Families! To roughly restate the famous first line of Anna Karenina, each one has its unique troubles—and those troubles are fodder for books. The domestic dramas of these stories range from satirical to heartwarming, and they add insight into social issues stretching far beyond the walls of a single home.
Novels by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, Imbolo Mbue, and Jade Chang find families from different walks of life responding to economic forces beyond their control. Memoirs by Nicole Chung and Michael Frank meditate on connecting with long-lost family members and detaching from overbearing ones. And Simon Goldhill’s historical look inside one Victorian household thoughtfully examines the sexual mores of the era—which were much less rigid than you might think.
Each week in the Books Briefing, we thread together Atlantic stories on books that share similar ideas, and ask you for recommendations of what our list left out. Check out past issues here. Know other book lovers who might like this guide? Forward them this email.
What We’re Reading
How an Essay by E.B. White Helped Nicole Chung Write Her Debut Memoir
“It wasn’t until she was in her late 20s, pregnant with a child of her own, that Chung became determined to go looking for her birth parents. That momentous decision sparked the journey of this book—an exacting, deeply personal inquiry into the mysteries of family, biology, and race.”
📚 ALL YOU CAN EVER KNOW, by Nicole Chung
📚 “THE SEA AND THE WIND THAT BLOWS,” by E.B. White
Poking Fun at a Privileged New York Clan’s Dysfunction and Money Troubles
“The Plumb family dynamic, old-fashioned though it may sound, is astutely timed for our stagnant, post-recession age: The siblings in Sweeney’s foreground are busy making a mess of an inheritance they’ve long been fantasizing about.”