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Natalie spends her time debating whether to go outside and do something active, or plant herself on the couch and read. So she compromises and reads outside. Among her favorite authors are Kazuo Ishiguro and Leslie Marmon Silko, but she loves to explore indigenous and nature writing, socially conscious fiction, and sci-fi. As a washed up college athlete, she will say yes to any and all opportunities to play sports, and has an unhealthy need for competition. Having gone to school in Southern California, she likes to pretend she’s part Californian / part Arizonan, but the desert will always be her home. Her hobbies include hiking and backpacking, playing sand volleyball, charcoal sketching, and of course reading. Her life goal is to become a sponsored Spikeball athlete.
This is a novel that will haunt you long after you finish reading it. It deals with intergenerational trauma, bodily autonomy, class and racial injustice and is heavy from start to finish. But it also leaves room for hope and for discussion about ending cycles of poverty and abuse in BIPOC communities. Watkins expertly weaves the threads of pain and violence throughout the novel with those of light and love. She has a powerful voice and I’m excited to see what she does next.
THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. It’s weird and moody and pretty gory, but it’s also a very light horror read - not too scary at all. Hogarth is an incredible and witty writer and kept me both laughing and cringing the entire time. With dark, deadpan humor, she shatters the notion of perfect domestic bliss as a follow-up to marriage and cuts right to the core reality of familial strife. On top of all this, she ends it with a twist that is so shocking and gross. This book is everything and more that I want from a light horror.
This book is HILARIOUS. It can be weird and disturbing and irreverent, but so authentic and vulnerable. In each of the stories, you are privy to the wildest and most inappropriate fantasies of different women, as they navigate the modern world of environmental catastrophe, political upheaval and the loneliness paradox of social media. Alic has a really amazing way of being glib, while also thoughtful about real issues. She also prefaces each story with her own "bad thoughts" and they are ridiculously funny and relatable. Highly, highly recommend.
In this phenomenal memoir, Ingrid Rojas Contreras brings a much-needed voice and history to the industry. She recounts her childhood growing up amid the political violence of 1980s and ‘90s Colombia, as well as the experience of descending from a family of curanderos. When a traumatic accident in her adult life affects her memory, she decides to explore and write about her past, and the indelible imprint a life filled with magic, hauntings and war left on her. This book touches on topics of inheritance, memory, perceptions of reality, storytelling, colonialism and healing in the wake of generational trauma. If you read one memoir this year, read this.
This book is crazy, morbid and alarming. But oh my gosh did I love it. After experiencing the death of a close family member, Amelia flees the country in hopes of finding solace in the community of dating apps and BDSM clubs. Working at a funeral home in her spare time, she is constantly surrounded by death; but when suddenly confronted with a death that is more personal, she doesn't know how to cope with it. Darkly comedic and honest, NEW ANIMAL is a profound examination of human connection and death.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's about female friendships, motherhood, misinformation, and the shimmering and deceitful glamor of social media. The mothers of the story are in constant competition with one another; and although they are somewhat hard to like and their actions somewhat unbelievable, Morris seems to be holding up a mirror to society, presenting the appearances we have worked to build and asking why we work so hard to maintain these. She dissects the pressures of motherhood and challenges the expectations society places on mothers. If you like Lisa Taddeo or Rachel Yoder, you should definitely read this.
One of the best debuts I’ve read in a long time. A novel about art, desire, power, identity and pushing sexual boundaries - it explores the question of bodily autonomy in relationships and who we become when we give ourselves completely to someone else. Dominance and submission are the central forces between the couple in this novel; and although it seems to be a problematic relationship, the more you read the more you wonder if all relationships aren’t an expression of power and control in some form - of taking and losing parts of a self in return for love. You beg her to leave him and yet, you also know she’s not choosing anything that different from what we all choose when we fall in love. This is a truly incendiary and remarkable work of literature.
Lisa Taddeo EVISCERATES with her writing. Just when you think she couldn't get any better, she writes GHOST LOVER, a collection of nine stories chronicling women's experiences in the world today. Topics of grief, desire and obsession course throughout; and although the stories are different, each one is an embodiment of Taddeo's genius and wrath. I was constantly hovering between horrified and inspired and honestly, not many writers can do this. It was an experience to be sure and one I highly recommend.
This book is so incredibly beautiful. Part memoir, part tribute to the natural world, it is a story that will sit with me for a long time. Dochartaigh recounts the horrors of living through the Troubles in Derry, Ireland and the pain of having to grapple with the excruciating memories ever since. It is heavy. But it is also wonderful. Although the echoes of trauma reverberate throughout, she shows how peace and reconciliation can be found in the most unsuspecting of places - in the land that bore the violence and yet is her home; in the rivers, the beaches, every wild patch of nature in which life continues to move along despite the violence of humanity. She bares her soul so completely, and through the exploration of her past, discovers that beauty can be found right alongside horror, as long as you are willing to see it.
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This witty and wonderful novel follows two Taiwanese American women who have been best friends since they were little. They have gone through everything together - navigating tumultuous teenage years, unfulfilling and embarrassing romantic encounters, and the burden of strained family history. The story alternates between the women’s voices and they tell their stories with such raw and unapologetic honesty. There is a complexity to female friendship that is so boldly represented here. And there is a complexity to living a life torn between two countries, never feeling like you fit into one place completely, that is so concisely portrayed. There is a feeling of searching, of forever being on the lookout for that one thing to fill a hole that something in your past has ripped out - whether it be an absent father or the loss of a friend. But through it all, their experiences are theirs alone, separate from the scrutiny of the world around them, allowing them to find an identity of their own; to be exactly who they deserve to be - young and alive and joyful.
In this dark and twisted story, a woman attempts to reconcile with the hauntings of her past - her father’s connection to the Manson family, her mother’s depression and addiction, and the strange upbringing that ensued. Her recent struggle with postpartum depression pushes her to examine her roots; and as she leaves her family to visit her childhood home in the Southwestern desert, she begins to shed the constraints of motherhood and return to her art. She confronts the darkness that has been simmering within her and welcomes the deep, feral desires she long-ago gave up. Unapologetic, honest, and visceral, Claire Vaye Watkins creates a form of autofiction hard to beat and challenges the standard of what it means to be a woman and a mother.
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I am obsessed with this book. A woman gives up her art career to be a stay-at-home mom, and as the long days start to take a toll on her, she experiences shocking emotional and physical transformations. She is morphing into a dog; and while the bodily changes are at first horrifying and alarming - tufts of fur and a strong desire to attack bunnies - she starts to recognize how liberating of an opportunity this is. Nightbitch is a brilliant, wild, and perfectly gruesome take on what it means to be a mother and want a career in our society today. Rachel Yoder reckons with the trope of losing oneself to become the perfect wife and mom, and what she ends up creating is the type of subversive motherhood story we need more of. This was incredibly written and hilarious, and I highly recommend.
I have never felt quite so speechless when finishing a book. This debut novel - unassuming in its size and yet sharp and intense in its story - completely caught me off guard. Pickhart depicts the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, where Russia has long kept a tight hold and refused to recognize its status as an independent nation. In 2013, the Ukrainian Revolution and the ongoing War in Donbass broke out, as then-President Yanukovych refused to sign a referendum with the European Union, forging a closer alliance with Russia. This story follows four characters as they fight to secure sovereignty for their country and safety for their loved ones. Pickhart seems to write in the empty space between conflicts, in which life continues despite the hardships of war, and she shows the resiliency of the individual in the face of oppression - the need to find beauty and love amidst destruction. Incredibly complex, heartbreaking, and insightful, this novel is an urgent argument for the presence of humanity in a time of violence.
A short novel, but no less impressive or horrific. Translated from the French, it tells the overlooked story of the Senegalese who fought for France during WWI and the violence that haunted many soldiers after. I have never seen a novel so perfectly produce an effect that is at once shocking, magical, horrifying, ethereal, and gruesome. Diop's writing is quietly volcanic - exploding into a million tiny pieces of shrapnel that lodge into your body until every fiber of your being aches with the anguish of this novel. I highly recommend.
Loneliness is one of the most difficult feelings to talk about. Sometimes it’s fleeting - no more than a twinge of wonder if your friends are hanging out while you’re home alone on a weekend night. And sometimes it’s so achingly permanent, firmly entrenched in the back of your mind and lurking behind every thought - the fear that you are alone while everyone else seems to have deeper and more meaningful relationships. No matter what, the pain is hard to voice and almost crippling in its grip. But this graphic novel helped put my loneliness into perspective and was the reminder I desperately needed that I am not alone in this feeling. Radtke’s beautiful artwork and prose, combined with thorough and compelling research about studies on loneliness and its pervasiveness throughout our culture, were stunning and provided validation for something I’ve never really felt comfortable talking about. I can’t recommend this book enough.
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I absolutely loved this book. So much is said about race, class, consumerism, social and body politics; and Brown does this in only 112 pages! The story follows a Black British woman working at a highly competitive financial company in London, and through her everyday interactions, one feels and experiences the emotional and physical pain that can develop from racial microaggressions. Brown succinctly captures the hollowness that accompanies “success” in a society blinded by prejudices and obsessed with climbing the corporate ladder, and I just couldn't help but be so impressed throughout the entire book. Definitely a new author to watch.
Richard Powers’ newest novel is every bit as poignant and powerful as one would hope. It follows the story of Theo, an astrobiologist and single parent, struggling to raise his nine-year-old son as he learns to grapple with his fascination of nature's beauty and the despair that comes with climate disaster. The complexity and intimacy of the father-son relationship as they explore the natural world and the marvels of the universe is beautiful and vivid. It raises the question - how do we tell our children about the reality of climate change while nurturing hope and awe for what we can still save? If you enjoyed THE OVERSTORY then you will be blown away by BEWILDERMENT.
In this dark revenge story, a woman comes to terms with the violence of her past and a trauma that leaves her emotionally and brutally scarred. With sharp and insightful writing, Taddeo explores the repercussions of a male-dominated society, in which violence against women is tolerated and men live blameless. ANIMAL is gruesome and heavy and almost makes you want to look away; and yet you just can't stop reading it.
For those who find comfort in the solitude of nature, this unforgettable memoir is breathtaking, deeply moving, and a feat of writing that will alter your perspective of the natural world around you. Isolated in the wilderness of Montana, Raven recounts the unexpected yet indelible bond that forms between her and a lone fox. Their relationship and this story provide an invaluable understanding of our connection to nature, and will inspire even those who feel the most despair about climate change.
There is so much to unpack in this stunning novel—a female-run church, female crusaders, female sexuality and spirituality interwoven; female everything—and it is the most wonderful, empowering story I didn’t know I needed. Set in the Middle Ages during the rule of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Matrix follows the life of Marie de France as she is ruthlessly cast from the royal court to live at an impoverished abbey in England. Only 17 years old and with no help from the crown, she must take on the impossible task of saving a community of nuns from starvation and disease. As Marie learns to accept her fate, she begins to transform the abbey into a powerful fortress, one that will shield her nuns from the patriarchal rule of the outside world and foster a sanctuary for female strength, friendship, and desire. Groff’s writing is vivid and affecting, blurring the lines between spiritual and bodily ecstasy while creating a world devoid of female subjugation—in which a woman’s beauty is not determined by the eyes of men but by the way she shapes the world around her. I am in complete awe of this book and of Lauren Groff.
For fans of Sally Rooney and just talented writers in general?? This book was raw, evocative, and insightful; and an overall relief to the weight of shame associated with female desire that I, and most likely every other woman at some point, has felt suffocated by. Through conversations with multiple women over the span of a decade, Popkey's unnamed character explores the complicated and nuanced reality of relationships - finding that women often do not desire what society believes they should. I absolutely loved Popkey’s style of writing and I loved this book.
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This book hit me like a Black Mirror episode. It’s incredible and dark and twisted and one of the most convoluted pieces I’ve read. But wow, Patricia Lockwood is a genius at social analysis. In this fragmentary novel, she unwinds the complicated and bizarre relationship that has sprung between humans and technology, and our need to scroll mindlessly and incessantly online. It is an intimate reflection on the humanity we have lost to “the portal,” as she calls it, as well as the connections we may gain from this new and uncontrollable world we’ve created. Please read.
I loved everything about this book - the quirky characters, the events that somehow seem so outlandish and yet so befitting of a small town, the historic epigraphs that bring each chapter to life. There is something so comforting about Rios' narrative. Each chapter tells individual stories about different characters, but in the end, they all come together to form a complete story of a small town in northern Mexico. Rios wonderfully depicts the singular gift an individual can bring to a community and the beauty that can be found in the ordinary of everyday life - in overcoming even the smallest of hardships and pursuing what you love. This book is unforgettably “loud in its simple quietude” and I hope you read it.
Angel & Hannah tore at my tightly wound heart strings and opened up a soft spot for the courageous love of these two characters. Set in 90's New York City, with a world between their two families and neighborhoods, they fight to bridge the divide and hold onto their love - despite the realities of life thrown at them. Told in blank verse, the magic and desperation of their Romeo and Juliet love is captured beautifully.
As an Arizonan, there is a history that eats at my conscience; Native American stories are often glossed over, and not just those of the past, but those of the present as well. In this incredibly poignant and gripping work of art, Redniss weaves beautiful imagery and prose together, capturing the simultaneous desperation and abounding hope that comes with life on a reservation. She took my breath away with vibrant drawings of the southwestern desert landscape - haunting visuals of what has been plundered and stolen from indigenous people - and l felt the immense loss and injustice of it all. The battle for Oak Flat is happening just an hour outside of Phoenix, and when I came to this realization, I was shocked and devastated. It shouldn’t take being near something for it to feel more real and horrific, but it does - and I urge every Arizonan to read this book and learn what is happening in our own backyard. This book speaks for all those wrongly pushed onto borderlands, confined by unnatural lines drawn by a distant government. These voices need to be heard and Redniss does a remarkable job of illuminating them.
A wonderful tribute to the monumental giants that have been shaping and defining our planet for millions of years. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the fun, lighthearted nature of it. Rather than focus on the negative tenets of climate change discourse in relation to melting ice, Jackson beautifully illuminates the complex influence of glaciers - as sentient beings living in synchrony with us. By featuring human stories centering around glacier movement, she provides insight into how we perceive and make sense of our changing environment. We can always use more uplifting and personal reads about our natural world and this is definitely a good one!
Wow. I think this is such an important read for everyone - I have never experienced a more beautiful approach to understanding the natural sciences and the world around us. A synthesis of indigenous plant wisdom, natural science, and metaphor, this collection of essays focuses on restoring our relationship with nature, not through ownership but through reciprocity. It's easy to despair about climate change when we are constantly being bombarded with an overwhelming amount of negative figures, but learning to see the beauty in how other species provide for us can help us appreciate the need to protect other lives, to choose to work at preserving our ecosystems and living sustainably. Although I am saddened over the disconnect that has formed between humans and nature, this book brought me hope and inspiration to bridge the gap.
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An amazing collection of essays. Jamison's writing tugs at those suffocating ropes of loneliness we each think bind us singularly, but in fact - because of our commonality in pain - actually bind us to each other. Although she covers a wide range of subject matter, an underlying examination of relationships weaves throughout as Jamison discovers who she is as a writer, as a wife, and as a woman.
Mutant animals, phosphorescent rivers, deranged humans - in this apocalyptic novel Jeff VanderMeer presents a world corrupted by the results of scientific progress, in which nature has become humans’ play toy, a subject to be altered for profit and gain. Both horrifying and beautiful, this book will leave you stunned and altered as well. VanderMeer’s dark humor and twisted storytelling has you questioning our innate desire as human beings to control and exploit the world around us. If you’re looking for a roller coaster of a read this book is for you.
This book went above and beyond my expectations! Part dystopian, part western, part badass women doing their thing... I enjoyed every minute of it. Though lighthearted and entertaining, this book also touches on issues of gender and identity, and the importance of accepting who you truly are. I finished reading feeling hopeful and inspired.