What it’s about: How an awkward late bloomer overcomes her anxiety. Or at least tries to.
What made me pick it up: If there is one thing I love it’s other people’s late bloomer stories. As someone who feels like they got a late start on this blooming process I like to meet the other members of the club and see the ways in which they blossom.
My favorite parts: Her voice. She’s honest and funny at the same time, which is necessary given she’s talking about some big topics of mental and personal health. Also if you find yourself employing “defensive pessimism” to manage your anxiety you’ll find a kindred spirit in her tiny triumphs, big attempts, and catastrophic outcomes. Life is scary and hard. Let’s employ all our tools so our brains don’t hijack it and make it MUCHWORSE. To see a good example: pick up this book.
Who it’s great for: Anyone who wants to step outside their comfort zone, even vicariously. Anxious ones. Readers who feel like they aren’t yet at peak bloom when the world expects them to be.
What it’s about: A (former) doctor in the National Health Service in the UK on why it’s great and why it’s awful and why he eventually had to leave.
What made me pick it up: I love memoirs. I love medicine and all things miscellany about the body. And I enjoy humor writing. This had it all.
My favorite parts: This book is hilarious for the first ¾. Kay tells ghastly stories with heart and levity like you expect he’d do at any party, if he could get out of work in time to attend. Then it reverses completely and the reveal he promised you takes up the next ¼ of the book – why he left. It’s so sincere, and powerful, and profoundly sad you will be in tears. Failed relationships, rocky friendships, low pay, and no breaks bring him to his decision to walk away. Anyone who has ever had a job they invested much of themselves in for a long period of time, trained for, and overspent resources qualifying to do can relate. Now add the horrific pressure to save lives, and the catastrophic realization that sometimes you can’t.
Who it’s great for: Fans of medical memoirs, tv shows, movies/documentaries. Former or current medical professionals or their close relatives.
What it’s about: A librarian writes love letters (and some break up ones) to all the books she has loved.
What made me pick it up: List of books, written by a librarian? It was a no-brainer.
My favorite things: This book is hilarious, even if you don’t get all the library work references. But they did make it even more enjoyable for me. I’ve recommended it to all my coworkers and library working friends. It’ll make you remember all those books you love, or at least used to love, and why and maybe reminisce or pick them back up and read them again. While it did remind me a little of other books about books, most notably those by Will Schwalbe, the repeated doses of levity helped this one rise above the rest. She’s not trying to change your life, she’s just someone who wants to talk about the books she loves/hates. So get a glass of wine and enjoy this book chat from your new author bestie.
Who it’s great for: Readers of every variety. Librarians.
Find this book in your local library, or if the holds lists are too long, on Amazon (affiliate link).
What it’s about: Jomny, a lonely alien, is sent to Earth to study humans in this charming graphic novel. Instead, he encounters a variety of Earth’s creatures and, through their humanity, learns some of life’s biggest lessons.
What made me pick it up: When I saw the word aliebn on a book spine I thought my fever brain was playing tricks on me, but after I took a closer look I needed to know more about these aliebns.
My favorite things: It was adorable, funny, poignant, and smart. Each of the creatures Jomny meets teaches him something new about what it means to be an individual and still be part of a community. Like the story, the art is simple but compelling. I especially enjoyed the endpapers of the book, which contained a log Jomny keeps of his adventures on Earth as well as his charming interpretations of each interaction.
What it’s about: A new superhero is born when a genetic engineer, along with an owl and a cat, accidentally becomes his own next project.
What made me pick it up: A Margaret Atwood comic book sounded too good, and weird, to pass up.
My favorite things: Atwood has a strong interest in animal welfare, particularly that of cats and birds, and this comes out in the form of weird footnotes with stats about both. It’s odd but charming. The amusing cast of characters doesn’t fail to deliver and the overall effect is campy and fun. Like all good superheroes, Angel Catbird is plagued by a complicated inner struggle-mostly between his cat and bird instincts.
Who it’s great for: I loved this, but if you’re looking for a comic that takes itself seriously at all then Angel Catbird is not the superhero for you. Good for fans of campy older comics and cat lovers who want to read about their furry friends as heroes.
What it’s about: This is a nearly comprehensive collection of Bechdel’s syndicated strip that ran from the mid 1980’s-2008. It follows a group of politically engaged friends, almost exclusively lesbians, as they navigate societal and personal drama.
What made me pick it up: Although this has been out for nearly a decade, it was new to our library, and I’m a big fan of Bechdel’s graphic memoirs Fun Home and Are you My Mother?
My favorite things: I enjoyed reading this as a sort of queer retrospective on political history from the mid-80’s through the 2008 election. Bechdel’s characters are fun but complicated and both lovable and frustrating.
Who it’s great for: Fans of Bechdel’s other works. Committed Doonesbury readers.
What it’s about: Phoebe Robinson reflects on her experiences as a black woman in comedy and on her observations about race and gender. She challenges her readers to do better.
What made me pick it up: This one has been making the rounds at work so I’ve had it on my TBR list for a while.
My favorite things: Robinson easily discusses race and gender in a way that is both accessible and unapologetic. Her sharp wit is so compelling that you can’t help but laugh even if what she’s calling out is you or something you do. I appreciate that she writes the same way she talks – with a lot of unnecessary abbreviations. Although, I’m not sure I agree with her spelling of cazsh (casual).
What it’s about: Longtime Florida resident Barry makes the case for his adopted state.
What made me pick it up: Dave Barry is hilarious and I consume his writing voraciously. I was so excited to see he had a new book coming out.
My favorite things: This takes you on a tour of all the best random bits of Florida, in Barry’s opinion, and it’s like going on a vacation. A very funny vacation through all of Florida’s oddball locales.
Who it’s great for: Teens or adults. Anyone interested in laughing while also learning tidbits about our Sunshine State.
Get a copy of Best. State. Ever at Amazon (affiliate link) or your local library.
It’s the start of a new reading year and there is a lot to look forward to! Especially these upcoming nonfiction titles:
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxanne Gay – Like the other issues she has tackled in writing, in this book Gay will take on body issues and image in herself and other women. Pub date: June 2017
South and West: From a Notebook by Joan Didion – The inimitable Didion will release a series of notes from her road trip through the American South during the 1970s and all her observations from it. Pub date: March 2017
Theft By Finding: Diaries 1977-2002 by David Sedaris – Didion is not the only one releasing past notes on life. The always entertaining Sedaris will publish this collection from journals he kept over 25 years. Pub date: May 2017
You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie – This book will be a tribute to Alexie’s mother who died at the age of 78. It will feature 78 stories and poems that Alexie wrote to process his grief. Pub date: June 2017
Best Nonfiction: A Thousand Naked Strangers by Kevin Hazzard
What it’s about: A former paramedic in Atlanta tells you how he got into the gig and what it was like patrolling some of the city’s toughest neighborhoods.
What made me pick it up: It has a good font on the cover. It’s about a paramedic. It was nonfiction. Sold!
My favorite things: This book is a trip! The author drops you right into the action and keeps it going the whole time. As someone who works with a sometimes outrageous public I could both relate and still be surprised by his narratives. You feel like you’re riding along on his emergency calls. Also, it’s hilarious.
Who it’s great for: Teens or adults. Anyone interested in nonfiction, especially about medicine. Those looking to be shocked and awed and made to laugh out loud.
Best Fiction: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
What it’s about: A man who loses his wife of 40 years and his job all at once and how he picks up the pieces, or doesn’t.
What made me pick it up: It came highly recommended from a coworker. I’m obviously into books about older men adjusting to some massive change in their later lives, so I placed it on hold. Also, I liked the font on the cover.
My favorite things: This book is perfect. I am still in awe of the mastery of character and emotion (and audio narration, as I listened to it) in what is Backman’s debut novel. It’s the best combination of happysad I’ve read all year, hence why it’s on this list. More than that though, this shows the complexity of grief and community and how much we can misunderstand an individual just because of the front they put up. You will love Ove. You will ache for him and laugh at his antics and root for him. You will recognize him in your grandfather or your neighbor and you will not forget.
Who it’s great for: Adults looking for an outstanding novel. Anyone who wants to laugh while they are crying or vice versa. Fans of the movie UP.