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.
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.
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!
Early Morning Riser is the love child of Anne Tyler's books in the mid-to-late-1980s and the tv show Northern Exposure. Katherine Heiny has written a funny book that is full of quirky characters that absolutely delight. Jane's idea of happily ever after with Duncan doesn't resemble their actual life at all, but it is exactly what she needed
I've never finished a book and immediately started rereading it, but this is how I read Edie Richter is Not Alone. I'm dazzled by the way Rebecca Handler channels so much noticing and emotion into her carefully curated (sometimes sparse) prose. Handler has written Edie's interior monologue so that seeing a spider in a church, hearing possums on a roof, or regarding a cockroach in the grass makes you inhabit Edie's brain. This is a book about the loss of a parent to Alzheimer's disease that is funny and sad and extremely entertaining.
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.
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.
Brandon Taylor's book of short stories, Filthy Animals, is a bright shining explosion of beautiful writing. Six of the eleven stories are linked and dipping back and forth into Lionel's relationship with two dancers, Sophie and Charles, is hypnotic. These stories about human relationships range from those between lovers, friends, and family. How is it that Taylor can write so that we can see the interior crevices of these character's souls? Brilliantly done.
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.
Before the Coffee Gets Cold was a soothing balm to my soul. While time travel is a central element, essentially this book is about loving with all your heart, being true to yourself, and realizing you can't change the past.
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!