Need some light reading—that isn't for your Sociology class—over Thanksgiving break? Check out our roundup of late–fall book releases for some suggestions. 

  1. “Becoming” by Michelle Obama—Release Date: November 13

Michelle Obama is a beacon of hope, grace, and class among all the nastiness floating around the news cycle these days. What did America ever do to deserve her? The answer just might lie in her new memoir, “Becoming,” in which Obama shares her journey from a young Chicago girl to the First Lady of the United States and the lessons she’s learned along the way. “Becoming” allows readers to take a peek into the life of a truly iconic woman who’s far more than just a former First Lady. Plus, Michelle Obama is touring the U.S. to discuss the new book in conversations moderated by various authors and speakers including Oprah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Tracee Ellis Ross. Philly made the list of cities she’ll be visiting—you can get tickets for the November 29 event, moderated by Phoebe Robinson, here.

2. “Anarcha Speaks: A History of Poems”  by Dominique Christina—Release Date: October 30

Dominique Christina competed in national poetry slams for only three years, but she’s won five national titles. She’s a performer, activist, educator, and a badass woman. In “Anarcha Speaks,” her fourth book, Christina pays homage to the memory of an enslaved woman, Anarcha. Anarcha was the subject of countless torturous experiments at the hands of Dr. J. Marion Sims, the man who is often credited with founding modern gynecology. For over a century, her memory has lived on only in the margins of Sims’ work. Christina gives Anarcha the touching tribute she deserves through a series of poems written from her perspective and Sims’. Even if you’re not into poetry, “Anarcha Speaks” is worth the read for its effort express the painful sacrifice embodied by a forgotten slave woman.

3. "The Lonesome Bodybuilder: Stories” by Yukiko Motoya—Release Date: November 6

I love short stories. They’ve got all the fun, intrigue, and flavor of a novel without the commitment. Yukiko Motoya’s English–language debut delivers exactly that. In her eleven stories, Motoya’s characters range from a housewife consumed with a dream of becoming a bodybuilder to a possibly non–human boutique customer who sequesters herself in a dressing room. Motoya’s style reminds me of an Andy Warhol poster I have hanging in my room that reads “You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you.” If you need a little magic in your life, or if you wonder whether the sea of umbrellas on Locust are going to one day carry Penn students off into the sky, then this is the book for you. 

4. “Come With Me” by Helen Schulman–Release Date: November 27

Penn is full of young people founding brilliant tech startups. In “Come With Me,” New York Times Bestselling Author Helen Schulman follows Amy, an employee of one such startup whose 19–year–old founder decides is the perfect candidate for his VR service which allows users to explore their past, present, and future selves. Amy must reconcile the possibilities and opportunities of her alternate lives with the trials of her real one. Think “Black Mirror,” but less creepy. “Come With Me,” like Schulman’s previous novel “This Beautiful Life,” explores the increasingly complex influence of technology on our lives. Very relevant, very Penn.

5. “Why We Dream: The Transformative Power of Our Nightly Journey” by Alice Robb–Release Date: November 20

You’ll love Alice Robb, a columnist for The Cut who’s also been featured in The New Republic, BBC and The Atlantic.  Her extensive expertise is evident even from the headlines of her articles, from “The Fine Line Between Romance and Madness” to “I Tried to Get High on Chocolate With Help From a New Age Shaman.” In her first book, “Why We Dream: The Transformative Power of Our Nightly Journey,” Robb explores the purpose and meaning behind the fascinating, bizarre, and often perplexing adventures of our subconscious minds. “Why We Dream” allows readers to discover the truths and answers hidden in their dreams without spending too much time poring through the neuroscience studies that just might put you to sleep in the first place. By experimenting with lucid dreaming and meeting with various experts, Robb, who was initially dubious of the significance of dreams herself, convinces the reader to take a closer look at the hidden messages appearing in their minds every night. Described by Kirkus Reviews as “a friendly primer for would–be oneirologists,” Robb’s book is a balanced guide to dreams that presents both the factual and the mysterious.