What’s on Jenny Zhang’s #TBR pile

When we asked Jenny Zhang what was on her #TBR pile, she gave us an earnest, “Oh, there is a lot!” While traveling in both Australia and New Zealand this summer, she plans on doing lots of reading and checking a few of the following titles off of her reading list.

Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys

Sasha Jensen has recently returned to Paris with no idea about the life-changing journey ahead of her. Unable to tell the difference between reality and her nightmares, Sasha is surprised to meet a new man who makes her realize that she still has a handle on her life and is deserving of love.


Common People by Tony Birch

Jenny is all about Tony Birch’s short stories and in Common People, Birch tells the stories of a diverse group of characters as they make their way through everyday life. Set in an urban environment, this book highlights human kindness and the ways in which strangers can surprise you.


Demi-Gods by Eliza Robertson

Willa’s mother has just brought a new man into her and her two daughters’ lives and with him comes his charming and difficult children. As Willa comes to know his youngest son, they begin to move through life together in a strange manner. Growing up side-by-side, their relationship eventually evolves, bringing a kind of thrill to their usually platonic manner. Willa does her best to change their bond later in life, but makes a decision that will wreck their friendship forever.


Everything by Maxine Beneba Clarke including The Hate Race

When asked about what was on her #TBR pile, Zhang simply replied that she’s dying to read everything by Maxine Beneba Clarke. We think her most recent book, The Hate Race is a memoir Jenny would love. In this intriguing non-fiction read, Maxine Beneba Clarke details what life was like growing up black in middle-class Australia. This book is an eye-opening read for fans of memoir.


What It Means When A Man Falls From the Sky: Stories by Lesley Nneka Arimah

This short story collection by Lesley Nneka Arimah includes five unique magical realism tales. From a child weaved out of hair to a father who only wants the best for his daughter, this collection is made up of stories about parenthood, family and married couples trying to make their way through life.


Owls Do Cry by Janet Frame

This literary classic spends two decades with the Withers family as they do their best to figure out what’s wrong with their daughter. Named crazy and sent to an institution, the young girl is locked away and forced to go through a risky lobotomy. This coming-of-age tale takes an honest look at mental health in the 1950s.


Tuff by Paul Beatty

Winston “Tuffy” Foshay is an intriguing and complicated character in Paul Beatty’s Tuff. Surrounded by an interesting cast of characters, Tuffy decides to run for City Council which brings readers into the often deranged mind of Winston Foshay and his eclectic posse.

(feature image courtesy of @jennybagel)

Jenny Zhang

Guest Editor

Jenny Zhang is an American writer, poet, and prolific essayist based in Brooklyn, New York. One focus of her work is on the Chinese American immigrant identity and experience in the United States. She has published a collection of poetry called Dear Jenny, We Are All Find and a non-fiction chapbook called Hags. From 2011 to 2014, Zhang wrote extensively for Rookie. Additionally, Zhang has worked as a freelance essayist for other publications. In August 2017, Zhang's short story collection, Sour Heart, was the first acquisition by Lena Dunham's Lenny imprint, Lenny Books, via Random House.

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