Books

THE TONI MORRISON BOOK CLUB By Juda Bennett, Winnifred Brown-Glaude, Cassandra Jackson, and Piper Kendrix Williams(University of Wisconsin Press) The Toni Morrison Book Club is presented as a memoir, but not your typical one: it’s written by four people. The group of authors, all English professors, initially bonded over their mutual admiration for Morrison, and decided to embark on the journey of telling their own stories—through hers. From love to parenthood to fetishization, each writer shares a “secret” that relates to the themes in one...
Hitting A Straight Lick With A Crooked Stick: Stories By Zora Neale Hurston(Amistad)      No matter your level of familiarity with Zora Neale Hurston’s writing, this posthumous collection of her stories—including eight that have never before been published—is a treat. Hitting A Straight Lick With A Crooked Stick places Hurston’s most famous stories, including Spunk and Muttsy, alongside previously hidden gems like A Bit of Harlem.  Hurston famously set most of her stories and novels in her hometown of Eatonville, FL, but this book expands her territory....
Social distancing and being in lockdown can make it feel like you've exhausted your entertainment options. And while binge-watching may be at an all time high, what about binge-reading? Books will always be trusted source of enjoyment for all ages, and a growing number of celebrities are taking to social media to entertain and educate their fans who can't make it to the library right now. Recent programs such as @savewithstories and @voiceactorsread, which feature the vocal talents behind some beloved animated characters, have collaborated...
Founded in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, National Poetry Month has been celebrated each April to honor the power of this particular form of literature. The ability to express the human condition is a unique skills and poets throughout the ages have managed to make us feel seen and heard. Perhaps now more than we have in some time, are turning to the arts as a source of solace. Whether it’s to draw inspiration or to step outside of our own mindsets, the written...
These three autobiographies, all reviewed in our Spring 2020 print issue, are all anyone is talking about.   IN THE DREAM HOUSE: A MemoirBy Carmen Maria Machado(Graywolf Press) Carmen Maria Machado’s riveting memoir detailing her frightening, abusive relationship with another woman while in graduate school is told in fragments. Telling this story in pieces makes sense since traumatic memories usually come back as painful shards rather than one cohesive whole. Inventively written, the style changes with each vignette—sometimes the memory is a fairytale, sometimes its erotica. These genre...
In a time where the world seems like it’s perpetually on fire, Cameron Esposito has some advice: save yourself.  That’s the title of the comedian’s new memoir — literally, Save Yourself. Maybe that sounds a bit harsh, but after her title pulls you in, her story reveals just exactly what she means. Cameron didn’t grow up knowing she’d be a comedian, an actor, a writer or that she’s gay. Instead, she recalls being cross-eyed and awkward, wearing an eyepatch over her glasses, and growing up very,...
DAYS OF DISTRACTION: A NOVEL By Alexandra Chang(Ecco) In this beautiful, urgent, “coming-of-adulthood” novel, author Alexandra Chang redefines the concept of distraction. Her main character, also named Alexandra, is stuck at an underpaying tech-reporter job in San Francisco and unsure of her position, so she delves into the details of what constitutes a life, even though so much still lies ahead. A story-driven inquiry into issues of race, technology, family, loss, success, and love ensues as she follows her long-term boyfriend, J, from the West...
Wow, No Thank You: Essays By Samantha Irby(Vintage)      Samantha Irby never expected that at 40 she’d be married, building a home in a red state, writing books about poop and depression, and working on a hit TV show (Shrill)  in Hollywood with one of her best friends. But as her latest essay collection Wow, No Thank You reveals, life is weird and despite our best efforts—or in Irby’s case, our best non-efforts—you never know where you’re going to end up.  Irby pulls from seemingly minor moments...
A black woman is (finally) wearing the Green Lantern ring. Meet Sojourner Mullein, the newest human Green Lantern and protagonist of a new 12-issue comic series, Far Sector.  Lantern Mullein is the first black woman to wield the Lantern ring. She's brought to life by Hugo Award-winning author N.K. Jemisin, with artwork by Jamal Campbell, who also did the art for the comic Naomi.  It is noteworthy to point out that the diversity behind the page is just as important as the diversity on the page – both Jemisin...
If there’s one thing author Claribel Ortega knows, it’s how to remain booked and busy—even in the midst of an international crisis. Like so many debut authors this year, 2020 was meant to be a time of celebration as she ushered her first book into the world. For Ortega, the new reality is just one more way she’s managed to push through and make her presence known. Ortega is one half of the Write or Die hosting duo, a weekly podcast that gives authors an...