Julia, Marketing and Promotions Assistant
Favorite Genres: Speculative fiction; magical realism; books set in circuses and carnivals; fairytale retellings; books where people find mysterious books; supernatural horror that is actually about real-life horrors; non-fiction about the brain, art, and trees; occasional literary fiction
Favorite Authors: Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, Roxane Gay, Haruki Murakami, Donna Tartt, Italo Calvino, Emily St. John Mandel, Shirley Jackson, N.K. Jemisin, V.E. Schwab, Madeline Miller, Jeff VanderMeer
Five women and their fairy tale inspired stories of love and trauma skewer our own obsession with tabloid and reality TV, media’s victim-blaming and slut-shaming, and society’s tendency to disbelieve women’s stories. This book is whip-smart, and the characters are dimensional and real (even if you don’t really like all of them). A great pick for book clubs, there’s so much to pull apart here. I absolutely loved it!
Sometimes books come along and hit all the right notes at just the right time. I read this while socially isolating, and I was swept away by Addie's story and Schwab's gorgeous writing. Addie is a young girl aching to be free in 1700s France, who makes a deal with a mysterious figure. She is free to do and be who she likes — but she is forgotten by everyone she meets. Epic, romantic, tragic, and moving, this book is a treasure.
Mandel is an absolute master. Sea of Tranquility spans hundreds of years, following individuals experiencing the same apparent anomaly in time. There’s a little auto-fiction (a novelist who wrote a famous pandemic novel tours during the early days of a new pandemic), a little speculative fiction (time travel, moon colonies), and a whole lot of humanity. This is a perfect novel for the current moment — I loved every world.
Lone Women weaves together the fascinating true history of single women homesteaders in the American West and the horrors of family secrets locked away. The first chapter is absolutely gripping, and you’ll NEED to keep reading. LaValle is a bit of a lesser known voice in horror, but he shouldn’t be! This is a superb historical horror filled with well-crafted characters and more atmosphere than gore.
This series of essays is a true gift. Esmé Weijun Wang chronicles her own diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder and in so doing gives us a generous look at a very misunderstood condition. This is a moving look at mental illness from the viewpoint of the diagnosed rather than the one doing the diagnosing, with important lessons for all of us on how to treat others dealing with diagnoses laden with stigma.
This is a really important read for anyone who has any love for food or the environment. Considering the dangers of monoculture and profiling numerous rare and endangered foods, Eating to Extinction is a love letter to the fascinating variety of edible foods found around the globe, making a convincing case for their importance when it comes to preserving our food system. I can’t stop talking about this book!
If you — like me — got really into puzzles of all kinds during the pandemic (Wordle, anyone?), you’ll love this funny and enlightening book about the history and people behind the full breadth of the puzzle world. A.J. Jacob’s hands-on approach leads him to participate in an international jigsaw competition, attempt the hardest crossword ever written, and more. The book has tons of historic and new puzzles for you to solve, too!
I love color and art history so this book was a sure thing for me, but even if you don't know your ultramarine from your cobalt, this book is a fascinating read. Learn about the toxic history of lead white, the macabre source for "mummy brown," and the stories behind 73 more colors and pigments. Whether you skip around or read it straight through, I guarantee you'll learn something on every page.
If you ever had romantic ideas of sailing the seas in a wooden ship, this book will dispel those right quick. The Wager tells the gripping tale a British ship marooned off the coast of Patagonia, and the trials befalling its crew and captain during their months-long ordeal, as well as when they return to England. Weaving together the contradictory narratives of a number of the survivors, Grann transports you right to the beach with the crew.
A Deadly Education is absolutely delicious, and I enjoyed every page! The Scholomance is a ruthlessly dangerous magic school, where even sitting in the wrong seat at breakfast could mean death. El is a third year student with an affinity for mass destruction, who is struggling to NOT kill all her classmates. Full of scheming, sarcastic teenage angst, and dark humor, this is the fantasy novel I didn't know I was dying for.