For the first in our international TOAST Book Club, novelist and independent bookstore owner Emma Straub shares her favourite new novels for some much-needed escapist reading.

To Be a Man, Nicole Krauss

Nicole Krauss is a masterful short story writer, and this collection covers the breadth of human connection, which is what we are all so desperate for right now. These stories contain what I consider to be the bread and butter of book club conversation--identity, marriage, motherhood, connection, family. This and six bottles of wine will keep your book club chatting until midnight.

Mexican Gothic, Silvia Moreno-Garcia

A suspenseful novel about an isolated mansion in 1950s Mexico, complete with glamorous clothes and parties and many mysteries. This is a great book if you love mysteries and haunted houses but have already ripped through the classics. Spooky, but not outright horror, so would be okay for even the squeamish reader.

Outlawed, Anna North

Set in 1894, this novel reimagines the wild west as seen through the eyes of a 17-year-old girl. A feminist Western! What fun. This is the book for you if you've always liked Westerns but found the depiction of women lacking. A rollicking book that will inspire conversations about identity, conformity, and, probably, petticoats.

Memorial, Bryan Washington

This love story is about a gay couple in Houston, and the book is split between Texas and Japan. Full of love and longing and food and family, this was one of my favourite debut novels of the year. It's a novel about families who don't understand you except in all the ways that they do, about mistakes that parents make, and how to forgive. It's full of things to talk about, and will make you very hungry. Best to talk about while eating Japanese food.

All Adults Here, Emma Straub

Okay, yes, I wrote this book, and so perhaps I shouldn't recommend it in my role as a bookseller, but I'm going to, because here's what I think TOAST-lovers are into: goat cheese, pretty towns, family secrets, love, and acceptance. Did I mention the goat cheese? If you have parents or siblings or a spouse or a child, this is the book for you.

Not local to Cobble Hill, Brooklyn? Discover more about Books are Magic along with all of Emma's current favourite fiction on their website.

Each month we will be featuring independent bookstores and their owners from across the globe. If you have a local favourite, let us know in the comments below.

Emma wears the Crinkled Cotton Dress and Alpaca Oversized Cardigan.

Images: Sam Hillman.

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