This book is DELIGHTFUL. One of those books where you love the characters SO MUCH-- you want every little thing for them. You want Elizabeth Zott to be the chemist her 1960s world won't let her be; you want her daughter Mad to be victorious in her quotidian battles with her retrograde elementary school teacher; you want their beloved dog Six Thirty to learn more words than any other dog. If none of that makes any sense, it's because I didn't actually tell you what the book is about but just trust me: this is funny and refreshing and poignant and UGH. I just loved it and you will too.
This book is really exceptional. Not only does it tell an important story in American history, it also entertains like a novel and leaves you inspired after you turn the last page. It’s a wonder!
In 1977, people in a neighborhood outside Niagara Falls, NY began noticing a strange smell. Soon they were getting sick from the polluted ground water in the Love Canal, which ran through the neighborhood. A team of housewives led by Lois Gibbs and Luella Kenny worked tirelessly to bring attention from the state and federal government. Their work led to evacuations and even eventually the concept of Superfund sites.
I went into this book not knowing anything about Love Canal, but I bet even if you think you know what happened, you’ll be shocked to learn all the wild details and the consequences of the actions that were taken by so many strong women. It’s such a great read!
Wow, I absolutely adored this unusual novel. Beautiful writing with an experimental plot that totally works.
Two unnamed narrators trade the story back and forth—ostensibly answering questions posed at the beginning of each chapter, but also telling the story of how the met and fell in love, all in the wake of the Arab Spring that changed the landscape of Egypt around them. The woman is American, her parents immigrated from Egypt to America before her birth, and she has come to Egypt to find herself. The man came from his small village to Cairo to photograph the uprising. They couldn’t be more different. Though it tells the story of them falling in love, this isn’t a romance. Their relationship is hard to watch. Naga ends the novel in a way that I found so refreshing and fascinating—I won’t give it away but just know you’re in for something wonderfully unique with this book.
Thin Places is a gorgeous Irish memoir from a woman- half Protestant, half Catholic- who grew up during the Troubles. Now, in adulthood, she looks at the effects of Brexit and tries to reconcile the trauma of this divided island by reclaiming the nature based values, religion and language of her Celtic ancestors.
Kerri ni Dochartaigh is deeply committed to seeking beauty in all kinds nature– from the sweeping vistas camping by the ocean to sighting moths in her backyard in the city. It is in this way she models a path of hope and healing for her readers
I immediately wanted to be best friends with our narrator, Kiki, voice of Brown Sugar, breaking down the dating scene of the African-Caribbean Society at her PWI (predominantly white institution) in England. Kiki, however, does not want to be my bestie- she has her girl Aminah and her studies, and she is all set with most other socializing. She does not want to be involved with any of the “wastemen” at her school whom she routinely drags on her radio show.
The electric chemistry between Kiki and Malakai leaps off the page! But they also learn how to be sweet and supportive of each other in ways neither expect. This is the perfect college romance with unforgettable characters!
Alicia Elliot is a Mohwak woman who split her childhood between upstate NY and a reservation in Canada, now living in Brantford, Ontario. How and why she moves between these places is the thread that ties the collection together. The essays she writes are deeply personal and radically anti-colonial; Elliot is as blunt about her struggles with mental health as she is succinct in illustrating how the historic treatment of Indigenous Peoples has created a world that is openly hostile to her and her loved ones.
Her writing style is vivid and affecting– the arguments are structured like concentric circles rather than being strictly linear– moving toward and then away from a core theme. I often find that essay collections about personal topics can struggle to stick their landing, but Elliot makes bold, creative choices in her final essay that still resonate in my brain.
This is one of the best memoirs I’ve read in years! It’s so full of courage, hope, and resilience; and it’s ultimately about finding family in extraordinary circumstances.
In 1999, a 9-year-old Javiercito began his harrowing journey from El Salvador to the United States with a “coyote” to reunite with his parents. He left behind his grandparents and aunts, his school and classmates, and the only home that he has ever known. Can you imagine travelling 3,000 miles and crossing borders with fake documents with a group of strangers? At the age of 9!?
I was absolutely enraptured by the author’s storytelling. He had me reading with my heart in my throat— this is truly a special story. (P.S. I totally cried at the end)
This is not your typical love story, and by no means is it a romance novel. It’s about two childhood friends that reunite in adulthood to create art together: video games.
Sam and Sadie care deeply for each other, but there’s never been any intimacy between them. Together, they begin to create stunning digital worlds and tell stories that will live on forever— stories that can be restarted with the click of a button.
The book is so human— it’s funny, heartbreaking, and real. The relationships aren’t perfect, the characters are broken in different ways; it’s about life, work, art, lovers, and friends, and we LOVED it! You don’t have to like video games to fall in love with this story, but you might appreciate it that much more. It’s so well-written and wonderful and you should just start reading it already!!
This is a remarkable debut novel! Escoffery serves up a gut-punching and a soul-soothing literary elixir of identity and belonging. It’s a triumph of generational stories I didn't know I needed.
The book focuses on two generations of a Jamaican-American family and their struggles to survive the capitalism-driven and white-dominated ways of American life after immigrating to Miami. Themes of familial tension, racism, and flat-out bad luck are balanced with a pleasantly surprising dose of humor, making this portrait of everyday life incredibly readable.
Rebecca Kuang is brilliant and this book is a MASTERPIECE. It’s a heaping scoop of historical fiction with a pinch of fantasy. It’s dark academia and secret societies. It’s both the power and the weakness of translation. It’s an ode to language and a rebuke of colonialism. Ultimately, it begs the question: is violence a necessity of revolution?
The character development is phenomenal, her storytelling is addicting, and the content is so clearly well-researched and thought-provoking; Kuang has gifted us a blockbuster movie and a philosophical treatise in one literary package and I devoured it!
Whether you are in a long-term relationship or just
starting one, this book will engage you in eight fun, easy and constructive “dates” full of conversation about trust, conflict, sex, money, family, adventure, spirituality, and dreams.
From the leading scientists on marriage and family, this book will help you discover (or rediscover) the love
you desire and deserve with your partner.
Fuss-free, delicious and doable. Another fab Smitten Kitchen cookbook! Filled with recipes like Turkey Meatloaf for Skeptics, Toasted Ricotta Gnocchi with Pistachio Pesto and Apple Butterscotch Crisp, this cookbook will easily become a kitchen staples. Cooking out of her tiny NYC kitchen, Deb Perelman, is a self-taught, realistic cook who won’t send you all over for crazy ingredients. With her sharp wit and clear (and snarky) instructions, you’ll be a happy(ier) cook!
Carefully voiced and measured, seamlessly thought-to and resourceful, even when occasionally relying on the most lavish and illuminating of dream logic, Bill Burtis’ Liminal doesn’t just re-assign or enact, tack on relevance, but instead delves into, unveils, the self where it’s most lived in and vulnerable, leading the reader just far enough in, enough out, so that all these accounts can stride alongside each other and gain clarity, humanely hold forth, in true and resounding fashion, so that even amidst all the clamor and doubt, things making or remaking a name for themselves, the routinely heart-rending and the nearly miraculous, we might not only gain some insight, into what usually escapes us, but be at peace with it.
As teenagers we would routinely trek down to Concord, Massachusetts. Where we would put away a quart of Brigham’s ice cream. Half carob, half natural vanilla. On the shores of Walden Pond. And then check in with Thoreau. Take measure of our idealistic skying with the stack of stones left by other pilgrims. One time even pedaling our bicycles the forty miles so we could sleep illegally on the hill-rise. And stir to the same dawn, different day, as he did. Early on, I learned Thoreau’s teachings were a kind of cheat sheet for battling all the forces that worked to destabilize the natural order of things. I even owned two slab-sized editions of his Journals. Which were only readable on a floor or a conference table. His words even physically a reach. A chair pulled up to some seemingly alternative world. And so, Ben Shattuck’s Six walks: in the footsteps of Henry David Thoreau, arrives at the door like a fellow wanderer. Bringing actual word. Of a mutual friend. Rewinding, leaning into, real time. The dealings of the universe. Till he too just takes up and goes. Giving healthy accounts of his own illnesses, woes. As well as his own happenstances against chaos. Shattuck eye-rays and surveys, re-stakes and sand-rakes. Serving up an open-endedness that borders on verse. With some live action history channeling that rivals the pros. But he doesn’t stop neither here nor there. He also sketches. Tech-lessly providing clips of his in-spirit trips with a pencil. Further drawing us in to the writer’s endless need to reassure and surprise, blur stories and reprise.
There’s the slightest of windows. Through which a poet’s shown the light. The rest is shadows. Worlds snowed in by an ageless doubt, grief. Yet more and more versions of night. It is here where the best poets gain a second wind. A third and fourth sight. That not only allows them to outwit the dark. Sit it out. But use it to reinforce all their words. Let them settle deeper in the page. Seek out some relief. The timeless releases in John Perrault’s Seasons of Shagginess do just that. They’re wiry and plenty witted. Made with the most renewable of energies. And though often drawn inward. To the matter of heartache and loss. They know when to turn over. Their work to the soil. Return to what got them here. Dig in. And give the lowdown. When it’s good for the soul. Just wise enough not to gain our suspicions. Or insist on sage status. Perrault not only gives us the read that is needed to get us in. But the guidance for when we want to get out
While the domestic drama dioramas (Francis Glessner Lee’s The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death) that Jessica Purdy dusts off and rescues for psychic evidence, clues, are seemingly small scale—she makes a standout case in her new pamphlet MITH for their grandness in both scale and in stature. These littlest of thrillers enlist lots of killer (I couldn’t resist, officer!) lines and skills, and all sorts of styles and lit-advancements (micro-crimes seen from more eyes than there are/is I’s to cram into them…) to not only solve and revolve what we understand about loss, and the fragility of life, whether lived badly or not, but also give our souls a good shake, chill.
Okay, so here’s the deal. For as long as I’ve read Sid Hall, he’s been leading me to believe his creative output was toned down and understated, this presence of mind long lastingly made into a pastel. So soft spoken as to be half-woke from a dream. A decibel shy of silence. Downplaying all the peeling away, the imaginative leaps and hard work that must have gone into them. But now with his “Collected Poems” I am onto his act. And can be certain that it all an imposture, a ruse. Finally, fanning away all the smoke, he and others have blown, to keep me from catching on to all his many talents, literary ambitions. Sure, some of the poems are steady of hand and modestly seen to, demonstrating a reverence for the classically trained, the sun dialed up. Or treated to an almost Eastern-like sageness. But others not only mess with our sense of time. But provide all the space we’ve been hinting at needing. Even tossing off these one-liners. And singing as if our lives truly depended on it. With Sid’s idea of rain always keeping the beat. His thunder--though distant, far offstage—thunder, nonetheless.
A house in the countryside, long left to the elements, is brought back to life through Sophie Blackall’s astounding collage art.
A “love of old things” sparked Blackall's exploration of a crumbling 19th century farmhouse on her newly purchased tract of land in New York. Weaving together bits of fabric, wallpaper, and photographs she found inside with local lore and recollections of the home's descendants, she shows us an imagined history of the family who lived and worked the land there. It's warm, vibrant, and poignant, and her note at the end of the book is just the most wonderful thing.
Fiction/Fantasy ages 10 and up
A wise, warm, and beautifully written story about:
trust lost and found
looking out for each other
protecting the good things that bring us together
villainy hiding in plain sight!
clever and loyal crows!
a very unusual eyewitness!
This cookbook/gardening how-to is just the loveliest way to share the joys of eating seasonally and creating something delicious from locally grown produce - be it from your own backyard, a neighbor’s porch, or a community patch. It’s geared toward kids but all your foodie/art-loving/green-thumbed friends will love it, too. It’s so charming!
p.s. The cherry clafoutis was fun to make and delicious!
I’m just in awe of this treasure of a novella, set in rural Ireland in the 80's. Clocking in at less than a hundred pages, it definitely has that "bigger on the inside" thing going on - every bit of it is perfectly crafted to break your heart.
With too many mouths to feed at home and yet another on the way, a young girl is sent to live with relatives in the countryside. Through her quiet, matter of fact voice, we learn that she knows too much about some things, and not nearly enough of others. It's about trust, bonds, hurts hidden or dragged into the light, and how tenderness or a lack of it shapes a life.
I'm on a mission to devour everything else by Claire Keegan.
"In the year of our Lord 1894, I became an outlaw."
On the run for the crime of being a barren woman, midwife apprentice Ada seeks refuge, retribution, and a future of her own design with an infamous, shape-shifting gang of thieves. It's the Old West, made furiously, gloriously feminist and gender-fluid, with a spirit as big as the frontier skies.