Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Staff Recommendations, Week of May 31, 2022

The end of the month brings lots of new releases. Let us help you start your summer reading off well with these books.

Chris Lee recommends We Had to Remove This Post by Hanna Bervoets: "Get through the work day, and don’t let the work get to you. That’s the goal of everyone who labors, at least to some degree. And, of course, it’s impossible. Manual work breaks down your body, the service industry eats away your personhood. And in her crisp, quick new novel, Hanna Bervoets tells the story of one woman’s year spent in the latest temple to soul-sucking drudgery: a social media company’s content moderation facility. The question is begged (I admit, I wondered, too): what’s the worst thing you ever saw? And boy oh boy are there ever some eye-watering answers. But there’s fun here, too, particularly that old dirtbag pleasure of getting away with as much as you can on the clock – loafing, drinking, smoking dope, even screwing. We Had to Remove This Post is a very now working class novel that asks age-old and essential questions of life under capitalism: what does our work do to us? How much of ourselves will we give away for money? The answers Bervoets finds are disquieting at best, and the longer you think about them (and you’re going to keep thinking about them, trust me), the more your skin crawls. I really like this book."

Chris also recommends The Coward by Jarred McGinnis: "The Coward is a spectacular dirtbag bildungsroman. Jarred is paralyzed after a car accident that killed a woman, and he blames himself for her death. In fact, blames himself for a lot of things; classic King Midas in reverse syndrome. Maybe the only person he blames more is his estranged, alcoholic father, under whose roof he’s now stuck living. Alas, Jarred can barely push himself down the block before he’s out of breath, so his tried and true method of running away from his problems is no longer a particularly viable option. Some soul-searching and past-confronting may be in order, as quick wit and anger are only going to carry him so far. Is he destined to spend the rest of his life as a living, breathing (and annoyed) cautionary tale / inspirational token to the able-bodied? How long can he dodge medical bill collectors? Could the barista at the fancy coffee shop actually be interested in him, like, that way? And can he reconcile with his father, finally mourn his mother, and learn not run out on the people who care about him? The Coward will probably not be the book for everybody – the voice is callous, sarcastic, and comes with quite the chip on the shoulder – but if your interest is piqued, I can promise this book will lend your heart some serious warmth by the end."

Margaret Kennedy recommends A Little Bit Country by Brian D Kennedy (no relation): "From debut author Brian D Kennedy, A Little Bit Country not only gives us a sweet-as-can-be love story that will rival any ballad on the radio but also a much-needed look into what it means to love country. The book is set in Wanda World, a country music theme park owned by one of the biggest superstars in the industry. Emmett, an openly gay country singer is working there for the summer in the hopes that he will leave with a record deal. Luke, who comes from a struggling home with bad ties to country music, is only there for the paycheck. When the two meet, sparks will fly, and unexpected family secrets will come out of the closet. The characters are well written - they care for and accept the other even when they are unable to relate and struggle to make good decisions despite the tough situations they are put in. With an ending that left me elated and wondering how I didn't see that coming, I couldn't put this book down. To all those who are gay and love country music, an industry that doesn't always love you back for that, A Little Bit Country gives a nice sense of hope for the future."

Jenny Chou recommends The Latecomer by Jean Hanff Korelitz: "Phoebe Oppenheimer arrived in the world seventeen years after her triplet siblings, but as she likes to point out, she’s exactly the same age. Sally, Harrison, Lewyn, and Phoebe started as four embryos in a petri dish, three implanted, and one sent off to be frozen and just about forgotten. The triplets don’t exactly create the loving, close family their mother Johanna envisioned, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that they can’t stand each other by the time they leave for college. In addition, their dad has checked out of their lives, supposedly (but only partially) due to his obsession with his art collection. Johanna, still hoping to create the blissful, loving family of her dreams, makes what feels like an impulsive decision, but actually did take quite a bit of planning. She hires a surrogate to carry the embryo that becomes Phoebe, the child nobody really wanted (including Johanna), but perhaps the one they all needed. Her wise and slightly cynical voice carries the novel from beginning to end, catching the reader up on all the many things she missed out on through her arrival seventeen years too late. She’s one of the few people you won’t want to strangle by the end of the book, but if you like messy family dynamics, then this one is a winner!"

Jen Steele recommends Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris: "David Sedaris offers a heartfelt and earnest new collection of essays that left me laughing one minute, agreeing with his astute observations and contemplative the next. If you have the chance, I recommend listening to the audiobook. It's like being at one of Sedaris's show, which is a completely unique experience."

Speaking of Sedaris shows - David Sedaris appears in-person at Boswell on Friday, June 17, 2 pm, for a ticketed talk which will be followed by a free and open-to-everyone signing. For more information, click here.

Jen also recommends Barb and the Ghost Blade (Barb the Last Berzerker #2), written and illustrated by Dan Abdo and Jason Patterson: "Our favorite Zerk is back! Barb and her friends are on a quest to save the world from the sinister Witch Head. To do that, Barb must enlist the Wise Wizards to join her. Finding a Wizard might be tricky, and Barb will need to go undercover in a monster city that doesn't take too kindly to humans - what could go wrong? Barb and the Ghost Blade is full of humor, heart, and nonstop action! This is fast becoming my new favorite graphic novel series."

Jen also recommends (go, Jen, go!) Together We Burn by Isabel Ibañez "Imagine a medieval Spain with dragons instead of bulls and matadors. Isabel Ibanez vividly brings to life a world full of danger and intrigue; you can feel the heat of the dragons and the flair of flamenco on every page. Together We Burn is a great mix of fantasy, romance, and mystery. I felt transported to another land."

That's it for this week of recommending, so happy reading to you for the rest of this week, and we'll see you back here for the start of June with more recommendations.

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