What I read: literary fiction (especially short story collections); science books - mainly physics or space travel
What you think your job is at Left Bank Books: Official Spike photographer.
If you had a Super Power, what would it be? I don't need a super power, but I'll be Captain America's BFF
What sound do you love? The sound of cars driving past in the rain; the sound of the television on very low so you can hear the cadence of voices but not the words; The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel
What’s in the trunk of your car? A penguin salt and pepper shaker set, a Matt Holliday bobblehead, an IKEA blanket, and at least two pairs of shoes.
Author you love to hate: Franzen
Favorite smell: Thanksgiving
What’s your sign?
What an absolutely adorable debut picture book! Simon the house cat tries to convince some of his, erm, MUCH larger relatives that he, too, is a cat just like them! But they're skeptical - how can he be a cat when he doesn't look anything like them? "I Am A Cat" has a great lesson about how, though we all may look different, we can always find similarities between us, along with delightful text and gorgeous illustrations. You'll want to read it to your kids - and yourself - over and over again!
Sometimes there are books you want people to read, and sometimes there are books you NEED people to read. Beartown is one of the latter. As relevant as it is poignant, Beartown is a portrait of a struggling town who puts its future in the hands of a junior hockey organization, and the fallout. Backman's novel is at once a love song to the game, a meditation on responsibility and blame, an examination of the politics of a community in isolation, and a scathing indictment of a culture built on toxic masculinity. Jumping in and out of the heads of Beartown's residents with masterful skill and timing, Backman brings each character to life in tender, vivid detail, so you feel the full impact of the years between them, the complicated bonds of loyalty and betrayal and love that drive them all to chaos. Beartown is moving and incisive, a novel you won't soon forget.
In their extraordinarily fun book "We Have No Idea," scientists Jorge Cham & Daniel Whiteson explain that we only understand about 5% of the universe we live in. We know that the universe has a speed limit, but not why. We know that antimatter exists, but not why. We know that 67% percent of the universe is made of something called "dark energy," but we don't know exactly what dark energy is. And we know that particle theory and general relativity are both proven, but can't seem to get them to work together. This book explains all the things we don't know about the universe by explaining all the amazing things we DO know (accompanied by fun cartoons and puns and easy-to-grasp explanations of impossibly difficult concepts), and how we might someday go about filling in the gaps.
"Tash Hearts Tolstoy" is absolutely delightful. Funny, smart, and made my heart flutter like all the best YA does. But what really sets this novel apart is that its main character is such a warm, flawed, well-rounded, and REAL portrayal of an LGBTQ identity not frequently represented in fiction. Tash is asexual, but that's only part of who she is - she's a filmmaker, a sister, a friend, and a teenager just trying find her way through college applications, family drama, crushes, and sudden viral internet stardom. I <3 Tash <3's Tolstoy, and you will, too.
If you've ever been part of an online fandom, you will fall absolutely head-over-heels for this book. Like "Fangirl" before it, "Grace and the Fever" dives into the world of fandom with such clarity, honesty, earnestness and affection, I was ear-marking every other page, wanting to come back and read passages over and over again because they rang so true. But "Grace and the Fever' isn't just a book for the modern fangirl; it's for anyone who's ever felt like outsider, even with their own friends; anyone who's ever loved something so passionately, it became a permanent—at times all-consuming—part of their life; anyone who's struggled with growing-up and moving on; and anyone who's ever dared to care about something with their whole heart. This book is for you.
This moving debut collection about a group of incarcerated men surprised me at every turn - one touching story follows an inmate who dials phone numbers at random, and his conversations with strangers on the outside; in another, a man discovers his cell-mate is slowly training himself to disappear; yet another examines the currency of lying when you're locked up, and how serial lying becomes an art form. Quietly heartbreaking, each story in "The Graybar Hotel" paints an honest, stark, funny, and compassionate portrait of life behind bars.
Jakub Procházka is not your ordinary spaceman: selected by the Czech Republic for a (potential suicide) mission to collect samples from a cloud of mysterious space dust, Jakub has traded his quiet scientist's life in Prague with his wife, Lenka, for the eternal glory that comes with being his country's first astronaut. But when Lenka falls off the map, not showing up for one of their schedule video chats, Jakub falls into an existential crisis that involves a Nutella-loving alien spider named Hanuš, a trip back into his troubled past, and revelations about what exactly makes life worth living. The Martian by way of Kafka, The Spaceman of Bohemia is funny, beautifully written, poignant, and mind-bending in the best way.
"The Female Persuasion" is the kind of novel that, once you pick it up, becomes nearly impossible to put down. No one writes thoughtful, literary, big-hearted epics quite like Meg Wolitzer does. It's the kind of book that spans decades and weaves through characters and bounces from city to city and yet, at the end of it all, leaves you feeling both a bone-deep sense of intimacy and pondering big questions about the world at large, about feminism and love and friendship and purpose and grief, how to grow and change and be a women—flawed and strong and weak and wrong and alive in a world so hostile to you. Wolitzer's novel is, as her young narrator Greer says, "a big, long story of women pouring what they had into one another," and I cannot think of a more appropriate and necessary time for it.