The summer of 2020 was something of a whirlwind. From simmering socio-political turmoil to the ongoing fight against COVID-19, this past summer was one that could conceivably end up in a history book in its own right. 

Despite the hot drama seen throughout the hottest months of the year, the world kept turning, and surprisingly enough, so did the pages of the literary circuit. As the summer quickly advances into autumn, hopefully, the insanity of the last few months winds down as well. On the off chance the changing leaves don’t chase the drama away, here are some of the most eye-catching reads published during the summer of 2020 to enjoy. 

“The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett 

Two Black twin sisters grow up in a stifling Southern town. When they run away together at age 16, they believe that they have finally abandoned their problems, ready to start on a clean slate. Unfortunately, due to extenuating circumstances, the sisters become separated and thus become involved in a heart-wrenching, intergenerational story that proves how powerful the love between sisters can truly be. In her sophomore novel, Brit Bennett weaves an extraordinary tale across decades that pays homage to the difficult experiences that can follow a person when they attempt to run from themselves. 

“You Exist Too Much” by Zaina Arafat

Zaina Arafat sets up an intriguing coming-of-age tale centered around an unnamed queer Palestinian girl who dreams of traveling the world and falling in love. Told in jumbled flashes that change between the United States and the Middle East, “You Exist Too Much” centers itself as not just another novel with a standard plotline but an evocative anthology of love, loss, growing up and the impenetrable feeling of otherness. 

“Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot” by Mikki Kendall

Mikki Kendall became known in the Twitter-scape for her activism presence and for coining the scathing hashtags #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen and #FastTailedGirls, which critiqued societal views on intersectionality within feminism and the hypersexualization of Black women. Now, in her debut book of essays, Kendall hits the ground running with formulated thoughts on what the essence of feminism means for people of different backgrounds. Kendall approaches her primary thesis with a solid analysis of mainstream feminism and how the movement more often than not excludes women of color. With wit and intellectual honesty, “Hood Feminism” is the perfect book for anyone curious about feminism and its role within society. 

“Can't Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation” by Anne Helen Petersen

Up until now, the burnout experienced by millennials has been a savvy internet joke centered around grueling all-night study sessions and terrifyingly high expectations set in grade school by well-meaning teachers. However, with a plethora of supporting qualitative research, Anne Helen Petersen presents readers with an analytical perspective on just how burnt out millennials are and why the concept is so prevalent today. Peterson approaches the overworked and overstressed millennial with comfort in the idea that burnout is not just the idea of personal failure, but “a creeping part of modern culture, shaped by deep-rooted political, historical and economic forces.” 

“Chosen Ones” by Veronica Roth

Veronica Roth has made a name for herself as the ambitious author of the acclaimed “Divergent” series that sold copies worldwide and even spurred a cinematic trilogy based on the book. Now, this young adult author is trying her hand at adult fiction in “Chosen Ones.” This inquisitive story explores what happens to superheroes after the world is saved and how the fame that comes with being a hero the world can bring out anyone’s inner demons. For fantasy, sci-fi and action lovers, this book is sure to be an interesting take on an old motif.