Rachel is the operations and events director at Avid Bookshop. She fell in love with 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 enjoys tending to her 2 chickens, working in her yard, and reading with her dog, Dolly Parton.
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!
Adam Smyer has written a book of humor that is totally on-point for today's cultural climate. A quick read, You Can Keep That to Yourself is a funny and blunt book that my 18-year-old daughter and I both read and then discussed. I wanted to see if it seemed relevant to her because it was very useful to me. She was more familiar with more of the content (youth!) but she learned some new things too. This book is the perfect jumping-off point for much-needed conversations about how to be an anti-racist. It's extremely short and very accessible. I wish I could give this book to everyone. (language: spicy)
I read Audrey Audrain's debut, The Push, in 2 days because I literally couldn't stop. What does it mean to be a good mother? What if you don't connect emotionally with your child? How much emotional trauma is passed down from mothers to daughters? THE PUSH examines 4 generations of females as well as the ways having children impact one marriage. I loved this book.
Want to learn how to be a good ancestor? Need to address your privilege and feel uncomfortable about talking about racism? You need to read and work through Me and White Supremacy.
The book is a treasure with the type of writing that slaps you in the face, gives you pause, makes you sigh. Whether describing hotel body wash or explaining day trading, the characters in Parakeet are interesting and yes, there's a dead grandmother reincarnated as a parakeet. Highly recommend.
A terrorist train fire is blamed on a young Muslim girl due to a social media post in A Burning, Majumdar's debut. This compelling story has a cast of characters who are all making life decisions with moral implications, whether or not they realize the repercussions. Highly recommend.
A closeted gay Republican Congressman is thrust into a bizarre series of events involving colonialism, an aardvark, and perhaps a ghost. The backstory of the taxidermist who stuffed the aardvark provides historical context. Enter the Aardvark is a hilarious ride that is super entertaining and I highly recommend you kick back and dive in.
The Night Watchman is an extraordinary book based on the life of Erdrich's grandfather who was a night watchman at a jewel bearing plant as well as an activist against Native dispossession. The other featured protagonist is Patrice Paranteau who you will quickly come to adore. The Night Watchman is one of Erdrich's best works and I highly recommend it!
In beautiful prose, Ishmael Beah gives us the story of five children living on their own in an unnamed postcolonial African nation. They have formed a little family with code phrases, special whistles, and other safety measures for their life of petty theft while living in an abandoned airplane. The most compelling storyline in Little Family is that of Khoudiemata, the young teenager who is starting to understand her strength and power. As Khoudi starts to make friends outside of her little family, she begins to see that what has seemed permanent won't last.
Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s The Revisioners is a tribute, a prayer, a triumphant cry of gratitude to those who came before us. The intergenerational memories and desire for freedom and survival push Ava forward when things get hard. Moving into her grandmother’s house with her son seems to be a temporary fix, but she has no idea the legacy she has inherited. The Revisioners honors with reverence the histories of those who had no voice.
Arnett's storytelling is razor sharp and Mostly Dead Things reads like a beautiful train wreck. Death's influence is everywhere, from the roadkill and peacocks Jessa taxidermies, to her father's suicide. Arnett explores what it means to be vulnerable as well as lose everything and still be able to get up every morning.