This book could not have come into my life at a more fitting time and I will continue to revisit it, and the wisdom within it, often.
Parable of the Sower is an often bleak novel that ruminates on community, faith, love, and change. Butler doesn’t pull punches in her depiction of a world so full of danger and loss that it can often feel brutal. But at the same time, she weaves in moments of hope throughout the narrative that will keep you going through the novel. This book is a labor to read, and not an especially useful tool for escapists, but it is one of the most worthwhile stories you can pick up.
If you write speculative fiction, or you think you might want to give it a shot, do yourself a favor and pick up Wonderbook. I guarantee it’s worth it.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab is a remarkably whimsical experience, taking you through lives and centuries, and it filled my heart with wonder for the world.
A violent feminist fairytale, this book checked every box for me; I will cherish it for a long time.
There are trigger warnings for this book for violence, cannibalism, rape, and animal cruelty.
Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica, translated from Spanish by Sarah Moses, is not an easy book to read. But amidst the horror that drowns these pages, there is hope that can be fished out from its depths.
As soon as I began Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin, I knew that I was going to treasure it. Schaitkin starts right off with prose so dreamy and ethereal, it almost felt like a haunting, like there was a ghost peering over my shoulder as I read the words. One of the key elements of this book is absence, the fading away and losing oneself to the expectations of the world around you, especially in relation to girlhood, to becoming a woman, a wife, a mother. This becomes eerily evident as soon as you reach page four, where the author writes, “Young boys could often be seen at the edge of the forest, huddled around piles of sticks and leaves and paper, holding stolen matches to the tinder until it caught and watching it burn. Young girls concealed themselves, crouching among the foxgloves in dooryard gardens, burying themselves under heavy quilts in their parents’ beds, playing at being gone.”
Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian is a historical fiction novel that pulls you deep into a world of darkness and drowned desires. Set in the Puritan world of Boston in 1662, Mary Deerfield has found herself married to a cruel and vicious man. On one horrific night, he commits an act of extreme violence against her, and she decides that she has had enough. After being married to Thomas Deerfield for five years, Mary begins the arduous journey of attempting to convince the Boston court that her situation merits a divorce. Mary is a character that I immediately admired, with the way that she stood up for herself and demanded an end to her mistreatment, no matter how taboo it was to do so during the time period. She quickly realized that she would do just about anything to get away from her husband. But at the same time, Mary grew up in a very strict church, and has been plagued by an intense fear for her soul since childhood. The threat of eternal damnation is always looming over her like an ominous New England storm cloud. And a woman that speaks up for herself is sure to be called a witch.
Everything Sad Is Untrue is the story of a middle school boy named Khosrou, who everyone calls Daniel, telling stories to his middle school classroom. They’re loosely interwoven, and rambling, and no one believes that they’re true but they are his stories; stories about him and his family, about his mother and about his ancestors. Daniel plays the part of a modern Scheherazade, weaving stories to save himself from the cruelty of his classmates.
This book serves as a reminder that without connection and compassion to others, life can be just a shell. This book hit me right in the heart and brought tears to my eyes for many reasons — the sadness and grief in knowing that it can be so easy to lose your way and turn your back to the things that make life worth living; the recognition that we have so many chances to turn it all around if that does in fact happen; and the joy in knowing that connection to another human being can be one of the most powerful things in the world.
“I enjoyed the way this novel went back and forth between past and present, and the way that the author connects the dots between the two time periods makes it exciting to read. It makes you want to go dig up a mystery of your own, to uncover something about the past that has been lost and buried.”
“These myths are truly life changing; they are stick-in-your-soul type stories. Sharon Blackie preaches about finding meaning in the mundane, in getting out of the modern world and finding yourself in the forestæ”
“This book was incredibly poetic, and the story consumed me so much that I finished the book within a day.”
“Piranesi by Susanna Clarke is one of the most haunting, beautiful, terrifying, and comforting books I have ever read. It seems odd to describe a book in such conflicting ways, but there truly are elements to the story that make you feel each of these things.”
“It is retellings like this, I believe, that take the myths back, and finally make them women’s stories, too. After reading this, you will not soon forget the courageous, epic women of the Trojan War.”
This book is surely not just one thing, but a story that exceeds the limits of genre and conventionality, weaving together elements of romance, horror, mystery, historical fiction, and even components of an autobiography, into one unforgettable story.
“If you were criticized for being too quiet, if you felt as though you were an alien in school that could never quite manage to blend in or make friends easily, then this book is likely to feel healing to you as well.”
“Each time I read through the book I find myself getting lost in the illustrations, finding some new detail or appreciating the intricate line work. The story contained perfectly within these magical illustrations is equally as charming…”
“Portrayed simply as a traitor and secondary character in the traditional telling of the story, here Ariadne is cast as the true hero in the myth of King Minos, the Minotaur, and Theseus.”
“A rebel, a rockstar, the phoenix from the flame, Sinéad has continuously stood up for her beliefs and not given in to what others wanted her to be, and I think that there is nothing more powerful than that: a woman demanding to be heard no matter how many pairs of hands are trying to pull her back into the shadows of submission.”
“New doors and hallways start to appear, explorations into a mysterious never ending abyss then take place and the family’s life is forever changed. We experience this story through the eyes of two narrators, one is deceased and one is possessed by the words written by the other.”
“While bird and bird symbolism are found throughout the entire book, a rare, beautiful, and extraordinary bird ties the two stories together and symbolizes the difficulty, beauty, and hard to grasp moments in truly finding out who you are.”
“This book addresses many aspects of identity—sexual identity, racial and cultural identity, feminism—and the various intersections and facets of identity that makes a person who they are.”
“Siken is one of those poets whose words I carry with me everywhere I go, haunting and raw and extremely intense, as soul baring as they are soul filling. I don’t know of another poet who has hit me as deeply.”
“This book is like a dagger to the heart in the way that it made me feel sharply and deeply understood, hitting me in a place where few other works of literature have…”
“David Chang is funny, honest, and pulls no punches in this memoir.”
“His words resonate with me as he describes the action of painting and visual representation, while also speaking to existential concerns.”
“She paints the pages with words that feel soft and warm, reminiscent of a spring day, but that can also be sharp when they need to be- when you need to be reminded that life is meant to be lived with passion and intensity.”
“No on feels fine at four a.m. If ants feel fine at four a.m.,
we’ll be happy for the ants. And let five a.m. come
if we’ve got to go on living.”
“Reading this book made me realize that my thoughts and feelings are more than just my own; that nearly all women experience these pressures, these comments, these feelings that simply being yourself—a woman—is seen as being ‘monstrous.'”
“Simone gives us an unflinching, honest telling of her life: from attending Juilliard and her dream of being the first Black concert pianist to being deemed the ‘high priestess of soul’ and playing a major role in the civil rights movement.”
“Chapter 11 entitled Sugar Camp was especially meaningful to me. My mother was a WAVE at that time stationed in Dayton, Ohio and was recruited to work at Sugar Camp. From 1943-44 women were engaged in building a special faster bombe to decipher the previously used naval Enigma.”
“If you are at a point in your life when you are feeling powerless, out of control, or that your voice doesn’t matter, this book will show you that there are still fierce embers within you, burning, and how to rekindle them into that ravaging fire once again.”