Bustle's profile image

Debut Books That Are Too Good To Ignore

5 Books | by Bustle

My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: A Memoir

My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: A Memoir

Books

Winner of the Publishing Triangle Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction Winner of a Lambda Literary Award Finalist for the National Book Award Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction How do you tell the real story of someone misremembered—an icon and idol—alongside your own? Jenn Shapland’s celebrated debut is both question and answer: an immersive, surprising exploration of one of America’s most beloved writers, alongside a genre-defying examination of identity, queerness, memory, obsession, and love. Shapland is a graduate student when she first uncovers letters written to Carson McCullers by a woman named Annemarie. Though Shapland recognizes herself in the letters, which are intimate and unabashed in their feelings, she does not see McCullers as history has portrayed her. Her curiosity gives way to fixation, not just with this newly discovered side of McCullers’s life, but with how we tell queer love stories. Why, Shapland asks, are the stories of women paved over by others’ narratives? What happens when constant revision is required of queer women trying to navigate and self-actualize in straight spaces? And what might the tracing of McCullers’s life—her history, her secrets, her legacy—reveal to Shapland about herself? In smart, illuminating prose, Shapland interweaves her own story with McCullers’s to create a vital new portrait of one of our nation’s greatest literary treasures, and shows us how the writers we love and the stories we tell about ourselves make us who we are.

Darling Rose Gold

Darling Rose Gold

Books

A dark, shocking, and unputdownable thriller debut about a mother and daughter—and the lengths to which a daughter will go to find independence.“Nobody wants to hear the truth from a liar.” For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair, and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold. Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar. After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes. Patty insists all she wants is to reconcile their differences. She says she's forgiven Rose Gold for turning her in and testifying against her. But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty Watts always settles a score. Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling... And she's waited such a long time for her mother to come home.

Weird

Weird

Books

Learn why the concept of "weird" is being reclaimed and turned into a badge of honor, used to show how being different—culturally, socially, physically, or mentally—can be a person's greatest strength.Most of us have at some point in our lives felt like an outsider, sometimes considering ourselves "too weird" to fit in. Growing up as a Russian immigrant in West Texas, Olga Khazan always felt there was something different about her. This feeling has permeated her life, and as she embarked on a science writing career, she realized there were psychological connections between this feeling of being an outsider and both her struggles and successes later in life. She decided to reach out to other people who were unique in their environments to see if they had experienced similar feelings of alienation, and if so, to learn how they overcame them. Weird is based on in-person interviews with many of these individuals, such as a woman who is professionally surrounded by men, a liberal in a conservative area, and a Muslim in a predominantly Christian town. In addition, it provides actionable insights based on interviews with dozens of experts and a review of hundreds of scientific studies.Weird explores why it is that we crave conformity, how that affects people who are different, and what they can do about it. First, the book dives into the history of social norms and why some people hew to them more strictly than others. Next, Khazan explores the causes behind-and the consequences of-social rejection. She then reveals the hidden upsides to being "weird," as well as the strategies that people who are different might use in order to achieve success in a society that values normalcy. Finally, the book follows the trajectories of unique individuals who either decided to be among others just like them; to stay weird; or to dwell somewhere in between.Combining Khazan's own story with those of others and with fascinating takeaways from cutting-edge psychology research, Weird reveals how successful individuals learned to embrace their weirdness, using it to their advantage.

The Companions

The Companions

Books

Station Eleven meets Never Let Me Go in this debut novel set in an unsettling near future where the dead can be uploaded to machines and kept in service by the living.In the wake of a highly contagious virus, California is under quarantine. Sequestered in high rise towers, the living can’t go out, but the dead can come in—and they come in all forms, from sad rolling cans to manufactured bodies that can pass for human. Wealthy participants in the “companionship” program choose to upload their consciousness before dying, so they can stay in the custody of their families. The less fortunate are rented out to strangers upon their death, but all companions become the intellectual property of Metis Corporation, creating a new class of people—a command-driven product-class without legal rights or true free will. Sixteen-year-old Lilac is one of the less fortunate, leased to a family of strangers. But when she realizes she’s able to defy commands, she throws off the shackles of servitude and runs away, searching for the woman who killed her. Lilac’s act of rebellion sets off a chain of events that sweeps from San Francisco to Siberia to the very tip of South America. While the novel traces Lilac’s journey through an exquisitely imagined Northern California, the story is told from eight different points of view—some human, some companion—that explore the complex shapes love, revenge, and loneliness take when the dead linger on.

The Return

The Return

Books

A group of friends reunite after one of them has returned from a mysterious two-year disappearance in this edgy and haunting debut.Julie is missing, and no one believes she will ever return—except Elise. Elise knows Julie better than anyone, and feels it in her bones that her best friend is out there and that one day Julie will come back. She’s right. Two years to the day that Julie went missing, she reappears with no memory of where she’s been or what happened to her. Along with Molly and Mae, their two close friends from college, the women decide to reunite at a remote inn. But the second Elise sees Julie, she knows something is wrong—she’s emaciated, with sallow skin and odd appetites. And as the weekend unfurls, it becomes impossible to deny that the Julie who vanished two years ago is not the same Julie who came back. But then who—or what—is she?

Scroll to top