Rachel is the operations and events director at Avid Bookshop. She fell in love with reading and books because of the mindful introduction to literature her parents gave her starting at age 3, when her father read her the entire Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. He read the entire series to her again at age 7. She listens to audiobooks via Libro.fm while tending to her chickens and yard. Reading in the hammock with her dog, Dolly Parton, is pretty great too.
The Hare hits all the notes for a great novel you will read obsessively. Melanie Finn has written the breathtaking story of the life of Rose Monroe whose entire trajectory was determined at age eighteen by a chance (?) meeting with an older man at MOMA. However, Bennett isn’t who he claims to be. Because of this, despite this, Rose grows into a powerful woman who isn’t diminished by her dire circumstances. She is a survivor. This brilliant book contains a subtext involving dark abhorrent behavior.
Melissa Broder's Milk Fed is the sexiest thing I've read in ages. You'll become obsessed with Rachel the way she's preoccupied with everything she eats. You'll root for her when she takes a therapist-suggested detox from her mom. You'll sit on your couch and read it nonstop for 2 days. Broder writes a sexy, insightful love story that ends up feeling like a hug at the end. Bravo!
Hanif Abdurraqib's exploration of Black performance in America is a cultural keystone that is chillingly relevant. Whether discussing the fact that a knowing look or advice on a route from a cashier is a form of a living Green Book that still exists because there are places Black people are not safe, to the origin of the card game spades or the difference between showing out or showing off, at the heart A Little Devil in America circles back to the fact that Black Americans have been forced to survive in places there were not welcome. The section on Black funerals pierced my heart. This book needs to be read, taught, underlined and discussed.
Joan Silber writes about the human condition in glorious ways that makes even the flawed beautiful. The families in Secrets of Happiness love and hate, uplift and tear down, relish and resent each other with conviction. How well do we know those closest to us? And what good comes when secrets are revealed? This is brilliant fiction.
It may seem odd to the English village of Inkbourne that the adult children Jeanie and Julius Seeder never left home. With their mother Dot, the three of them have lived a meager life for over fifty years. An unexpected death starts a series of events that blindside the twins. Beautifully immersive, Claire Fuller’s Unsettled Ground explores the consequences of decisions and secrets adults make when their children have no agency. This is a captivating, suspenseful book that will end with you deeply wanting to have a conversation with Dot.
Having grown up in a Mississippi Southern Baptist church, it wasn't until I was a teenager that I saw the secret double lives of some of us. Rebelling against the submit to authority messages on Saturday night, but sitting pious and submissive come Sunday morning services was de rigueur. Deesha Philyaw's book The Secret Lives of Church Ladies gives voice to secret lives that I know for sure are lived and true. The need for acceptance, for absolution, for grace is ever-present in familiar relationships as well as those in the church. These short stories are divine.
While southerners are famous for their hospitality, the reality for the twenty-one writers of color featured in A Measure of Belonging ranges from unwelcome to outright hostile. Cinelle Barnes edited this important book of essays featuring writers such as Jennifer Hope Choi, Kiese Laymon, and Nichole Perkins. From M. Evelina Galang's piece on how Miami is like Manila, to Aruni Kashyap's essay on questions potential white landlords in Athens, Georgia asked him ("Are you Muslim?"), you're going to love these perspectives and immediately tell someone about this book.
I tore through Leave the World Behind, a breath-taking stunner that slyly becomes a heart-thumping thriller. Alam examines race, class, and family relationships subtly and this is where his storytelling shines. 5 of 5 stars!