Books

Before I started reading Ghanian author Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah’s The Sex Lives of African Women, I was prepared to read titillating stories of women having clandestine meetings with random sexual partners and having wildly passionate liberated sex. But that's not what this book is about. Instead, in the preface, Sekyiamah shares how she conducted countless interviews from 2015 to 2020, with African women between the ages of 21 to 71, from 31 countries around the globe, about their sexual experiences, in the hope of eradicating some...
This spring, check out these new books about powerful and women from today and yesterday.    The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer By Janelle Monáe (Harper Voyager) Janelle Monáe is a creative superstar who has tackled everything from music to fashion to film. And with The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer, she enters the literary world, proving that there’s truly nothing she can’t do.  The Afrofuturistic collection expands on her hit 2018 album-turned-“emotion picture,” Dirty Computer, which dealt with themes of sexuality and self-expression. Collaborating...
In this essay I use a word some might find offensive; fat. I choose to use this word not as an insult, but as a neutral descriptor, actively choosing to separate it from its typically negative connotations, as a fat person myself.  I encourage you to be curious about your feelings around this word and what it evokes.  The conversation about the need for diverse, non-stereotypical representation of characters with marginalized identities has become increasingly and rightfully widespread within children’s literature spheres. And while fat representation...
  Libraries have always been a paradise for bookworms. But as public life emerges once again, it’s important to remember that reading material is far from the only free resource your local branch has to offer. “Libraries are truly a treasure trove,” explains Kate Patterson, Director of Communications at the San Francisco Public Library. “No matter what one is interested in, we have it.” Here are some of the services you won’t want to miss out on, and they won’t cost you a penny. CLASSES If you’ve been...
You Truly Assumed By Laila Sabreen  (Inkyard Press)  In this gripping YA novel by up-and-coming author Laila Sabreen, a terrorist attack rocks Washington, D.C., causing three Black Muslim girls—ballerina Sabriya, painter Zakat, and coder Farah—to become accidental teen activists. It starts with a blog post Sabriya never intended to make public. “You truly assumed,” she writes in response to early speculation that the terrorist was Muslim. He’s not, but that doesn’t stop anti-Islamic fervor from spreading across the country, impacting the girls’ lives in profound ways. With each chapter,...
The tragic and senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery coupled with the rise in Asian American hate crimes amidst a literary censorship of voices of color; not only sparked a nationwide outrage, but subsequently unearthed global interest and conversations surrounding diverse books, narratives, and businesses. Due to a lack of representation both in publishing and in bookstore ownership prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, women of color have moved to the forefront of the narrative and are slaying it on the literary frontlines....

“To be clear, I was a bitch to work with,” bookseller Nadia Wassef confesses in this unapologetically feminist collection of essays about co-founding and managing independent Egyptian bookstore Diwan in the years surrounding the Arab Spring. Loudmouthed with a proclivity for f-bombs, Wassef is frank about the challenges of being a woman and a boss in culturally conservative Cairo. When a would-be business partner says he “doesn’t shake hands with women,” Wassef retorts, “Hug, then?”  These essays cleverly use Diwan’s different locales—its community-oriented café, its carefully...
This Boy We Made: A Memoir of Motherhood, Genetics, and Facing the Unknown By Taylor Harris (Catapult) In her moving memoir, author Taylor Harris traces her son Tophs’ journey as he struggles with difficult, hard-to-categorize hypoglycemia and developmental delays. Whether she’s describing working on independent education plans in the Virginia public school system or rushing her kid to the ER, Harris grounds and guides readers through bigger questions surrounding personhood, intelligence, empathy, and expression.  This is not an easy read, but it is wholehearted and captivating, with peaks, valleys,...
FIVE TUESDAYS IN WINTER: STORIES By Lily King (Grove Press)  On the surface, the 10 tales in novelist Lily King’s debut short-story collection don’t have much in common. There’s “The Man at the Door,” in which a struggling writer meets a mysterious man who’s somehow read her private novel; “Waiting for Charlie,” about a grandfather visiting his unconscious granddaughter in the hospital; and several mediations on grief and love. But at the heart of every story is someone changed by an unexpected relationship or encounter. The most...
Passport: A Graphic Memoir By Sophia Glock (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) Cartoonist Sophia Glock spent her youth in the 1990s growing up in gated and heavily guarded residences in Latin America, while attending a series of private schools. In young Sophia’s family, certain topics, especially those concerning her parents’ jobs, were fundamentally never discussed. Though she didn’t completely understand why, she learned from an early age not to ask questions. Until she eventually stumbled across a shocking discovery: her parents both worked for the CIA.  In this...