between December 1855 and June 1857. (If you want to binge it again when you’re done, check out the BBC miniseries starring Claire Foy!)

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi Durrow.Lately, I’ve talked a lot about this novel — a beautiful story about mixed-race identity, survival, and starting over — because it was rejected by agents, editors, and contests 48 times. Still, Durrow kept submitting it, until it won the Bellwether Prize—and with it, $25,000 and a publishing contract.

The Easy Rawlins novels by Walter Mosley. I love sinking into a cool noir novel on a hot day, and Mosley’s series featuring the World War II-veteran-turned-private-eye Easy Rawlins is one of the coolest. I’m partial to White Butterfly, but all of them feature twisty-turning plots winding amid the struggles of black Americans in post-war Los Angeles.

Brothers of the Gun by Marwan Hisham and illustrated by Molly Crabapple. Full disclosure, I haven’t read this illustrated memoir about the Syrian conflict yet, but when I finished reading this excerpt at Literary Hub, I realized I’d held my breath from beginning to end. I ordered it immediately. A favorite line: “Who knows which perspective distorts more treacherously—to see history up close or from far away?”

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See, a warm and fascinating novel about adoption, identity—and tea. Gotham instructor Barbara DeMarco Barrett recently interviewed See about the research that went into making this book, here.

Amy Falls Down by Jincy Willett. This novel made me laugh out loud—many times. It’s about a writer who is forced out of her self-imposed hermitude by a hilarious accident, with thrilling consequences. An entertaining exploration of writers’ universal need to strike the just-right balance between solitude and community.


One of the most powerful and miraculous things about stories is their ability to make even the most confounding problems understandable and real. The recent suicide deaths of chef and author Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade highlighted the fact that suicide rates are increasing hand in hand with the opioid epidemic. If you’d like to understand this sad and scary phenomenon, here are three books that will help.

Some Ether by Nick Flynn. An unflinching look at Flynn’s mother’s death, and the lives of those she left behind. (You can check out “Elsewhere, Mon Amour,” one of the poems from the collection, here.)

Night Falls Fast by Kay Redfield Jamison. Jamison is one of the nation’s leading experts on bipolar disorder, and the author of the bestselling memoir An Unquiet Mind. In this nonfiction book, she distills mountains of research into eloquent, informative chapters explaining everything from suicidal ideation, the roles of genetics and neurobiology, to treatment, prevention, and public health.

Loud in the House of Myself by Stacy Pershall. A lively and even sometimes funny memoir by a Gotham instructor about living with an undiagnosed and misdiagnosed mental illness (which turned out to be Borderline Personality Disorder).