This is a book for the reader who is aware, interested and concerned. It is for the person who obsessively follows every celebrity break-up, make-up, and make-over. Trainwreck is a funny, compassionate and skewering examination of how we make and break and shame women in the public eye. Sady Doyle has a list in mind of all of the women we've watched both soar and flail since Mary Wollestonecraft died in 1797. Her book is organized according to all of the ways that women have been shamed and wrecked in public for the last 200 or so years. From slut-shaming to necrophilia (because yes, this is a thing), sexism has created an environment where women are first lauded, then leered at for 'daring to be different,' 'speaking her mind,' and behaving in any way that is contrary to whatever social construct is at hand telling women how and what to be. This is a book that is sure to spark thought, conversation and not a few strong emotional responses. Read with tea. -Jonesey's September Staff Pick, 2016
Pond is a debut novel that takes place entirely within the thinking layers and words of a woman who lives by herself mostly and sort of does things and sort of doesn't do things and it's all very familiar and strange and ultimately incredibly unsettling in the way that only the most unknown normalcy can be. Imagine a travelogue to someone else's dream-scape translated into your day to day. Only it's not a dream, mostly, and she's not really trying to make you comfortable. Claire-Louise Bennett offers us a character whose vocabulary is broad and giddy, and whose interests spill far far away from the edges of this bit of her living that we are shown. It is an incredible novel, best explored over something buttery, perhaps cut with a poem or two. For texture. Excellent late summer reading.-Jonesey's September Staff Pick, 2016
If this is the direction that fantasy is heading, I am here for it. N.K. Jemisin's second book in her Broken Earth saga is nothing short of mind-boggling. Essun and her companions have found their way to relative safety and a change in her quest. Castrima is warm, dry and underground, but that is no guarantee of security. Not during a Season. Nothing is certain anymore as more and more comms figure out how bad this will be and make what plans they can to stay alive. We meet Nassun, Essun's daughter, as she and her father flee their home. Her abilities and understanding keep them safe, but at what cost? Jemisin has built an intriguing world whose stakes seem impossibly high even as her characters are impossibly familiar. This is an amazing installment! I am almost on tenterhooks for the next one. Waiting a year for the end of the trilogy will be a struggle, fortunately there are five other books and a novella by her to read. Brava! Enjoy!
Fantasy isn't always a genre known for innovative or startling narratives. NK Jemisin has changed all of that. Her world-building is complex and intriguing. Her storytelling is gifted, elegant and her books only benefit from re-reading. She is, in fact, re-inventing the wheel, and I am here for it. The Fifth Season chronicles the beginning of the end, of an end, on a world that is in constant physical motion. Orogenes, people who can control the earth's shakes, are hunted, kept and used to keep the land as settled as possible. Essun, an orogene, has been living in hiding for ten years with her husband and two children. Her husband has no idea what she is. And then everything changes. Do not sleep on this trilogy. Do not sleep on NK Jemisin. She is changing everything. -Jonesey's August Staff Pick, 2016
The best travelogues challenge everything we know about a place, a time, a way of moving. Rebecca Solnit is more than up to this task in A Book of Migrations. She travels to Ireland in search of something weightier than dual-citizenship, something she was almost gifted as a result of relation, not residence. She walks as much as she can, takes buses and offered lifts and spends time with places - offering more stories about the layers of time hidden in landmarks than tales of her travelling adventures. Questions about what it means for a person or a place to be Irish are never far from the sentences on the page, and no answers are easily forthcoming. Her writing is clear, descriptive and direct. Her travels are slow and deep and carry her readers well beyond the search for self and into something more substantial: the search for a way along. -Jonesey's August Staff Pick, 2016
Negin Farsad is a comedian with a Master's Degree who isn't afraid to show it. This book is funny, yes, and it is also very well thought out and presented. She makes clear and well-defended arguments about the dangers of stereotyping, isolation and generally being a drag about fart jokes. One of the projects that she and a colleague worked on was putting up funny anti-anti-Muslim posters in New York Subway stations as a way to counteract some hateful posters that were going up. The process of funding the project, the posters and the lawsuit they had to file to get the posters up (which they are as of March 9) is related to show her readers just how important small things like one joke, or even one laugh, can be. Ms. Farsad is a social justice comedian, a TEDFellow and makes movies. She keeps working and I think will inspire others to do so as well. Maybe even with pastries. Pastries are very important to this book. I suggest having a few with it. It will make the book happy. Also you. Jonesey's May Staff Pick 2016
The Creative Tarot is Jessa Crispin's offering of the Tarot as a tool for working through creative blocks. Crispin's love of storytelling and research are foremost in the general history of the tarot cards that begins the book. She is consistently compassionate in her readings of the cards, and makes a point of including a set of works of art with each card's description. Her encouragement to cross-pollinate and reminders to care for both spiritual and physical health were incredibly lovely to read. This is a useful tool for any person working with and through projects. It is well-written, thoughtful and surprising. Because, Tarot, who even knew? -Jonesey's May Staff Pick 2016
This collection of poems ranges in tone and tempo from a saxophone solo replicated in words to songs of healing and short bursts of prose like a deep breath before something sustained and deeply resonant. Joy Harjo's work is not sentimental nor it is despairing, but the world in which she writes it is filled with starkness and separation. She is a poet exploring the variety of her words to moving and profound effect. -Jonesey's April Staff Pick, 2016
This novel pulses and shifts in waves. The narrative follows Reina Castillo on a journey of redemption, healing and becoming after the death of her brother who was in prison for murder. Her brother's death frees her from the routine that she's been surviving in for as long as she can remember, and she decides to move from her childhood home in Miami to the Keys to start over. The weight of her past is conveyed in startling prose by Patricia Engel. Flashbacks and storytelling weave together to carry the reader not quickly into and around Reina's story. As she builds her new life in the Keys, she meets Nesto who has left his family in Cuba to start a new life in the State and hopes to be reunited with his children. His friendship, constancy and faith offer something new to Reina, and as they learn to be together, they also begin to explore what it means to wait, and what it could mean to live in the meantime. An extraordinary, unsentimental, deeply engaging book that lingers. -Jonesey's May Staff Pick 2016
This collection of interviews and speeches is current, relevant and inspiring. Angela Davis has been a force for thoughtful resistance and community for more than 50 years. Her words remind us to question authority, rhetoric and our own (frequently mis-)conceptions about the global economy and global struggles from freedom. It is important to read the words that she has offered in the last 3 years speaking in places from Turkey to Ferguson, Missouri. She is insistent, surprisingly hopeful, and the reader is left with a continuing sense of urgency in the continuing struggles for all people to be free. -Jonesey's March Staff Pick, 2016
Kate Atkinson's novel follows the life of Teddy, a young man whose sister, Ursula, experienced multiple lives in Life After Life. It is a novel of family, love, loss and memory. Atkinson's skill as a novelist is never more strongly expressed than in the pages of this book. She is able to create full and detailed scenes of a life in succinct and uncomplicated prose, and draws her readers fully into the world her characters inhabit. Walking away is like learning again how to breathe. A must-read for every fiction lover.-Jonesey's February Staff Pick, 2016
In the ancient, though rare, tradition of the self-barricaded woman, we are offered the story of Ludovico Mano, a woman who lived alone in an apartment in Angola for 28 years while no one knew that she was there. Agualusa has crafted a novel of observation, choice and consequence that moves through thirty years of Angolan history. There is a German Shepherd named Phantom and more than one diamond eating pigeon. Do not miss this one. -Jonesey's January Staff Pick, 2016
Pierre the Maze Detective is more than a book of mazes (and mazes within mazes). There is a mystery to solve, there are clues to find, requests from in-story characters to fulfill and lots of incredibly intricate drawings to explore. The mazes are not for the faint of heart, so they've provided solutions in the back - not that you'll need them! This book is perfect for kids 8-100 who are into science, art, mazes, storytelling and/or discovery. A truly satisfying and engaging book. -Jonesey's Holiday Storytime Staff Pick, 2015
This is the record of almost two years of travel undertaken in a bold and almost desperate bid to reclaim a life. Travelling with only two suitcases, Jessa Crispin lived and moved in some of Europe's most famous cities, working to get through to the next day and learning the stories of other exiles, other expats, other lives that were altered forever by these places. This is a truly classic travelogue with elegant and contemporary prose, and a focus not on knowing more, but on being moved. Here you will find many voices that say: "but here is something else you can do." Jessa Crispin is editor-in-chief of the journals Bookslut and Spolia. -Jonesey's November Staff Pick, 2015
This book is the exact equivalent of a hot stone massage and a super high-powered very tasty smoothie for your creative juices. Elizabeth Gilbert's warmth and humor work well as a frame for her encouragement to take risks and try new things. She does not yell at her readers, nor does she coddle them. This is a considered book from someone who has spent real time and work considering the role of magic in the life of people doing the practical work of art. What she has found is no simple answer and yet, at the heart, it is the simplest answer of all: work, listen, breathe. Big Magic is definitely what the doctor ordered. - Jonesey's October Staff Pick, 2015
There is nothing unusual in women talking about their hair. It is so commonplace that it has become background noise for movies and television shows. It is assumed that all women, no matter how much they dislike each other, can always talk about their hair. Elizabeth Benedict decided to acknowledge our collective wisdom and assembled essays by 27 women with different kinds of hair and different hair histories. Here you find politics, romance, fashion and aging. Here is conversation that speaks to the time and money we spend in salons and in front of mirrors. Here is also conversation that speaks to the biases, conscious or unconscious, that drive our style choices, our color choices and whether to curl or not. Here are short stories, funny stories, moving accounts and familiar struggles. Women may not share much, but we do share this: the world's and our mirrors' focus on our hair. A wide range of authors that will reach a wider range of readers. Recommended for everyone. - Jonesey's October Staff Pick, 2015
In this captivating comic, Matt Fraction and Christian Ward serve up a mind-bending retelling of Homer's classic, The Odyssey. This is a universe filled with no men (barring one very important exception). The Trojan War has ended after 99 years of destruction and bloodshed, and now Odyssia can return home to her wife and child. But there is nothing safe in the galaxy, and there is no way to return that does not expose her, her crew and her ship to the ever shifting moods of the goddesses. Fraction delivers an acrobatic imagining in dactylic hexameter and Ward seems to have drenched his brushes in someone's extraordinary acid trip.Every reread will bring something unexpected. This is one to watch. -Jonesey's August Staff Pick, 2015
These lectures explore the representation of black characters by various white authors in American literature over the last 200 years. Toni Morrison exposes troubling truths about accepted narratives in literature. Her lectures are focused, nuanced and a lesson in observation. This is timely and charged reading that should spark change in the way we as readers perceive our literary landscape and work to craft equitable narrative. -Jonesey's July Staff Pick, 2015
Felix Palma's Victorian Trilogy took every expectation about time travel and aliens in fiction and wove them into a tapestry unlike any in print today. The books inform each other in a way that makes each book in the series better once the next one is read. Time travel purists and detractors, fear not! This is no sentimental paean to what could be/have been/will be/possibly with no regard to contemporary scientific thought. The adventure is grand and the characters remarkable. The Map of Chaos brings fantastic possibilities together and explores the notion of what it means to live in a world when that world could be any of almost infinitely many. -Jonesey's July Staff Pick, 2015
"There are very few novelists whose work can hit all the right notes consistently and uniquely in every work. Kate Atkinson's A God in Ruins, a companion novel to her 2013 best seller Life After Life, highlights her skill as storyteller and writer.
The story follows Teddy Todd, younger brother of Ursula Todd, the protagonist of Life After Life. We follow him from the embattled skies of World War II, in which he served as a Wing Commander, into and through his future and past in a non-linear timeline that is as familiar and strange as a dream. Atkinson's voice is as strong as Teddy's story is powerful. -Jonesey's June Staff Pick, 2015
Mary Wollstonecraft's and Mary Shelley's lives only crossed for 10 days in 1797. Wollstonecraft died of childbed fever and ever since, their biographies have been told separately, though their lives, as Charlotte Gordon masterfully shows, were very much intertwined.
It is perhaps no stretch to think of how much Mary Shelley was aware of her famous and lauded mother. She spent much of her life sought out by the famous and thoughtful who wanted to meet the person who was the product of such parents as the philosopher William Godwin and the writer Mary Wollstonecraft. Gordon adds much to this store, though, by reminding us that Wollstonecraft spent much of her writing life considering the problem of raising a daughter in a world that valued women's lives less than horses and that she was passionately committed to living in equality, even in a world that was unprepared for what that meant.
This work is wonderful for anyone interested in the lives and writings of these two women. It is also a testament to the power of inheritance and legacy no matter how intentional or tangible. An incredible book. -Jonesey's May Staff Pick, 2015
After an uncommon beginning in The Riverman, Alistair's story takes even less usual turns as the story builds. Nothing is as it seems, not even the truth, as Aaron Starmer delves into the origin of Aquavania and its first storyteller.
The real world is almost entirely a dream to Alistair as he searches for his missing friend, Fiona Loomis, and all of her friends who have also gone missing from a world that almost no one believes in and so cannot find. The stakes are higher than ever as he meets ever more complicated people and faces ever more impossible challenges, all while evading the everpresent obstacle of The Whisper.
Starmer is to be lauded, this is a fantastic book that knows what it is: an amazing story about the power and place of imagination and friendship." -Jonesey's April Staff Pick, 2015
Declan is a friendly little monster who greets everyone he sees in the forest, but no one as happily as the colorful little bunnies. The bunnies are maybe less interested in being friends with an excitable monster. Will they meet? Will they make friends?
BUNNIES!! is an extremely fun read. Bright colors, easily identifiable animals and words, and lots of exclamation marks lend this book high energy and accessibility. Sure to be a family favorite. -Jonesey's March Staff Pick, 2015
Why Homer Matters by Adam Nicolson is not a few hundred pages intended to convince reluctant readers that reading "The Classics" is good for them. It is a celebration of what it is that captivates humans in stories and how they define us as humans. Nicolson's love for the work of Homer is evident, deeply felt, and very very real.
In this book, we are treated to stories of the history of how The Iliad and The Odyssey came to the West, how they were and are approached, and what a single-minded obsession with this Blind Bard means for us now.
We look for Troy and for evidence of Odysseus and his mad bonkers journey - and what do we really have to guide us?
Stories. Tremendous, human, impossible and endlessly beguiling stories. Why that matters and what it means for how we engage with the stories and artifacts of history are the backbone of this excellent work. It is an excellent companion for anyone who has sailed the wine dark seas, even if only in verse. -Jonesey's March Staff Pick, 2015
Jonesey's February Staff Pick, 2015
Jonesey's January Staff Pick, 2015