The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister

I read Erica Bauermeister's The Scent Keeper for a book club discussion. There was a lot I loved about this book, especially early on: how magical things seemed when Emmeline was viewing things as a child, and how that gently shifted as she matured; the mystery of why she and her father were on this island, and how she didn't know anything about the rest of the world; the way scent can trigger memories and feelings. The book fizzled out in the last third, though. What had felt like hints of magical realism didn't carry that same intrigue. There was more telling than showing, characters started to become flat and one-dimensional, and things wrapped up far too quickly and neatly,…

0 Comments

Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God by Kaitlin Curtice

In Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God, Kaitlin Curtice shares how she learned she couldn't get to know God while denying her Potawatomi identity. She takes us through her process of grappling with what it means to be a Potawatomi woman who belongs to a colonizing religion that all too often upholds and perpetuates white supremacy. She makes a clear, passionate, loving argument for why decolonization must be a top priority for the church, and how decolonization is a gift for everyone, not just the oppressed. "I grew up in a church culture that rewarded people pleasing, that punished those who ask too many questions, that pushed out those who seemed too angry or grieved too long." I love how she…

0 Comments

Finna: Poems by Nate Marshall

I don't feel I could possibly have the words to do justice to Nate Marshall's collection of poem, Finna. The cadences are exquisite; they sound like music in my mind. There's tension and release, perfectly placed pauses in between rushes of words. As I was reading, I was reminded of how AAVE is policed, suppressed, censored, and even mocked outside of its community. Nate Marshall hands it to readers in all its stunning glory, exploring the lives, survival, and culture of Black Americans. I hesitate to say these poems are social commentary, even though they certainly are, because that phrase feels reductive, as if this is some philosophical exercise by someone outside the experience, which of course isn't the case.…

0 Comments

The Inexplicable Grey Space We Call Love by Chuck Augello

I love people stories, I love fabulist fiction, and Chuck Augello's collection The Inexplicable Grey Space We Call Love is an interesting mix of both. These stories explore the human condition, especially grief and fear, through a hint of bizarre. The way I was left hanging on "The Prerogatives of Magic" was infuriatingly satisfying. "In Two" ripped my heart out. I'd normally race through an under-200-pages book like this. But I found myself reading through it slowly, wanting to savor each story before moving on. Every story in this collection is a gem. Consider this a must-read.

0 Comments

$50,000 by Andrew Weatherhead

Anyone who's experienced existential dread or a feeling of ennui will relate to this long poem. To be honest, I don't always do well with poetry. I often feel like I'm not really getting it, or like it's just trying to show off how smart it is. But Weatherhead's prose isn't stuffy like that. It hit me in a raw, real (and at the same time, surreal), down-to-earth way. Beautifully written.

0 Comments

Non-Binary Lives edited by Jos Twist, Ben Vincent, Meg-John Barker, and Kat Gupta

Non-Binary Lives is a diverse collection of personal narratives that encompasses a huge variety of perspectives, reminding readers that there are endless ways to be non-binary. There are so many identities and intersections in this book: age (including coming out at different ages), health, neurodiversity, sexuality, body size, family size (including pregnancy and parenthood), gender identity, gender assigned at birth, race, nationality, class, faith. I especially loved Fred Langridge's essay "Non-Binary Experience in a Liberal Faith Community," about being a member of the Quaker community. And Lucy/Luc Nicholas's essay "Am I Allowed To Be Non-Binary, Too?" hit me right in the gut. Cis readers will learn a great deal from this collection. There are some surprising perspectives in here, and…

0 Comments

Good Boy by Jennifer Finney Boylan

It's no secret that I love Jennifer Finney Boylan's writing, fiction and nonfiction alike. Her phrasing is beautiful and engaging, making it oh-so-difficult to put down her books. I read her latest memoir, Good Boy, in less than a day. What a lovely premise, to set up a memoir organized by the dogs in one's life. And Boylan's dogs were chock full of personality! Her descriptions are incredibly vivid, whether she's flipping an omelet or describing Matt the Mutt (I'm still laughing at that dog's antics!) knock down a guacamole-carrying visitor. I could seriously listen to her stories all day long. Anyone with pets knows that the animals in our lives can teach us a great deal about ourselves, and…

0 Comments

The Book of Forgiving by Desmond and Mpho Tutu

I picked up The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World to read during Lent along with the folks at Cafeteria Christian. I love Desmond Tutu, though, and I'm not good at sticking to a reading schedule, so I finished it way ahead of time. I was frustrated by this book at first because it felt like it was barely scratching the surface. I wanted more details, more explanation, and I just wasn't getting it. I'm so glad I stuck with it, though! Each chapter revealed another layer, and another, and yet another. The same stories circled back, but with a deeper understanding of the forgiveness process as the book moved on. I got a…

0 Comments

What Shines From It by Sara Rauch

There are 11 short stories in Sara Rauch's collection What Shines From It, and overall this was a solid "it was good, I liked it" read for me. The first five and the final stories really wowed me, but the ones in between didn't have the same impact. I found my mind wandering as I read. Sara Rauch has a knack for telling people stories, though, getting to the heart of what motivates and moves her characters and how they interact with each other. Her writing flows easily and is filled with warmth, even when exploring darker themes. If you love character-driven short stories, be sure to check out this book.

0 Comments

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

The town of Lucille is essentially a utopia. Its older citizens have done some hard, difficult work. Justice is restorative, not punitive. There's a deep sense of community, of caring for each other as if they're all family, of getting to the root of problems and working them out. The community emphasizes free access to knowledge and the importance of public spaces like libraries. But Lucille is also a reminder that when we think we've figured things out, we must stay vigilant; complacency makes us unable and/or unwilling to acknowledge that injustices continue to occur. The characters in Pet are wonderfully diverse without their diversity being a plot point. And Jam and Redemption's friendship is the most loving, beautifully written…

0 Comments

End of content

No more pages to load