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Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that I think you absolutely must read. The books will vary across genre and age category to include new releases, backlist titles, and classics. If you’re ready to explode your TBR, buckle up!

This week’s pick is a genre mash-up that I really enjoyed by an author who I think is a real master at combining genres to make some really compelling plots! Content warning for murder, abuse, neglect, infidelity, and some sticky ethical questions.

The Echo Wife cover image

The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

Evelyn Caldwell is an award-winning researcher whose scientific breakthroughs on genetics and cloning are cutting edge. So when she discovers that her husband has used her research to clone her—or rather, a more docile version of her—she’s livid. But there’s nothing she can do to stop him from leaving her for Martine, because exposing him could cost her the funding she desperately needs for her lab. When he ends up dead, both Evelyn and Martine find that they’ve got to work together in order to not arouse suspicions.

I really loved the idea of a sci-fi take on the domestic thriller genre, and this book doesn’t disappoint. Evelyn is a driven character who cares deeply about her work, and her relationship with her husband has all the hallmarks of a man who can’t stand to be second-best next a brilliant wife. The twist of him cloning her, and using her research to neatly trap her into silence, was maddeningly brilliant, and I really enjoyed the fascinating world building Gailey sets up in a world that seems very similar to our own, but with more advanced genetic discoveries. There are limitations to cloning, naturally, but the more that Evelyn and Martine get to know each other, the more Martine seems to defy these limitations. At times, the tension in this book was so thick I could barely stand to put the book down and there are enough twists to satisfy even the most well-read thriller reader. I also really enjoyed that Gailey dug into some big ethical questions about cloning, and forced Evelyn to really consider her own morals. This is a unique take on some well-trod genres, and nearly impossible to put down!

Happy reading!
Tirzah

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


Find me on Book Riot, Hey YA, All the Books, and Twitter. If someone forwarded this newsletter to you, click here to subscribe.

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Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that you should add to your TBR pile or nightstand or hidden stack under the bed, right away!

I am here to tell you all that parenthood is a sham. Bet you did not expect to wake up to this bundle of joy good news, huh? It really is, though. There is joy and wonder, but so much sweat and blood and tears involved, and I’m not even talking about the pregnancy or the delivery process. So, when I stumbled on my pick of the week I thought, “Oh great, another collection either validating me or moralizing my experience to be larger than it is.” Color me shocked, it was anything but.

Book Cover for I'll Show Myself Out

I’ll Show Myself Out: Essays on Midlife and Motherhood by Jessi Klein

Jessi Klein is one of the sketch comedy writers for SNL, which shows in her writing because each of the essays feels very complete. The author shares stories about body image, self-love, and trying (and failing) to do it all as a working mother.

Each of her essays is a slice of life of motherhood starting from choosing a car seat, to helping your kid grow their own butterfly, to learning to grow wings yourself. Her experiences are also very intimate and go beyond “Oh I don’t fit in my clothes anymore, etc.” Instead, she captures the heart of what clothing not fitting anymore might signal to a mother.

Her essays also deal with balancing having a writing career with having a family. They are candid, funny, and poignant essays that make you nod, tear up a little and walk away a little bit of a changed person.

If you enjoy collections by authors like Samantha Irby and David Sedaris, then this one is a must-read, and is particularly splendid on audio.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


Come tell me what you thought of the pick on Instagram @wellreadbrowngirl.

Happy Reading!
Nusrah

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Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to. Make space for another pile of books on your floor because here we go!

Today’s pick is a creepy as hell horror novella and a perfect recommendation for fans of Lovecraft Country.

Book cover of Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark

Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark

Ring Shout is set in 1922 in Macon, Georgia. Our narrator and protagonist is Maryse Boudreaux. Her closest friends are Sadie and Chef and they’ve all set a trap for the creatures they are hunting. Nearby there is a KKK march/rally and it’s the 4th of July. While the human Klan members are awful, they are mostly vehicles for the real monsters called Ku Kluxes.

Ku Kluxes are terrifying beasts that are reminiscent of the aliens from the Alien films but Ku Kluxes are bone white with rows of eyes. So creepy. They gain power and feed off of hate and they often use human Klan members as disguises and hide right alongside them.

Maryse, Sadie, and Chef hunt Ku Kluxes. Sadie is amazing with a rifle and Chef is a delightful butch lesbian veteran who is brilliant with explosives. Maryse? She has a magic sword. Not everyone can see Ku Kluxes but these three have The Sight.

In the United States in 1915 there was a film released called The Birth of a Nation and it gave rise to and a lot of momentum to the KKK. This is actual history. In Ring Shout, the 1915 release of The Birth of a Nation was actually a magic ritual that white men used to summon demons, aka the Ku Kluxes. Ring Shout takes place seven years later when there are plenty of demons to be hunted. The person at the center of the demon-hunting is Nana Jean, who is a Gullah woman with some psychic powers. From some of the research that their little group’s scientist is doing and from Nana Jean’s visions, they can tell something is brewing. Something real, real bad.

Through horror, the author also offers us a really great examination of hate and the different kinds of hate. It’s a novella clocking in at just under 200 pages and it had me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

Content warnings for violence, gore, racism, racist violence, and body horror.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


That’s it for now, book-lovers!

Patricia

Find me on Book Riot, the All the Books podcast, Twitter, and Instagram.

Find more books by subscribing to Book Riot Newsletters.

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Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that I think you absolutely must read. The books will vary across genre and age category to include new releases, backlist titles, and classics. If you’re ready to explode your TBR, buckle up!

I just finished one of my absolute favorite books of 2022 so far (and it might end up being a favorite of the entire year) so of course I had to share with you all right this instant! Content warning for terminal illness, misogyny, and child neglect.

the cover of When Women Were Dragons

When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill

In 1955, hundreds of thousands of women across the United States spontaneously turned into dragons in a three hour period, setting fire to countless homes and businesses and devouring more than one philandering husband. Then they took to the skies and disappeared. Alex was only a child when the mass dragoning occurred and while her mother stayed, her beloved Aunt Marla left. Her cousin Beatrice became her sister, and Alex learned after that to never speak of the dragoning, or of dragons in general. But as she grows up and begins to learn more about her mother and aunt and the injustices of the world, and as Beatrice becomes perilously fascinated with that which should not be named, Alex must confront all of the anger and secrets that society would keep hidden.

I adored this book. The premise alone had me hooked from the get-go, but the actual writing is incredibly beautiful and fairy tale-like, yet grounded in wonderfully real and tangible details. Barnhill is a Newbery Medal winning children’s writer and you can see that in how deftly she writes about Alex’s childhood, but this is also very clearly a book written for grown ups. It probes into the injustices women face and the ways that society expects everyone to keep quiet about the obvious, and how we suppress knowledge if it doesn’t conform to the conclusions we’ve already drawn. These ideas can be explored at any point in American history, but I loved how it was set in the ’50s and ’60s, as women who found freedom during WWII were suddenly forced back into stifling gender roles and change was brewing. The book is written in the style of a memoir, interspersed with various reports, witness statements, studies, and other ephemera that help expand the world and give context to Alex’s story. Her own account is a beautiful memoir of love, acceptance, queerness, found family, and self-determination that spans years and had me crying and laughing and crying again. I inhaled this book—it’s a truly magical gem.

Happy reading,
Tirzah

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


Find me on Book Riot, Hey YA, All the Books, and Twitter. If someone forwarded this newsletter to you, click here to subscribe.

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Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that you should add to your TBR pile or nightstand or hidden stack under the bed, right away!

In the corner between a Polish bakery selling perogies and a dry cleaner offering crisp and fresh clothes in an hour lay nestled a small used bookshop. That bookshop in its small circumference carried both the latest releases to vintage paperbacks by Tom Sharpe. One of the shelves contained books by Canadian authors. And so on a rainy Tuesday evening, in the small city of Toronto in what would have been a great meet-cute with my soul mate, I met my pick of the week instead.

book cover for The Push

The Push by Ashley Audrain

Nothing about this pick says romance and warm feelings, though. It is a dark psychological drama about relationships, motherhood, and the inescapability of the past.

Beginning with one of the most intriguing prologues I have read, it tells the story of Blythe. Blythe has had a troubled relationship with her mother which has tainted all her relationships henceforth. However, when she gives birth to her daughter, Violet, she vows to be different but fails to connect with her. Blythe also fears there might be something wrong with her daughter. But, no one takes her seriously. When Blythe’s second child is born, that relationship is everything she had wanted it to be and she finds strands of hope for the life that she wants—until one day when everything unravels.

It is a riveting and tense drama that documents the terrors of a family disintegrating in the most terrifying way possible. Sure, it is a dark and dreary read about motherhood not being all it’s cracked up to be, but it is also so much more. It by no means intends to isolate its readers bringing a terrifying universality to the whole premise around one family. If you have enjoyed books like Defending Jacob, then you definitely need to pick this one up.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


Come tell me what you thought of the pick on Instagram @wellreadbrowngirl or Twitter @JavedNusrah.

Happy Reading!
Nusrah

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Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to. Make space for another pile of books on your floor because here we go!

Today’s pick is another book I not only enjoy and appreciate, but one that has also changed me after reading it.

Book cover of Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century edited by Alice Wong

Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century edited by Alice Wong

This is an essay collection from a wide range of disabled folks. About one in five people in the United States is disabled which is a massive amount of people. It makes the already horrific disregard, lack of representation, lack of access, and more all the more egregious. The essays in this book are a wide range of experiences, which makes sense, because the disabled community is a wide range of people. There are essays that are heartbreaking, uplifting, anger-inducing, and joyful, sometimes all in a single essay.

So many of the essays lay bare the layers of oppression at the intersections of identities and they can be very, very heavy. I had to take several breaks while reading this book because some of the essays filled me with massive amounts of rage. The essay titled “The Erasure of Indigenous People in Chronic Illness” by Jen Deerinwater and the essay titled, “The Isolation of Being Deaf in Prison” by Jeremy Woody as told to Christie Thompson come to mind.

One of the essays that blew my mind was by Sky Cubacub, the non-binary, queer, and disabled Filipinx creator of Rebirth Garments which, from the website, are “fully customizable gender non-conforming wearables and accessories centering Non-binary, Trans, Disabled and Mad Queers of all sizes and ages.” The bit that just absolutely floored me was when they wrote about accessibility during a fashion show. Fashion shows often have loud music and are very fast-paced and it can be difficult for a person to offer live descriptions of what is going on on stage. So, they collaborated with a musician to integrate the descriptions of the fashion into the lyrics of music that they were writing for the show. I thought that was incredibly rad!

I read this book quite a while ago and it is one that stays with me. If you are a person that is reading all kinds of social justice books, all kinds of books on anti-Blackness and books on homophobia and books on intersectional feminism etc., you absolutely must read this book as well. Even if you’re not reading all those books, if you are an adult human, or even a young adult, this is a must-read.

There are content warnings at the beginning of each essay that warrants them and there is a range too large to fully list here but it includes infanticide, genocide, institutionalization, abuse, and more.


That’s it for now, book-lovers!

Patricia

Find me on Book Riot, the All the Books podcast, Twitter, and Instagram.

Find more books by subscribing to Book Riot Newsletters.

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Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that I think you absolutely must read. The books will vary across genre and age category to include new releases, backlist titles, and classics. If you’re ready to explode your TBR, buckle up!

This week’s pick is a graphic novel that is technically published as YA, but it really is a great one for all ages! It’s a great one about friendship, isolation, and the amazing connections that happen when you’ve moved to a different country.

Himawari House cover

Himawari House by Harmony Becker

Nao has decided to defer college for a year in order to do something she’s long dreamed of: return to Japan. Although she lived in her mother’s homeland as a young kid, she’s mostly grown up in the States and feels like a part of her is missing. When she arrives at Himawari House, a place for young students from all over the world, she meets Hyejung and Tina, who are from Korea and Singapore. The three form a bond despite their differences and language barriers, and they learn to rely on each other as they navigate Japanese classes, work, and the unknowns of their futures.

I loved this book for so many reasons, but I’ll start with the characters and their unique perspectives. Although the book is centered around Nao’s experiences and perspective, we also get the backstories and POV of both Hyejung and Tina as they share what brought them to Tokyo and what their goals are. Their friendship is really sweet, and I love how they relate to each other through food (so much delicious food, it was like being in a Ghibli movie!), bonding over being homesick, and by supporting each other while far from home. The use of language is also really fascinating in this book, and it’s notable because Becker lays it all out on the page—Japanese, Korean, English, and more. The scenes in which the characters are learning Japanese or struggling to understand each other are artfully smudged, so you get this really cool visual representation of the words they’re catching and their confusion. From a linguistic standpoint, I thought it was really fascinating and creative. The only language I read in this book is English, but it was really cool to see multiple languages represented on the page.

Overall, this is a really lovely book about the emotional storm of returning to a country that you’re from but haven’t grown up in, and what it means to be an outsider and citizen at the same time. It’s also a thoughtful portrayal of the bravery it takes to go to a new country and learn a new language, and nuanced look at the many reasons why young people might emigrate to Japan. The ending was bittersweet, but perfect.

Happy reading1
Tirzah

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


Find me on Book Riot, Hey YA, All the Books, and Twitter. If someone forwarded this newsletter to you, click here to subscribe.

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Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that you should add to your TBR pile or nightstand or hidden stack under the bed, right away!

I recently started a book which promised climate anxiety and a thrilling premise to boot. Forty percent in, the story turned out to be all smoke no fire, full of odd euphemisms. Safe to say a sense of skepticism took root. 
Next time around in a small bookshop in Toronto, I came across my pick of the week. This pick had a similar, ambitious premise; climate anxiety, social commentary, etc. Never one to say no to a book (at least to buying one), I got it and I am happy to report, it delivers. 

cover image of a children's bible by Lydia Millet

A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet

The story begins at the center of a vacation of a group of extremely privileged kids and adults. The kids are particularly disdainful towards their parents and have decided to play a game where none of them let the others know who their parents are. It sounds a little over the top, but it is brilliantly done. 

As the game progresses, the kids realize more and more that they are really on their own considering the group accompanying them and decided to run away at the word of a huge approaching storm. Not all goes according to plan. 

Reading this book is like reading a more contemporary version of Lord of the Flies, but you know, sharper and more self-aware. All the kids really are a piece of work, but it is their knowledge that they aren’t the best people that oddly invokes the reader’s empathy. 

The author is not afraid of purple prose, but this is one of the rare instances where it 100% makes sense and never breaks the flow of the narrative. 

If you have loved works like Weather by Jenny Offill that speak to the place of climate anxieth in everyday life, then this one is for you. 

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


Come tell me what you thought of the pick on Instagram @wellreadbrowngirl or Twitter @JavedNusrah.

Happy Reading!
Nusrah

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Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to. Make space for another pile of books on your floor because here we go!

Today’s pick is an almost decade-old nonfiction book that is perpetually relevant and reading it completely altered the way I perceive and relate to the world around me.

Book cover of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer

This book is simultaneously absolutely beautiful and wildly anger-inducing. One of academia’s problems is that there is no wiggle room for studying something outside of a rigid set of westernized, colonialist rules. Full disclosure: I work at a university and I appreciate the scientific method and also there are multiple ways of learning about the world around us.

Dr. Kimmerer is a biologist, environmental scientist, decorated professor, a mother, and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Before I read this book, I imagined that trying to bridge the gap between Indigenous wisdom and scientific knowledge would be like trying to walk a tightrope. Dr. Kimmerer makes it clear that it is actually more like examining something that is woven. They aren’t two separate thoughts and instead are intimately related, as if they are woven into each other.

One of the many ideas that rocked my world is to think of everything in the world as a gift instead of a commodity. When something is free, many of us will tend to take what we need and not be greedy. How different would the world be if we only take what we need? In fact, when used for ceremonies at powwows, sweetgrass cannot be bought; it must be a gift. Dr. Kimmerer walks us through some research about sweetgrass and the symbiotic relationship between the sweetgrass and humans. It must be shared from the Earth and harvested to survive.

I was particularly enamored by the section on sugar maples and what it takes to make maple syrup. I really appreciated the sections on salmon on the west coast and learning about the devastating effects humans have had. This is the first time I’ve been taught explicitly about what happened and what can be done to reverse the damage and how some people are trying.

I was surprised by the section on hunting. In fact, the author herself states, when talking about a fur trapper, “I have to confess that I’d shuttered my mind before I even met him. There was nothing a fur trapper could say that I wanted to hear.” I was also very skeptical but I went along for the ride and kept reading and my understanding has deepened significantly.

I love this book so much and I hope you do too.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


That’s it for now, book-lovers!

Patricia

Find me on Book Riot, the All the Books podcast, Twitter, and Instagram.

Find more books by subscribing to Book Riot Newsletters.

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Read This Book: Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that I think you absolutely must read. The books will vary across genre and age category to include new releases, backlist titles, and classics. If you’re ready to explode your TBR, buckle up!

This week’s pick is a hilarious and thoughtful read from Ben Philiipe! If you’re unfamiliar with his YA novels and adult essay collection, perhaps you’ve heard of a little show called Only Murders in the Building? He’s also a writer on the first season! Let’s dive in!

Charming as a Verb cover

Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe

Henri is a Haitian American teen living in New York City. He attends a fancy private high school on scholarship and lives in a really nice apartment building on the Upper West Side…because his dad is the super. He’s got big goals and dreams of getting into Columbia, which would send his parents over the moon. The only issue? Living in New York is expensive. College is expensive. Enter: Henri’s side gig. He created and runs an app for a dog walking service, and walks dogs himself, essentially double dipping on the service and earning tips. It’s a pretty benign hustle in the grand scheme of things, but when he’s found out by Corrine, an intense classmate who happens to live in his building, she promises to keep his secret…if he helps her elevate her social status to become a well-rounded candidate for college recommendation letters.

I really loved this book a lot because first of all, it’s really, really funny. I know that humor can be. subjective thing in books, but Philippe is a truly funny writer who uses jokes and humor to poke fun at and explore larger and more complex issues, such as racial injustice, classism, and the challenges that Henri’s family faces as Haitian immigrants. But there are also lots of pop culture references and genuinely funny moments that truly help break things up! I also really enjoyed that this book is a sneaky exploration of how far you have to go to achieve your dreams and the ethical quandaries that arise. Henri lives in an unjust world and is working within an unjust system—there’s no doubt about that. While he’s generally a good person and fairly honest, he does engage in some deception and dishonesty to get where he wants to be, and he’s forced to truly reckon with that in a big way when his choices have consequences that extend beyond him. I loved that this book swings from funny moments to serious ones, and that Henri and the reader really think about the impact that one person’s choices can have and how difficult it can be to get ahead when the world is stacked against you. Plus, there’s a great slow-burn romance at the center that is really sweet to behold!

Bonus: I listened to the audiobook, narrated by James Fouhey, and it was excellent!

Happy reading,
Tirzah

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


Find me on Book Riot, Hey YA, All the Books, and Twitter. If someone forwarded this newsletter to you, click here to subscribe.