get these October events on your calendar!

hello-october

Here’s a rundown of things to get on your radar for October.We’re in FULL SWING busy season, so yes, you’re going to have to choose when there’s two events on the same night!

Again, I know I’m not super consistent with posting the same events every time (if they’re monthly or recurring) but just shoot me a line to include what I missed! I’ve tried to be more inclusive by focusing on each bookstore and linking to all their upcoming events after featuring just one on here.

As always, in the “Events” tab above you’ll find the Rain Taxi official literary calendar and other resources to help with finding book readings  and lit events in the Twin Cities area.

  • Rain Taxi’s Twin Cities Book Festival is on Saturday, October 15th!  You don’t want to miss one of the most important TC literary events of the year! 
    • Normally I write this post in chronological order, but this event is just TOO COOL to pass up. It’s 1) at the MN State Fairgrounds and 2) it’s ABSOLUTELY FREE. I hope to see you there!!
    • And there’s an Opening Night Party!

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming 😉

  • Friday, October 7th: Dave Eggers will be chatting with guests and signing books at new Milkweed Books! Don’t miss checking out the new bookstore, if you haven’t already!
    • There’s also an event also on Tuesday, October 4th:Poets in Conversation with Milkweed Editions featuring Michael Bazzett, Patricia Kirkpatrick, Chris Santiago, and Jennifer Willoughby and that will be a conversation about the formation of poets and the supporting ecosystem here in Minnesota, with Milkweed Editions’ publisher, Daniel Slager.
    • Though they’re a powerhouse press, they’re still a baby bookstore, so a lot of events are hosted or run by Milkweed Editions! For a list of all events at Milkweed Books/Editions, check out their Facebook events here, or visit their website!
  • Thursday, October 6th: Poetry Happy Hour hosted by MN Book Awards and Friends of the St. Paul Library featuring Todd Boss, Heid Erdrich, Dobby Gibson, Ed Bok Lee, and Katrina Vandenberg.
  • Also Wednesday, October 12th: Nathan Hill reads from The Nix at Magers & Quinn Booksellers!
    • Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost presents The Secret History of Twin Peaks on Saturday, October 22!
    • There’s more great ones this month including authors Charlie Quimby, Karen Brennan presenting her new book Monsters (get in the Halloween spirit!), James P. Lenfestey, and many others! For a list of all events at Magers & Quinn Booksellers, check out their Facebook events here, or visit their website!
  • Monday, October 17th: Gary Dop and Amy Munson at Common Good Books! In undergrad, Amy Munson was my poetry professor and Gary Dob was my sister’s (though she turned out to be a better poet than me, I don’t think that has anything to do with our professors), so I’m a little biased but I think you should check them out. Amy Munson’s debut poetry volume Yes Thorn is now out from Tupelo Press!

And because this is literally only the first half of the month, but I’m already all our room, see below for other bookstores and their events pages, featuring authors such as Ben Percy, Caroline Burau, Cheri Register, Nick Flynn, and many others!

If you can, I encourage you to check one or two of these great events out and perhaps discover some new awesome reads along the way! Let me know in the comments if there are any others you’re excited about this month! 

Review: Underground Airlines by Ben Winters

underUnderground Airlines by Ben Winters (Mulholland Books, 336 pages)

Recommended for: Readers or fans of alternate history, historical fiction, or spy/crime/adventure stories. 

Underground Airlines is an intriguing, suspenseful alternate history novel which asks the question of What if the Civil War had never happened and slavery still existed? The reader is placed alongside an escaped slave named Victor in the “free” north where segregation is still grossly perpetuated in a United States where slavery is still practiced in the “Hard Four” states. He’s been captured under the Fugitive Persons Law by the government and made to be a “soul catcher,” finding escaped slaves and returning them to slavery.

Victor at first seems cold and unfeeling before one realizes he has his own ways of coping: “I was not a person but a manifestation of will. I was a mechanism—a device.” He is sent to capture his over-200th escaped slave while investing the modern representation of the Underground Railroad, hence the title. Almost immediately, the reader is reading a redemption tale—but will it be enough to justify the horrifying idea that slavery was never abolished?

“Freedman Town’s purpose is for the rest of the world. The world that sits, like Martha, with dark glasses on, staring from a distance, scared but safe. Create a pen like that, give people no choice but to live like animals, and then people get to point at them and say ‘Will you look at those animals? That’s what kind of people those people are.’ And that idea drifts up and out of Freedman Town like chimney smoke, black gets to mean poor and poor to mean dangerous and all the words get murked together and become one dark idea, a cloud of smoke, the smokestack fumes drifting like filthy air across the rest of the nation.”

Though some have deemed the world building Winters executes here a triumph, I found it hard to follow and a bit too fantastic at times, specifically his references to pop culture and black celebrities (Michael Jackson, James Brown). I would hope that in a world so different from ours, things would be more different and much worse. The writing was too often dry as well, and I didn’t care about the characters as much as I thought I would, probably because it takes way too long for Victor to explain why he’s so troubled by his situation. I also had a problem with the way women are represented in the novel, but that’s a discussion for another day. In all, despite the intriguing premise of the book, there wasn’t that much there to make it different from other novels covering stories of slavery except that the main character is working for the wrong side.

I am not a long-time fan of Ben Winters like many of the readers flocking to this book. I heard about it first on IndieNext and thought well, if indie booksellers like this one, then I’ll give it a go. I should have first remembered that books about slavery are so hard to read (I recently read Homegoing and with The Underground Railroad yet to review, I’m afraid of the timing). I’m not saying I want to shield myself and as a white person forget it happened, but my heart is so heavy given the events of July and these past few months. Much too late did I realize the horror of what I was reading: a book considering that slavery never ended when it did, written by a white man. While he was going for an eye opener, and something to reveal how this terrible occurrence isn’t really that far from the racism of our day, the more I read, the more disturbed I felt that this book was even written and a publisher jumped on it. I just couldn’t escape that. In all, to me it wasn’t that redeeming of a narrative, and so I fear the publisher accepted the work based solely on the alternate-history plot device. 3.5 stars.

That being said, a lot of people have loved this book, so if you’re at all curious, check it out here.  

For some, this book is going to be a brain churner, which is great. Book clubs who want to create a discussion on racism in America would probably like this book, as I’m sure there are many different opinions on its execution.

Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

so I finally read The Cursed Child but I’m not gonna spoil it for you

I finally got my hands on a copy of the highly hyped Harry Potter and the Cursed Child last week on a loan from a friend! I was so excited to dive in right away but decided to save it for Labor Day weekend when I went up north to stay at a cabin with family.

harry potter cursed child hammock.pngI ended up reading it mostly in a hammock right on the lakeshore. Heaven! (That was my in-law’s cabin in the background.)

First off, NO SPOILERS HERE. I’ll do my best to describe my thoughts briefly. It’s not like J. K. Rowling or Jack Thorne really need another review to boost book sales 😉 This was like a vacation book because of simply that: it was reading for fun. It’s also a play, so not really a book book.

My “rating”: 3 stars. Here’s why:

  • I really did enjoy reading it. It was definitely a little weird, but it was fun. Also because I didn’t get to read Harry Potter growing up, even though we’re the same age, so I didn’t finish the last book in the series until last summer. I’m a fan, I love them, but I’m not one of those dedicated people who begged for another book or are super critical of this one because they’ve spent so much time in that world.
  • That being said: please don’t call this “the 8th Harry Potter book” because it’s simply not. I only want this to be canon if we get to keep Scorpius. But also, no, please don’t let it be canon.
  • It reads like well-written fan fiction (I say well-written because one, this was actually published and most isn’t and two, I haven’t read any fan fiction. Except My Immortal but I couldn’t even finish that it was so bad).
  • Most of the characters didn’t feel true to themselves. Not a spoiler here, you know this from the synopsis: Harry was so insecure when I would have thought with all he had been through he would’ve been wiser and less immature. And also, isn’t Albus his second son? So why would he be having this parenting crisis now unless James was apparently the perfect child (we learn very little about James and that was kinda disappointing. Same with Rose, Ron and Hermione’s daughter).
  • The plot was very holey and contrived. Like, the central points of the plot were all WTF moments where I had to stop reading and ask, “why THIS? You had so many more places you could have gone with this story…”
  • Scorpius is the best ever, and the best thing to come out of this.
  • I wish I could see the play.

Yes, so there you have it.

The Cursed Child was a fun read to bring us back into the world of Hogwarts and get to see the legacy of Harry’s story, but it really only works as a play for the stage instead of taking the place of an “8th book” and being the say-all for our beloved characters. I’m sure the play is absolutely wonderful and I want to see how they bring all that magic to life. That’s the dream.

Have you read it yet? Without giving away spoilers, what did you think? Or, if you want to discuss spoilers, send me a message or email me! 

Review: Spiritual Sobriety by Elizabeth Esther

It’s been a while since my last review, and I held off on posting my last Blogging for Books review because it means so much to me to get it right (also, I LOVED IT, and my excitement was skewing my ability to write an objective review). So heeeeeeeeere is a book that was honestly very good. Not perfect, but also not long, and I would recommend checking it out if you’ve ever been frustrated or hurt by a church or religious experience. Enjoy!

spiritual sobrietySpiritual Sobriety: Stumbling Back to Faith When Good Religion Goes Bad by Elizabeth Esther (Convergent Books, 192 pages)

Recommended for: Readers of faith (all kinds), readers who are tired of religion or have a negative viewpoint towards it, spiritual readers, readers of Anne Lamott, Addie Zierman, Madeleine L’Engle, Lauren Winner.

Spiritual Sobriety is a breath of fresh air. A memoir following Esther’s first book, Girl at the End of World, which is about coming out of a fundamentalist cult, this book covers the questions of whether one can come back to faith after experiencing a religious fervor that is damaging and ultimately a hurtful message from the Church. And her answer is yes, though it takes healing.

Esther describes that if you are one of those people who questions whether faith is worth it because of horrible experiences it’s possible you used God and religion like a drug the same way addicts use substancesto numb pain, alter [your] mood, or simply to escape the realities of this messy, unpredictable thing called life.” She calls it akin to being “high” on God. This is what she herself experienced, so she’s speaking from personal experience with a warmth of a mentor sitting down for coffee with you.

Once she identified her problem with what she previously practiced as religion, she struggled with depression and realized that her religious addiction was preventing her from experiencing faith as it was meant to be. At this point, the book is more of a “how to” than a memoir, but with the purpose of helping all who read it discover a deeper faith that is meaningful without being riddled with unhealthy behaviors.

If you liked Addie Zierman’s When We Were on Fire, you’ll love this book, but know that it is more instruction rather than personal emotional recollections. She includes research from books on this subject as well as quotes from interviews she conducted with people who faced similar experiences. Traveling through the journey with the reader, Esther also writes discussion questions at the back of each chapter to help walk you through healing and identifying personal issues to find acceptance, love, and a meaningful faith. The reader has the choice to go through the discussion questions and personally develop their ideas and faith or simply read it as a learning experience. The practical advice invites readers to decide for themselves if they want to rethink the way they relate to God or practice religion, and she is gentle with her suggestions. It is also a short read.

Coming from someone who experienced similarly damaging relationships with churches, camps, religious conventions, and even people in the Church, I very much appreciated the fresh viewpoint. I would say this book isn’t perfect and got a little repetitive at times, but it is definitely a positive stepping point for releasing and working through anger towards harmful religious experiences and looking at them from a fresh, learning perspective. I have a sense that this book will stay with me for a long time, and I may revisit it should I choose to delve back into faith with vigor. I will recommend this to any friend who has ever questioned their relationship with the Church, though I would also encourage any believer or person of religious experience to explore what this book is trying to say. 3.5 or 4 out of 5 stars.

Buy the book from IndieBound here, or support your local bookstore! I received this book free from Blogging For Books as part of their Book Review Blogger program in exchange for an honest review.

 

help make Milkweed Books happen!

open-book-inthenews
(photo from http://www.openbookmn.org)

I haven’t yet written about Milkweed Editions‘ new bookstore opening in the Open Book building in downtown Minneapolis called Milkweed Books! This store is particularly exciting because 1) any new independent bookstore is worth celebrating, and 2) it will be rather unique even among indie bookstores.

Originally the store planned to open in late June but now the grand opening will be on September 20th. The store will be located in the Open Book building in Minneapolis, shared by The Loft Literary Center: one of the biggest nonprofit literary centers in the United States, which also houses the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. Imagine all of these businesses in one building! There’s a small coffee shop/cafe inside as well as the MN Center for Book Arts’ retail store, meaning that if you like books or writing at ALL, you’ll be pretty happy hanging out there for hours on end. The Milkweed Books store will be open before that but the grand opening is scheduled for the 20th.

You can read more about the bookstore here, where there’s a Kickstarter raising money (their goal is $25,000) to help make the bookstore happen. You can pledge as little as $5, just the price of one fancy Starbucks coffee, to help make a difference. As of my writing this, they’re almost to $15,000 in just a few days since its launch.

“Milkweed Books will showcase and sell titles primarily published by independent presses, nonprofit presses, and other publishers working to bring the most exciting literary art to the marketplace. If you want to find the best new poetry, or creative nonfiction, or short stories, or translations, this bookstore is for you.”

The manager is Hans Weyandt, who edited a book with Coffee House Press called Read This! Handpicked Favorites From America’s Indie BookstoresI loved this book when I picked it up before National Indie Bookstore Day this year, and I especially love knowing the book recommendations come from experienced booksellers who have waded the vast pool of literature before me. I’ve said this before: the hardest part about being a bookseller myself is the ever-growing, endless TBR (to-be-read) list I create by talking with coworkers and customers!

Consider pledging to this fantastic new bookstore and supporting one of the coolest centers for books in the States. For more information, check this article by the American Booksellers Association. Hope to see you at the grand opening!

Review: Rad Women Worldwide by Kate Schatz

Guys. GUYS GUYS GUYS I loved this book! Also, I’d like to announce that it’s the first NetGalley book I’ve finished and reviewed since creating an account and becoming a NetGalley “Professional Reader.” I was so excited when I got approved for this one and a few others, so expect a few more reviews from me from NetGalley.

rad women worldwideRad Women Worldwide by Kate Schatz (Ten Speed Press, 112 pages)

As a woman and feminist, I was so proud while reading this book. Let me praise it from the rooftops and hand sell it to every girl, boy, mom, dad, relative, friend, you name it. Everyone could benefit from reading this.

I was devastated to discover I did not even know about most of these women before picking up this book. I felt myself longing to have had this book in my hands as a girl in school when it came time to pick the people I wanted to write my research papers on. When it’s published, you can bet I’m gonna be buying myself a copy to pass along to my children someday and will hand sell it at Christmas as such a beneficial book.

If you’re at all curious about the women included, pre-order a copy now. Here are some of the most badass mothers, social activists, astronauts, scientists, doctors, teachers, athletes, musicians, artists, suffragettes, queens, spies, and even a pirate! Imagine picking this up in school as a girl and realizing that the options for your career are ENDLESS and that no one can tell you what you can and can’t do. Each description is quite short, like a brief summary and biography of why this woman was/is a luminary and what she contributed to society. I wished they were longer, but it is really is just a gateway for you to learn the fast facts now and research more if you want to later. Also keep in mind it really is meant for a younger audience, but doesn’t alienate adults at all either. It’s nice to having something so short and yet empowering. Women seriously rock! I also was so happy to see diversity represented as well as giving women credit who lived so long ago (think: Ancient Egypt). At the back there’s a list of other rad women around the world divided up by country. I wish I could add some to the list, though it’s quite long as is.

In all, this book is well written, needed, and absolutely fabulous. The cut paper illustrations by Miriam Klein Stahl were an incredible as well and added a dynamic to even the women featured who lived thousands of years ago, and the quotes were also a marvelous addition. You will not regret reading this book. 5 stars, without a doubt.

Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

#24in48 readathon wrap up

Yes, oh yes, I know it has been like weeks since the #24in48 Readathon wrapped up, but IT WAS SO FUN SO I GOTTA POST ABOUT IT.

First, I did not make it to 24 hours of reading. But I got to 19 hours and 51 minutes logged, which is DANG INCREDIBLE if you ask me.

I only really updated Litsy, after the crash was fixed, because trying to keep up with multiple social media sites was actually exhausting. I mean, it’s actually always exhausted (confession time, ahh!) but that weekend was particularly bad. Also, there were distractions EVERYWHERE. Half of the time my tired brain was actually seeking them out in order to have a break from reading, but half the time my husband and cats were just being annoying ;). Then my brother and sister-in-law randomly decided to come to town and it was quite the full weekend. Here’s a rundown of what happened:

Friday, Day 0.5:

I read until about 1:30am the night the 48 hours started. This was spent finishing up He’s a Slut, She’s a Stud, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know by Jessica Valenti (which, BTW, is a fantastic quick look at sexism everywhere and will probably make you a little mad. If it doesn’t, it should. But I digress). I also almost finished The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman that night, but I got soooooo sleeppyyyyyyy.

Saturday, Day 1: 

I slept in (THIS WAS MY DOWNFALL GUYS) until basically 10am and then began reading the Gaiman book and also Spiritual Sobriety by Elizabeth Esther. I was all positive like “hell yeah I got this, so excited omg,” but after a few hours realized it doesn’t matter how fast I read, that will never give me more hours in this day. That was scary, I got sleepy, and then panicked because I didn’t have time for napping.

And then I realized: I didn’t have any audiobooks on hand!! One quick Google search for legal, free audiobooks and I found ThoughtAudio, which is a lot of classics badly narrated. But hey, some were short stories and thus only an hour, so I “rested my eyes” while listening to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Later, I worked on reading Asking for It by Kate Harding (wonderful, WONDERFUL BOOK on rape culture and what we can do about it) and A Good Time for the Truth edited by Sun Yung Shin. OH, and my goal for the weekend was to reach page 300 in Stephen King’s IT (having started at page 212… out of 1,000+ pages. Yep. I needed to make progress).

On Saturday night, we went to see Star Trek: Beyond with my husband’s brother and his wife, so that was fun but it took so many hours getting there early, finding bad seats (it was packed!), and we didn’t get home until late. I clocked right around 8 hours total for Saturday.

Sunday, Day 2: 

Slept in, again. By the time I woke up I realized there was no way I could read 16 hours before 12am. It just wasn’t actually possible. Never have I wished for more hours in a day, though, because I realized then how much fun I was having. I COULD ACTUALLY READ ALL DAY LONG, WHO KNEW!? Haha.

Books I worked on reading or finished: same as above, then adding PersepolisThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Fall of the House of Usher, Gold Fame Citrus, and The Bookshop.

I ended up getting very jealous of all my friends who went to a beach not too far away, so I ended up joining them for 2 hours and simply floating on the lake for a while. It was fantastic because it was SO hot out that weekend and our AC leaks and was a pain. I also meal prepped while listening to audiobooks and playing with my cats.

I finished the challenge exactly at midnight by completing The Bookshop, a short novel by Penelope Fitzgerald, clocking in at 19 hours and 51 minutes.

In conclusion…

Books I finished: 9 

  • He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know – Jessica Valenti
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman
  • A Good Time for the Truth  – edited by Sun Yung Shin
  • Spiritual Sobriety: Stumbling Back to Faith When Good Religion Goes Bad – Elizabeth Esther
  • The Complete Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi
  • The Bookshop – Penelope Fitzgerald
  • 3 stories/short novels: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Fall of the House of Usher – Edgar Allen Poe, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – Washington Irving

And I made progress in It (page 300!), Gold Fame Citrus, Asking for It, Alice in Wonderland.

Would I do this again? Absolutely. Would I try to make it to 24 hours? You bet! 

Mark your calendars! The next #24in48 readathon is on January 21-22, 2017! Click on that link to sign up!

24 in 48 Readathon!

Well, guys, my very first Readathon starts tonight at midnight! It’s called 24 in 48 and it’s where you read for 24 hours in the 48 hour weekend. No, it’s not 24 books! (wouldn’t that be the dream?) I found out about via my favorite app, Litsy, where the book community has just been fantastic. I couldn’t be happier spending this entire, super hot weekend inside with the AC reading books (:

I’ve slacked off in July due to thoughts, sickness, a new job, and shit hitting the fan, and I wish I had told you all about this earlier, but I get that not many can participate. I mean, it means not really having any plans on Saturday AND Sunday, but since I’m sick, that won’t be a problem for me. (I also originally got this weekend off for a writer’s retreat that I ended up not being able to attend, so luck was on my side.) I’ve heard about them in the past but always had to work!

Anyway, here’s my way overly ambitious stack, including my laptop since I have a manuscript I’m behind on reading. Also pictured here is Pond, since, let’s face it, she’s probably not going to leave me alone (although her brother is an even bigger problem).

IMG_3841

Many of these are books I’ve started and haven’t finished, library books, books I’m reviewing, or books that I’m reading for different purpose. Had to include poetry, horror, short stories, a graphic novel, nonfiction, Italy, and some novels. (Not pictured: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.)

I’m so excited! I won’t be posting updates during the Readathon here, but if you have an iPhone you can find me at Litsy: WordWaller or on Twitter @WordWaller.

Anyone else participating? Or, if you wish you could, what books would you be blowing through? 

books & the literary community as healing

Alright, friends. Here I am after QUITE the absence, and for that I am sorry. It’s totally not that there haven’t been July events to keep you aware of or awesome June events to talk about (because there have been! I have so much to catch up on), but that I think it’s not secret July has been a total shitstorm in our country.

The day after Philando Castile was shot and killed, I decided to take a break from speaking my own voice out into the social media depths and simply share those voices which haven’t been feeling heard. I received some backlash, I solidified some viewpoints, I worked up the courage to share controversial content for what I believe in, and I got to know myself a bit better.

My desire is not for this blog to cover that content. Not because I don’t believe in speaking up, but simply because I don’t want to alienate anyone who loves books or calls Minnesota home, and also because I don’t think my voice, as a white woman, is so very different. I’m learning that the best thing I can do right now is support, learn, and assist those who’s voices need to be heard right now.

I AM going to plug what I’ve been reading and plan to read, of course, and coincidentally that covers the turmoil the nation has been experiencing. I think readers have a big responsibility right now to read and, at least for those of us who don’t experience racism good timeday to day, educate themselves and open up their minds to the voices and experiences of their neighbors, friends, coworkers, and fellow citizens.

MPR last week published a GREAT piece about how books about racial studies or by people of color are flying off the shelves of our local Minneapolis/St. Paul bookstores. I can testify that I’ve sold at least one copy a day of Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and I watched A Good Time for the Truth (by local, Minnesotan authors, which is what I’m reading now!) sell out before the weekend of July 9-10. I believe strongly in the power of that book:

The impact of “A Good Time for the Truth” is different, though, Zumberge said, because it’s local.

The book “is the experiences of people of color who live in this state. You cannot say ‘Oh, it’s not us,'” Zumberge said.

“I’m glad that people are turning to bookstores,” [Martin of Common Good Books] said. “Because it’s what bookstores are really good at: Helping understand the world around us.” (Read the whole piece here).

I echo that statement, which is why I see the literary community as a place for healing.

I had the privilege of experiencing that directly last Monday evening at Subtext Books. I heard word that there’d be a discussion of A Good Time for the Truth with editor Sun Yung Shin, and so my partner and I went even though I had only read the first two chapters at that point. We were a big taken aback that it wasn’t a regular event but rather an intimate book club of around 25 people, but we stayed and listened to a wonderful discussion about the influence of the book and the courage of the writers who have shared pieces inside.

Sun Yung Shin spoke about how the anthology came about, how she wanted an anthology including many different viewpoints and representations of different races, and that it was important for it to be a creative piece. Those of us there agreed–the stories really are so well written you feel as if you are friends with the writer and listening face to face. In that way, the stories are that much more real and influential. They cannot be ignored. 

I have more notes from that discussion that I’d love to share some other time, but it’s important that I say we all agreed that reading matters. Our discussion leader asked the question: is reading enough?

The unanimous conclusion was yes. Reading is important, and it does make a difference. If just one person’s mind is changed and they tell their friends, that’s a difference. If one of those people becomes an activist or has influence where some laws could be changed, that’s definitely a difference. And so on.

If you’re a reader who wants to make a difference but perhaps doesn’t know how, or doesn’t know where to start, or wants to know which books could be deemed most important right now, here’s a list of books Writers of Color Say We Should All Read Now. This list is so, so good because I don’t think any one person could have come up with all these important works. I’m a bookseller and I didn’t even know about most of them (partly because our sections on racial, gender, women’s, and LGBTQIA+ studies are always going fast! An awesome problem to have). blues vision

I would also like to spotlight Blues Vision: African American Writing from Minnesota from the list, another anthology on race also published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press last year. I’ve sold books for well-attended readings from this anthology at the Loft and always been sad I couldn’t listen in from my book table. If there are more events like this, you can bet I’ll do my best to be there.

Don’t minimize the influence you could have. Read these books. Share them with people, and start seeing the literary community as a place of discussion, healing, and beauty.

Do you agree that books and the literary community can be a place of healing? Where have you see this for yourself? Do you have books you would recommend strongly at this period in time? I’d love to start a discussion on this! 

 

 

 

my 2016 reads so far

It’s June! Can you believe it? It means we only have 6 more months of reading left in 2016! For those of whom have reading goals on Goodreads or otherwise, it can either be an encouragement or a source of fear.

As you may know if you follow my Goodreads, my goal for the year is to read one book for every week totaling 52 books. I’m probably going to surpass that, especially since I consider reading a job now (the books I get in exchange for reviews). As of today I’ve read 40 books of the 52, which is 17 books ahead of schedule!

(At this point, do you think I should nearly double my goal and try to read 100 books? I’m still not so sure. I would hate to not reach it! Maybe 75 is a more realistic number.)

Here’s a small selection of what I’ve been reading lately, along with whether it fits into my summer reading goals or not:

homegoing

This morning I finished Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, a heart-wrenching debut about two half sisters in Ghana, following their descendants both in Ghana and America. It’s pub day was this last Tuesday, so you can definitely find yourself a copy in bookstores today! This fits into my goal of readings more books by authors of color (and one of my 5 ARCS, along with another I just finished) and making sure they get represented equally in bookstores! I think M&Q does a good job of recommending literature of all backgrounds.

Currently finishing up Dark Sparklera poetry collection by Amber Tamblyn that I got signed when I met her earlier this year. These darkpoems about dead actresses are raw, gorgeous, haunting, and poignant. I’ve been taking it slow because I don’t want to be finished yet! I also Google quite frequently while reading, which is what Amber wants her readers to do. This is my May book of poetry goal! So yes, I already failed at reading a new one in June, ahh! But it’s so good!!

ongoingnessI recently started reading Ongoingness: the End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso from Graywolf Press and am loving it so far! I’ve also started to keep a journal again and opted for a 5-year one where I only have to record a few lines every day. It’s nice because now I can look back and remember each day, but I don’t have to be so steeped in recording the details, as Manguso stresses she was. “I wanted to remember what I could bear to remember and convince myself it was all there was.” It’s truly beautiful guys, and short, so you should check it out (: This counts as a book of essays, albeit short ones, for my summer goal.

On audiobook for my car rides, I listened to Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain because I big magicdecided non-fiction would work better for stressful Minneapolis driving. Next, I’m starting Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. We’ll see how this goes, since I never finished Eat, Pray, Love, and I suspect this book is a lot of fluff. But I like knowing I’m getting reading done even while driving though! This is my second non-fiction book of the summer.

itTo fulfill my horror genre goal, I’ve started a classic: It by Stephen King, to a lot of peoples’ horror (haha, I know I’m terrible). It’s so long! Definitely feels like a summer book to me. I blew through 200 pages at the cabin a few weekends ago and feel like I’ve made zero progress when normally that’s at least half a book! But I really like it so far. I just can’t read it when my cat’s in one of his moods because he’ll scare me out of nowhere, it’s absolutely terrifying. This fits my summer goal of reading a horror novel.

Still working on my classic on my phone during random times of tesswaiting: Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. Unfortunately, I think it’s boring even though I’m sure it’s actually lovely. Maybe e-readers aren’t conducive to classics, like, at all. There’s a huge disconnect for me when I’m using an e-reader, almost as if I’m dreaming I’m reading the book but not actually. I like the physical experience of holding the book and having that relationship with it (hence, why I’m a good fit for being a bookseller! Yay!). This doesn’t count towards my summer goal of reading 3 classics, unfortunately, since I started it a while back.

That’s it for me, for now. I’ll probably start a new book today. I know some people think I read too many at a time, but I can’t just plow through a book like It without breaks to read something non-fiction or beautiful 😉

What are you reading? Making progress towards your summer or yearly goals? Tell me in the comments!