Winter is terrible. Here's what you should read.
Staying inside is the worst but at least the books are good.
January has been mostly bad — insurrections & impeachments & the pandemic, pass, but inauguration was pretty good!
Books, on the other hand, have been overwhelmingly exceptional.
Here’s what else I’ve liked this month, in no particular order:
So We Can Glow by Leesa Cross-Smith - Sometimes you just need quick bites of very very very good writing. This short story collection hits the spot.
Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters: A gorgeous heartbreaking novel about women and gender and motherhood and queer identity, told through the intersecting lives of Reese (a trans woman getting her life together), her ex-partner, Ames (assigned a man at birth who transitioned to become Amy and then detransitioned), and Katrina (a cis woman & Ames’ boss/lover/now pregnant with his baby) with some supremely New York-y settings.
Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson: I can’t really articulate why this book is so uplifting — it’s a visceral and detailed historical fiction about Pheby, a 17 year old slave girl in Virginia who becomes the concubine/wife of a man who runs the most fucked up slave jail in Richmond — but it is, and is totally gripping.
People Like Her by Ellery Lloyd - A British mommy-influencer who’s mostly faking it, her failed novelist/bitter husband, and a fan-turned-threat who becomes more and more dangerous. I have a deeeeeeeeeep affinity for books about how the internet is ruining us all.
The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon - One of my favorite contemporary romance novels I can remember. It’s the old classic tale of coworkers who pretend to be exes in order to host a radio show and then fall in love and then their secret comes out and everything gets blown up — it’s hot, funny, woke, deeply affectionate & appropriately critical toward public radio/podcasting, romantic; just all-around gooey goodness.
What Could Be Saved by Liese O’Hallaran Schwarz - In 1972, Laura & Bea Preston’s 8 year old brother, Phillip, disappeared while their family lived in Bangkok (they didn’t know it at the time, but their dad was a spy, and their mom was having an affair with his boss.) 47 years later, someone claiming to be Phillip reappears. [eyes emoji…] Bounce back and forth in time, wish you were in Bangkok, and enjoy the luscious mystery/family drama.
You Have a Match by Emma Lord - Abby is a shy aspiring photographer (and in love with her best friend, Leo) - while his DNA test to learn more about his biological parents comes up short, the one Abby takes in solidarity shows a sister she never knew about who lives one town over. That sister, Savvy, is a major Instagram influencer — they meet and decide to spend the summer at camp together to figure out what happened. Think: Parent Trap vibes + summer romance + coming of age tale + Instagram anguish.
The full spreadsheet is here. (Like I said: almost 100% hits so far this year!) If you liked this, or got it forwarded to you, or want more book recs, subscribe.