I was hooked from the very first sentence, and I barely put it down until I had devoured the whole thing.
Set from November 2019 to November 2020, this book captures much of what it was like to be a bookseller in a pandemic– scared and confused, but also hopeful and overwhelmed by the generosity of our community. Erdrich uses her own bookstore (and herself as a minor character!) to weave a complex story about love, commerce, race, colonialism and literacy against this backdrop.
Words matter. Definitions matter. Sentences matter. They create– and recreate– our realities.
The door is open. Go.
Clint Smith bears witness to seven sites of historical importance in the Transatlantic Slave Trade, including 5 sites in the American South, New York City, and Dakar, Senegal. Clint is a poet and educator as well as a historian and his descriptions of people and places are gorgeous and evocative. The beauty of the language is often at odds with the brutality of the stories, and this tension only draws the reader in further. This book will hit audiences differently, and that is exactly Clint’s point. This is a book we all need to read, so we too can bear witness to the past and current consequences of the American choice to enslave millions of human beings.
Summer Fun is a delightful and unpredictable epistolary novel. Gala, our writer, is writing letters to her hero B-, the genius but now reclusive songwriter for the Get Happies (think Beach Boys).
The letters vary in content- in some she writes to the songwriter with an uncanny understanding about B-'s past. In others, Gala narrates her own present day experiences as a young trans woman running a hostel in New Mexico.
When I picked it up I expected a light summer bop, and instead I found a rich story that shifts in compelling ways.
Okay I read this after it won the National Book Award, but I was still blown away — it’s both hilarious and insightful, and it’s probably the best novel out there that grabbles with blackness in 21st century America. Mott writes with the sharp, quick humor of Kurt Vonnegut and the powerful eloquence of James Baldwin.
The book follows an author as he tours the country promoting his book...and it’s the one you’re reading… crazy, right? The protagonist remains unnamed, which adds to the ambiguity and universality of his character and experience. It results in a warping and blending of realities, and one hell of a book about race, identity, and the possibilities that life can bring— and how quickly those possibilities can be taken away. This one will sit with me for a long time
Ishiguro does it again, and this one really tugs at the heart strings. The narrator of this novel is Klara, an intelligent and realistic “Artificial Friend,” or AF, who begins the story in a retail store waiting to be chosen by a child. Klara is very observant and her artificial intelligence seems to be more aware of certain nuances of human behavior than other AFs. Once she is finally chosen by a little girl, she is taken to a home the with some weird energy— there is some history to uncover and the future is uncertain.
This dystopian novel, though narrated by a robot, does an amazing job of exploring themes of friendship, love, and hope in the face of tragedy. But, at its core, the story is about the limits of technology, and what it really means to be human. I know it sounds super cheesy, but it’s so good!
I will say that it really helps to be Online to understand much of this book. (Either that or a willingness to go along for the ride realizing you will be missing a lot of references.)
Patricia Lockwood is a memoirist and a poet but possibly most notably she is Extremely Online. In this book, the narrator calls the place we go online The Portal-- the first half of the book is musings on why we are drawn to the Portal, what it says about us that we use it for connection, and many inside Twitter jokes. The second half becomes immediately, desperately personal-- the unnamed narrator's sister is pregnant, and the fetus is not healthy, but she can't get an abortion. It's heartbreaking, and the juxtaposition of the Portal and the personal is so powerful-- connections can be found all around.
It's shockingly moving for a book that repeatedly asks the question "can a dog be twins"
This is the most real memoir I have ever read. Eleanor Henderson is a novelist and a writing professor and is married to a man with lifelong addictions, mental health struggles, and a chronic, mysterious illness that no doctor can seem to diagnose. She lays it all bare-- all the bad days, the struggles, the regrets. The days she questions why she married him, why she stays, the days she doubts his illness, his pain, is even real. But throughout it all is love, once in a lifetime love.
She writes beautifully about their relationship, their two children, and their extended family with such cleareyed honesty and care. An absolute labor of love! And she's without a doubt a novelist because the tension she creates in each new doctor's visit, the hope in each blog she stumbles upon that might have an answer to her husband's pain, is absolutely palpable. You'll be rooting for this family from the first page to the last. And still! God I want a diagnosis and a cure and for this lovely family to survive! *SOB*
This is one of those stories where you have to pause sometimes and say wait what just happened? The plot loops back and forth in time and place and the characters are all connected in a way you will eventually understand.
Set in Vietnam, it's primarily the story of a young woman who has moved there from the US to connect with her roots but finds herself lost, unmoored. When she goes literally missing her story soon echos that of another missing woman. It's a lot! Feuding brothers! Some kind of monster in the jungle! Magic! It's also funny and smart and wildly entertaining. Plus it has a map! Who doesn't love a novel with a map?
Andy Weir is back with another all-time favorite sci-fi novel. Meet Dr. Ryland Grace, a scientist/junior high science teacher/astronaut. At least, that’s most of what he remembers.
When Ryland wakes up with no memory, two corpses, and a spaceship hurtling through an unknown solar system at lightspeed, he has to not only complete his mission, but remember what it is. He does know one thing, though—the fate of the human race depends on it.
With a lovable narrator, an impossible mission, and aliens (yes!) that you’ll want to befriend, Project Hail Mary is an exciting, high-stakes joyride that you won’t want to put down until the very last page.
A multigenerational epic of historical fiction. Follow two women, one a “lady pilot” of WWII, the other an actress starring in the former’s biopic film; both on their own journeys geographically and historically. As they search for their place in society within the constraints of their respective “industries,” Shipstead masterfully intertwines details of wartime London and present-day Hollywood.
A highly recommended read for those in search of an engrossing adventure, rich with historical detail and self-determined female characters.
This story is gripping right from the start and had me flipping pages as quickly as possible! It is dynamic, mysterious and explores race and gender in a way I have never seen before. This poignant story is not your average office drama, enlightening social commentary, and thriller all in one. Harris writes with imagination while filling her novel with real life experiences.
A must read book that you won’t be able to put down, or stop talking about!
Gifty is a brilliant scientist studying reward-seeking behavior in mice. To an outsider, this may look like an attempt to find treatments for addiction and depression. But when Gifty’s mother comes to visit and is living in Gifty’s bed, we find her work is also an attempt at reckoning with her mother’s depression, her brother’s addiction, and her religion.
Gyasi writes a devastating, spiritual, and beautiful novel that asks, what is faith? and where do we go when our faith fails us?
The Vignes sisters are identical twins, and they were attached at the hip, running away from their small black community together at the age of 16. Then suddenly they part ways, one returning to her hometown, the other passing as white and staying hidden from her family. As we read of their lives, and their children’s lives, across states and across decades, we see how the consequences of racism unfold.
I loved witnessing the journey of each one of these characters. Bennett creates stories that are beautiful and challenging, complicated and real.