Charming, intelligent, and emotionally adrift, Casey does her best to navigate life on the other side of 30. An aspiring novelist by day and a waitress by night, she grapples with the recent death of her mother, suffocating student debt, and a tricky love triangle. King’s writing is raw and intimate and her characters beautifully drawn. I came to feel a deep connection to Casey as I read, laughing and crying along with her. I loved this book so much that I tore through it at lightning speed and was then immediately devastated that it was over.
Chanel Miller doesn’t remember being sexually assaulted by Brock Turner because she was unconscious at the time. She does, however, remember all that ensued in the aftermath and in Know My Name she recounts every eviscerating detail. Miller’s story is deeply personal, but it is not unique. She writes beautifully and courageously about the ugly processes that follow her assault: medical exams, trials, therapy, and the struggle she faces to simply get through each day. Constantly barraged with the repercussions of her assault, Miller is unable to forget an event she doesn’t even remember. In revealing her identity—she was previously referred to simply as “Emily Doe”—Miller owns her narrative and proves that victimhood does not make a person powerless.
Like many of us, Lindy West loves pointing out plot holes and picking movies apart almost as much as she loves watching them. Unlike many of us, West used to be a professional film critic, lending merit to her commentary. Each chapter focuses on a different classic and often beloved film, summarizing the plot while also pointing out everything that’s wrong with it. This might sound like a bit of a negative premise, but it’s all in good fun and West makes some truly hilarious observations. The book isn’t groundbreaking but it will make you laugh A LOT.
In January 1969, Harvard graduate student Jane Britton was found murdered in her apartment. Despite several leads, the case was still unsolved when Becky Cooper happened upon it 50 years later. Though she had no training or special connections to speak of, Cooper dedicated the next decade of her life to finding Britton’s killer. Extraordinarily well researched and thoughtfully told, this book has all the thrill and suspense that characterize true crime while managing to steer clear of the sensationalism and insensitivity that often cheapen the genre.
Much has been written about the destruction of Pompeii, the “discovery” of Angkor; but what of those cities in their prime? What about the people who lived there? Newitz spent years traveling the world, researching, excavating, and speaking with experts in order to glean a deeper understanding of ancient cities and the lives of their citizens. Educational and engaging, Four Lost Cities is both an enjoyable history lesson and a call to take care of the cities of today, before they too fall into ruin.
Eerie and imbued with a sense of melancholy, Bliss Montage is anything but. The eight stories here focus on themes of nostalgia, abuse, agency, and relationships. Ma’s writing conjures worlds that are like ours, but not, parallel universes where yetis live amongst us and recreational drugs can make you temporarily invisible. Ma’s stories left me feeling strange, and a little bit squeamish. Great recommendation for fans of Ottessa Moshfegh.
Like many 90’s kids, I was obsessed with dinosaurs. I loved The Land Before Time and took pride in my many accumulated dino-facts. While my passion for prehistoric animals is mostly a thing of the past, I was drawn to this book after reading and enjoying the author’s previous work, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs. I learned so much from this book and kept pestering my boyfriend with mammal facts (did you know bats are the only flying mammals, ever??!!). Brusatte’s writing is intelligent and unpretentious and imbues a freshness into a field that often comes across as stuffy and archaic. I think it's fair to compare this The Dawn of Everything but instead of focusing only on humans, it’s about all of Mammal-kind.
In this thrilling, brilliantly crafted tale of shipwreck, mutiny, and deceit, David Grann recounts the 1742 voyage of the Wager. Doomed from the very start—with a ragtag, ill-prepared crew and an inexperienced captain—the Wager was destined for disaster. Grann deftly describes the horrendous suffering the ship’s crew endured and chronicles the incredible, sometimes horrifying, lengths that they went to to return home. I’ve long considered David Grann one of the greatest narrative nonfiction writers alive, and this book only cements that further.
One of the stories in this collection, Madwomen, is about a single mother raising her part Hawaiian son in West O’ahu after his father leaves. She is a wonderful character, full of self doubt, wondering how she can raise a son all alone in an ever-changing world. She is unsure how she can teach her son anything, and yet, there is a love that shines through every gorgeously written sentence. It is truly a perfectly crafted story, as are the other ten in this beautiful collection that honors the real voices of Hawai’i.
I tend to prefer a bit more substance in my books. That said, Diane WIlliams has done something I haven't experienced while reading: she left me totally satisfied in as little as a few sentences.
She masterfully crafts her writing in a way that every word just seems to fit perfectly. No more, no less. This is refreshingly unsettling and jarring in the absolute best way. A true delight!