Jess shelves science, environment, nature, and SFF. Currently their favorite genres are anything spooky, strange, speculative, or supernatural. When not shelving books or hosting events, Jess plays synth and sings backup vocals for their indie rock band Art Gecko.
In a departure from the traditions of memoir, Lin seamlessly blends personal essay with folk and fairytale in the form of a yōkai bestiary to achieve a more meaningful, emotional truth about the monsters within. The book touches on painful subjects of cancer, loss, and mental health with rewarding vulnerability. Great for fans of In the Dream House or The Collected Schizophrenias, but it’s a one-of-a-kind read!
We all know that getting stuck inside a whale is a coming-of-age rite of passage for young men escaping the weight of a traumatic upbringing. But Whalefall isn't your average been there done that story of getting eaten while deep-sea diving for your father's corpse; the body horror of being digested inside a stomach and the suspense of Jay's oxygen tank running out serve as metaphor for the crushing expectations he felt from his father in life, and still in death.
My favorite part about this book: Daniel Kraus puts the science in science fiction. I've never read 'ocean horror' that did such thoroughly-researched, while also compassionate and loving, work to show us the beauty and horrors of the sea in the most realistic way possible. Claustrophobic and relentless, I highly recommend.
A touching piece of character-driven fiction that illustrates the heartbreak and resilience of a Canadian Indigenous family broken apart. A 4-year-old Mi'kmaq girl's disappearance from a blueberry farm in Maine haunts her brother Joe across decades of his life. Meanwhile, Norma, a young woman raised by a white, affluent family, is discouraged from questioning her darker skin or troublesome dreams. The Berry Pickers is a tender story about family lost and found that is beautifully written-- I loved every minute.
I picked up Rouge because it's Mona Awad and that alone is enough. If you read Bunny or All's Well and loved either for their surreal storytelling, dark and sometimes sick sense of humor, and the spiraling, obsessive women at their centers, Rouge is a must-read. It's an upside-down fairy tale about beauty cults and a fixation on vanity passed from mother to daughter. This book will play with you, so prepare to be disoriented until you are thoroughly comfortable with the feeling.
A philosophy book in self-help's skin, Night Vision rejects modern psychology's "toxic positivity" and dismantles the old-as-time metaphor of light and dark representing good and bad. Alessandri proposes that rather than telling a suffering person to look on the "bright side" we should instead learn to see them in their darkness (and see ourselves too), so both people benefit from a feeling of connection and understanding. Drawing from personal experience and writings including Audre Lord, María Lugones, Miguel de Unamuno, and Søren Kierkegaard–all philosophers who sat for long times in painful emotions–Alessandri teaches the reader to do the same.
Three timelines converge in a nonlinear narrative that knots itself up and doesn't quite come undone in a moving exploration of loss, grief, and the role of a biracial Asian person in an infectiously white society. Simultaneously, and also at several different points in time, you are introduced to an 80s noir detective show with its torn-leather-jacket-wearing star, Raider, and an enigmatic tech company promising a battery that solves the energy crisis. It's also about queerness, the few days before Christmas, and cereal milk. I loved Flux, and I will be madly talking in circles about it for a very, very long time.
A poetic and powerfully honest memoir that shares the heartbreak felt from fatal miscalculations of love. Felix's manic highs and depressive lows tug the reader through pages of fervor and moments of stillness on a journey of loss, diagnosis, and self-care. Her dyscalculia--a learning disability in mathematics-- is the lens for her failures but also for her healing. I devoured this book and loved every second.
In these essays Sabrina Imbler connects lived experiences and hybrid aspects of their identity with ten different deep sea creatures. Each essay is a thoughtful presentation of race, gender, and self-discovery, synthesizing these introspections with scientific analogies. The cuttlefish is born to morph, and it can change both color and texture for camouflage and communication. In one essay Imbler explores this transformation ability as an extension of their own morphing gender and physical form as a queer human being. The blend is seamless. This is a book I will be putting into the hands of my born family, my queer community, and anyone else I can convince.
We often hear that we must love ourselves before we can be loved by someone else. In this character-driven, unconventional romance, Regan and Aldo challenge the idea that a person dealing with mental illness or trauma must become completely healed and whole before pursuing a healthy relationship. They quickly turn from strangers into each other's obsessions, and struggle to find ways to love well while not always being well. It is ultimately a love story, a very messy and beautiful one that provokes conversation and introspection in equal measure.
This is a darkly funny, fantastical novel about a woman's chronic pain and her struggle to be believed. Ever since taking a career-ending fall off stage, Miranda Fitch has had debilitating aches in her back, barely kept in check by opioids and alcohol. It doesn't help that her class of mutinous theater students would rather put on Macbeth than All's Well That Ends Well, the play that Miranda believes will somehow make everything right. One fateful night, she meets three strange men who bestow powers upon her, freeing her of pain and setting her on a manic and destructive path. This book is surreal-- I highly recommend it!
After encountering a series of exes, soon-to-be-married serial dater Lola finds herself tempted by the workings of a cult using her as a subject for their romantic experiment. Lola must assess her feelings for Boots, her uncomplicated fiance, as well as confront the fragments of her messy past that awaken old parts of herself. Lush with beautiful writing and biting descriptions of men, Cult Classic is a smart, hilarious novel that pokes fun at modern dating norms.
This book doesn't need my help to sell, but here I am anyway because it's really that good. Kenji has great advice for selecting your first wok and how to season it. The recipes are amazing and accessible. He recommends all the right ingredients to stock your pantry with, as well as substitutes that work in a pinch. And I must admit, I've tried cooking his dishes in a regular pan and they were still fantastic. At the time of writing this review, I've owned my wok for a week, tried eight recipes from this cookbook, and I'm not turning back. The Wok is my life now.
“Flora” doesn't quite cover it: within these pages Kimiko Hahn will introduce you to rare life forms across all kingdoms as well as solar phenomena. Hahn's lyrical scientific observations about these dangerous and holy organisms frame her greater themes of relationships and identity. She ties broad concepts of extinction and survival together with intimate anecdotes about family and self-discovery. The collection as a whole is an elegant and intellectual species soup that nourishes the reader.
In this breathtaking memoir, Foo uses her skill as a journalist to put her most painful memories under the microscope. She lives with complex PTSD, a condition that occurs when a traumatic incident happens not just once, but repeatedly over years. The first quarter of the book is the hardest to read, for this is where she poignantly relays the abuses her parents committed, but careful readers will be rewarded by one of the most honest and intimate narratives about healing that I have ever read. What My Bones Know fills an essential gap in the genre of trauma literature by portraying the challenges of navigating mental illness, seeking therapy solutions, and confronting family secrets that are unique to the female, Asian-American experience. You will put this book down feeling armed with hope.
Names for Light is a memoir of four generations' experience with postcolonial racial trauma told through folklore, ghost stories, and dissociated memories. Myint narrates her family history from past to present, but her own story in reverse. Like the nature of memory, the structure is nonlinear and has gaps where moments are forgotten. This is a must read for lovers of storytelling and the children of storytellers.
She Who Became the Sun carves out a bold and bloody new genre of epic fantasy. Zhu's tooth-and-nail fight for her destiny merges hero and antihero into a transcendent figure with an incomparably strong will. Parker-Chan explores themes of gender, tragedy, and resilience. Their world is immersive, and their story powerful.
At her absolute lowest, Lulu Miller becomes obsessed with early president of Stanford and famed ichthyologist David Starr Jordan. This part-memoir-part-biography is a touching story about struggling with mental health and how we cope in the face of chaos. It's a scientific history lesson on how fish taxonomy influenced the imagined hierarchy of human genetics. It's also a murder mystery. And if you're wondering if fish exist, I promise your question will be answered (they definitely don't)!
It all starts right here in Ravenna where S.T., a foul-mouthed domesticated crow, tells us the story of the demise of the human race. What does S.T. stand for, you ask? Something I cannot write here in this review. This book is touching and absolutely hilarious. An essential read for Seattlites, animal lovers, environmentalists, and fans of the zombie apocalypse.
This book is a concise and easy-to-understand primer on fascism, and for me was the perfect introduction to reading political science. It helped me get my bearings in a genre that up until now always intimidated me. In the best possible way, it left me with so many questions. It is not a tome on the history of fascist regimes or a manifesto on how to uproot the fascist model. Instead it is the ignition to keep reading to answer those questions, and the foundation to do so confidently.
We all need this book right now. A Psalm for the Wild- Built is a comforting story that lets you escape for a while into a hopeful future paved by human compassion. Science fiction collides with self-discovery and wilderness expedition with two vibrant, though unlikely paired, characters: a tea monk and a nature-loving robot. Their journey is philosophical as well as physical, full of conversations about purpose, meaning, and human nature. It left me reflecting on my own relationship with those things, but with a profound sense of optimism about it all! I found some peace reading this book, and you will too.
A wonderful collection of poems, and an intimate look into being indigenous in a nation that violently stifles her family's identity as well as their bodies. Despite grief and bitterness, she weaves in threads of joy and hope. Her poems about her brother best encapsulate this feeling.Natalie Diaz is a Mojave woman enrolled in the Gila River Indian Tribe. Check out her first collection of poems, When My Brother Was An Aztec, if (like me) you can't get enough!
A debut collection of short stories that hits hard and close to home. Each of us exists somewhere in the raw, unavoidable reality of these stories. I saw my own pain on the page, but many other times felt wrenched with empathy for losses I've never experienced. Moniz's prose is lyrical and flowing while acutely pinpointing the ways that grief, numbness, violence, and desire manifest in our minds and our bodies. Although the stories do not always give closure, this stunning look into the diverse, ordinary lives of Floridian families is not one to miss.
I am addicted to dystopian vignettes. With TV shows like Black Mirror or Love, Death & Robots I've found myself ravenously consuming these fleeting but entrancing short stories. Alien Virus Love Disaster is perfect for this. It hits all the good spots-- aliens, robots, other beastie creatures-- but also ponders humanity, class, and wealth. What will our families and communities look like in these dystopian landscapes? Will things change for the better? Otis's take can be a bit dark, but is immeasurably brightened by the pure absurdity of some of her stories and characters.
Here is a narrator that I will always love! Storytelling is the heart of this book, and Kvothe is the ultimate storyteller. Our hero is cocky and confident, but rightfully and satisfyingly so. Rothfuss has nested tales within fantastical tales in this epic world, complete with its own deep lore, history, and mythology. The Name of the Wind is overflowing with tavern tables, tearful ballads, murder, magic school, and true love-- everything you want from a fantasy novel and so much more. It is my top pick in this category. I regret devouring this book too quickly on my first read. What I wouldn't give to experience it once again for the first time!
Michael Cunningham has daringly woven together the stories of three women in a reworking of Virginia Woolf's book Mrs. Dalloway. Virginia Woolf's life and novel echo through Cunningham's interpretation as much as they explicitly occur through chapters from Mrs. Woolf's own perspective. He even employs her writing style in ways I find impressive and respectful. Mrs. Dalloway is not required reading before sitting down with The Hours, though you may find yourself aching to read it afterwards. This book is a masterful examination of converging lives coping with illness, loss, and suicide. It is a beautiful and thought-provoking triptych of stories to engage with.
This is an astounding book of science writing, although the science behind an octopus' biology and behavior is only a small part of what makes this book so captivating. Humor and heartbreak coalesce as Sy Mongtomery sucks us into the waters and introduces us to a creature whose personality and emotions rival our own in their depth. I felt warmed with stories of affection between the octopuses and aquarists at the New England Aquarium. Of course now I desperately want to meet these wondrous beings myself. I finished this book knowing that my empathy for the octopus will translate into a deeper respect for all our so-called "lower" life forms. It is truly inspirational.