A Sociology major and English minor, Marii usually reads from the sociology, fiction or science genres, but she shelves for Health, Psychology, Personal Growth and New Age. When she's not in class or at work, she's probably writing letters to people (in typical Pisces fashion), making new lavender-flavored foods and drinks, or trying to be at the beach.
Hua Hsu spent 20 years writing this book as an homage to a friend, Ken, who was randomly murdered in a carjacking one night after a college party. The first half details their friends' lives in college at Berkeley in the 90s, and the sense of infinitute you feel when you're young. The second half is a completely arresting tribute to Ken and their friendship as Hsu struggles to process the grief of losing Ken, and the guilt of surviving without him. I can't put into words how good this is -- just read it for yourself and let Hsu tell you how much he loved Ken.
The protagonist, an Asian-American woman and a doctor, weaves medical and scientific language into this story about family heartache, the immigrant experience, and the cost of success in America - how it severs the body, amputates the family, and intrudes on the mind and memory. As Joan herself says, "if I could hold success in my hand, it would be a beating heart." The prose is sharp, precise, full of puns and double meaning, and plays on the translation of words between languages in order to brilliantly capture the feeling of being Other in America.
"Most people I know live their lives moving in a constant forward direction, the whole time looking backward." In this book, a time travel machine technician goes between universes saving people from (ab)using time travel in their efforts to fix their disappointing lives. When he's not doing that, he's searching for his missing father, who disappeared after inventing time travel. Within this strange and mind-bending plot, Yu addresses some of life's most philosophical questions. Is time a forward trajectory? Do regret and nostalgia serve us? How do we reconcile with the ache of a parent's lost dream? This book is an unconventional but beautiful tribute from a son to his father, and calls on us to reimagine the way we think about time.
This book taught me more about what happens after someone dies than anything or anyone else I’ve ever asked. I don’t think that’s because people didn’t want me to know, but instead because most people just simply don’t know themselves. Which is precisely what Campbell wanted to address by writing this book—why in our society are we so averse to talking about, knowing and seeing death? And how much more of the human experience could we access if allowed ourselves to stand at the edge and peer over? In this journalist’s journey through so many careers in death, I got to see how death work is “some kind of love.” This gave me a solace which I had never had before about the people I have lost and the ways they must have been taken care of even after I could no longer see their body. That solace alone makes this book worth reading.
J.P. Brammer writes from a very specific background as a gay Mexican-American man raised in rural Oklahoma, but these are identities you don't need to personally claim in order to both love and benefit from this book. His writing style makes you forget you are reading and instead feel as if you're having a conversation with someone who is deeply invested in helping you seize the best from life. And he's hilarious, so that's a plus.
A timeless piece of writing, with reflections on battling cancer, lesbian motherhood, Black American womanhood, community organizing, and love. An important voice to familiarize yourself with now, as Audre Lord's wisdom and vision carry lessons that could help us traverse our most persisting social issues if only we would listen.
biography, women's studies, African American, LGBTQ+, cancer, sexuality
If you are interested in the concept of material things having spirit, read this book! Tiya Miles does a gorgeous job of describing how a mother's love was passed down through generations of enslaved women via a fabric sack. This book also addresses the archival erasure which prevents us from ever truly knowing some families' stories. Miles uses her expertise as a historian and an empath to speculate on the ways in which the inherited sack might have carried a mother's hopes of giving her daughter a chance at survival and resistance during a period of American history where, for Black women, such things were against the odds.
The author, having recently lost her son to suicide, transcends all the ordinary rules of grieving and constructs a timeless world in which she can speak with her son again. Their imagined conversations are so honest, yearning and specific that you feel as if they are in fact sitting in a room together once more. This is a gorgeous meditation on loss and the funny things it does to a person, reminding us that there is no "ordinary" way to grieve after all.
Okay so Michael Pollan told you what to eat, Michael Greger told you where not to eat, and maybe you've dipped your toe in some other books about food (maybe even by people not named Michael). But I promise you, you're missing out if you don't read The Secret Life of Groceries. This book will not settle any debates about what diets we should or should not be on, but it does something even better--it takes us through the world events and societal shifts which led to the relationship we now have with the grocery store. He describes this relationship as one in which we roam the grocery aisles looking not just for food but for confirmation of who we believe ourselves to be. As Lorr reminds us, food is the business of eating but grocery is the business of desire. Along the way, he takes a look at some of the hidden players in the grocery industry--from transport to meat packing to the grocery floor and finally to YOU and your very own role in the industry. In this book, you will see things you will never be able to unsee (in an important way!) and at the very least, you will get some good laughs.