The Fortunes by Peter Ho Davies
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016, 288 pages)
This book jumped up on my to-read list after I was going through potential titles for our campus book club. The Fortunes is told from the perspective of four different characters at four different points in American history. Through their eyes we see the reality of the Chinese American experience in this country. The book begins shortly after the Gold Rush when Chinese immigrants were recruited to build railroads and ends in the present-day with a couple in China in the process of adopting a child.
The Fortunes was an engrossing read that inspired me to want to learn more about the issues and people that were portrayed in the book. I definitely recommend it to those who are fans of literary fiction, historical fiction, multi-generational novels, the immigrant experience, American history… you get the picture 🙂
Saga, Vol. 8 by Brian K. Vaughan; art by Fiona Staples
(Image Comics, 2017, 146 pages)
The saga continues… ha! But seriously, I’m ready for volume 9 and I wish I didn’t have to wait until October for its publication.
The family drama continues as Hazel and her parents try to survive in the midst of a chaotic universe. The social commentary in Vaughan’s work combined with Staples’s amazing artwork make this a series not to be missed. I’d definitely recommend Saga if you haven’t already picked it up. Sure, there are parts that are graphic, but there’s so much packed into each volume!
Practical Houseplant Book by Fran Bailey and Zia Allaway
(DK Publishing, 2018, 224 pages)
I’m always looking for ways to give my house a homier feel. Since I managed to kill the last houseplant I had this seemed like a book that was right up my alley. Things are broken down into sections so you get a feel for how to organize plants, what plants are best suited for different environments, tools you’ll need, and crafty things you can do yourself. It was helpful that this was such a visual book (you can always count on DK for that). I think I got the most mileage out of the section that breaks plants down based on type and highlights the level of difficulty for their care. I now have an incredibly long list of plants I would love to nurture in my house!
I wasn’t a huge fan of the craft section BUT it did help me to see that some of the looks I might go for are things I can try and do on my own. If you’re a houseplant novice this is a great introductory text for you. I’m excited for my next visit to Fahr Greenhouse to see what catches my eye… if you see more houseplant books on the blog in the near future you’ll know I’ve been moderately successful 😉
How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays by Alexander Chee
(Mariner Books, 2018, 288 pages)
I grabbed this book as soon as I saw it sitting on the “New Books” shelf at my public library. I feel like there was so much buzz about this book prior to its publication that I couldn’t not pick it up. This collection of essays reads as more of a memoir since it essentially chronicles Chee’s path to becoming a writer. The essays are beautifully written and I fully understand why there was so much pre-pub buzz.
The end of the Goodreads summary reads, “By turns commanding, heartbreaking, and wry, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel asks questions about how we create ourselves in life and in art, and how to fight when our dearest truths are under attack.” I’d definitely recommend this, especially for those who love literary fiction and enjoy reading memoirs by writers.
The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro
(St. Martin’s Press, 2017, 400 pages)
I had been hoping to pick up Fierro’s first novel, Cutting Teeth, from the library but it was checked out when I got there so I was able to grab her more recent book. The Gypsy Moth Summer is set on Avalon Island (which is meant to be an offshoot of Long Island) in the early 1990s. The same summer that Leslie Day Marshall moves back to her hometown is also one where Avalon Island is beset by gypsy moths. Leslie came from a prominent family in Avalon and it’s somewhat scandalous that she’s returning with a black husband and mixed children in tow.
As Leslie reasserts her presence in town various factions of Avalon are battling to stay relevant. There are gangs, love stories, racial issues, betrayal… all matter of things go down in the infested heat of that summer. This is a novel that keeps your attention as you try to figure out where Fierro will take the story next.
A number of reviews compared The Gypsy Moth Summer to The Great Gatsby. I enjoyed reading it and look forward to finally getting my hands on a copy of Cutting Teeth.
Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman
by Anne Helen Petersen
(Plume Books, 2017, 234 pages)
I know Anne Helen Petersen from her pieces on Buzzfeed. I follow her on Twitter. I subscribe to her newsletter. I knew I would be picking up this book I’m just surprised it took me so long. This book is comprised of 10 essays, each focusing on famous woman who is considered “too” something; meaning she has taken it upon herself to exist outside the boundaries of what society views as the appropriate way for a woman to behave. Petersen covers women from Serena Williams and Lena Dunham to Caitlyn Jenner and Hillary Clinton. She is deconstructing what it is about these women that makes people simultaneously love them and love to hate them. Petersen deep dives into how these women refuse to limit themselves by the societal norms so many people want to force upon them.
This is definitely a book I’d recommend.
The Fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems by Marilyn Nelson
(Louisiana State University Press, 1997, 224 pages)
If you follow this blog you’ll undoubtedly recall that I’ve been on something of a Marilyn Nelson kick for a little while. This particular collection of poems was a National Book Award finalist in 1997. The main themes in this book revolve around topics like race, love, and marriage, but the poems that spoke to me most were those that were reflections on motherhood. Reading The Fields of Praise I really appreciated getting a better feel for more of Nelson’s work. I’d certainly recommend this collection.