Bookseller at Seward Park
Elijah is a defunct microbiologist who now applies his understanding of fun germs to home fermenting. Ask him about his cat or, more topically, books involving cooking, criticism, or strange monomanias
I'll Give You The Sun is the story of twins told before and after their lives are rent by tragedy. Nelson writes with magical exuberance that portrays and demonstrates how creativity can change our perception of the world. This is a book of twists and complicated relationships, asking how we can do better by our loved ones.
This wry and experimental book tells the story of an ailing marriage in a series of short, tangential dispatches--at some times a journal, others a commonplace book. Offill uses blank space expertly to foster connections between paragraphs and characters. Few other books are so memorable, or feel so much like memory.
I have been making false starts into the world of naturally leaven breads for five years now. Of an entire shelf of baking books, only Tartine Bread turned homemade sourdough into a comprehensible and enjoyable process. I am now drowning in the heady, yeasty aroma of homemade bread, afloat in loaves to my neck. A kitchen must-have.
In this eponymous retelling, Spokane author Sharma Shields merges myth with the modern catastrophes of nuclear proliferation and environmental devastation. Don't come here for hope. Shields's writing is graphic and prescient, demanding that we listen to women--before it is too late.
In the spirit of upcoming turkey carcasses, here is the most decadently pus-soaked and maggot-riddled book I've ever had the privilege of reading. Surgery, belying its present, was once a barbaric exercise in brute strength and swift scalpelwork. Only thanks to the iconoclastic work of doctors like Joseph Lister and William T.G. Morton are procedures possible without unbearable agony and rapid infection. This medical history is brisk, riveting, nauseating, and unrelentingly fun.
It's unclear if this book is prose or poetry (or that hateful nonanswer "prose-poetry"). Certainly, though, Nelson has crafted a crucial treatise on love and loneliness that interrogates the many natures of such emotions. I can only say that this book doesn't answer any questions, and that I will keep rereading it to revisit those that it raises.
Jia Tolentino, of The New Yorker aplomb, in this collection demonstrates that, for a cultural critic, no norm is beneath observation. Tolentino writes like a contemporary anthropologist: rummaging through our artifacts and explaining them to us, wondering aloud how they became so misshapen. Written for every reader, your life will only be improved, and changed, by picking up a copy.
Miss college? Love baseball? Lust after your school president? I don't either, so the depth to which I reveled in this book surprised me. Harbach's swooping sports odyssey is sentence-level funny in a way that tempers its growing bleakness, with characters who are troubled and human and who tangle into ornate, fragile knots. Is this book an allegory? Sure, but who knows for what. Life, probably.
Featured in this collection is an essay from 2018 that, in passing, mentions the increasing likelihood of a pandemic and the return of fascism. Which is to say, Gabbert writes with an eerie prescience suggesting that, if one reads enough, and from disparate enough sources, they can predict the future. Of course, this is a big ask for most people--so I recommend they read this book instead.
I don't believe in a book that can save the world; however, after How To Do Nothing, I do believe in one that can remind us to love it again. This book, more manifesto than self-help, recommends a reclamation of attention, informed by art and philosophy, that aims to anchor us in our social and ecological communities. These are small rebellions that you can carry out every day. What do you have to lose?
Cancer is less a discrete ailment than a spectrum of intimate betrayals, a reality both experienced and made metaphor in Boyer's methodical and excruciating memoir. Boyer extends her critical acumen and poetic precision to cancer through the microscope-lenses of biology, capitalism, gender, and art, revealing a disease inherent to, and fashioned by, us.
Whatever your level of familiarity with poetry, Abdurraqib is a joy to read. His ampersandic verse explores the transactions of love and power and joy that comprise our world. In a book ranging topically from police brutality to heartbreak to Afrofuturism, Abdurraqib asks us to pay attention, to bear witness, to feel.