Monday, November 28, 2016

The Short Stack: November Favorites


Originally posted on the University of Texas' School of Information Info Portal. Visit it here: The Short Stack: November Favorites

This month hasn’t been great for reading. I’ve finished a few things, but absolutely nothing that I can recommend without serious asterisks. It’s unfortunate, but it happens. So instead, let’s talk about great things I read during the first half of 2016, all of which I feel really great recommending.
The better-than-anything-I-read-in-November Short Stack:

1. Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West

I was in love with this book from the moment I heard Lindy speak at BookPeople back in May. If you get a chance, go see her read or talk or whatever she’s doing because she is funny and smart and will totally show you her tube of lipstick if you say you like it. Shrill is a collection of essays on highly relevant subjects like abortion, rape jokes, and weight. While none of those sound like they could be funny, her smart lines will make you laugh anyway.

2.  March: Book One, Two and Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

I haven’t been able to read book three yet, but the first two are good enough that I recommend you just buy the trilogy. John Lewis’ personal involvement with the Civil Rights Movement is what makes this series work so well. By telling his story, it’s also the story of the movement because he was part of the sit-ins and the Freedom Rides and met Martin Luther King, Jr. I learned more from reading these graphic novels than I think I did in any of my history classes.

3. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

I listened to this audiobook because Aziz Ansari narrates it, which is worth it. Modern Romance is a fascinating look at dating. Between talking to previous generations about how they found love, analyzing text messages that equate to today’s courtship and interviewing people from Japan and Argentina, Ansari presents a great picture of why we really shouldn’t compare ourselves to our grandparents or even people our own age in other countries.

4. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Just read this. Feminism is important for women, but it’s also important for men. It’s short and it’s wonderful. Buy it for yourself and buy a few for your friends.
I didn’t realize when I started this list that I would suggest only nonfiction, but I’m not mad about it. Maybe today we need some nonfiction.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Short Stack: October Favorites


We love alpacas!

Originally posted on the University of Texas' School of Information Info Portal. Visit it here: The Short Stack: October Favorites

As I write this, I’m thankful for the read-a-thon. Reading got bumped down yet another peg this month because I was doing the Hill Country Yarn Crawl with my husband and my dog. We met alpacas, no big deal. (Totally big deal, we love alpacas!)

But yes, spend two weekends driving around the totally beautiful hill country without an audiobook and suddenly you’ve read next to nothing. That’s why the read-a-thon is important, because I spent a few hours devoted to my larger-than-ever to-be-read pile. At some point, I’m going to have to freeze my library card like some people freeze credit cards, but still. I read things! It made me happy!

1.  To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party by Skila Brown

I love the cover of this book so much, which is why it sometimes does work to judge a book by its cover. This story is told in verse from the perspective of a survivor of the Donner party, the notorious California-bound pioneers who were stuck in the Sierra Nevadas in winter and resorted to cannibalism. Really, it’s the last part that people remember—cannibalism. Skila Brown gave them back their humanity in this young adult novel, making their choices part of their survival and not their claim to fame.

2.  The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

This novel drove me insane, perhaps intentionally, as the main character is also being driven insane by her situation. Set in the 1850s, Lib is an English nurse sent on assignment to Ireland to watch a girl who claims to exist without eating. Lib is waiting for the girl to slip up and for her secret food source to reveal itself; the rest of the town is waiting for her death and sainthood. Sometimes, I’ll look up the ending to a slow book to see if it’s worth finishing. It’s a testament to how good the story was that I didn’t, despite the slow burn and how crazy the story made me. The Wonder made me need to know the ending, which is why it’s on my list.

3.  Lumberjanes series by Noelle Stevenson, Brooke A. Allen, Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and others

If I had ever gone to summer camp, I would want it to be just like Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. There are the traditional camp activities, but also a woman who turns into a bear and all sorts of other supernatural oddities. It’s great because, not only does it sound like fun, but the campers are allowed to really be themselves in whatever way they want, whether it’s embracing their oddities or their skills or figuring out their gender or sexuality. All hardcore lady types welcome—it’s your choice if you are or are not a hardcore lady type.

4.  Vision, Volume One: Little Worse Than a Man by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta

I wasn’t sure I wanted to read this one, honestly, but I am glad that I did. Vision, the synthezoid member of the Avengers, has created a family for himself and moved them into a Virginia suburb so that he can commute to work at the White House. Except nobody trusts a robot living in their town, even one who has saved the world 37 times, according to his count. When a villain attacks while Vision is away, his wife Virginia murders him while saving herself and her children. To cover it up, she buries him in the backyard and lies to Vision, ensnaring the family in an excellent family drama.
Just remember as you look at this list of books you don’t have time to read that Thanksgiving break is super close and then it’s just a blink of an eye until winter break. We’re almost there!

As always, follow me on GoodReads or just say hi in the halls! I love book suggestions even if I might not read them until this time next year.