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!
Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly: I fully admit that this book escaped my radar when it came out and I am now reading it because it won the Newbery Medal. And it’s fantastic. (hardcover)
Tropic of Squalor: poems by Mary Karr: This is the first time I’m reading Karr’s poetry, though I’m familiar with all of her nonfiction. And it. Is. Phenomenal. She examines themes of faith and religion, suicide (she addresses DFW in one), and grief. She manages to write about religion in the most honest, real way possible—in a way that rings true, no matter what you believe in. I’m so thankful to finally be reading her poetry. (galley)
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland: I’ve been waiting for this book to come out for what seems like forever and it’s finally here! The premise is that in the middle of the American Civil War, the dead start to rise. The government, therefore, decides to forcibly use black and Native Americans to fight these zombies, called “shamblers” in the novel. Other Rioters have raved about it, and from what I’ve listened to so far, the hype is merited. I’m really enjoying the audiobook because the reader, Bahni Turpin, has an amazing voice. And although I’ve only just started it, I’m already planning a one-woman campaign to get HBO to adapt the novel into a series. Zombies, unruly teen protagonist…what could be better? (audiobook)
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss: I don’t want to say too much about this one—even revealing characters’ names risks spoiling glorious reveals so you’re just going to have to take my word on Strange Case being an utterly delightful mystery-action-suspense pastiche. This novel could easily have become the Victoriana equivalent of Ready Player One but, in Goss’ skilled hands, is a wonderful, fantastical romp through literature and history. (ebook)
María Cristina García Lynch
The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky by Jana Casale (April 17 from Knopf):
Whenever I take a coffee break in my own home and bump into my spouse, he makes “How’s your book?” small talk. With this book-in-progress, I would say: “This author is really nailing what it’s like to be in your head as an early-twenties woman,” and then a little later: “When it comes to cultural touchstones, she’s done her research, because they are all ringing true.” And finally, full-on tinfoil hat: “I firmly believe this author is my age and graduated from my college.” So I looked Jana Casale up, and yes, she spent some time racking up credits at a community college (same), transferred into my school’s writing program (same; although a semester later I changed my major to theatre), and graduated in 2011 (I am Class of 2010). Eerie! But that doesn’t take away from her skillful writing, especially as her protagonist eventually ages beyond us. It is an immensely companionable read and already I can’t wait to revisit it. (galley)
The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder, by Sarah J Harris: This is one of the big books of the spring in the UK, and I’ve been intrigued by it since I first heard about it—it’s about a boy with synaesthesia who takes it upon himself to investigate his neighbour’s disappearance. Since I’ve been paying attention to them, buzzy British books have not let me down, so I’m looking forward to it! (galley)
Women and Power by Mary Beard: Described as a feminist classic already, in this book Cambridge University professor Beard addresses “the misogynists and trolls who mercilessly attack and demean women.” Even more poignant a read after Beard herself was harassed on Twitter for daring to assume she, a classics professor at CAMBRIDGE, knew more about the Romans than Some Dude™ on Twitter. (hardcover)
The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore: Part body horror, part industrial age labor rights abuse, all panic. The absolute cavalier what-the-fuckery of how we treated a radioactive material that we knew so little about is scary enough to make me reconsider keeping my phone strapped to my thigh all day. What are we treating as innocuous now that we’ll only discover ten years down the road is slowly killing us? Also, I can’t count the number of times I’ve wished they had internet back then while reading. So many of them could have been saved (well, that and the fact that despite the fact the women’s faces were rotting, the mostly-male physicians refused to believe something odd was happening).
Sarah S. Davis
The Friend by Sigrid Nunez: I am really enjoying this novel about a writer whose close friend and former writing professor commits suicide and leaves his dog in her care. From this rather straightforward plot Nunez has spun in anecdotes about how we process grief, value pets, and confront suicide, drawing upon cultural and historical sources. I was also pleased to see how Nunez incorporates the literary world and the modern professional writer’s life into her story. I’ve been reading this in bed before I go to sleep while my own little “friend”—my cat—stretches out next to me. The Friend is a charming, witty, and ultimately profound meditation on life, death, and the love that comforts us between the two.
The Breakbeat Poets vol. 2 Black Girl Magic edited by Jamila Woods, Mahogany L. Browne, and Idrissa Simmonds: This is a transfixing collection of poems detailing the diversity and complexity of the black woman experience. I’m only a few poems in but each poem so far is very powerful. (ebook)
Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper: I remember Rebecca Traister (one of my heroes) raving about this book and had to pick it up. It’s soooooo good—powerful, difficult, challenging, and exactly the book we need right now. (ebook)
The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu: I have been blown away by this novel. The characters are well drawn, the mystery is unfolding in a fascinating way, and the writing is absolutely stunning. I’ve been in a reading slump lately and this gorgeous work has lifted me out of it. (library paperback)
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang: Stella is tired of the endless nagging from her mother about her finding a husband and giving her grandchildren. But there’s more to the story. Stella has never enjoyed sex before, and as an econometrician, she believes all she needs to do is collect the correct data. So she hires a male escort to teach her the ways. I’m loving this SO much—it’s #ownvoices (both Stella and the author are on the spectrum) and apparently this story is partly autobiographical. I have hearts in my eyes. (egalley)
So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know by Retta (May 29, St. Martin’s Press): Retta is indisputably the sh*t. When I received an advanced copy of her new memoir, I knew I would like it, but OMG it’s even more amazing than I expected. Her voice comes through the text so perfectly that I can hear her say every word. I imagine the audiobook is going to be unforgettable. This book is absolutely delightful and has me laughing out loud. I’m hooked. (egalley)
I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown: I received an ARC in the mail and, well, I’m always open to the opportunity to gain greater perspective on my white privilege. Cultural critique on (as the subtitle says) black dignity in a world made for whiteness. (paperback)
Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover: This book has ruined my life. It is a life ruiner. Westover finds a way to bring the reader into her life so completely that you feel gaslit by her family and you’re overwhelmed with the frustration of being told that what you see with your own eyes is a complete lie. I listened to this on audio (mostly during my commute to work) and found myself screaming, giving the finger, and rage-mumbling back to my car stereo the entire time. Her writing is so evocative and expansive that one completely loses sight of the fact that this woman didn’t receive any formal (or, hell, even informal) education until she stepped into a Brigham Young University classroom at the age of 17. As she traversed the hallowed halls of Cambridge and Harvard in service of receiving her PhD, she lived more lives in that decade than most of us will experience in an entire lifetime. The hope that emanates from the telling of her story proves to me that we all have the ability to overcome even the worst in our lives as long as we learn to believe that we deserve to take up space in this world. (audiobook)
Christina M. Rau
The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob: I’ve wanted to read this book since its publication date, and I finally got it sent from one library to another to mine and now I’m carrying around a very heavy hard cover copy that I literally just cracked open today. I’m already drawn in by intriguing characters and sharp dialogue. (library hardcover)
The Broken Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin: I am continuing my adventures as a re-reader of books I read a few years ago. Now, I am re-reading N.K. Jemisin’s The Inheritance Trilogy omnibus edition, which means that I can read all three novels as if it is one long story. No need to step out of the universe and go the bookshelf to start a new book when the previous book has ended. As I’m writing this I am in the middle of book two, The Broken Kingdoms, and things are starting to heat up for our hero, Oree Shoth, a blind artist with magical abilities. Not only is The Broken Kingdoms a wonderful reading experience this second time around, the novel reveals several themes that would later be expanded upon in N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy. (paperback)
Perfect Ten by L. Phillips: I haven’t read Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda and I have trouble finding romantic comedies on the LGBTQ side. This book seems like it will be a fun, light read and I can’t wait to get started. (library hardcover)
Villette by Charlotte Brontë: I love the Brontës, especially Charlotte, and have read most of their novels. This is one I hadn’t managed to get around to yet. I usually have a classic going on Serial Reader, so I’m inching my way through this one while I tackle another book or two in print and audio. Something mysterious and unexpected has just happened to our heroine Lucy Snowe, so I’m curious to see where the story is heading. (Serial Reader app)
Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles: With easily the most stunning YA cover of the year, evoking Kehinde Wiley’s work (think the presidential portrait of Obama), Tyler Johnson Was Here takes on sibling relationships and police brutality in black communities. Impressively, the novelist is only twenty-one years old and is already stunning me with a strong voice and a well-developed plot sixty pages in. Published just this past March, I think we can expect to see Tyler in conversations alongside The Hate U Give and All American Boys.
Native Speaker by Chang-Rae Lee: I’ve been reading this for class, and while some of my classmates thought it was long-winded at times, I’ve been enjoying the style and language immensely. I read Lee’s speculative novel On Such a Full Sea a few years ago, and this book is SO different, but in both there is a particular kind of tension between the narration and the context, and I love that. I think he’s a brilliant author and I love that he has such a range in terms of genre. (hardcover)
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens: I decided to bone up on my Dickens this year! I’m not not enjoying this, but hoo boy it is long. (ebook)
Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio by Peg Kehret: This one jumped off the shelf and into my tote bag while I was perusing children’s books at the library with my son. I caught up on the new season of Call the Midwife and have been in the mood for some medical nonfiction. This is a quick, but fascinating read about, as the title states, the year that Kehret contracted polio. After reading about children spending months in iron lungs, I am reminded more and more about the importance of vaccinations! (library hardcover)
Tomorrow by Damian Dibben: A co-worker and I are both listening to this on Scribd and checking in with each other’s progress every day at work. It’s a powerful story of two immortal friends searching for each other through the ages; one of those friends is a dog and the story just happens to be told from his perspective. Guys, this one has got me feeling feelings. It’s okay, I needed a good cry. (audiobook)
Amanda Kay Oaks
Tarot in Wonderland by Barbara Moore, illustrated by Eugene Smith: I’m always in for a good, bookish tarot deck, and it turns out Alice in Wonderland and tarot make a great combo. To get to know the new Tarot in Wonderland deck, I’m reading this gorgeous, full color companion guidebook, complete with unique spreads based on Alice’s adventures. (paperback)
Diablerie by Walter Mosley: I’ve been hearing about this gentleman’s excellent, sharp writing for years and am finally giving him a shot. According to some, I’ve not chosen a good example of his capabilities or body of work but I’m keeping an open mind. This is a library book that was picked up during my April “wander the library once a month and pick up the first book that catches your eye” visit. (hardcover)
The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish: I had seen and liked Tiffany Haddish in a few things here and there, but after I watched Girls Trip I knew I needed to read this hilarious woman’s memoir. I didn’t mean to, but I binge-read the first five hours at once. (audiobook)
Failing Up by Leslie Odom, Jr.: because HAMILTON. (hardcover)
Furyborn by Claire Legrand (May 22, Sourcebooks Fire): a YA fantasy book told in alternating timelines showing the fall of a kingdom, the terrible aftermath a thousand years later, and the two young women at the center of it all. I mean, how was I supposed to resist that? (egalley)
So Much Blue by Percival Everett: This is about an artist recounting his life, centered around his very private painting that no one but him has seen. He even has plans for its destruction when he dies. I picked it up because folks kept saying they wished this book had a chance to go up against Kayla Rae Whitaker’s The Animators in the Tournament of Books. It’s interesting but I don’t like the narrator. (hardback)
The Yellow Admiral by Patrick O’Brian: This is the 18th book in the Aubrey/Maturin series of nautical adventures. I’ve been reading the series for years, and I’m determined to finish in 2018. With only four books to go, I’m almost there! I’m just getting started with this one, but they apparently spend a lot of time on land in these books, and the books on land tend to be my favorites.
A Horse Walks Into a Bar by David Grossman; translated by Jessica Cohen: I’ve had the (dis)pleasure of sitting through a LOT of bad stand-up comedy shows, so I was hesitant about this book, which focuses on the two-hour rambling, confessional, and sometimes brutal set of a Jewish comic going over the major events in his life. But Grossman’s writing (and also the translation work by Cohen) is so exact and his pacing so precise, you can’t help but get sucked into the both train wreck of the comic’s unraveling and the pathos of his story.
Leah Rachel von Essen
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan: People have been recommending me this book for ages, and I’m finally digging in. It’s hilarious so far, so I’m excited to see if it holds up throughout! (paperback)
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi: This book has had so much hype in the YA book world and, somehow, it is living up to all of it. I was a little intimidated to start reading because it’s a bit of a door stopper (531 pages!). But the nuanced characters, vividly drawn imagery, and fast paced yet lyrical writing make it well worth the extra weight holding this hardcover up in the bathtub. A fantasy world where a cruel, dictatorial kind has banished magic and those who practice from the land. The daughter of a maj trying to survive in an oppressive culture and keep some semblance of hope. A princess turned outlaw who wants to help. These are just a few of the things that have me hooked. (hardcover)
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi: I love science fiction, but the last sci-fi book I read was a total bust and left me feeling kinda sad and down. Enter Old Man’s War, which is funny and original and so engrossing that putting it down is a nightmare. It’s been a while since I was so invested in a science fiction universe. The world building is just so good. It’s smart, but also kinda crass and absolutely hilarious. It’s exactly what I needed. (library hardcover)