May 2022 Book Rec: Checkout 19 by Claire-Louise Bennett

In the middle of reading Checkout 19, Claire-Louise Bennett’s coming-of-age novel about a girl who really really loves to read, I rhapsodized to Keets that this book had put into words something that had always been true of my reading experience but that I had never noticed, let alone described. 

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March Book Rec: Oldladyvoice by Elisa Victoria

Janes turned me on to a particular strain of literary fiction of which Ottessa Moshfegh would be considered the standard-bearer: fiction about antiheroines who, rather than rebelling against social norms in a proto-feminist way (as in Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies or even Gone Girl), are simply petty and vain and shallow, while also being darkly hilarious. Elisa Victoria’s novel oldladyvoice answers the question you never thought to ask: “What if Ottessa Moshfegh wrote a book about a nine-year-old?”

Answer: it would be amazing.

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UPDATED: Our Favorite Books by Black Authors

We’ll be updating this post regularly with more favorite books by Black authors, along with their Bookshop links. Happy reading!

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The Best Books We Read in 2020

We write this post every year, but this year it has a little more meaning. I don’t know about you, but reading was the only thing that got me through this year. We love television, of course, but reading was the only activity absorbing enough to get me to stop doomscrolling. So here are the books that got us through quarantine–the best books we read during this cosmic joke of a year.

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Our Favorite Books By Black Authors

Recently the #publishingpaidme hashtag highlighted on Twitter just how absurd the discrepancies between advances for Black authors and non-Black authors are in publishing. For example, NK Jemisin’s famous Broken Earth Trilogy? She got $25K advance for each book. Jesmyn Ward had to fight to get a six-figure advance (a number frequently bestowed upon White debut authors with no track record) after winning the National Book Award.

If you’re White (or non-Black) and you’re anything like us, this hashtag (and the recent uprising against police brutality and racism in general) may have made you redouble your commitment to reading works by Black voices. Anyway, here are some of our favorites, old and new. Some of them we’ve written about before, some we somehow haven’t mentioned yet. Check it out, and follow the links to purchase from Bookshop, which supports independent bookstores with each purchase!*

*We’re not grown-up bloggers, so we don’t get any money ourselves… we just want to stick it to Jeff Bezos.

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The Best Books We Read in 2019

There are two things Janes and I agree on about our reading in 2019: how hard it was to pick just a few standouts, and the fact that Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends was a shoo-in.

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The Best Books We Read in 2018

As is tradition for, well, all book blogs ever, we compiled a list of the best books we each read in 2018. Continue reading →

Women Upstairs: On Claire Messud’s The Burning Girl

“My mother assures me that it happens to everyone, sooner or later,” says Julia, the narrator of Claire Messud’s new novel The Burning Girl; “…everyone loses a best friend at some point.”

Julia is quiet, cautious, and sensitive; her soon-to-be-lost best friend is Cassie, a fragile-looking, “troubled” girl, much more daring and eventually more popular. As Dwight Garner observed in The New York Times, “This pairing is a familiar one”–so many other novels about female friendships, from my favorite YA novel Someone Like You to recent literary phenom My Brilliant Friend, seem to feature the same general contrast. And it seems to be the universal inclination of writers (many of whom are quiet and sensitive) to narrate from the point of view of the less daring, the less dynamic friend—the friend with less story to tell. The narrator then spends so much time looking at her friend, watching her, resisting her stories rather than driving forward her own, that the novel’s center of gravity rests between narrator and friend, rather than centering on the narrator.

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