Jay's 2019 Winter Reading List for Grown-ups
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson - Moving forward and backward in time, Jacqueline Woodson's taut and powerful new novel uncovers the role that history and community have played in the experiences, decisions, and relationships of these families, and in the life of the new child. As the book opens in 2001, it is the evening of sixteen-year-old Melody's coming of age ceremony in her grandparents' Brooklyn brownstone. Watched lovingly by her relatives and friends, making her entrance to the music of Prince, she wears a special custom-made dress. But the event is not without poignancy. Sixteen years earlier, that very dress was measured and sewn for a different wearer: Melody's mother, for her own ceremony-- a celebration that ultimately never took place. Unfurling the history of Melody's parents and grandparents to show how they all arrived at this moment, Woodson considers not just their ambitions and successes but also the costs, the tolls they've paid for striving to overcome expectations and escape the pull of history. As it explores sexual desire and identity, ambition, gentrification, education, class and status, and the life-altering facts of parenthood, Red at the Bone most strikingly looks at the ways in which young people must so often make long-lasting decisions about their lives--even before they have begun to figure out who they are and what they want to be.
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo - Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug-dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. In fact, by age twenty, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most prestigious universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her? Still searching for answers, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. Their eight windowless “tombs” are the well-known haunts of the rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street’s biggest players. But their occult activities are more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive. They tamper with forbidden magic. They raise the dead. And, sometimes, they prey on the living.
Exhalation by Ted Chiang - In these nine stunningly original, provocative, and poignant stories, Ted Chiang tackles some of humanity’s oldest questions along with new quandaries only he could imagine. In “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” a portal through time forces a fabric seller in ancient Baghdad to grapple with past mistakes and second chances. In “Exhalation,” an alien scientist makes a shocking discovery with ramifications that are literally universal. In “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom,” the ability to glimpse into alternate universes necessitates a radically new examination of the concepts of choice and free will. Including stories being published for the first time as well as some of his rare and classic uncollected work, Exhalation is Ted Chiang at his best: profound, sympathetic—revelatory.
Surfacing: Essays by Kathleen Jamie - An immersive exploration of time and place in a shrinking world, from the award-winning author of Sightlines. In this remarkable blend of memoir, cultural history, and travelogue, poet and author Kathleen Jamie touches points on a timeline spanning millennia, and considers what surfaces and what reconnects us to our past. From the thawing tundra linking a Yup'ik village in Alaska to its hunter-gatherer past to the shifting sand dunes revealing the impressively preserved homes of neolithic farmers in Scotland, Jamie explores how the changing natural world can alter our sense of time. Most movingly, she considers, as her father dies and her children leave home, the surfacing of an older, less tethered sense of herself. In precise, luminous prose, Surfacing offers a profound sense of time passing and an antidote to all that is instant, ephemeral, unrooted.
Surge: Poems by Jay Bernard - Jay Bernard’s extraordinary debut is a fearlessly original exploration of the black British archive: an enquiry into the New Cross Fire of 1981, a house fire at a birthday party in south London in which thirteen young black people were killed. Dubbed the ‘New Cross Massacre’, the fire was initially believed to be a racist attack, and the indifference with which the tragedy was met by the state triggered a new era of race relations in Britain. Tracing a line from New Cross to the ‘towers of blood’ of the Grenfell fire, this urgent collection speaks with, in and of the voices of the past, brought back by the incantation of dancehall rhythms and the music of Jamaican patois, to form a living presence in the absence of justice. Winner of the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry 2018, this is a ground-breaking work of excavation, memory and activism – both political and personal, witness and documentary – Surge shines a much-needed light on an unacknowledged chapter in British history, one that powerfully resonates in our present moment.
The Beautiful Ones by Prince - Prince was a musical genius, one of the most beloved, accomplished, and acclaimed musicians of our time. He was a startlingly original visionary with an imagination deep enough to whip up whole worlds, from the sexy, gritty funk paradise of “Uptown” to the mythical landscape of Purple Rain to the psychedelia of “Paisley Park.” But his most ambitious creative act was turning Prince Rogers Nelson, born in Minnesota, into Prince, one of the greatest pop stars of any era. The Beautiful Ones is the story of how Prince became Prince—a first-person account of a kid absorbing the world around him and then creating a persona, an artistic vision, and a life, before the hits and fame that would come to define him. The book is told in four parts. The first is the memoir Prince was writing before his tragic death, pages that bring us into his childhood world through his own lyrical prose. The second part takes us through Prince’s early years as a musician, before his first album was released, via an evocative scrapbook of writing and photos. The third section shows us Prince’s evolution through candid images that go up to the cusp of his greatest achievement, which we see in the book’s fourth section: his original handwritten treatment for Purple Rain—the final stage in Prince’s self-creation, where he retells the autobiography of the first three parts as a heroic journey. The book is framed by editor Dan Piepenbring’s riveting and moving introduction about his profound collaboration with Prince in his final months—a time when Prince was thinking deeply about how to reveal more of himself and his ideas to the world, while retaining the mystery and mystique he’d so carefully cultivated—and annotations that provide context to the book’s images. This work is not just a tribute to an icon, but an original and energizing literary work in its own right, full of Prince’s ideas and vision, his voice and image—his undying gift to the world.
The Need by Helen Phillips - When Molly, home alone with her two young children, hears footsteps in the living room, she tries to convince herself it’s the sleep deprivation. She’s been hearing things these days. Startling at loud noises. Imagining the worst-case scenario. It’s what mothers do, she knows. But then the footsteps come again, and she catches a glimpse of movement. Suddenly Molly finds herself face-to-face with an intruder who knows far too much about her and her family. As she attempts to protect those she loves most, Molly must also acknowledge her own frailty. Molly slips down an existential rabbit hole where she must confront the dualities of motherhood: the ecstasy and the dread; the languor and the ferocity; the banality and the transcendence as the book hurtles toward a mind-bending conclusion. In The Need, Helen Phillips has created a subversive, speculative thriller that comes to life through blazing, arresting prose and gorgeous, haunting imagery. Helen Phillips has been anointed as one of the most exciting fiction writers working today, and The Need is a glorious celebration of the bizarre and beautiful nature of our everyday lives.
How to Catch a Mole: And Find Yourself in Nature by Marc Hamer - A life-affirming book about the British countryside, the cycle of nature, solitude and contentment, through the prism of a brilliant new nature writers experience working as a traditional mole-catcher, and why he gave it up.I have been catching moles in gardens and farms for years and I have decided that I am not going to do it anymore. Molecatching is a traditional skill that has given me a good life but I am old now and tired of hunting and it has taught me what I needed to learn. Although common, moles are mysterious: their habits are inscrutable, they are anatomically bizarre, and they live completely alone. Marc Hamer has come closer to them than most, both through his long working life out in the Welsh countryside, and his experiences of rural homelessness as a boy, sleeping in hedgerows. Over the years, Marc has learned a great deal about these small, velvet creatures who live in the dark beneath us, and the myths that surround them, and his work has also led him to a wise and uplifting acceptance of the inevitable changes that we all face. In this beautiful and meditative book, Marc tells his story and explores what moles, and a life in nature, can tell us about our own humanity and our search for contentment.How to Catch a Mole is a gem of nature writing, beautifully illustrated by Joe McLaren, which celebrates living peacefully and finding wonder in the world around us.
The Nickel Boys: A Novel by Colson Whitehead - As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is "as good as anyone." Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides "physical, intellectual and moral training" so the delinquent boys in their charge can become "honorable and honest men." In reality, the Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear "out back." Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold onto Dr. King's ringing assertion "Throw us in jail and we will still love you." His friend Turner thinks Elwood is worse than naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. The tension between Elwood's ideals and Turner's skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Formed in the crucible of the evils Jim Crow wrought, the boys' fates will be determined by what they endured at the Nickel Academy. Based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers.
The Story of Tools: A Celebration of the Beauty and Craftsmanship Behind the Tools of Handmade Trades by Hole & Corner - Axes, drills, chisels, shaping tools, and more are examined by masters of handmade trades, from blacksmiths, silversmiths, and spoon makers to sculptors, gardeners, and architects. Tools make our lives better. They help us to measure, plan, create, maintain, repair, and make our ideas a reality. They are empowering, giving us the potential to do things for ourselves. Since pre-historic man sharpened his first stone into a cutting implement, we have relied on tools to help us in carrying out even simple tasks. Nowadays, every industry has its own set of tools. What would a painter be without a brush, or a gardener without his fork? Divided into three beautifully photographed chapters--Wood and Stone; Earth, Metal, and Glass; and Material, Cloth, and Decoration--this book tells the story of its 25 featured tools through the eyes of those whose craft and livelihood depend on them. It seeks to explore our relationship with these most fundamental of objects. Many are rightfully considered as design icons, while others reveal the improvisational skills of their owners, tweaked and adjusted to suit specific jobs through trial-and-error. Celebrating culture, skill, time, and dedication, this is the perfect read for anyone with a penchant for tools, crafts, and beautiful design.
The Revisioners: A Novel by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton - In 1924, Josephine is the proud owner of a thriving farm. As a child, she channeled otherworldly power to free herself from slavery. Now her new neighbor, a white woman named Charlotte, seeks her company, and an uneasy friendship grows between them. But Charlotte has also sought solace in the Ku Klux Klan, a relationship that jeopardizes Josephine’s family. Nearly one hundred years later, Josephine’s descendant, Ava, is a single mother who has just lost her job. She moves in with her white grandmother, Martha, a wealthy but lonely woman who pays Ava to be her companion. But Martha’s behavior soon becomes erratic, then threatening, and Ava must escape before her story and Josephine’s converge. The Revisioners explores the depths of women’s relationships―powerful women and marginalized women, healers and survivors. It is a novel about the bonds between mothers and their children, the dangers that upend those bonds. At its core, The Revisioners ponders generational legacies, the endurance of hope, and the undying promise of freedom.
The Knife of Never Letting Go: Chaos Walking - Book One by Patrick Ness - Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him — something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn't she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd's gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is. A major movie starring Tom Holland comes out in 2020.
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson - Lillian and Madison were unlikely roommates and yet inseparable friends at their elite boarding school. But then Lillian had to leave the school unexpectedly in the wake of a scandal and they’ve barely spoken since. Until now, when Lillian gets a letter from Madison pleading for her help. Madison’s twin stepkids are moving in with her family and she wants Lillian to be their caretaker. However, there’s a catch: the twins spontaneously combust when they get agitated, flames igniting from their skin in a startling but beautiful way. Lillian is convinced Madison is pulling her leg, but it’s the truth. Thinking of her dead-end life at home, the life that has consistently disappointed her, Lillian figures she has nothing to lose. Over the course of one humid, demanding summer, Lillian and the twins learn to trust each other—and stay cool—while also staying out of the way of Madison’s buttoned-up politician husband. Surprised by her own ingenuity yet unused to the intense feelings of protectiveness she feels for them, Lillian ultimately begins to accept that she needs these strange children as much as they need her—urgently and fiercely. Couldn’t this be the start of the amazing life she’d always hoped for? With white-hot wit and a big, tender heart, Kevin Wilson has written his best book yet—a most unusual story of parental love.
Music: A Subversive History by Ted Gioia - From the dawn of civilization to the modern-day music scene, this breathtaking global history reveals how songs have shifted societies and sparked revolutions. Histories of music overwhelmingly suppress stories of the outsiders and rebels who created musical revolutions and instead celebrate the mainstream assimilators who borrowed innovations, diluted their impact, and disguised their sources. In Music: A Subversive History, historian Ted Gioia reclaims the story of music for the riff raff, insurgents, and provocateurs. Gioia tells a four-thousand-year history of music as a global source of power, change, and upheaval. He shows how social outcasts have repeatedly become trailblazers of musical expression: slaves and their descendants, for instance, have repeatedly reinvented music, from ancient times all the way to the jazz, reggae, and hip-hop sounds of the current day. Music: A Subversive History is essential reading for anyone interested in the meaning of music, from Sappho to the Sex Pistols to Spotify.
The Collected Stories by Grace Paley - This reissue of Grace Paley's classic collection―a finalist for the National Book Award―demonstrates her rich use of language as well as her extraordinary insight into and compassion for her characters, moving from the hilarious to the tragic and back again. Whether writing about the love (and conflict) between parents and children or between husband and wife, or about the struggles of aging single mothers or disheartened political organizers to make sense of the world, she brings the same unerring ear for the rhythm of life as it is actually lived. The Collected Stories is a 1994 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction.
The Third-Body Problem (Book 1 of a trilogy) by Liu Cixin - This epic novel is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience the Hugo Award-winning phenomenon from China's most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin. Set against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision. The Remembrance of Earth's Past Trilogy: The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest and Death's End.
The Sense of Wonder: A Celebration of Nature for Parents and Children by Rachel Carson - In 1955, acclaimed conservationist Rachel Carson—author of Silent Spring—began work on an essay that she would come to consider one of her life’s most important projects. Her grandnephew, Roger Christie, had visited Carson that summer at her cottage in Maine, and together they had wandered the surrounding woods and tide pools. Teaching Roger about the natural wonders around them, Carson began to see them anew herself, and wanted to relate that same magical feeling to others who might hope to introduce a child to the beauty of nature. “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder,” writes Carson, “he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.” The Sense of Wonder is a timeless volume that will be passed on from generation to generation, as treasured as the memory of an early-morning walk when the song of a whippoorwill was heard as if for the first time.
The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa - A haunting Orwellian novel about the terrors of state surveillance, from the acclaimed author of The Housekeeper and the Professor. On an unnamed island off an unnamed coast, objects are disappearing: first hats, then ribbons, birds, roses—until things become much more serious. Most of the island's inhabitants are oblivious to these changes, while those few imbued with the power to recall the lost objects live in fear of the draconian Memory Police, who are committed to ensuring that what has disappeared remains forgotten. When a young woman who is struggling to maintain her career as a novelist discovers that her editor is in danger from the Memory Police, she concocts a plan to hide him beneath her floorboards. As fear and loss close in around them, they cling to her writing as the last way of preserving the past. A surreal, provocative fable about the power of memory and the trauma of loss, The Memory Police is a stunning new work from one of the most exciting contemporary authors writing in any language.
We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast by Jonathan Safran Foer - Some people reject the fact, overwhelmingly supported by scientists, that our planet is warming because of human activity. But do those of us who accept the reality of human-caused climate change truly believe it? If we did, surely we would be roused to act on what we know. Will future generations distinguish between those who didn’t believe in the science of global warming and those who said they accepted the science but failed to change their lives in response? In We Are the Weather, Jonathan Safran Foer explores the central global dilemma of our time in a surprising, deeply personal, and urgent new way. The task of saving the planet will involve a great reckoning with ourselves―with our all-too-human reluctance to sacrifice immediate comfort for the sake of the future. We have, he reveals, turned our planet into a farm for growing animal products, and the consequences are catastrophic. Only collective action will save our home and way of life. And it all starts with what we eat―and don’t eat―for breakfast.
Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir - A highly sensational, ultra-exciting, sort-of true coming-of-age story of a young Asian trans girl, pathological liar, and kung-fu expert who runs away from her parents' abusive home in a rainy city called Gloom. Striking off on her own, she finds her true family in a group of larger-than-life trans femmes who live in a mysterious pleasure district known only as the Street of Miracles. Under the wings of this fierce and fabulous flock, the protagonist blossoms into the woman she has always dreamed of being, with a little help from the unscrupulous Doctor Crocodile. When one of their number is brutally murdered, she joins her sisters in forming a vigilante gang to fight back against the transphobes, violent johns, and cops that stalk the Street of Miracles. But when things go terribly wrong, she must find the truth within herself in order to stop the violence and discover what it really means to grow up and find your family.
The Porpoise by Mark Haddon - Mark Haddon's breathtaking novel begins with a harrowing plane crash: Maja, the pregnant wife of the unimaginably wealthy Philippe, is killed, but their daughter Angelica survives. Philippe's obsession with the girl's safety morphs into something sinister and grotesque as she grows into a beautiful teen. A young man named Darius, visiting Philippe with a business proposition, encounters Angelica and intuits their secret -- he decides to rescue her, but the attempt goes awry and he flees England by sea. This contemporary story mirrors the ancient legend of Antiochus, whose love for the daughter of his dead wife was discovered by the adventurer Appolinus of Tyre. The tale appeared in many forms through the ages; Apollinus becoming the swashbuckling Pericles in Shakespeare's eponymous play. In The Porpoise, as Angelique comes to terms with a life imprisoned on her father's estate, Darius morphs into Pericles, voyaging through a mythic world. In a bravura feat of storytelling, Haddon recounts his many exploits in thrilling fashion, mining the meaning of the old legends while creating parallels with the monstrous modern world Angelica inhabits. The language is rich and gorgeous; the conjured worlds are perfectly imagined; the plot moves forward at a ferocious pace. But as much as Haddon plays with myth and meaning, his themes speak deeply to the current moment. As profound as it is entertaining, The Porpoise is a major literary achievement by an author whose myriad talents are on full, vivid display.
Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African-American Cooking by Toni Tipton-Martin - Throughout her career, Toni Tipton-Martin has shed new light on the history, breadth, and depth of African American cuisine. She’s introduced us to black cooks, some long forgotten, who established much of what’s considered to be our national cuisine. After all, if Thomas Jefferson introduced French haute cuisine to this country, who do you think actually cooked it? In Jubilee, Tipton-Martin brings these masters into our kitchens. Through recipes and stories, we cook along with these pioneering figures, from enslaved chefs to middle- and upper-class writers and entrepreneurs. With more than 100 recipes, from classics such as Sweet Potato Biscuits, Seafood Gumbo, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, and Pecan Pie with Bourbon to lesser-known but even more decadent dishes like Bourbon & Apple Hot Toddies, Spoon Bread, and Baked Ham Glazed with Champagne, Jubilee presents techniques, ingredients, and dishes that show the roots of African American cooking—deeply beautiful, culturally diverse, fit for celebration.
The Beadworkers: Stories by Beth Piatote - This luminous debut collection opens with a feast, grounding its stories in the landscapes and lifeworlds of the Native Northwest, exploring the inventive and unforgettable pattern of Native American life in the contemporary world. Told with humor, subtlety, and spareness, the mixed-genre works of Beth Piatote’s first collection find unifying themes in the strength of kinship, the pulse of longing, and the language of return. A woman teaches her niece to make a pair of beaded earrings while ruminating on a fractured relationship. An eleven-year-old girl narrates the unfolding of the Fish Wars in the 1960s as her family is propelled to its front lines. In 1890, as tensions escalate at Wounded Knee, two young men at college―one French and the other Lakota―each contemplate a death in the family. In the final, haunting piece, a Nez Perce–Cayuse family is torn apart as they debate the fate of ancestral remains in a moving revision of the Greek tragedy Antigone. Formally inventive and filled with vibrant characters, The Beadworkers draws on Indigenous aesthetics and forms to offer a powerful, sustaining vision of Native life.
Lie with Me: A Novel by Philippe Bresson, translated by Molly Ringwald - A runaway bestseller in France, a lyric novel about an affair between two teenage boys in 1984 France, translated with subtle beauty and haunting lyricism by the iconic and internationally acclaimed actress/writer Molly Ringwald. We drive at high speed along back roads, through woods, vineyards, and oat fields. The bike smells like gasoline and makes a lot of noise, and sometimes I’m frightened when the wheels slip on the gravel on the dirt road, but the only thing that matters is that I’m holding on to him, that I’m holding on to him outside. Just outside a hotel in Bordeaux, Philippe chances upon a young man who bears a striking resemblance to his first love. What follows is a look back at the relationship he’s never forgotten, a hidden affair with a gorgeous boy named Thomas during their last year of high school. Without ever acknowledging they know each other in the halls, they steal time to meet in secret, carrying on a passionate, world-altering affair. Dazzlingly rendered in English by Ringwald in her first-ever translation, Besson’s powerfully moving coming-of-age story captures the eroticism and tenderness of first love—and the heartbreaking passage of time.
The Infinite Noise: A Bright Sessions Novel by Lauren Shippen - A stunning, original debut novel based on the author’s wildly popular and award-winning podcast The Bright Sessions. Caleb Michaels is a sixteen-year-old champion running back. Other than that his life is pretty normal. But when Caleb starts experiencing mood swings that are out of the ordinary for even a teenager, his life moves beyond “typical.” Caleb is an Atypical, an individual with enhanced abilities. Which sounds pretty cool except Caleb's ability is extreme empathy―he feels the emotions of everyone around him. Being an empath in high school would be hard enough, but Caleb's life becomes even more complicated when he keeps getting pulled into the emotional orbit of one of his classmates, Adam. Adam's feelings are big and all-consuming, but they fit together with Caleb's feelings in a way that he can't quite understand. Caleb's therapist, Dr. Bright, encourages Caleb to explore this connection by befriending Adam. As he and Adam grow closer, Caleb learns more about his ability, himself, his therapist―who seems to know a lot more than she lets on―and just how dangerous being an Atypical can be.
Black is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time and Mine by Emily Bernard - An extraordinary, exquisitely written memoir through essays that looks at race in a fearless, penetrating, honest way. "I am black--and brown, too," writes Emily Bernard. "Brown is the body I was born into. Black is the body of the stories I tell." In these twelve deeply personal, connected essays, Bernard details the experience of growing up black in the south with a family name inherited from a white man, surviving a random stabbing at a New Haven coffee shop while taking graduate studies at Yale, marrying a white man from the north and bring him home to her family, adopting two babies from Ethiopia, and living and teaching in a primarily white New England college town. Each of these essays goes beyond a narrative of black innocence and white guilt and sets out to discover a new way of telling the truth as the author has lived it. "Blackness is an art, not a science. It is a paradox: intangible and visceral; a situation and a story. It is the thread that connects these essays, but its significance as an experience emerges randomly, unpredictably . . . Race is the story of my life, and therefore black is the body of this book."
Dad’s Maybe Book by Tim O’Brien - “We are all writing our maybe books full of maybe tomorrows, and each maybe tomorrow brings another maybe tomorrow, and then another, until the last line of the last page receives its period.” In 2003, already an older father, National Book Award–winning novelist Tim O’Brien resolved to give his young sons what he wished his own father had given to him—a few scraps of paper signed “Love, Dad.” Maybe a word of advice. Maybe a sentence or two about some long-ago Christmas Eve. Maybe some scattered glimpses of their rapidly aging father, a man they might never really know. For the next fifteen years, the author talked to his sons on paper, as if they were adults, imagining what they might want to hear from a father who was no longer among the living. O’Brien traverses the great variety of human experience and emotion, moving from soccer games to warfare to risqué lullabies, from alcoholism to magic shows to history lessons to bittersweet bedtime stories, but always returning to a father’s soul-saving love for his sons. The result is Dad’s Maybe Book, a funny, tender, wise, and enduring literary achievement that will squeeze the reader’s heart with joy and recognition.
War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi - Two sisters are torn apart by war and must fight their way back to each other in a futuristic, Black Panther-inspired Nigeria. The year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable. Only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky. In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate. Across the nation, as the years-long civil war wages on, survival becomes the only way of life. Two sisters, Onyii and Ify, dream of more. Their lives have been marked by violence and political unrest. Still, they dream of peace, of hope, of a future together. And they're willing to fight an entire war to get there.
The Book of Lost Saints by Daniel José Older - An evocative multigenerational Cuban-American family story of revolution, loss, and family bonds from New York Times-bestselling author Daniel José Older. Marisol vanished during the Cuban Revolution, disappearing with hardly a trace. Now, shaped by atrocities long-forgotten, her tenacious spirit visits her nephew, Ramón, in modern-day New Jersey. Her hope: that her presence will prompt him to unearth their painful family history. Ramón launches a haphazard investigation into the story of his ancestor, unaware of the forces driving him on his search. Along the way, he falls in love, faces a run-in with a murderous gangster, and uncovers the lives of the lost saints who helped Marisol during her imprisonment. The Book of Lost Saints by Daniel José Older is a haunting meditation on family, forgiveness, and the violent struggle to be free.
Pasta Grannies: The Official Cookbook: The Secrets of Italy’s Best Home Cooks by Vicky Bennison - "When you have good ingredients, you don't have to worry about cooking. They do the work for you." – Lucia, 85 Inspired by the hugely popular YouTube channel of the same name, Pasta Grannies is a wonderful collection of time-perfected Italian recipes from the people who have spent a lifetime cooking for love, not a living: Italian grandmothers. Featuring over 80 easy and accessible recipes from all over Italy, you will be transported into the very heart of the Italian home to learn how to make great-tasting Italian food. Pasta styles range from pici – a type of hand-rolled spaghetti that is simple to make – to lumachelle della duchessa – tiny, ridged, cinnamon-scented tubes that take patience and dexterity. More than just a compendium of dishes, Pasta Grannies tells the extraordinary stories of these ordinary women and shows you that with the right know how, truly authentic Italian cooking is simple, beautiful and entirely achievable.
Art of Nothing: 25 Years of Mutts and the Art of Patrick O’Donnell - Timed for the 25th anniversary of the comic strip Mutts, The Art of Nothing celebrates the work of author and illustrator Patrick McDonnell. Mooch, the curious cat, and Earl, the ever-trusting dog, are just two of the characters who inhabit the world of Mutts. In The Art of Nothing: 25 Years of Mutts and the Art of Patrick McDonnell, the award-winning author and illustrator’s beloved comic strip is celebrated as well as his bestselling children’s classics, including Me . . . Jane, The Gift of Nothing, South, Just Like Heaven, Hug Time, and Wag!, all shot from the original art. Also included are rare and never-before-seen artwork, proposals, outtakes, and developmental work, along with autobiographical commentary, a brand-new, career-spanning interview conducted by artist Lynda Barry, and an introduction by Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now and A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose).
Broken Places & Outer Spaces: Finding Creativity in the Unexpected by Nnedi Okorafor - A powerful journey from star athlete to sudden paralysis to creative awakening, award-winning science fiction writer Nnedi Okorafor shows that what we think are our limitations have the potential to become our greatest strengths. Nnedi Okorafor was never supposed to be paralyzed. A college track star and budding entomologist, Nnedi’s lifelong battle with scoliosis was just a bump in her plan—something a simple operation would easily correct. But when Nnedi wakes from the surgery to find that she can’t move her legs, her entire sense of self begins to waver. Confined to a hospital bed for months, unusual things begin to happen. Psychedelic bugs crawl her hospital walls; strange dreams visit her nightly. Nnedi begins to put these experiences into writing, conjuring up strange, fantastical stories. What Nnedi discovers during her confinement would prove to be the key to her life as a successful science fiction author: In science fiction, when something breaks, something greater often emerges from the cracks. In Broken Places & Outer Spaces, Nnedi takes the reader on a journey from her hospital bed deep into her memories, from her painful first experiences with racism as a child in Chicago to her powerful visits to her parents’ hometown in Nigeria. From Frida Kahlo to Mary Shelly, she examines great artists and writers who have pushed through their limitations, using hardship to fuel their work. Through these compelling stories and her own, Nnedi reveals a universal truth: What we perceive as limitations have the potential to become our greatest strengths—far greater than when we were unbroken. A guidebook for anyone eager to understand how their limitations might actually be used as a creative springboard, Broken Places & Outer Spaces is an inspiring look at how to open up new windows in your mind.
They Called Us Enemy by George Takei - A stunning graphic memoir recounting actor/author/activist George Takei's childhood imprisoned within American concentration camps during World War II. Experience the forces that shaped an American icon -- and America itself -- in this gripping tale of courage, country, loyalty, and love. George Takei has captured hearts and minds worldwide with his captivating stage presence and outspoken commitment to equal rights. But long before he braved new frontiers in Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father's -- and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future. In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten "relocation centers," hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard. They Called Us Enemy is Takei's firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother's hard choices, his father's faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future. What does it mean to be American? Who gets to decide? When the world is against you, what can one person do? To answer these questions, George Takei joins co-writers Justin Eisinger & Steven Scott and artist Harmony Becker for the journey of a lifetime.
The Starless Sea: A Novel by Erin Morgenstern - Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues—a bee, a key, and a sword—that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library hidden far below the surface of the earth. What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians—it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also of those who are intent on its destruction. Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose—in both the mysterious book and in his own life.
Native Country of the Heart: A Memoir by Cherrie Moraga - This stunning and insightful memoir is, at its core, a mother-daughter story. The mother, Elvira, was hired out as a child, along with her siblings, by their own father to pick cotton in California’s Imperial Valley. The daughter, Cherríe Moraga, is a brilliant, pioneering, queer Latina feminist. The story of these two women, and of their people, is woven together in an intimate memoir of critical reflection and deep personal revelation. As a young woman, Elvira left California to work as a cigarette girl in glamorous late-1920s Tijuana, where an ambiguous relationship with a wealthy white man taught her life lessons about power, sex, and opportunity. As Moraga charts her mother’s journey―from impressionable young girl to battle-tested matriarch to, later on, an old woman suffering under the yoke of Alzheimer’s―she traces her own self-discovery of her gender-queer body and Lesbian identity, as well as her passion for activism and the history of her pueblo. As her mother’s memory fails, Moraga is driven to unearth forgotten remnants of a U.S. Mexican diaspora, its indigenous origins, and an American story of cultural loss. Poetically wrought and filled with insight into intergenerational trauma, Native Country of the Heart is a reckoning with white American history and a piercing love letter from a fearless daughter to the mother she will never lose.