December is here, and I’m celebrating the winter holiday season in true bookworm style: making butternut squash soup, putting up cat-shaped fairy lights, and reading a ton. Here are the books that have been brightening long, dark evenings for me this week!
INBOX (BOOKS ACQUIRED)
Him, Me, Muhammad Ali by Randa Jarrar
I remember the exact moment I knew my first-ever best friend and I would be close for life. We’d talked about books together all weekend on a Girl Scout trip, and we’d each agreed to bring two of the books we’d discussed to exchange at school the next day. Come Monday, we both showed up with three books—and we’d both picked the same third book, Susan Fletcher’s Shadow Spinner. Fifteen years later, my best friend still excels at giving me books I love, so when I unwrapped Him, Me, Muhammad Ali from the birthday package she sent me this week, I knew right away it would win my heart. Throw in the fact that Amazon describes it as a specific exploration of race and gender with “a healthy dose of magic surrealism,” and you’ve got me chomping at the bit to read this beautiful-looking story collection.
The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
I finally picked up a copy of The Nest, and I can’t wait to read it. It’s the story of a strange, unhappy family that gets even messier when the adult siblings learn they’re at risk of losing the trust fund they’re nearly due to receive. I’ve read some reviews of The Nest that are pretty polarizing, but our own Rebecca Joines Schinsky recommended it for fans of another dysfunctional family tale I loved, The Family Fang. Speaking of which…
OUTBOX (BOOKS FINISHED)
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
A dear friend lent me her copy of The Family Fang when I told her how much I loved yet another novel about an unstable family, Where’d You Go, Bernadette? What thrills me about both Fang and Bernadette is that even though they’re both technically realistic fiction, the characters in each are so bonkers, you might as well be reading about the Cheshire Cat and the Queen of Hearts. What better way to capture the hilarities and frustrations of life in a messed-up family than that?
Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
I listened to Priestdaddy on Audible earlier this year, but I’m already re-reading it because I’m so crazy about it that I had to savor it visually, too. If you’re familiar with Patricia Lockwood’s poetry and you’re hoping her debut prose work will sustain that same degree of weirdness and profanity for 300 pages, you’re in luck. Priestdaddy is about Lockwood’s father, a Catholic priest who likes cleaning his guns, torturing his guitar, and striding around in his underwear; but it’s also about her mother, her career, the devil, inspiration, and the tensions between poets and priests, both in Lockwood’s family and across the United States. I like to think that in a hundred years, high school students will be assigned Priestdaddy in their English classes so they can learn about the mystifying, long-since-resolved conflict that was known as “pro-choice versus pro-life.”
IN THE QUEUE (WHAT I’M READING NEXT)
Runaways Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan (author) and Adrian Alphona (illustrator)
I fell hard for Hulu’s Runaways this week, and it’s the first time since Orphan Black that I’ve been excited about a show I couldn’t binge by the season! To tide me over while I wait for new episodes to be released, I’m going to start reading the comics. I’m eager to dig into new-to-me Brian K. Vaughan content, since Saga and Papergirls were gateway comics for me. Plus, when I’m caught up I’ll get to read the newer Runaways comics being written by Rainbow Rowell, who I adore.
Peter Darling by Austin Chant
If you really pushed me to pick a favorite book, I’d go with Peter Pan, and I never tire of reading new interpretations of it. It’s been brought to my attention that this one is not only really good but also QUEER AF. Say no more: I’m in.