Hello, friends! This week, I head into the home stretch of my move back upstate. I have loved living in the South Carolina Lowcountry for the last two years, but now it’s time to go home. Of course, I will be taking back scores of great books — including some excellent cookbooks — so my time down here will be well remembered. Dylan and Gwen have been incredibly “helpful” during the packing process. In particular, Gwenllian has enjoyed testing the boxes for quality assurance by running off and shredding them when I’m not looking. Every little bit helps. Okay, let’s jump into this week’s book picks!
Booklover Christmas Ornament by Joyful Moose
The holidays are right around the corner, so if you’re wanting custom gifts, now is the time to order! This adorable used library card ornament is perfect for any library lover. $15
Conversations with Birds by Priyanka Kumar
Combining elements of travel and nature writing, Kumar’s essays reflect on the natural world around her as she makes her way across the United States. Kumar grew up in Northern India at the foot of the Himalayas. But moving to the U.S. made her feel detached from the landscape around her. Conversations with Birds is Kumar’s reclamation of her love of birds and taking joy in nature.
Ride or Die: A Feminist Manifesto for the Well-Being of Black Women by Shanita Hubbard
Shanita Hubbard writes about how Black women have been required to give up everything for their family and community without leaving them energy to care for themselves. Using her background as a professor of sociology, she examines the structures in place that require so much of Black women and the step forward that could allow Black women to reclaim energy for themselves.
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This week, I’m writing about essay collections that had me hooked from the first few pages. Actually, in my case, it was the first few minutes, because I listened to both of these essay collections on audio! Plus, both of these audiobooks are performed by their authors.
Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino
In both her prose and her audiobook performance, Jia Tolentino has an excellent narrative voice. In every essay, I feel like I’m sitting with her in a café listening to her talk to me about her time on a reality show or about how expensive yoga pants represent some key issues with capitalism. While I may not have been interested in these topics if I had heard about them any other way, Tolentino’s writing makes me fascinated in whatever she wants to write about. Her vivid writing makes me committed to learning more about her ideas. I will pick up whatever Tolentino decides to write next.
These Precious Days: Essays by Ann Patchett
Admittedly, I haven’t read a lot of Ann Patchett’s work, but I decided to try out her nonfiction and started listening to her perform her essay collection These Precious Days. Reader, I have to tell you that I was smitten. Her warm American accent blends well with the scenes she describes. I’m meeting her three fathers, I’m greeting her dog at her bookstore in Nashville, or I’m bunkered down with her during the pandemic. Her essays are so intimate that I feel like I am her new best friend. All of this is, of course, just in my head, but I think that speaks to how inviting her writing feels to readers (and listeners). I ended up checking two more of her nonfiction audiobooks out from Hoopla, both of which she also performs. I guess I know how I will be spending all of this time packing and unpacking for the move!