Saturday, December 23, 2017

Fave Short Story Collections!

The Redemption of Galen Pike by Caryn Davies (Biblioasis)
This is a wonderful collection of short stories. Don’t be put off by the somewhat grotesque cover--Davies is actually a fairly traditional storyteller. Some of the stories reminded me of Alice Munro, in the way that she can lull you into thinking you understand a situation, only to pull the rug out from under you right at the last moment. Davies doesn’t do that every time, that would take the fun out of it, but the few times she does really work. I was pleasantly surprised or creeped out or delighted or horrified. It’s quite a nice payoff in a short story. Her writing is clean and solid, with just the right amount of lovely turns-of-phrases-- “herons and egrets picking their way delicately through the muddy sand.” She’s one of those “professional” writers--you know you’re in good hands when you enter one of her stories. Each one is a perfectly created little jewel box--solid, intricate, closing with the most satisfying snap.

Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado  (Graywolf) 

Look at that cover! Feel the pages! Do you feel something sparkly and maybe a little weird holding this book? That’s the MAGIC, my friends. Don’t let it go! This unusual collection of stories veer from delightfully maudlin campfire ghost stories (a la Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, your favorite freak-out read from elementary school) to an absolutely heart-wrenching end-of-the-world dystopian told through a woman's increasingly significant relationships to the story of a girl, the goth dress shop she works at in the mall, and the dresses she sells that vibrate with life. !!!!! The writing is snappy and electric and utterly underline-able. Each story is its own weird little world but they all glow with sex, love, fear, and the terror of being alive. 

Fen: Stories by Daisy Johnson (Graywolf)
This collection of stories scrambled my brain a little bit, in the best possible sense-- they made me re-read, wonder, turn the book upside down, shake it a bit, see what other fantastical imaginings would fall out. Girls turning into eels, men into foxes, a house obsessed with a woman, a blood sucking girl gang preying on their internet dates. And a few stories that broke my heart too-- Johnson has a way of manifesting loneliness and loss into physical pain and malady that shocks the senses. I didn't read and worry that the same fate would befall me, but I did understand how the characters felt, how their tragedy grew so large it took physical form. Startling, unusual, and sneakily profound, Fen is an unforgettable collection. 

Stef's Favorite Books of 2017

My favorite books of 2017! Basically in the order that I read them, not the order that I liked them. I can't choose favorites among my favorites! What am I, a monster?

My reading goal for 2017 was to read more nonfiction by women (journalistic/research-based nonfiction--not memoir. No offense intended, memoir.) and I did read so many amazing books by brilliant women. It's a dang good goal if you're looking for one, and it does take a bit of effort-- there is undoubtedly a bias towards men when it comes to this type of nonfiction. I also kept up with my 2016 goal to read more women of color-- that remains the best reading decision of my adult life, easy. My 2018 reading goal is to read nonfiction by women of color, and to make it a priority to read small press books over the hyped hits from the Big Five.

My last goal is to break my habit of listening to audio books of "girl" thrillers. Sure, they're entertaining but it occurred to me recently that the protagonists are all white women, who are beautiful and who have nice things. Has there been a "girl" thriller with a main character who is a women of color? (Let me know if there has been-- I will read it!)

Best Book I Apparently Waited Until 2017 for Cosmic Reasons to Read: The Handmaid's Tale by duh

Fiction- Novels
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran
Salt Houses by Hala Alyan
The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott
Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
A Catalog of Birds by Laura Harrington
Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich
The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Fiction- Short Story Collections:
The Redemption of Galen Pike by Carys Davies
Fen: Stories by Daisy Johnson
Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado

The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
The New Odyssey: The Story of the Twenty-First Century Refugee Crisis by Patrick Kingsley
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple by Jeff Guinn
Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy by Tressie McMillan Cottom
Janesville: An American Story by Jane Goldstein
American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse
God in Captivity: The Rise of Faith-Based Prison Ministries in the Age of Mass Incarceration by Tanya Erzen
Loving: Interracial Intimacy in America and the Threat to White Supremacy by Sheryll Cashin
After the Eclipse: A Mother's Murder, a Daughter's Search by Sarah Perry
Real American: A Memoir by Julie Lythcott-Hayes

Nonfiction- Essay Collections
The Wrong Way to Save Your Life: Essays by Megan Stielstra
Too Much and Not the Mood: Essays by Durga Chew-Bose
The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Genuine Fraud by E Lockhart
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

And because I'm petty, the number of books I read all the way through but was BITTERLY disappointed with: 10 (That's a lot! Stop disappointing me, books!)

I'll follow up with more details about each book! She said confidently! 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Water Street Bookstore's Bestselling Books of 2016

Check out Water Street Bookstore's bestselling books for 2016, broken out by category. #1 with a bullet goes to The Fireman by Joe Hill! Thanks Joe!

Fiction- Hardcover
1. The Fireman by Joe Hill*
2. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead 
3. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
4. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
5. My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
6. Storm Cell by Brendan DuBois*
7. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
8. LaRose by Louise Erdrich
9. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett 
10. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Fiction- Paperback    
1. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
2. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante 
3. The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
4. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
5. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman 
6. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
7. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
8. In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
9. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
10. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson 

Nonfiction- Hardcover
1. Belichick and Brady by Michael Holley
2. The Penny Poet of Portsmouth by Katherine Towler*
3. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
4. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
5. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
6. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
7. Black Trumpet by Evan Mallett*
8. Tribe by Sebastian Junger
9. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo 
10. The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis

Nonfiction- Paperback
1. Waking Up White by Debby Irving
2. Glorify by Emily C. Heath*
3. The Old Farmer's Almanac 2017 
4. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
5. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
6. The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery
7. H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
8. Hope and Healing for Transcending Loss by Ashley Davis Bush*
9. Exeter, Historically Speaking by Barbara Rimkunas*
10. Dead Wake by Erik Larson

Children's- Hardcover
1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne
2. The Luck Uglies #3: Rise of the Ragged Clover by Paul Durham*
3. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
4. Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins
5. The Thank You Book (An Elephant and Piggie Book) by Mo Willems 
6. Double Down (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #11) by Jeff Kinney
7. When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin
8. The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems
9. The Trials of Apollo #1: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan 
10. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #2: The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

Children's- Paperback
1. Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
2. The Luck Uglies #1 by Paul Durham*
3. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
4. Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin
5. Apollo by George O'Connor
6. The Luck Uglies #2: Fork Tongued Charmers by Paul Durham*
7. Science Comics: Coral Reefs by Maris Wicks
8. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
9. Smile by Raina Telgemeier
10. Zeus by George O'Connor 

* connotes a local author (way to go local authors!)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2017 Books to Anticipate! YAAAA!

So many great books are being published in 2017. These are just the ones I have ARCs for or have noticed in catalogs while ordering. So I know there are many more, many that I have missed. It's an embarrassment of riches, friends. Getting reading (and pre-ordering)! 

Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran (Putnam) (Already read this one-- it's INCREDIBLE)
Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan by Ruth Gilligan (Tin House)
Caraval by Stephanie Garber (Flatiron)
Fever Dream by Samantha Schweblin (Riverhead) (So good, so trippy)
The Spider and the Fly: A Reporter, a Serial Killer, and the Meaning of Murder by Claudia Rowe (Dey St.)
4321 by Paul Auster (Henry Holt)
A Word for Love by Emily Robbins (Riverhead)
Idaho by Emily Ruskovich (Random House)
American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus by Lisa Wade (WW Norton)
The Man Who Shot Out My Eye is Dead by Chenelle Benz (Ecco)
Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson (Ecco)
The New Odyssey: The Story of the Twenty-First Century Refugee Crisis by Patrick Kingsley (Liveright)
Thirteen Shells by Nadia Bozak (House of Anansi)
Always Happy Hour: Stories by Mary Miller (Liveright)
Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton (Spiegel & Grau)
The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson (Simon & Schuster)
Once We Were Sisters by Sheila Kohler (Penguin)
What We Do Now: Standing Up for Your Values in Trump's America edited by Denis Johnson and Valerie Merians (Melville House)

300 Arguments: Essays by Sarah Manguso (Graywolf)
Autumn by Ali Smith (Pantheon)
Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez (Hogarth)
Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller (Tin House)
All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai (Dutton)
The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill (Riverhead)
A Separation by Katie Kitamura (Riverhead)
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (Grand Central) (Read it already-- WOW. It is magnificent.)
Everything Belongs to Us by Yoojin Grace Wuertz (Random House)
Troublemakers: Lessons in Freedom from Young Children at School by Carla Shalaby (New Press)
Beasts of Burden: Animal and Disability Liberation by Sunaura Taylor (New Press)

Follow Me into the Dark by Felicia Sullivan (Feminist Press)
Edgar and Lucy by Victor Lodato (St. Martin's)
All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg (HMH)
Wait Till You See Me: Stories by Deb Olin Unferth (Graywolf)
The Impossible Fairy Tale by Han Yujoo (Graywolf)

The One-Eyed Man by Ron Currie (Viking)
Sonora by Hannah Lillith Assadi (Soho)
The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy (Random House)
Our Short History by Lauren Grodstein (Algonquin)
Ill Will by Dan Chaon (Ballantine)
The Wanderers by Meg Howrey (Putnam)
The Idiot by Elif Batuman (Penguin Press)
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Riverhead)
The Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler (Ecco)
The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel (Knopf)
Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett (Tin House)
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti (Dial)
How to Kill a City: Gentrification, Inequality, and the Fight for the Neighborhood by Peter Moskowitz (Nation Books) 
South and West: From a Notebook by Joan Didion (Knopf)
The Vine That Ate the South by J.D. Wilkes (Two Dollar Radio)
For Love of the Dollar by J.M Servin (Unnamed Press)

Kingdom of the Young: Stories  by Edie Meidav (Sarabande)
Underground Fugue by Margot Singer (Melville House)
The Givers: Money, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age by David Callahan (Knopf)
Unreliable by Lee Irby (Doubleday)
Rebel Mother by Peter Andreas (Simon & Schuster) 
The Road to Jonestown by Jeff Guinn (Simon & Schuster)
The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch (Harper)
Marlena by Julie Buntin (Henry Holt)
American War by Omar El Akkad (Knopf)
No One Is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts (Ecco)
What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky: Stories by Lesley Nneka Arimah (Riverhead)
Sunshine State: Essays by Sarah Gerard (Harper Perennial)

Fen: Stories by Daisy Johnson (Graywolf) 
Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women by Susan Burton and Cari Lynn (New Press) 
Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki (Hogarth)
Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny (Knopf)
The Leavers by Lisa Ko (Algonquin)
Priestdaddy: A Memoir by Patricia Lockwood (Riverhead)
The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Affects the Way We Think, Live, and Die by Keith Payne (Viking)
The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich (Flatiron) (Reading it now--holy cow)
The Invisible Mile by David Conventry (Europa Editions)
Broken River by J. Robert Lennon (Graywolf)
My Soul Looks Back: A Memoir by Jessica B. Harris (Scribner)
Seeing People Off by Jana Benova (Two Dollar Radio)

Wolf Whistle Politics: Feminists on the Most Misogynistic Presidential Election in American History edited by Sarah Burnes and Kera Bolonik (New Press)
Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy (Riverhead)
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay (Harper)
Stephen Florida by Gabe Habash (Coffee House Press)
Perfect Conditions by Vanessa Blakeslee (Curbside Splendor)
Fingerprints of Previous Owners by Rebecca Entel (Unnamed Press)
Blue Money by Janet Capron (Unnamed Press)

Made for Love by Alissa Nutting (Ecco)
What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons (Viking)

Addicted to Reform: A Twelve Step Program to Rescue Public Education by John Merrow (New Press)
Infinite Things All at Once by Rachel Yoder (Curbside Splendor)

The Twelve Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson (Ecco) (reading it now--spectacular)


Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (Penguin Press)