In this regular feature, we give you a glimpse of what we are reading this very moment.
Here is what the Rioters are reading today (as in literally today). This is what’s on their bedside table (or the floor, work bag, desk, whatevskis). Your TBR list is about to get some new additions.
We’ve shown you ours, now show us yours; let us know what you’re reading (right this very moment) in the comment section below!
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones: I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve been holding on to this ARC for three months without getting to it. I know, I’m sorry! The holidays were really busy and suddenly I was drowning in library due dates. It was next on my list and then BAM: Oprah announced it would be the next pick in her book club. I would have been ahead of the curve and now I’m just on the curve. But whatever! I’m a third of the way through the book, and it’s SO GOOD. It follows Celestial and Roy, a young power couple in Atlanta who are torn apart when Roy is sentenced to twelve years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. It’s an unjust and heart wrenching situation, and I’m on the edge of my seat to see how Celestial and Roy’s story ends. (e-galley)
City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab (Scholastic, August 28): This is Victoria/V.E. Schwab’s middle grade debut, about a girl who can see ghosts and her ghostly experiences in Scotland. (e-galley)
The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi: Yeah, I know, I was working on Ravens, but I have serious fiction ADD (FADD?). The brain wanted a space opera, so I went digging through my recent Kindle acquisitions and found this forgotten gem by Scalzi set in a different universe than the Old Man’s War books. With a refreshing amount of female protagonists, no real concern with “traditional relationships,” and the titular collapsing empire, there’s plenty to keep my attention. And I do love a good “before the collapse” tale.
Djinn City by Saad Z. Hossain: A supernatural coma. A snarky cousin. A crumbling mansion and a boy on a quest to the land of the djinn…how could I not pick up Hossain’s most recent release? This is a book best read in large chunks so one can become truly immersed in the peculiar and wondrous mash-up Middle Eastern-Gothic setting, the mystery lurking, and the magic just around the corner.
This Will be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins: I’ve been following this author’s work for a while. This collection of linked essays is fascinating. The way that she examines her personal experiences with harassment and racism, among other subjects, in a broader social and historical context is impressive. (paperback)
Hurts to Love You by Alisha Rai: I loved the first two books in this romance series and have become a spreader of the Alisha Rai gospel ever since. The Kane/Chandler family drama is so engrossing (think the Capulets and Montagues). I also love Rai’s exploration of how far we are willing to go for love and for family. I’m so excited that Eve is getting her own book! (e-galley)
Bee and Puppycat (vol 1) by Natasha Allegri: My coworker, knowing my love of cats and adorable things, was shocked to hear that I had not read Bee and Puppycat. So I decided to fix that. And now I’m just angry at myself for not having it in my life sooner. Puppycat needs to be in my life forever.
Ultraluminous by Katherine Faw: The ambiguously-named narrator of this trip of a novel works as a high-end prostitute in New York City, having returned there after a decade in Dubai. In between sessions with her regulars (“calf brain guy,” “art guy,” “the guy who buys me things”) she eats sushi from Duane Reade and orders bricks of heroin via delivery. This book is out of control and I think I love it. (hardcover)
Multiply/Divide by Wendy Walters: This essay collection has been sitting on my shelves for a couple years and it was finally time to pick it up. The collection’s first essay is amazing, about her research into bodies from the 1700s found under an intersection in Portsmouth, NH, believed to be of African descent. (paperback)
Laura Diaz de Arce
The Power by Naomi Alderman: I’ve been in and out of book club at work for the past year because of my chaotic schedule, but the premise of this book was enough to bring me back into the fold. In The Power women gain the ability to kill with an internal force. Since violent displays against actors of the patriarchy are right up my reading alley I really couldn’t resist could I? It’s told in a frame story as an alternate history—history and the prose is quick, clear and visceral. I’m only a few chapters in but worth the read so far. (library hardcover)
Forty Acres by Dwayne Alexander Smith: Rincey talked about this book while we were recording our Black History Month episode for Read or Dead, and it sounded so interesting that I downloaded the digital audiobook before she finished talking! So far, it’s proving to be a super fast-paced thriller that keeps you guessing, and it’s actually a pretty solid read-alike suggestion if you enjoyed Get Out. (digital audiobook)
Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed: This has been on my to-read list ever since I laid eyes on the cover. I’m excited to read a book starring an Indian American teen that touches on issues relevant today, and aways. (hardcover)
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: This book has been on my radar forever. So many male relatives and first dates have told me I “have to read that one.” It turns out, I don’t love being told what to do. But I’m only a few chapters in and, begrudgingly, I am loving this book. I can see why this near future, 1980s nostalgic, virtual reality adventure story resonated with so many people. And now I’ll be ready to see the movie adaptation when it comes out in March! (paperback)
Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer: I am re-reading The Southern Reach Trilogy to get ready for the upcoming movie adaptation of the first book, Annihilation. I remember these books being really good and really creepy, and reading them again, they are even better and even creepier. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I have been living in Florida longer now than I had when I first read them, and that I now have an in-depth, personal experience of the type of wetlands that Vandermeer used as inspiration. All I’m going to say is that I have been having really weird dreams lately… (hardcover)
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas: I signed up for the hold list at my local library for this one as soon as I heard about it. Thankfully for me that meant that I got it almost as soon as it came out. It’s been really great so far. Female focused, near future, with a completely fascinating format. So far it’s as good as, if not better than, I thought it would be.
Moral Combat by R. Marie Griffith: The intersection of sex, politics, and religion has always fascinated me. After reading Michael Coogan’s God and Sex, which details the conflict between the biblical texts and traditional Evangelical sexual mores, I wanted to learn more about how traditional Christian ideas about sex, birth control, abortion, same-sex relationships, and gender identity have shaped American politics and been challenged over time. This book perfectly fits the bill. It’s an in-depth history of how American Christians have divided into two warring factions—fundamentalist Evangelicals hell bent on maintaining the status quo and progressive mainliners who favor a more liberal approach to sex—and how the impassable divide between these two groups created the “culture wars” of today. (hardcover)
Under the Net by Iris Murdoch: I’ve long revered Iris Murdoch out of all proportion to her talent as a novelist, since she said so many wise things about life and literature. This, her first novel (and apparently her least favourite), is studded with quotable insights (e.g. “to find a person inexhaustible is simply the definition of love”) and well-observed characters yet suffers from a meandering and overloaded plot. In its aimlessness, it’s typically picaresque but I can see why Murdoch didn’t look back on it fondly: she was a very serious woman, and this is rarely serious about anything. (Penguin Classic paperback)
The Cultural Politics of Emotion by Sara Ahmed: I’m reading this for my PhD and I already love it! (Edinburgh University Press paperback)
Stella Diaz Has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez: I’m halfway through this delightful early middle grade novel, and I’m smitten! Quiet, shy Stella Diaz sometimes mixes her Spanish words with her English words, and in school her best friend ends up in the other third grade class and Stella doesn’t have anyone else she feels comfortable talking to. This book is a gem and is sure to appeal to all kids, but especially the quiet ones. (hardcover)
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon: I’m reading this YA romance for book club and am in love with Dimple. She’s smart and ambitious and unapologetic. I’ve just started, but don’t think I’ll be able to put it down this weekend.
Christina M. Rau
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan: I’ve read quotes from Sagan and have known about his work for a long time, but I’ve never given myself time to dive into it first hand. I’m heading to Texarkana in the Spring to talk about poetry and science, and the book of the year there is this one, so I listened to serendipity and cracked it open. (hardcover)
Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book 2 by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Chris Sprouse, Don McGregor, Rich Buckler, and Brian Stelfreeze: I’ve been reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Black Panther in preparation for the movie (less than a day away!!). It hasn’t been quite what I had hoped so far, but I’m still excited to learn more about Wakanda and the characters’ backstories before the movie. (library ebook)
The First Kiss of Spring by Emily March: I’ve only read a few chapters of this book but I can already tell that this small-town romance is right up my alley. Despite not reading any of the previous thirteen books in this series, I haven’t felt overloaded with previous storylines, heroes, and heroines thus far (thank goodness). Caitlin and Josh’s meet-cute was certainly adorable, though, so I have high expectations for the rest of this book. (galley)
The Rebounders: A Division I Basketball Journey by Amanda Ottaway (March 2018, UNebraska Press): March Madness is coming up, and as a die-hard college basketball fan (go Tar Heels!), I love reading about college ball. Ottaway writes about her experience playing for Davidson, a D1 school in N.C.—but this isn’t like what you see on television. She takes you behind the scenes, on and off the court; in and out of the gym. I’m loving it.
Calling a Wolf a Wolf—poems by Kaveh Akbar: I am overwhelmed by this powerful collection. I picked it up after seeing several positive reviews, and it does not disappoint. The poems muse on alcoholism, religion, language, and the struggles of finding one’s place in the world. Each word is meticulously chosen, each line so impactful. My copy is already full of little blue page markers, indicating moments that moved me. This is a can’t-miss for poetry lovers.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou: I’m reading this as part of my #ReadingBlackout for Black History Month. Angelou narrates the audiobook, which makes her memoir all the more powerful. The way she re-enters the mind of the child who experienced these horrors, joys, and frustrations is both heartbreaking and hopeful. (audiobook)
Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki: When my life feels hopelessly rumpled, I tend to read books about minimalism in an effort to smooth things out. This book is making the rounds in the minimalist community, so I thought I’d see what the fuss is all about. I’m on the first chapter, so it remains to be seen whether I’ll adore it or despise it; with this micro-genre, I’ve noticed there’s no in-between. (ebook)
The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan: I saw this recently in one of the Book Riot Deals of the Day and it just looked interesting. It is a charming cozy mystery set in Mumbai. A retired police inspector finds that he has inherited a baby elephant. Not sure where this will lead yet, but I am enjoying this breezy read so far. (ebook)
Self-Inflicted Wounds by Aisha Tyler: Aisha Tyler and I are the same human. Somehow, despite vastly different backgrounds, we are the same gangly, nerdy, food & bourbon loving, Paris-obsessed person. I adore her. I have been laughing my ass off reading this one so far. Lanaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! (library hardcover)
Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich: The writing is SO good. I’m not very far into it, and I’m pretty sure that Erdrich will break my heart. But I can say for sure that the writing is SO good. (paperback)
Awayland by Ramona Ausubel: I have loved Ramona Ausubel for years now, since I read her first short story collection, and I am so chuffed to get to read and review this one as well. These stories are vivid and beautiful, and Ausubel’s atmosphere is so well done. (ARC)
The Sky is Yours by Chandler Klang Smith: This is a little outside of my norm, but this dystopian story of a town plagued by dragons felt like the perfect book to take a chance on. (hardcover)
The Heart is a Shifting Sea by Elizabeth Flock: I just picked this one up, but I’m excited about it because I curious to read about the ways tradition clashes with modern culture in marriages in India. I love reported nonfiction, so the idea of an author spending more than a decade working on the book has me intrigued too. (ARC)
Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman: In my goal to read more YA this year, I requested this from Netgalley. It’s set in the same universe as Seraphina, but you don’t have to have read that one to read Tess of the Road. I’m loving the emotionally complicated main character—Tess—and how Hartman plays with journey/quest narrative tropes. (e-galley)
Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai: This book, by an author I love and in a series I already enjoy, hit my Kindle on November 28, 2017. The day it came out. Because I’d preordered it. Obviously. Somehow, I let myself get stupidly distracted by stuff like holiday shopping or my Mom’s birthday at the end of last year and never opened it. In an effort to make better life decisions, I finally picked it up yesterday. My apologies to the friends I was late to meet for dinner last night because I can barely put it down. (ebook)
Kindred by Octavia Butler: As a SFF fan, I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t read any Butler until now. But I’ve had copies of her work on my Kindle for awhile. It was far past time for me to finally read her, and I figured Black History Month was the perfect opportunity. Kindred is just the sort of harrowing adventure yarn I expected it to be. Its frank depictions of the horrors of slavery are going to haunt me for months. (ebook)
Feel Free by Zadie Smith: I’m usually super late to the party when it comes to new releases, but this year I got a jump on some buzzy new books by putting them on hold at my library pre-publication. Zadie Smith is one of my favorite novelists, and something I especially love is reading nonfiction by writers whose fiction I admire. This collection of essays is wide-ranging, but whether she’s discussing books or Brexit, I’m pretty excited by 400+ pages of her thoughts and insights. (library hardcover)
Alyssa Eleanor Ross
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin: Fifth Season has been on my TBR for what feels like years, so when I saw that this year’s Read Harder Challenge includes “a sci-fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author,” I knew right away how I wanted to check that box! This book is stretching my brain more than any other I’ve read recently, but I’m enjoying the slow, brilliant burn that results from Jemisin’s un-rushed world building and intricate prose. I can also already tell that it’s going to surprise me—and I love a sci-fi or fantasy novel that does that. (ebook)
Killing in C Sharp (Gethsemane Brown Mysteries #3) by Alexia Gordon (Henery Press March 6): A humorous cozy mystery set in Ireland that has a ghost—what isn’t there to love?! (e-galley)
Atonement by Ian McEwan: I was caught up immediately by the language. Like the main character Briony, an aspiring author, McEwan seems to have nothing he cannot describe. But is that enough? In this metafictional family drama he probes into the reasons we write, and by extension the reasons we read. Do writers write just to scratch their own backs? Do we write (or read) for truth, or for the solace of illusion? Will Briony, in authoring the tragic fates of two members of her family, be able to use her words to atone for her wrongs? I’m nearing the end of the novel now; it’s a page-turner that really makes you think, but part of me doesn’t dare read on for fear of what might happen to her and the rest of the cast that I’ve grown to love!
Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis: JUST started but this self help book is charmingly broken into lies that we tell ourselves about ourselves that hold us back. I’m really hoping the premise pays off because the title spoke to me. REALLY spoke to me.