Read This Book

Essays Exploring the Magical and the Everyday

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Kendra Winchester

Contributing Editor

Kendra Winchester is a Contributing Editor for Book Riot where she writes about audiobooks and disability literature. She is also the Founder of Read Appalachia, which celebrates Appalachian literature and writing. Previously, Kendra co-founded and served as Executive Director for Reading Women, a podcast that gained an international following over its six-season run. In her off hours, you can find her writing on her Substack, Winchester Ave, and posting photos of her Corgis on Instagram and Twitter @kdwinchester.

Welcome to Read this Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that needs to jump onto your TBR pile! Sometimes, these books are brand-new releases that I don’t want you to miss, while others are some of my backlist favorites. This week, I’m sharing a recent favorite, an essay collection all about wonder tales.

a graphic of the cover of Ordinary Wonder Tales

Ordinary Wonder Tales: Essays by Emily Urquhart

“I prefer the term wonder tale, which is Irish in origin, for its suggestion of awe coupled with narrative. In a way, this is most of our stories. We tell ordinary wonder tales everyday.”

Emily Urquart knows her stuff. She holds a doctorate in folklore, and publications around the world have featured her writing. In this collection of essays, Urqhart examines the magical and the everyday side by side. In one childhood home, she felt that her room was haunted. In another essay, she discusses the stories surrounding a summer camp and how some of those stories turned into legend. In another, she describes the mysterious incident when nuclear waste ended up in an ordinary house without anyone realizing it for years.

Because Urquhart’s daughter has albinism and she often cared for her father, who experienced dementia later in life, themes and ideas around disability often feature in her essays. She describes the strange experience of genetic testing for her second child and the extreme aversion the hospital system had to the very idea that she might want to carry another disabled fetus to term. In another essay, she describes how her father’s memory loss worked as a sort of mental time travel. When her father woke up, he would sometimes think it was 30, even 50 years earlier than it was. But the next day, he might return to the present.

Urquhart’s aim is to show the magic of the every day shines on each page. Whether she’s discussing the day she took her daughter to an albinism conference, the night she spent in a UK hospital ward, or the time she drove her father back home in a snowstorm, there’s always something extraordinary about Urquart’s ordinary life. And she truly makes you feel like your life could be just as magical.

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You can find me over on my substack Winchester Ave, over on Instagram @kdwinchester, on TikTok @kendrawinchester, or on my podcast Read Appalachia. As always, feel free to drop me a line at For even MORE bookish content, you can find my articles over on Book Riot.

Happy reading, Friends!

~ Kendra