Is it the middle of JULY already?? It’s hard to believe, but here we are.
I’ve read quite a bit this year, including 8 of 12 of the books on my Must-Reads for the Rest of Us Part I list. Well, the second half of the year is upon us and here is the Must Reads for the Rest of Us 2018, Part II!
On Part I, I stuck to fiction but on Part II, I had to make a few exceptions. There are some exciting new nonfiction titles coming out by the end of the year, to be sure.
I can’t include everything I am interested in on this list so, as usual, I prioritize debut books written by womxn, authors of color, Black women, queer and gender noncomforming authors, authors from the Global South, and other authors of historically marginalized populations. They are listed below by the month in which they will be released.
You’ll see some books left off of this list that you might think should be on it. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to or won’t read them, it just means that they are often written by white women and/or have gotten a lot of attention on other outlets and I wanted to focus on ones you may not have heard about yet by historically underrepresented populations. Think: Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver, Open Me by Lisa Locascio, The Third Hotel by Laura Van Den Berg, Transcription by Kate Atkinson, and others. One could include Michelle Obama’s memoir in this but I don’t care, I cannot wait to read it and so added it to this list!
Tags: Black Lives Matter, Black women, women writers, feminism, politics, race, incarceration
Haymarket Books, 200 pages
“Black Panther and Cuban exile, Assata Shakur, has inspired multiple generations of radical protest, including our contemporary Black Lives Matter movement. Drawing its title from one of America’s foremost revolutionaries this collection of thought-provoking essays by award-winning Panther scholar Donna Murch explores how social protest is challenging our current system of state violence and mass incarceration.
Assata Taught Me offers a fresh and much-needed historical perspective on the fifty years since the founding of the Black Panther Party, in which the world’s largest police state has emerged.”–Description
“A biting indictment of late-stage capitalism and a chilling vision of what comes after . . . [Ma] knows her craft, and it shows. [Her protagonist] is a wonderful mix of vulnerability, wry humor, and steely strength…. Ma also offers lovely meditations on memory and the immigrant experience. Smart, funny, humane, and superbly well-written.”–Kirkus, starred review
“Embracing the genre but somehow transcending it, Ma creates a truly engrossing and believable anti-utopian world. Ma’s extraordinary debut marks a notable creative jump by playing on the apocalyptic fears many people share today.”–Booklist, starred review
Tags: Women writers, nonfiction, Black women, Black Lives Matter, #OwnVoices
University of California Press, 240 pages
“I can imagine no more perfect example of the dedicated scholar/activist than Barbara Ransby. She now offers us an analysis of the Movement for Black Lives, and its historical continuities and ruptures, that reflects both her considerable skills as a historian and her rich experience as an activist. This book passionately urges us to adapt the radical and feminist versions of democracy that will move us forward.”–Angela Y. Davis, Distinguished Professor Emerita, History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz
Tags: Queer, Black women, women writers, politics, race, #OwnVoices
Beacon Press, 184 pages
“Charlene Carruthers is a powerful organizer, radical thinker, paradigm-shifter, and one of the most influential political voices of her generation. Anyone seriously interested in the struggle for Black liberation in this country needs to listen carefully to what she has to say.”–Barbara Ransby, author of Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement and Making All Black Lives Matter
Tags: Liberia, magical realism, women authors, historical fiction, debut
Graywolf, 312 pages
“In this vibrant story of the African diaspora, Moore, a talented storyteller and a daring writer, illuminates with radiant and exacting prose the tumultuous roots of a country inextricably bound to the United States. She Would Be King is a novel of profound depth set against a vast canvas and a transcendent debut from a major new author.”–Description
Tags: Queer, Nigeria, Black women, women authors, trans, #OwnVoices
Cassava Republic Press, 340 pages
“This stirring and intimate collection brings together 25 captivating narratives to paint a vivid portrait of what it means to be a queer Nigerian woman. Covering an array of experiences – the joy and excitement of first love, the agony of lost love and betrayal, the sometimes-fraught relationship between sexuality and spirituality, addiction and suicide, childhood games and laughter – She Called Me Woman sheds light on how Nigerian queer women, despite their differences, attempt to build a life together in a climate of fear.”–Description
Tags: Historical fiction, adventure, literary, women writers
Knopf, 352 pages
“Washington Black is nothing short of a masterpiece. Esi Edugyan has a rare talent for turning over little known stones of history and giving her reader a new lens on the world, a new way of understanding subject matter we arrogantly think we know everything about. This book is an epic adventure and a heartfelt tale about love and morality and their many contradictions. I loved it.”–Attica Locke, author of Bluebird, Bluebird
“Asmaa al-Ghoul is a Palestinian journalist who grew up in the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza. Her book offers a rare view of a young woman coming into her own political and secular beliefs amidst the region’s relentless violence and under Israeli occupation…A Rebel in Gaza is Asmaa’s story as told to Franco-Lebanese writer Selim Nassib over the course of the “Arab Spring” through meetings, phone calls, Skype, and even texts during the siege of Gaza in 2014…”
Ghoul was given the prestigious Courage in Journalism Award by the International Women’s Media Foundation and is described by The New York Times as a woman ‘known for her defiant stance against the violations of civil rights in Gaza.'”–Description
Tags: Literary, essays, Black women, women writers, #OwnVoices
Ballantine Books, 224 pages
“An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature. Contributors include Jesmyn Ward (Sing, Unburied, Sing), Lynn Nottage (Sweat), Jacqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn), Gabourey Sidibe (This Is Just My Face), Morgan Jerkins (This Will Be My Undoing), Tayari Jones (An American Marriage), Rebecca Walker (Black, White and Jewish), and Barbara Smith (Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology).”–Description
Tags: Women writers, Black women, memoir, #OwnVoices
Crown, 400 pages
“In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.”–Description
Tags: India, women writers, family, literary, #OwnVoices
Atria, 288 pages
“[Roy] is a writer of great subtlety and intelligence, who understands that emotional power comes from the steady accretion of detail….[All the Lives We Never Lived] does not directly refer to #MeToo or the macho hyper-nationalism of today’s India. But in its portrayal of power structures, it is part of those very contemporary political conversations. It is also a beautifully written and compelling story of how families fall apart and of what remains in the aftermath.”–Kamila Shamsie, The Guardian
Tags: Women writers, short stories, Mexico, literary, translation, #OwnVoices
New Directions, 144 pages
“Filled with nightmarish imagery (“Sometimes I saw hundreds of small eyes fastened to the dripping windowpanes”) and creeping dread, Dávila’s stories plunge into the nature of fear, proving its force no matter if its origin is physical or psychological, real or imagined.”–Publishers Weekly
“The work of Amparo Dávila is unique in Mexican literature. There is no one like her, no one with that introspection and complexity.”–Elena Poniatowska
Tags: Nigeria, Black women, women writers, debut, humor, #OwnVoices
Doubleday, 240 pages
“Who is more dangerous? A femme fatale murderess or the quiet, plain woman who cleans up her messes? In My Sister, the Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite answers that question with an original and compelling debut. I never knew what was going to happen, but found myself pulling for both sisters, as I relished the creepiness and humor of this modern noir.”–Helen Ellis, New York Times bestselling author of American Housewife
My new book release lists are undergoing a name change!
Welcome to New Reads for the Rest of Us for July 2018.
I updated the title to better represent my purpose for these lists. You’ll be able to read more about this soon in a new post and an updated values statement but for now, just know that I will continue to offer you all the latest titles by womxn writers. (You might also notice that I added additional info about each title including tags and page counts.)
Essentially, I aim to amplify the books written by those who are historically underrepresented including, but not limited to: women of color, women from the Global South, women who are black, indigenous, disabled, queer, fat, immigrants, Muslim, sex-positive, and more. My lists are intersectional, feminist, and trans-inclusive. I also want to highlight books by gender non-conforming people (who may or may not be described by the term “womxn”).
So here’s July’s list! There are so many great titles here, which will you read??
Tags: South Africa, women writers, biography, #OwnVoices, Black women, Mandela
Jacana Media, 224 pages
“The idea to gather the memories of those who served Madiba into a book came from an understanding that most people in South Africa, and those around the world, knew him as an icon; as a public figure. It was important to me that the stories of those close to him be published so that fifty years from now, even a hundred years from now, when future generations want to know who Nelson Mandela was, they would not only be told the story of the head of state, but they would be able to read the story of a human being with a caring heart and generous soul.“–Mrs. Graça Machel
Tags: Historical fiction, World War II, Turkey, Jewish women, women writers
Amazon Crossing, 316 pages
“World War II scattered families across the globe, with only the luckiest remaining together in their new homes. In this poignant, timely novel, we meet the Jewish scientists who move from Germany to Istanbul to develop their vision of the world’s best universities. Based on the true story of neuropathologist professor Philipp Schwartz, Without a Country tells the story of one family’s migration, with all the challenges and triumphs of laying down roots in a new land.”–Gabriella Page-Fort (editor)
“Using an intersectional approach, Marriage, Divorce, and Distress in Northeast Brazil explores rural, working-class, black Brazilian women’s perceptions and experiences of courtship, marriage and divorce. In this book, women’s narratives of marriage dissolution demonstrate the ways in which changing gender roles and marriage expectations associated with modernization and globalization influence the intimate lives and the health and well being of women in Northeast Brazil. Melanie A. Medeiros explores the women’s rich stories of desire, love, respect, suffering, strength, and transformation.”–Description
Tags: Child marriage, Yemen, #OwnVoices, debut, women writers
Hawaa Ayoub, 402 pages
Hawaa Ayoub, author of When a Bulbul Sings, has experienced the traumas of forced child-marriage first hand. She hopes to raise awareness through writing about child-marriage.
This is a story about the inequality, injustice and violations of human rights millions of girls around the world face due to their gender when forced or entered into underage marriage as child brides.”–Description
Tags: Plays, Michigan, black women, #ownvoices, women writers
Theatre Communications Group, 240 pages
“Detroit ’67 is Morisseau’s aching paean to her natal city. . . . A deft playwright, Morisseau plays expertly with social mores and expectations. She also reframes commonplace things so that we see them in new light.”–StarTribune on Detroit ’67
“A deeply moral and deeply American play, with a loving compassion for those trapped in a system that makes sins, spiritual or societal, and self-betrayal almost inevitable.”–The New York Times on Skeleton Crew
“In Don’t Let Them See Me Like This, Jasmine Gibson explores myriad intersectional identities in relation to The State, disease, love, sex, failure, and triumph. Speaking to those who feel disillusioned by both radical and banal spaces and inspired/informed by moments of political crisis: Hurricane Katrina, The Jena Six, the extrajudicial executions of Black people, and the periods of insurgency that erupted in response, this book acts as a synthesis of political life and poetic form.”–Publisher description
“An enchanting evocation of the brilliant Mughal Empire and a tender tribute to India’s first female leader. Lush and sensuous, a jewel box of a book.”–Rosalind Miles, author of Who Cooked the Last Supper? The Women’s History of the World
“This is an outstanding book, not only incredibly important but also a fabulous piece of writing. Here, India’s greatest empress is reborn in all her fascinating glory in a luminescent account of her life and times. Ruby Lal has written a classic―one of the best biographies to come out this year and certainly the best ever of Nur Jahan.”–Amanda Foreman, author of The World Made by Women
“What a book! Gologorsky is at her best, weaving a tapestry of the lives of very real people, people whose lives deserve her care, her unsparing eye, and her compassion. Here is a story that cuts to the core of the way things are, and the way they can — all of a sudden — become. You heart might be ripped out by this book, but it will get placed back inside with a larger capacity to love and beat on — what a book, indeed.”–Elizabeth Strout, author of My Name is Lucy Barton and Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge
Tags: China, women writers, memoir, Taiwan, history
Columbia University Press, 480 pages
“The Great Flowing River is one of the great memoirs of modern China. Telling the story of one woman’s odyssey through the twentieth century, this is not just a deeply moving account of Chi Pang-yuan and her family, but a window into how the Chinese people came through the trauma of war and turmoil, and created a new set of civilized values in their aftermath.”–Rana Mitter, author of Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937-1945
“This is a memoir of epic proportions. Chi’s work is a testimony of this tremendous historical period that is the long twentieth century for the Chinese and the Taiwanese peoples. The English translation of this epochal memoir is most certainly significant.”–Letty Chen, author of Writing Chinese: Reshaping Chinese Cultural Identity
Tags: Feminism, memoir, essays, art, women writers
Coffee House Press, 132 pages
“This small and beautiful book about feminism and motherhood and art is perfect for those of us who like thinking outside of the box when we’re looking for something lovely to read.”–Vulture
“. . . Fusselman bounds with great dexterity from theme to theme—covering topics including addiction, motherhood, gender, and art—until she has transformed the traditional essay into something far wilder and more alive.”–Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Last year author Sheena Kamal introduced readers to Nora Watts in what Kirkus called ‘a searing debut’ in their starred review for The Lost Ones. […] Now Kamal returns with her highly-anticipated follow-up, It All Falls Down and the brilliant, fearless, deeply flawed Nora Watts is back and in deadly trouble…”–Publisher’s description
“Kamal laces her narrative with a palpable melancholy, effectively capturing the urban decay of Detroit while emphasizing the vibrancy and hope of the people who inhabit it. An explosive finale…sets the stage for more to come from this complicated, flawed, and utterly enthralling heroine. A stunning, emotionally resonant thriller.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred)
Tags: Queer, pansexual, bisexual, genderqueer, urban fantasy
Less Than Three Press, ebook (30k words)
“In Temperance City, the streets are ruled by spelled-up gangsters, whose magic turf wars serve as a constant backdrop to civilian life. With magic strictly regulated, Eli Coello—whip-smart jewelry salesman by day, sultry torch singer by night—has always found it advantageous to hide his magical affinity for ink.
All that goes up in smoke the day Eli is forced to use his magic to foil a jewelry heist, and in doing so unwittingly catches the eye of Duke Haven, leader of the fire-flinging Pyre gang. Seeing a useful asset, Duke promptly blackmails Eli into providing unregistered spellwork.
Duke needs Eli’s ink-magic to help him pull a dangerous con against a rival gang. As the heist comes together, Eli finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into the Temperance underworld—and, perhaps most dangerously, to Duke himself.”–Description
Tags: Puerto Rico, Latinx women, debut, #ownvoices, short stories, women writers
Feminist Press, 200 pages
“Wise, ferocious, and beautifully executed, these tales trace the tangled roots of trauma and desire.”–Patricia Engel, author of The Veins of the Ocean
“An insightful look into girlhood, race, and the wounds of growing up, Love War Stories is a searing collection. Rodriguez has a rare gift for describing the minutiae of contemporary life, the heartaches as well as the dangers, without flinching.”–Mark Haber, Brazos Bookstore
Tags: Politics, social justice, non-fiction, women writers
Melville House, 224 pages
“For too long, a privileged, pale, male minority have long claimed to speak for America. But as Onnesha Roychoudhuri shows, they are in fact profoundly out of touch with a society that’s increasingly progressive and diverse. This book is a clear-eyed pep talk for those who stand on the brink of despair and a welcome reminder that a new, true majority has the potential to rise up and change the world.”–Astra Taylor, author of The People’s Platform
“We have the numbers, strength, and vision to beat back the resurgent right and set a new people’s agenda. But it won’t happen until we start telling new stories about change, shedding the tired ones that have silenced and demoralized us. This book is a daring intervention to get us back in the game—and a witty, delightfully personal meditation on collective power.”–Naomi Klein, author of No Is Not Enough and This Changes Everything
“Moshfegh has a keen sense of everyday absurdities, a deadpan delivery, and such a well-honed sense of irony that the narrator’s predicament never feels tragic; this may be the finest existential novel not written by a French author. . . . A nervy modern-day rebellion tale that isn’t afraid to get dark or find humor in the darkness.”–Kirkus, starred review
Tags: Arab women, women writers, humor, friendship, #ownvoices
Pantheon, 240 pages
“Novelist and memoirist al-Shaykh delivers an elegant story of a friendship that is anything but easy. . . . [The] novel is full of quiet regrets as it speaks gracefully to the challenges of friendship, challenges that threaten to drive the two women apart but that, in the end, instead strengthen their bond. Another winning book by one of the most distinguished Arabic-language writers at work today.”–Kirkus Reviews
“Lebanese-born, Cairo-educated, and London-based, al-Shaykh writes piercingly about Middle East upheaval and especially women in the Arab-Muslim world. Somewhere along the French Riviera, two young women from Beirut—Muslim-raised Huda and Christian-raised Yvonne—reflect on their tumultuous lives and struggles with work and love.”–Library Journal
Tags: Debut, dystopian, immigration, women writers
Touchstone, 320 pages
[T]he novel oscillates between the present and future—a jarring juxtaposition that’s equally touching and heartbreaking… Lim’s writing shines brightest when she’s ruminating on time, memory, and love… A beautiful debut exploring how time, love, and sacrifice are never what they seem to be.–Kirkus
Lim’s enthralling novel succeeds on every level: as a love story, an imaginative thriller, and a dystopian narrative.–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Tags: Michigan, non-fiction, politics, environment, women writers
Metropolitan Books, 320 pages
“The story of the Flint crisis is disturbing enough even if one knows only a few details. But the entire case, as laid out by Anna Clark, is enraging. Clark has sifted the layers of politics, history, and myopic policy to chronicle the human costs of this tragedy. Flint is not an outlier, it’s a parable – one whose implications matter not just to a single municipality but to every city in the country and all who live in them.”–Jelani Cobb, Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism, Columbia University
“Anna Clark’s book on the Flint water crisis rises to a great challenge: it sacrifices neither complexity nor moral clarity. And by etching this story’s outlines in decades of racist neglect, it is not just a splendid work of journalism. It is a genuine contribution to history.”–Rick Perlstein, author of The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan
Tags: Speculative fiction, debut, dystopian, women writers
Henry Holt and Co., 352 pages
“Fans of modern speculative fiction and readers who love stories that warn us to be careful what we wish for will be enthralled by Heng’s highly imaginative debut, which deftly asks, “What does it really mean to be alive?”–Library Journal, starred review
“In exquisitely crafted prose, Rachel Heng gives us a startling look at a version of the world that seems simultaneously wild and plausible. Heng is a bold new talent and a writer to watch.”–Liz Moore, author of Heft and The Unseen World
“What We Were Promised is a big beautiful novel. Lucy Tan’s dazzling debut grapples with the persistence of the past, the inevitability of the present, and the difficulty of balancing individuality with community.”–Hannah Pittard, author of Visible Empire and Listen to Me
“Tan’s talent as a storyteller clearly shines through her strong plot lines and characterization; readers will want to know more about each well-crafted player in the story . . . . A novel of class, culture, and expectations; readers who enjoyed works like Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians will likely find Tan’s surprising and down-to-earth tale an entertaining read.”–Library Journal
Relating Worlds of Racism: Dehumanisation, Belonging, and the Normativity of European Whiteness by Philomena Essed, Karen Farquharson, et al.
Tags: Europe, whiteness, race, women writers
Palgrave Macmillan, 436 pages
This international edited collection examines how racism trajectories and manifestations in different locations relate and influence each other. The book unmasks and foregrounds the ways in which notions of European Whiteness have found form in a variety of global contexts that continue to sustain racism as an operational norm resulting in exclusion, violence, human rights violations, isolation and limited full citizenship for individuals who are not racialised as White.–Description
“Tightly plotted, expertly choreographed…. Stage palpably conveys Suzette’s fear, anger, frustration, and desperation while exploring the deleterious effects that motherhood can have on one’s marriage and self-worth. …Stage fuses horror with domestic suspense to paint an unflinching portrait of childhood psychopathy and maternal regret.”–Kirkus (starred)
“Stage’s deviously fun debut takes child-rearing anxiety to demented new heights. Stage expertly crafts this creepy, can’t-put-it-down thriller into a fearless exploration of parenting and marriage that finds the cracks in unconditional love.”–Publishers Weekly (starred)
I included this one just because… I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
“[A] fierce thriller….de Campi delivers a script packed with righteous femme fatales full of wit and moxie…[and her] masterful writing is punctuated by the coolness of Santos’s block shading artwork and moody coloring; simplistic and reminiscent of the pop art style of the 1950s. Readers will revel in this fast-paced noir, embracing both its elegant period detail and pulpy genre roots.”–Publishers Weekly
“Cuba before the fall has long been a subject of interest in [the crime] genre….[and] Alex de Campi and Victor Santos…both partake of this long tradition and turn it on its head….The gorgeous colors and clean lines of this graphic novel complement the stylish storytelling, for a noir comic not to be missed.”–CrimeReads
Tags: Immigration, Mexico, family, women writers, memoir, debut, #ownvoices
One World, 352 pages
“Crux is everything I want in a memoir: prose that dazzles and cuts, insights hard-won and achingly named, and a plot that kept me up at night, breathlessly turning pages. Jean Guerrero has a poet’s lyrical sense, a journalist’s dogged devotion to truth, and a fast and far-reaching mind. This is a book preoccupied with chasing—that is one of its harrowing pleasures—but, like all great memoirs, it is ultimately a story about the great trouble and relief of being found.”–Melissa Febos, author of Whip Smart and Abandon Me
“Jean Guerrero has done excellent reporting from the U.S.–Mexico borderlands. Now she examines the more mysterious borders of family history and that unknown region of the heart. You will be moved by Crux—this book is powerful and true.”–Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Devil’s Highway
“This is the book I would have written—but only if I had had a brilliant grasp of literature, politics, and history, and the ability to weave them together in a uniquely original way. The Death of Truth goes indelibly to the dark, dark heart of what is ailing our democracy as no recent book has done.”–Graydon Carter
“Kakutani’s The Death of Truth is politically urgent and intellectually dazzling. She deftly goes behind the daily headlines to reveal the larger forces threatening democracy at home in America, and elsewhere around the globe. The result is a brilliant and fascinating call-to-arms that anyone who cares about democracy ought to read immediately.”–Jane Mayer
“An increase in the number of transgender children…means that all primary schools need to ensure they are safe environments respectful of all genders. This book draws on the ‘Gender Respect Project’, which identified the need to address gender stereotyping and gender-based violence with children and young people.
The book is full of lesson plans, case studies, clear guidance and recommended actions as well as further reading and resources. Extending beyond awareness of other genders, this book provides a framework for a gender equality approach in the classroom, and empowers children to think critically about gender and to respect themselves and others.”–Description
“When their daughter Rosie was born, Eric and Stephani Lohman found themselves thrust into a situation they were not prepared for. Born intersex – a term that describes people who are born with a variety of physical characteristics that do not fit neatly into traditional conceptions about male and female bodies – Rosie’s parents were pressured to consent to normalizing surgery on Rosie, without being offered any alternatives despite their concerns.
Part memoir, part guidebook, this powerful book tells the authors’ experience of refusing to have Rosie operated on and how they raised a child who is intersex. […] This uplifting and empowering story is a must read for all parents of intersex children.”–Description
Tags: Jamaica, Caribbean, black women, #ownvoices, coming of age, short stories, women writers
Ballantine Books, 256 pages
“I am utterly taken with these gorgeous, tender, heartbreaking stories. Arthurs is a witty, perceptive, and generous writer, and this is a book that will last.”–Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties
“Stylistically reminiscent of Toni Morrison’s Paradise, this successful debut will appeal to readers of literary and Caribbean fiction.”–Library Journal
Tags: Family, suicide, business, feminism, memoir, women authors, #ownvoices
Little, Brown and Co., 288 pages
“This is more than a book: it’s a phenomenon. It kept me up nights with its urgency and insistence, following Rowbottom, in her masterfully clear-eyed grief, on the hunt for understanding and explanation. JELL-O GIRLS is a heart-wrenching confession, an exacting cultural history and an important and honest feminist story for right now.”–Aja Gabel, author of The Ensemble
“Allie Rowbotton is a talent not to be overlooked! I love this book with all my heart. I couldn’t put down this strangely sparkling cultural and family history.”–Porochista Khakpour, author of Sick
“Motherhood across Borders is a vivid and engaging ethnography about how mothers, grandmothers, caregivers, and children fare when they are divided by, but also connected despite, the U.S.-Mexico border. Focusing on the voices of those directly impacted—people of all ages, across generations, and in both Mexico and the United States—Oliveira provides an intimate portrayal of the ways that motherhood, and caregiving more generally, is shifting in transnational context.”-Deborah A. Boehm,author of Returned: Going and Coming in an Age of Deportation
“Name Me a Word is an indispensable guide for readers of Indian writing, animating the powerful impulses of the country’s famous writers and introducing the multiple voices that have gone into the making of the most important literature of our time.”–Simon Gikandi, Princeton University
“This ambitious collection conveys the astonishing and reflective literary vitality in modern India. Alexander guides the reader through this vast area with her well-written and illuminating headnotes for each writer in turn.”–Margery Sabin, Wellesley College
“In Pretend We Live Here, characters bleed and breathe with a caustic energy that dares the reader to keep pace as they are taken from the Deep South to Western Europe and back again. Genevieve Hudson is a new, coming-of-age voice that spotlights rural America, injecting it with a queer freshness that makes her writing impossible to forget.”–Jing-Jing Lee, author of How We Disappeared
Tags: Sports, Muslim women, memoir, #ownvoices, coming of age, women writers
Hachette Books, 288 pages
Named one of TIME‘s 100 Most Influential People
The first female Muslim American to medal at the Olympic Games
The first woman in hijab to compete for the United States in the Olympics
“Proud is the inspiring story of how Ibtihaj rose above it all with grace and compassion. She provides an unflinching and honest portrayal of how she managed to stay true to herself and still play by the rules. A coming-of-age story, a hero’s journey, and a moving memoir from one of the nation’s most influential athletes.”–Description
Tags: Memoirs, women writers, queer, trans, family, #ownvoices
Bedazzled Ink Publishing, 260 pages
“It is increasingly evident that Eliot is not only autistic, but is also an uncommon girl. Eliot’s mother, Carla, recounts their journey down an unfamiliar path riddled with dismissive medical consultations and mental health referrals to clinics with epic waiting lists. Eliot transitions to Ella, with ambitions of being a trophy wife. Her parents attempt to set limits but Ella, in a typically teenage way, resists anything she deems as trying to squelch her true feminine self. Ella is ‘outed’ repeatedly by teachers she trusted and stops attending school. Carla’s rage morphs into a motivating sense of injustice and she engages in a successful campaign for her child’s civil rights. Carla and Ella are not superheroes, they are just a couple of uncommon girls determined to leave a bumpy road a little smoother for the next travelers.”–Description
“Other, Please Specify illustrates and celebrates the intellectual courage and honesty that are indispensable to truly advance sociology as a discipline and a profession. These deeply engaging and insightful voices will inspire the reader to embrace sociological research without fear and to nurture an academic life with genuine freedom and authenticity.”–Gloria González-López, Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin
“A testament to the power of collaboration, this bracing and timely collection brings together rigorously self-reflexive, politically committed work by a rising generation of queer, trans, feminist, and anti-racist scholars.”— Heather Love, University of Pennsylvania
“The volume describes city spaces as sites where bodies are exhaustively documented while others barely register as subjects. The editors and contributors interrogate the forces that have allowed QTBIPOC to be imagined as absent from the very spaces they have long invested in.”–Description
Tags: Debut, #ownvoices, Colombia, mystery, coming of age, Latinx, women of color, women writers
Doubleday, 320 pages
“A coming of age story, an immigrant story, a thrilling mystery novel, thoroughly lived and felt—this is an exciting debut novel that showcases a writer already in full command of her powers. Make room on your shelves for a writer whose impressive debut promises many more.”–Julia Alvarez, author of In the Time of the Butterflies and How the García Girls Lost Their Accents “When women tell stories, they are finally at the center of the page. When women of color write history, we see the world as we have never seen it before. In Fruit of the Drunken Tree, Ingrid Rojas Contreras honors the lives of girls who witness war. Brava! I was swept up by this story.”–Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street
Tags: Korea, extremism, #ownvoices, debut, women writers
Riverhead Books, 224 pages
“The Incendiaries probes the seductive and dangerous places to which we drift when loss unmoors us. In dazzlingly acrobatic prose, R. O. Kwon explores the lines between faith and fanaticism, passion and violence, the rational and the unknowable.”–Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere and Everything I Never Told You
“One of those slim novels that contains multitudes, R.O. Kwon’s debut novel shows how unreliable we are as narrators when we’re trying to invent — and reinvent — ourselves.”–Vulture
Tags: Black women, queer, mystery, feminism, women writers, series
Harper Voyager, 304 pages
A selection in Parade’sroundup of “25 Hottest Books of Summer 2018”
A Paste Magazine’s Most Anticipated 25 books of 2018 pick
A Medium’s Books pick for We Can’t Wait to Read in 2018 list
“A Study in Honor is a fast-moving, diverse science-fictional Holmes and Watson reinterpretation set in near future Washington DC. As a deliciously intersectional makeover of a famous literary duo it’s enormously satisfying. Clean, clear, and vastly enjoyable.”–Nicola Griffith, Lambda Literary award-winning author of So Lucky
Now, I want to point out that Claire O’Dell is a pseudonym for Beth Bernobich, a middle-aged white woman from Connecticut. Despite the accolades I’ve read about Bernobich’s previous works, I honestly am not sure how I feel about a (straight?) white woman writing black queer women (don’t @ me!). That being said, she is writing queer black women sleuths, a feminist take on Sherlock Holmes they say, so I am not mad about it (yet?). I am very interested in learning more about the author and the inspiration behind this series. I am cautiously optimistic… how do you all feel about this?
What books are you most excited for in July?? Let me know in the comments below!
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I had never heard of the Synanon cult before the book Synanon Kid came to my attention; but c’mon, we are all intrigued by such stories, right?
Well, this memoir of CA Wittman’s time in Synanon doesn’t disappoint.
The author, CA Wittman.
Kidnapped in the night by two women, one of whom was her own mother, Celena spent five formative childhood years in the Synanon cult in California. While this is a story of Synanon, it is also a personal one, of isolation, relationships, and love.
I appreciated Wittman’s creative narratives of her memories including her complicated relationship with her mother and times of deep fear and loneliness within the cult. Growing up in Synanon imparted on Wittman unrealistic, unstable, and untrusting views of the world, and understandably so.
I could relate to Celena’s creation of a robust fantasy life to cope with a confusing, and often violent, reality as a young girl. As she grew older, she learned to talk fast and loud in order to avoid being taken advantage of by others. But she also turned to books, which gave her solace in the knowledge that others dealt with similar oppression and longing in their own lives.
Wittman is a talented writer of memoir; you get about as close to Synanon as you can without being there (and we really wouldn’t want to be there, right?). The reader can almost feel her hunger, fear, confusion, anger, and disappointment.
At only 274 pages, this is a quick and engaging read. If you are interested in memoirs, creative nonfiction, stories about cults, or books by women of color, you will probably enjoy Synanon Kid.
Title: Synanon Kid: A Memoir of Growing Up in the Synanon Cult
Author: C.A. Wittman
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: July 20, 2017 My Rating: Recommended
I won this ebook on GoodReads and decided to review it. Thanks, GoodReads! This post contains affiliate links; support independent booksellers!
Here’s a roundup of the new books by women being released in June that I am most excited about, with a focus on womxn and gender non-conforming people from historically underrepresented and underserved communities.
If you are curious about which books I focus on, see my Review Policy. These are just guidelines and I reserve the right to include (or not!) any books I see fit.
I’ll probably add to this list as I learn of others; if you have a suggestion, please place it in the comments below!
“Both candid and compelling, Rickardsson’s story is not only about a woman seeking to heal the fractures inherent in a transnational identity; it is also a moving meditation on poverty, injustice, and the meaning of family. A thought-provoking and humane memoir of survival and self-discovery.”–Kirkus Reviews
“A haunting story of balancing identities, Rickardsson’s debut is an unforgettable meditation on the weight of early childhood trauma and recovery.”–Booklist
“We are in a fight for our lives. Hurricanes Irma and María unmasked the colonialism we face in Puerto Rico, and the inequality it fosters, creating a fierce humanitarian crisis. Now we must find a path forward to equality and sustainability, a path driven by communities, not investors. And this book explains, with careful and unbiased reporting, only the efforts of our community activists can answer the paramount question: What type of society do we want to become and who is Puerto Rico for?”–Carmen Yulín Cruz, Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico
“Naomi Klein concisely reveals to us what Puerto Rico has faced, shock after shock, before Hurricane Maria and after it and also the voices of people who believe and build a future for Puerto Rico from the strength of their communities.”–Ana Irma Rivera Lassén, feminist, human rights activist, former president of the Puerto Rico Bar Association
“An exciting read with a wonderful Latinx feel woven throughout.”–Kirkus
“The book is at its best examining the relationship between Lula and her sisters as brujas, but also as teens, who have the same yearnings and petty arguments as any girls. For readers coming for the ghouls, there are plenty of those, too.”–Booklist
“Feminist Freedom Warriors is a provocation and an inspiration. The political and intellectual life stories of an amazing cohort of radical feminist takes us through five decades of dynamic history and spans the globe.Their stories, ideas, fortitude and courage provide a powerful guide to the freedom-making work of the mid 20th through the early 21st centuries. The book is yet another gift of insight and critical feminist praxis from Chandra Talpade Mohanty and Linda Carty, sister-scholars and collaborators whose own collective passion and commitments are also in every page of this collection.”–Barbara Ransby, author, historian, activist
“[A] moving page-turner. Suspense, emotions, and magic course throughout this beautifully narrated book. Highly recommended for fans of Latin American literature and general literary mysteries.”–Library Journal (starred review)
“The subject of this profound and intricate novel is the irreducible mystery at the core of every person, the buried lines of history and desire that render us inscrutable even to ourselves. Carla Guelfenbein is an important and powerful writer, and this translation is a gift to English-language readers.”–Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You
“Hoang knocks it out of the park with this stellar debut about an autistic woman who takes a methodical approach to learning about sex and accidentally gets a lesson in love…Hoang gives [Stella] tremendous depth as a character, never reducing her to a walking diagnosis. The diverse cast and exceptional writing take this romance to the next level, and readers who see themselves in Stella will be ecstatic.”–Publisher’s Weekly (starred)
“An unexpectedly sweet romance that left me with a huge smile on my face. I dare you not to fall in love with these two characters and their story. Helen Hoang’s debut is quite simply delightful!”–Nalini Singh, New York Times bestselling author
“Donna Hylton’s painful yet liberating memoir will certainly be transformative for many who read her words. As a survivor of sexual abuse and violence–inside and outside prison–she tells the whole truth of her experience, including her deep regret for the moments that she’s harmed others and her passionate commitment to co-creating a justice system that acknowledges the little piece of light that shines within us no matter who we are, what we’ve done, or what has been done to us.”–Michelle Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of The New Jim Crow
“Intimate and disturbing, the book reveals the ways women are silenced and victimized in society, and it also tells the inspiring story of how one woman survived a prison nightmare to go on to help other incarcerated women ‘speak out about the violence in their lives.’ A wrenching memoir of overcoming seemingly insurmountable abuse and finding fulfillment.”–Kirkus Reviews
“Reading Hodson’s work feels risky; it’s breathtaking, both in its inherent exhilaration and also, often, because it’s funny. . .But it also makes you feel connected to things, as if you are forging new relationships to the things and people in the world around you, uncovering new understandings about permanence, about intuition, about love and sex and lies and secrets and truth, about life.”–Kristin Iversen, NYLON
“Her essays are a specialized artform where poetry meets philosophy. They reflect on the gruesome side of being a woman in the excellent tradition of Joan Didion and Sylvia Plath. I highly recommend Chelsea Hodson’s book to all readers.”–Atticus Lish, author of Preparation for the Next Life
“The sequel to the viral sensation My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness!
Struggling with the idea of living alone and adjusting to the effects of her previous book’s success, this follow-up to the award-winning autobiographical comic continues the author’s quest for self-acceptance and love.”–Amazon
“A powerful, unconventionally structured memoir recounting harrowing coming-of-age ordeals . . . Daley-Ward resists classification in this profound mix of poetry and prose. . . . [She] has quite a ferociously moving story to tell.”–Kirkus (starred)
“Yrsa Daley-Ward is laying her pain bare and turning it into uplifting, unconventional poetry. . . . If readers thought she bared her soul through bone, her memoir The Terrible will be another lesson in how to fearlessly turn the pain of her past into uplifting prose.” —PopSugar
“If you’ve been trying to make sense of how gender today seems to have slipped the chains that bind it to our bodies in familiar ways, Unbound is a book for you. It’s a sympathetic account by non-transgender sociologist Arlene Stein, aimed at a primarily non-transgender audience, of four people assigned female at birth who surgically masculinize their chests. Stein helps her readers understand that they, too, no longer need be bound by conventional expectations of the meaning of our flesh.” –Susan Stryker, founding co-editor, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly
“Stein tracks the rapid evolution of gender identity in this provocative group portrait of trans men . . . Her book succeeds in documenting what it means to be trans today.”–Publisher’s Weekly
“In Fugitive Life, fugitive women of color emerge as feminist thinkers who expose the inherent carcerality of neoliberalism. This groundbreaking intervention in carceral studies, gender studies, American studies, and literary studies offers deep interrogations of queerness and temporality and an extraordinary model for analyzing the dialectics of freedom and repression. Stephen Dillon provides a dramatic contribution that will reshape urgent debates regarding carceral crisis, influencing future scholarship and activism.”–Sarah Haley, author of No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity
An Indie Next Pick
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2018 by Elle
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2018 by Electric Literature
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2018 by April Magazine
“Murata’s strange and quirky novel was a runaway hit in Japan, and Ginny Tapley Takemori’s English translation introduces it to a new group of readers―a slim, entrancing read that can be consumed in one sitting.”–Passport
“Extraordinary in its depth and diligence… Mirza adeptly revisits painful dilemmas from each narrator’s perspective, revealing jolting secrets. Each complex, surprising character struggles with faith, responsibility, racism, fear, longing, and jealousy, while Mirza conveys with graceful specificity the rhythms of Muslim life, from prayer to wearing hijab, gender etiquette, food, holidays, and values, all of which illuminate universal quandaries about family, self, culture, beliefs, and generational change.”–Booklist
“A California-based Indian Muslim family celebrates the wedding of daughter Hadia, marrying for love. Present is her estranged brother Amar, who hasn’t easily mnaged the rough road between youth and adulthood, Old World tradition and America, and the novel effectively unfolds family tensions and Amar’s swirling personal anguish.”–Library Journal
“A buzzing, smoky, gin-soaked charmer.”–Library Journal, ALA Hot Picks
“When we first meet Vera Kelly, she’s a troubled 1950s teenager who’s overdosed on Equanil. Next she’s in explosive 1960s Buenos Aires after being recruited by the CIA (“I could be charming if I wanted to. There were basic tricks”). Her past and present are told in alternating chapters, with all the edgy fun of classic noir but in an original voice that’s fresh, brisk, and snappy. Hugely buzzing.”–Library Journal, Most Anticipated Books of Spring/Summer
“A leading writer of Zimbabwe’s ‘born-free’ generation reflects on the November 2017 ousting of Robert Mugabe, radically reframing the history of Zimbabwe to include the perspectives of workers, women and urban movements.”–Description
“Chigumadzi successfully nests the intimate charge of her poignant personal story in the sweeping historical account and mythology of Zimbabwe.”–Brian Chikwava, author of Harare North
“Chigumadzi’s exploration of personal, family and national history reincarnates in stark, vivid images, many of those interred in the shadows of her country’s ‘Big Men’.”–Tsitsi Dangarembga, author of Nervous Conditions
“With the familiar strangeness of a fairy tale, Ohara’s novel traverses the mysterious distance between body and mind, between the mechanics of life and the ghost in the machine, between the infinitesimal and infinity. The child as mother, the mother as monster, the monster as hero: this shape-shifting story of nourishment, nurture, and parturition is a rare feminist work of speculative fiction and received the prestigious Seiun (Nebula) Award in 1991. Hybrid Childis the first English translation of a major work of science fiction by a female Japanese author.”–publisher description
I just finished this book and wow. My review will be coming soon!
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2018 by The Millions and Cosmopolitan
“[Number One Chinese Restaurant] is a lot of things . . . a multigenerational immigration story, an insider look at the often grueling life of the career server or line cook, a romance, a coming-of-age (at any age). Most significantly, it is a joy to read―I couldn’t get enough.”–Buzzfeed, “30 Summer Books to Get Excited About”
“Li vividly depicts the lives of her characters and gives the narrative a few satisfying turns, resulting in a memorable debut.” —Publishers Weekly
A Library Journal Editors’ Spring Pick: 1 of 34 Titles to Wave a Flag About
“Old in Art School is a glorious achievement―bighearted and critical, insightful and entertaining. This book is a cup of courage for everyone who wants to change their lives. This is not a story about starting over; it’s about continuing on the journey. Nell Painter has taken the coming of age story to a new level―this is what you get when a wise person gets even wiser, when a true artist spreads her wings.”–Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage
“This is a courageous, intellectually stimulating, and wholly entertaining story of one woman reconciling two worlds and being open to the possibilities and changes life offers.”–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“[A] winning collection of essays…offers perspective and clarity on issues that, time and again, are stumbling blocks to trans acceptance and celebration of human gender diversity.”–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The book to give your cis friends.”–Stephanie Burt
“The Iraqi American pediatrician who helped expose the Flint water crisis lays bare the bureaucratic bunk and flat-out injustice at the heart of the environmental disgrace—revealing, with the gripping intrigue of a Grisham thriller, ‘the story of a government poisoning its own citizens, and then lying about it.’”–O: The Oprah Magazine
“Flint is a public health disaster. But it was Dr. Mona, this caring, tough pediatrician turned detective, who cracked the case.”–Rachel Maddow
“Katie and Cassidy are a joy to behold: two whip-smart women grappling with desire and questioning their deeply held notions of love and intimacy. Perri’s book is a real gift—tender, sexy as hell and laugh out loud funny.”–Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, New York Times bestselling author of The Nest
“Fun and fulfilling…[with] honest conversations about female identity and sexuality included throughout. A romance with a big heart and refreshing perspective.”–Kirkus Reviews
“The graffiti grrlz featured here know how to throw up fresh ways of re-imagining feminism, urban belonging, and world-making practices. Through bright ethnographic accounts of graffiti’s gendered politics and global reach, Pabón-Colón takes down assumed notions of hip-hop culture by passing the mic to a new generation of feminist graffiti artists engaged in writing and speaking on their own terms.”–Juana María Rodríguez, Author of Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures, and Other Latina Longings
“Vibrant, complex, and totally engaging, Graffiti Grrlz recovers women’s presence in graffiti subcultures around the globe. In this ambitious and passionate book, Jessica Pabón-Colón amplifies the resistant and creative practices of women graffiti artists and masterfully highlights their important contributions to contemporary feminism. In doing so, she transforms and expands our ideas about the meaning of graffiti and of feminist political action.”–Jessica Taft, Author of Rebel Girls: Youth Activism and Social Change Across the Americas
“Everything I want in an essay collection: provocative lines of inquiry, macabre humor, blistering intelligence. I love this book. I want to take it into the middle of a crowded room and hold it up and scream until someone tackles me the ground; even then, I’d probably keep screaming.”–Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties
“Bracing and blazingly smart, Alice Bolin’s Dead Girls could hardly be more needed or more timely. A critical contribution to the cultural discussion of gender and genre, Los Angeles and noir, the unbearable persistence of the male gaze and the furtive potency of female rage.”–Megan Abbott, Edgar Award-winning author of You Will Know Me
“Vital to understanding American life today.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Profound, a sweeping, blistering portrait of hard-working people from all walks of life. It’s a rousing wakeup call that also points the way forward to a more equitable, expansive future.”–Astra Taylor, author of The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age
“A collection of Asian myths and legends in which beloved stories of spirits, magic, family, love, and heartbreak are combined with elements from modern teens’ lives….With such a variety of emotion and experiences to explore, nearly any teen can find something to relate to…An incredible anthology that will keep readers on the edges of their seats, wanting more.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“All of these stories achieve emotional depth and connection while showcasing each storyteller’s unique literary voice.”–The Horn Book
“As a woman of color, I find hope in this book because of its potential to disrupt the patterns and relationships that have emerged out of long-standing colonial principles and beliefs. White Fragility is an essential tool toward authentic dialogue and action. May it be so!”–Shakti Butler, president of World Trust and director of Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible
“A rare and incisive examination of the system of white body supremacy that binds us all as Americans. . . . With authenticity and clarity, she provides the antidote to white fragility and a road map for developing white racial stamina and humility. White Fragility loosens the bonds of white supremacy and binds us back together as human beings.”–Resmaa Menakem, author of My Grandmother’s Hands
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I feel as bibliophiles, we are touched by books, especially those handful of favorites. Our understanding of them, ourselves, and others evolves each time we read them – and we read them many, many times over.
I think I had my first romance of this type with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I mean, I had many favorite childhood books such as A Wrinkle in Time, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and (like every other young, eager-to-be-grown-up white girl?) all the Judy Blume books, but this one was different. Perhaps it was because it was the first time I really understood Shakespeare. Or maybe it was spritish Puck. I don’t know but for some reason, I just loved it.
But my longest and most in-depth book relationship is probably with On the Road. There is something about the way Jack Kerouac turned a phrase that perfectly captures my own desire for freedom and getting lost and finding my own way in the midst of an anxious and overactive mind. I can’t imagine how many times I’ve read it and will read it again.
I’ve never met another person whose heart melts for The Grapes of Wrath as mine does. Damn, I love those Joads. Jane Eyre and The Color Purple and The Awakening and Native Son…I have ongoing relationships with these stories and each time I revisit them, I pick up something new. I see a glimmer of some layer that I had previously missed. Perhaps it’s some small detail or the way a previously ordinary passage stands out to me when I read it again years later.
But books certainly don’t have to be canonical “classics” to steal your heart. And just because one pulls at my heartstrings doesn’t mean it automatically will for you. In my adulthood, I sat down with Life is So Good by George Dawson and fell head over heels. I am full of gratitude every time I read it.
This is what I love about reading. I can get lost in almost any book with a rise and fall, a couple of complicated characters, and a setting I can envision. Simple, right?
But with really good books, I mean books that I really fall in love with, I don’t only want an escape. I want it to have meaning in my real life. I want to be there with it, with all it offers. I will stick with it through good and bad. I will visit and revisit it. I will read specific passages over and over and ruminate on them from different perspectives. I keep it for years…on my writing table for inspiration, next to the bed to annotate the margins when the feeling strikes, or even on the highest shelf of my wall of books because I know I will never part with it.
That’s the power of a really great fucking book. It endures. I give and it gives back. Over and over again.
Simply put: I adore this book. It is a slim, adorable volume of only 142 pages which includes a kick-ass bibliography but by goddess, it packs a punch. It has all the facets I look for in a lasting book relationship and then some; I’ve already read it three times. And yes, it keeps on giving.
The book is genre-defying in that it is part history lesson, part memoir, part biography, part book review, part manifesta, and all homage to Bechdel. How Hudson included such variety in this one little book is a testament to her writing skills and is just, well, interesting as hell. Her examination of Bechdel and Fun Home is imbued with a curiosity and understanding that is enlightening and refreshing. While I have read Fun Home and really enjoyed it, it’s been a little while and sometime I’d like to read it again and then re-read A Little in Love with Everyone ; just to see Fun Home through Hudson’s eyes.
As a memoirist, Bechdel’s job is to tell the truth about herself, and her father’s suicide and sexuality are intrinsically bound up in her own story. To read Fun Home is to see Bechdel wrestle with the question of truth – how well her father hid his, and what it means for her to tell her own (pp. 17-18).
As I mentioned above, Hudson is just a good writer. Her instincts are magical. She gives you glimpses into her life growing up questioning and exploring her sexuality and then eventually, her coming out as a lesbian. While using Fun Home and Bechdel’s life as a backdrop, Hudson examines not only her own life experiences but also topics such as embodiment, gender, truth, visibility, self-acceptance, and more. Her vulnerability spoke to me and I appreciated her risk-taking throughout the book.
I wanted to make out with S by accident. I wanted us to end up kissing without anyone having to consciously make the decision to kiss or be held accountable for it. I wanted the kissing to just start happening (p. 3).
Clearly, any book that waxes poetic on the power of reading and storysharing to change lives automatically scores points with me. But Hudson does this really well, just sort of dropping bell hooks and Dorothy Allison and Maggie Nelson throughout. She also points to bookish details in Bechdel’s cartoons, such as specific book covers being drawn in panels where Bechdel is having sex or hearing life-changing news. The influence of amazing literature by womxn on Bechdel and on Hudson and their writing is gratifying and exhilarating.
In the corner of one panel, Bechdel has drawn the book Sappho Was a Right-On Woman, filling in the small queer details that had begun to infuse her life (p. 21).
Of course, the reader will understand her admiration of Fun Home and Bechdel more generally, but Hudson also explains her appreciation for reading lists provided by other authors. What I love is that in doing so, Hudson herself leaves us with her own illuminating reading list (the titles of which I quickly added to my own TBR list).
As bibliophiles (and the author clearly is), we get the importance of reading but Hudson teeters on the edge of full-fledged librarianhood when she discusses the importance of telling, sharing, and archiving our own stories. BIPOC, queer people, disabled people, women, and people of other underrepresented populations must tell their own stories.
Representation matters. Voice matters. And having heroes in whom you can see yourself is imperative.
There was no one to talk to about what I was going through. The only thing that seemed to know anything was books. In books, everything seemed to have happened to everybody already. There was peace in that, a kind of solidarity. Literature holds power (p. 125).
I love this about Hudson’s book. Clearly in Bechdel’s work, Hudson found stories in which she could see herself, in which she received validation and clarification, and in which she witnessed hope and celebration.
Are we, as queers, necessarily educators? Are we called to tell our truth by virtue of our identities? Are our bodies radical, our identities political, our work archive-able? Are we heroes just by existing?
I think the answer is yes (p. 105).
Hudson has paid it forward with A Little in Love with Everyone and she will undoubtedly inspire and comfort others as Bechdel did for her.
Title: A Little in Love with Everyone
Author: Genevieve Hudson
Publisher: Fiction Advocate
Publication Date: February 20, 2018 My Rating: Essential
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, Genevieve Hudson and Fiction Advocate!
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Here’s a roundup of the new books being released in May that I am most excited about, by and/or about women of color, LBTQ+ women, women with disabilities, gender non-conforming people, feminists, and womxn from other historically underrepresented and underserved communities.
If you are curious about which books I focus on, see my Review Policy. These are just guidelines and I reserve the right to include (or not!) any books I see fit.
I’ll probably add to this list as I learn of others; if you have a suggestion, please place it in the comments below!
Awu’s Story by Justine Mintsa and Cheryl Toman (Translator)
“At the dawn of the twenty-first century, villages in the Fang region of northern Gabon must grapple with the clash of tradition and the evolution of customs throughout modern Africa. With this tension in the background, the passionate, deft, and creative seamstress Awu marries Obame, after he and his beloved wife, Bella, have been unable to conceive. Because all three are reluctant participants in this arrangement, theirs is an emotionally fraught existence. Through heartbreaking and disastrous events, Awu grapples with long-standing Fang customs that counter her desire to take full control of her life and home.
Supplemented with a foreword and critical introduction highlighting Justine Mintsa’s importance in African literature, Awu’s Story is an essential work of African women’s writing and the only published work to meditate this deeply on some of the Fang’s most cherished legends and oral history.”–Amazon
“Megan Condis addresses the most important and contentious controversies in gaming culture at present. Her writing argues strongly against the groups who have tried to undermine the diversity arising in games and provides a passionate insight into these events, linking them with wider cultural shifts in Western society.”–Esther MacCallum-Stewart, Staffordshire University
“Fierce, fun, and fascinating. Condis writes with a journalist’s ear and an academic’s eye, getting to the core of what drives men’s behavior online, in games, and throughout digital culture.” –Derek A. Burrill, author, Die Tryin’: Videogames, Masculinity, Culture
“The world has changed. Scientists warned it would happen.
Meteors devastated the Earth. World Governments developed plans to help surviving citizens. The United States disbanded and salvageable land was divided into four quadrants—North, South, East, and West—governed by The Remnant Council.
Struggling to survive, seventeen-year-old Ava ends up in juvenile detention, until she is selected for a new life—with a catch. She must be injected with an experimental serum. The results will be life changing. The serum will make her better. To receive the serum Ava agrees to join a program controlled by ISAN, the International Sensory Assassin Network.”–description
“From Michelle Knight-Cleveland kidnapping survivor and #1 NYT bestselling author of Finding Me-comes an inspirational book about healing and resilience, on the five-year anniversary of her escape.”–Amazon
“The story of an incredibly brave and resilient young woman and of a spirit that refused to be crushed, even through the worst time.”–The Daily Mail
“I have never felt as seen, understood, or spoken to as I did when I read Little Fish. Never before in my life. Casey remains one of THE authors to read if you want to understand the interior lives of trans women in this century.”–Meredith Russo, author of If I Was Your Girl
“There is a dark place most novels don’t touch. If you’ve ever been there, maybe you know how exhilarating it can be to read a book like this, a book that captures the darkness so honestly, so accurately, that you can finally begin to let it go. Fearless and messy and oozing with love, Little Fish is a devastating book that I don’t ever want to be without.”–Zoey Leigh Peterson, author of Next Year, For Sure
“Nour’s family constantly endures hardship. . . but her young, honest voice adds a softer, coming-of-age perspective to this story of loss, hope, and survival. . . This imaginative yet very real look into war-torn Syria is a must.”–Booklist, starred review
“Debut novelist Joukhadar gracefully balances the gritty, often horrific truth of the refugee’s plight with the lyrical near-fairy tale she has created….A wise, vibrantly told story for a wide range of readers, particularly relevant now.”–Library Journal
“In smart, determined, and vigilant Romy, Kushner, an acclaimed writer of exhilarating skills, has created a seductive narrator of tigerish intensity… This is a gorgeously eviscerating novel of incarceration writ large…Rooted in deeply inquisitive thinking and executed with artistry and edgy wit, Kushner’s dramatic and disquieting novel investigates with verve and compassion societal strictures and how very difficult it is to understand each other and to be truly free.”–Booklist, Starred Review
“A searing look at life on the margins…This is, fundamentally, a novel about poverty and how our structures of power do not work for the poor, and Kushner does not flinch…gripping.”–Kirkus Reviews
“In this incandescent debut memoir, Cinelle Barnes forges memories of her family’s downfall with tumultuous Filipino history. Like the storm in its title, Monsoon Mansion immerses us in the darkest waters of memory, stirring up unbearably brutal childhood events with lyrical prose and searing imagery, forming a woven tale that is both delicate and electric. This book assures us that even when we lose those things that give shape to our humanity—our roots, culture, and family—we can go on to devise a new way of being.”–Susan Tekulve, author of In the Garden of Stone
I just finished this book and if you like creative non-fiction and memoirs, you would enjoy this one. More complete review coming soon!
“This inquiry into the modern woman’s moral, social and psychological relationship to procreation is an illumination, a provocation, and a response―finally―to the new norms of femininity, formulated from the deepest reaches of female intellectual authority. It is unlike anything else I’ve read. Sheila Heti has broken new ground, both in her maturity as an artist and in the possibilities of the female discourse itself.”–Rachel Cusk, author of Outline and Transit
Edited and with an introduction by Roxane Gay, the New York Times bestselling and deeply beloved author of Bad Feminist and Hunger, this anthology of first-person essays tackles rape, assault, and harassment head-on.–Amazon
Vogue, “10 of the Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2018” * Harper’s Bazaar, “10 New Books to Add to Your Reading List in 2018” * Elle, “21 Books We’re Most Excited to Read in 2018” * Boston Globe, “25 books we can’t wait to read in 2018” *Huffington Post, “60 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2018” * Hello Giggles, “19 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2018” * Buzzfeed, “33 Most Exciting New Books of 2018”
“From New York Times bestselling author and former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and Stanford University professor Amy B. Zegart comes an examination of the rapidly evolving state of political risk, and how to navigate it.”–Amazon
“Clearly written and timely, this book will interest not only current and future business executives but also would-be-whistle-blowers and corporate watchdogs.”–Publishers Weekly
“Debut novelist Kuang creates an ambitious fantasy reimagining of Asian history populated by martial artists, philosopher-generals, and gods […] This is a strong and dramatic launch to Kuang’s career.”–Publishers Weekly
“I have no doubt this will end up being the best fantasy debut of the year […] I have absolutely no doubt that [Kuang’s] name will be up there with the likes of Robin Hobb and N.K. Jemisin.” — Booknest
“A fiercely loving and tender tribute to Marcia Gay Harden’s mother, remembering for her and for us what Alzheimer’s has stolen, filling those darkened holes with compassion, acceptance, beauty, and love. I savored every page and didn’t want it to end.–Lisa Genova, New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice and Every Note Played
“Poignant, beautiful . . . . Replete with emotionally resonant scenes, humor, and tales of Harden’s own journey as an actor, The Seasons of My Mother is both inspirational and devastating, a touching tribute to a remarkable woman.”–Booklist
Book description: Strut, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie’s second book of poetry (her first was Karma’s Footsteps), emerges from an intense engagement with contemporary issues of crucial importance in our historical moment—ranging from global warming, genocide, capitalism, and racism to sexism, slut-shaming, slavery, and mental illness—in creative ways that facilitate dialogue.This is a work about struggle, survival, injustice, transcendence, and love. Strut explores themes of ancestry, survival, sensuality, and acceptance of self. This book celebrates the gorgeousness of life even as it bears witness to the ugliness that accompanies, and often seems to permeate, the human experience.
“Debut author Davis takes an unflinching approach to racism, religion, emotional abuse, and mental illness. Tiffany’s circumstances are nightmarish, but the narrative isn’t weighed down, in large part because of her integrity, passion, and refusal to be self-pitying.”–Publishers Weekly
“Davis’ debut novel is an honest, funny, and captivating examination of race, socio-economics, mental health, and family…A dynamic and honest coming-of-age novel with universal appeal that will especially speak to black girls questioning their place in the world.”–Kirkus Reviews
“Welcome to Lagos doesn’t just give us a glimpse of Nigeria, it transports us there. Onuzo’s storytelling is masterful, her characters are irresistible, and her voice is astounding in its subtle power. Onuzo stands on the shoulders of Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and from her perch offers her own fresh, but assured, view.” –Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, author of A Kind of Freedom
“Chloe Schwenke’s Self-ish offers an intelligent, thoughtful look at the complex journey that is gender transition, illuminating aspects of gender transition―such as the difficulties of job hunting, the process of forming and renegotiating friendships, and the intersection of trans identity and Quaker religious practice―that haven’t received much attention in memoirs or the media.”–Joy Ladin, author of Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders
“The essays in Against Memoir remind us how pleasure, pain, wisdom, and delight come from the ground up, by and through the body, and in this case, a body unapologetically firing all her desires, pleasures, fears, and dreams like lightning. A hardcore delight, a queer blood song picking the scab off the skin of culture.”–Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan
“An entrancing collection of irreverent and flamboyant essays.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A major literary event: a newly published work from the author of the American classic Their Eyes Were Watching God, with a foreword from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, brilliantly illuminates the horror and injustices of slavery as it tells the true story of one of the last-known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade–abducted from Africa on the last “Black Cargo” ship to arrive in the United States.
“A primer and an inspiration for anyone looking to make their mark during these times of change and uncertainty.”–Juhu Thukral, human rights lawyer and inaugural speaker, Anita Hill Lecture Series
“A must-read for anyone interested in race, gender, class, American political development, the Civil Rights Movement, and the power of social change.”–Christina M. Greer, PhD, associate professor of political science at Fordham University
“A beautifully woven historical saga wrapped in a page-turning mystery, Shadow Child explores time, memory and identity,shedding new light on the lives of Japanese-Americans, and how trauma can be its own kind of inheritance. Not since Housekeeping has there been a pair of sisters so intricately linked as Hana and Kei, or settings that imprint so firmly on the mind, from the internment camps of WWII to the hidden caves and tropical waters of Hawaii. This is a stunning story of sisterhood and survival, of healing and forgiveness, and how we find our true selves in each other.”–Hannah Tinti, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Thief and The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
“National Book Critics Circle finalist Rizzuto blends historical fiction and mystery into a haunting examination of identity and family in this perfect book club choice.”–Library Journal (starred review)
“A compelling mystery, a grimly funny fantasy, and a genuinely touching story of friendship.”–Booklist
“Undead Girl Gang is a YA mash up of ‘The Craft’ and ‘Veronica Mars’ with a Latina protagonist…the best mix of ’90s girl power culture, compelling magic and creepy circumstances—all rolled together for the best kind of murder mystery.”–Bustle.com
May 9 (hardcover), May 15 (paperback), Kindle out now
“Come for the insight into the circle of friends that first resolved around James Baldwin, then shifted orbit to revolve around Maya Angelou. Stay because you’re enraptured by the candid, passionate woman narrating from the periphery. This is an intimate look at an inner circle of Black writers, scholars, and glamazons moving through the middle of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, told with bold tenderness by a woman who grew up in their company, under their gaze.”–Alice Randall, author of Ada’s Rules and The Wind Done Gone
“A necessary contribution to the conversation on gender liberation. Dahlqvist masterfully moves between storytelling and frameworking how stigma holds menstruators back globally, while offering tangible solutions to many of these problems. A must read.”–Kiran Gandhi, musician, activist, and free-bleeding runner at the 2015 London Marathon
“Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand and take action against the global consequences of menstrual shame, stigma, and taboo. An insightful and inspiring read that will challenge you to think and behave differently.”–Mandu Reid, founder of The Cup Effect
“Aja Gabel’s powerful debut offers a sensitive portrait of four young musicians forging their paths through life: sometimes at odds with each other, sometimes in harmony, but always inextricably linked by their shared pasts.”–Celeste Ng, New York Times bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere
“Gabel explores friendship and art with great warmth, humanity, and wisdom.”–Library Journal (starred review)
“Wonderful…. The four characters are individually memorable, but as a quartet they’re unforgettable.”–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Friendship as Social Justice Activism brings together academics and activists to have essential conversations about friendship, love, and desire as kinetics for social justice movements. The contributors featured here come from across the globe and are all involved in diverse movements, including LGBTQ rights, intimate-partner violence, addiction recovery, housing, migrant, labor, and environmental activism.”–IndieBound
“Uproarious advice and never-before-seen color photos from drag queen extraordinaire Bianca Del Rio.
A collection of biting advice filled with vibrant photos from Bianca’s twisted universe, Blame It On Bianca Del Rio will shock you and keep you laughing. But be warned: it is not for the faint of heart!”–Amazon
Buzzfeed’s #1 Book to Read this Spring
A Best Book of the Month at The Washington Post, Bustle, and Chicago Review of Books
“Morrow’s debut is ambitious and insightful, raising questions about memory, trauma, and humanity. The novel is at its best when it presents Elsie at her most human, forcing the real ones around her to reckon with what her personhood means for theirs.”–Publishers Weekly
“In the world of Bethany C. Morrow’s imaginative and gloriously written first novel, MEM, a memory might have a life of her own. This novel imagines an alternate past where memories can be extracted and turned to flesh, a premise that unfolds with intrigue and wisdom from this writer’s fertile imagination. Don’t miss this exciting debut that will change the way you think about memories.”–Tananarive Due, American Book Award and British Fantasy Award winner
“This thought-provoking thriller examines issues such as abuse, gentrification, and the marginalization of people of color with nuance and sensitivity. The narrative deftly moves back and forth between past and present, building to a devastating conclusion. A spellbinding, profoundly moving choice for YA collections.”–School Library Journal (starred review)
“Jackson doesn’t hold anything back when it comes to the pain of abuse and the ramifications of turning a blind eye. It’s a frank, devastating read filled with real and flawed characters, and it’s a story that needs to be read.”–Booklist
“In this sharp, funny, and timely collection of personal essays, veteran video blogger and star of MTV’s Decoded Franchesca Ramsey explores race, identity, online activism, and the downfall of real communication in the age of social media rants, trolls, and call-out wars.”–Amazon
“This superbly edited collection will introduce many readers to a more versatile and accomplished Gwendolyn Bennett than they have known before. It includes the unpublished political poetry that extends her range and impact, making her a key figure of the 1930s.”–Cary Nelson, author of Repression and Recovery: Modern American Poetry and the Politics of Cultural Memory, 1910-1945
“Angela Garbes maps the strange void at the heart of American parenting-the ways we simultaneously deify, infantilize, and erase mothers-and then pours herself into that void with indefatigable curiosity and resounding compassion. Like a Mother is a deeply-researched history of human reproduction; it is a jewel-bright memoir; it is hard science beautifully translated; it is funny; it is intersectional; it will crack you open and fill you with awe. Required reading for mothers, and double-required for everyone else.”–Lindy West, author of New York Times bestseller Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman
“Women all over Iran risked imprisonment and even their lives and safety to post pictures. Alinejad’s stories of her illustrious career as a groundbreaking journalist challenging the Islamic Republic make for a fascinating narrative.”–Publisher’s Weekly
“[Masih’s] descriptions of life as a journalist and activist will captivate readers interested in Iran, international affairs, gender equality, and human rights.”–Booklist
As You Like It, Volume II of the Gerald Kraak Anthology: African Perspectives on Gender, Social Justice and Sexuality
“These stories take up space; they are big and heavy and weighty and solid. These stories make no apologies. The sentences you will find on these pages are not afraid. They move from the brutal and the bloody to the melodic and the lyrical. They are crisp and controlled then suddenly they melt; sweetly, seductively.”–Sisonke Msimang
Tags: Biography, South Africa, women writers, #OwnVoices, Black women
Jacana Media, 230 pages
“This book reminds us that before 1990 conditions on the ground meant that a determined union supporter such as Ndlovu could pay with her life for being a militant organiser. The new South Africa was not won cheaply.”–William Freund, Professor Emeritus of Economic History, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Tags: Women writers, Africa, South Africa, debut, Black women, #OwnVoices
Jacana Media, 200 pages
“An Image in a Mirror is a richly told and deeply intimate African story about the becoming of two young women, who are, the same as much as they are different. When the sisters, at the age of twenty-two, finally cross their respective worlds to meet, how mirrored will each feel about the other?”–Description
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