Ellen enjoys nature essays, grumpy protagonists, and stories with a speculative bent.
The sort of book in which each word is sharp and deliberate. I can't say much more than that--Mailhot speaks for herself better than anyone else ever could.
Memori at its finest. Elliot writes with fierce clarity, keenly addressing love, family, mental health, and how these are affected by intergenerational trauma. An invaluable contribution to North American Indigenous literature, particulary for Elliot's breakdown of how ahistorical nostalgia impacts present-day First Nations and Native American communities and individuals.
Equal parts political commentary, literary criticism, and love letter to the desert. Ehrenreich explores how storytelling intersects with the climate crisis, social upheaval, and the passage of time. Lyrical, at times humorous, and deeply appreciative of things natural and ephemeral.
This book continued to haunt me weeks after I finished it, like some dark, lyrical cloud. Hurricane Season exists sharply in the present—the ways in which violence affects every sense; this prose will make you squirm—but is simultaneously outside of time, folkloric. Melchor’s writing is devastating and propulsive: As much as I sometimes wanted to, I could not put Hurricane Season down.
Ogawa grabs your gut and twists. "The Memory Police" is permeated with a sharp and constant sense of loss. At once quick-paced and ruminative, this book is a poignant reflection on individual and collective memory, and how these shape our senses of self, unique and shared.
An agonizing must-read. Skewers the model-minority stereotype and creates space for the anger and trauma resulting from internment. Okada's prose is haunting--perfectly suited to Ichiro's sense of displacement (cultural, physical, moral). Sharp Seattle imagery and a facinating publishing history (look up Shawn Wong at UW!). A vital history lesson, especially in today's climate.
A powerful reimagining of a classic Greek myth, Miller's smooth prose and obvious expertise in/love of classical literature is on full display, as is her commitment to examining the treatment of women in these much-loved works. "Circe" tackles feminism, self-love, and what it means to be human.
An absolute favorite! I grew up on these stories--how great to have them all in one book! Memorable, silly, and packed with charming illustrations. Get it! Love it! Tell me which story you enjoyed most (and why it's "The Rolling Mochi Cakes")!
Absolutely delightful! I love a no-nonsense career woman, especially when she’s thrown into a highly nonsensical mess. Evil monks, gentle ghouls, socially-awkward vampires, and a rather eldritch antagonist—Dr. Greta Helsing has a not inconsiderable list of things to deal with. She’ll let you come along for the ride, but keep in mind the state of her jalopy.
I read all in one go! This book had my heart racing from start to finish. Features alternating perspectives between resourceful and genuine young women. A timely narrative on race and protest, both in broader society and between/within individuals--AND a guaranteed read to raise your blood pressure!
A fascinating exploration—as well as expiation, renunciation, and celebration—of the genres of biography and memoir through the lens of author-as-subject and subject-as-author. Shapland gives McCullers much-needed room to breathe and be while ruminating on the status of lesbians and their relationships within and without the literary world.
Short and not at all sweet, Oyamada delves into Kafkaesque themes via clean, bristling prose. If you’re itching to get back into the office (circa COVID-19), The Factory will make you think twice. You may also find yourself watching the cormorants along the canal more closely.
This is a magical book. Miyazawa (1896-1933) writes meandering fables that draw from traditional Japanese folklore while alluding to the challenges of a changing Japan. The moral lessons in these stories are not always clear - often it is Miyazawa's surreal voice, thoughtfuly retained by Bester, that leaves the most lating impression. This is a book guaranteed to make you marvel at quiet things: a red blanket, telephone poles, a birch tree. Something to read slowly and revisit.
"There is no wholeness outside of our reciprocal humanity" (pg. 290).
Stevenson's smooth and insightful prose makes an incredibly difficult subject highly readable. This book isn't just about criminal justice; it's about being a compassionate member of our complex and troubled US society.
One of my favorite books of 2019. A beautiful and mysterious narrative voice. Moore covers witchcraft, colonialism, slavery, and nation-building through the eyes of deeply isolated, ultimately powerful characters. This book is at once wide-reaching, far-seeing, and heart-wrenchingly intimate.
Beautiful, odd, and deeply compelling. If you're looking for a thoughtful mystery for an animal lover, this is it. Forceful commentary on what it's like to be a woman, an elder, and--delightfully--an astrologer in an environment where these roles are discounted if not openly disparaged. Plus, the narrator's a kick!
A true romp! Action! Adventure! Space! Necromancy! Childhood acrimony turning into something more?? Gideon is a foul-mouthed, badass softie--a wise-cracking heroine who drags the reader along a wild ride. Read it, love it, wait for book two!
If birds are your thing, this is your book. Our feathery friends have always had something to teach us—now more than ever we can appreciate their resilience as well as their vulnerability. The eloquent admiration of naturalists, ornithologists, and poets has me reaching for my binoculars; take a page from their (this) book, go outside, and look up.
A careful and incisive chronology of the rollback of policies intended to bring about greater racial equality. Anderson clearly illustrates a pattern of knee-jerk racism and the enduring consequences this has had for American society
Meandering plot and prose that captures the odd, frustrating, and episodic nature of day-to-day life. While realistic, this story is persistently charming and ultimately gentle. "Nakano Thrift Shop" is chock full of peculiar failures, triumphs, and people--pay them a visit, "you know what I mean?"
The truth is stranger than fiction, all right. Forget Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - these critters are weird and real and no less fantastic for it. From the axototl to the thorny devil to the zebra fish, Casper Henderson provides compelling natural histories, charming asides, and thoughtful ruminations on Earth's many oddballs, humans definitely included.
This book is definitely epic! Genie Lo--an authentic, exasperated, Chinese American teenager--tackles everything from SATs to demons to legendary heroes and gods. Fans of the ancient "Journey to the West" will get a kick out of this modern adaptation/twist--a journey to the West Coast, specifically San Francisco!
Featuring librarian/spy Irene, a steamy-punky London, unruly magic, and a powerful, interdimensional library. This book is pure page-turning fun. If you've ever needed affirmation that reading opens doors to new worlds, this is it. Plus, it's the first in an ongoing series, so the bookish excitement continues!