Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Staff Recommendations, Week of September 19, 2023

Chris Lee kicks of this week's recommending with The Book of (More) Delights by Ross Gay, a follow up to his essay collections Inciting Joy and, naturally, The Book of Delights. Chris says: "A new Ross Gay book is always, yes, I'm going to say it - a delight. Each essay is a little gift - an invitation to join the poet in moments when delight (and I can't say enough how important - how necessary - it is that he generally uses delight as an active word, as a verb) changes his relationship with the world around him - and maybe makes us reconsider our own, too. Man, this dude is a real one, and this book is an earthy, bare hands digging in the dirt kind of balm for alienation. Read it and live better."

Next up is Tim McCarthy, who  recommends This Indian Kid: A Native American Memoir by Eddie Chuculate. Tim says: "Eddie Chuculate offers us the story of an indigenous boy’s day-to-day life, but he was a boy who never lived on a reservation and wasn’t part of America’s distant past. He was a modern kid who lived in racially mixed towns during the 1970s and 80s, and he thinks that makes his story a bit different from the indigenous books he’s read. I do, too. He and I think a lot alike. I’m only six years older than Eddie. We had the exact same old-fashioned shows on our family television sets as kids. We saw the same sports stars play. We both won vinyl records by obsessively calling into radio stations; his was Jimmy Buffett and mine was an entire Led Zeppelin library! He was a better student, and the trouble he got into wasn’t like mine. But the most fascinating difference is that he grew up in rural Oklahoma (where his distant ancestors were forced to go), and my suburban Milwaukee childhood was much further removed from the land and in some ways much more protected. I wasn’t about to hunt rabbits alone with a ten-year-old shotgun-toting friend. Our stark similarities walk side by side with our stark differences, making this memoir of a full childhood mind-bending for me. Eddie tells it with a voice just like he’s a kid back in Oklahoma, a warm, sincere tone that I think will fascinate today’s young people just like it did me."

And now it's over to Rachel Copeland for Starter Villain, the latest from John Scalzi. Of it, Rachel says: "Divorced substitute teacher Charlie Fitzer doesn't expect anything when his estranged uncle Jake dies - even if he was a billionaire. So when he inherits what turns out to be his uncle's supervillain empire, he's more than a little nonplussed. And that's before he finds out that the admin department is composed of sentient cats. Throw in a volcano lair, a few powerful enemies, and some truly foulmouthed dolphins, and Charlie's got himself in quite the pickle. It's hard to explain how delightful Starter Villain is, as so much of it is dependent on Scalzi's uniquely understated comedic je ne sais quoi. Charlie is the perfect everyman, with the best quality of all: knowing when to shut up and listen to the cats. You won't have more fun this year than the time it takes you to read this gem."

How about we go to now to Jen Steele for her take on Red Rabbit, the latest novel by Alex Grecian. Jen says: "Witches and ghouls and demons, oh my! Red Rabbit is a thrilling and atmospheric western with a wide cast of characters, both human and otherworldly. There's a bounty on the witch Sadie Grace and everyone wants to collect. Hell will rain down on a small town in Kansas, and Sadie Grace is ready for it. Amongst the bounty seekers is a ragtag group heading Sadie's way, and everyone's life will change, for better or worse. I thought this was a really fun read! A great mix of the wild west, horror, magic, and mayhem."

And finally, we hear from Greta Borgealt about Pockets: An Intimate History of How We Keep Things Close by Hannah Calrson. Greta says: "Have you ever asked yourself, why are women's pockets generally smaller than men's pockets? In the book Pockets, by Hannah Carlson, the author will answer this question and more. This book goes all the way back to the beginning. Surprisingly, this account of history has a feminist lens. It is more interesting than one would think, and you don't have to be very knowledgeable about fashion to be able to enjoy this book."

That is a great to-read stack, isn't it? We'll be back next week with more recs, but these selections should keep you busy in the interim. Until next time, read on, dear readers, read on.

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