True Story

Jesmyn Ward’s New Novel and Nonfiction Book Releases!

Spring cleaning has come early to my house this year. This past weekend, I spent an entire day cleaning my house. Sometimes, when you have two Corgis who shed like they are solely responsible for providing stuffing for the entire nation’s pillows, you suddenly look up and realize that if you don’t vacuum, you may never see the sun again. So that’s what I did, and, for good measure, I washed the Corgis too. Now I have two large, poofy hamster-looking creatures running around my house re-dusting the floor. But that will be a battle for another day. The bright spot was that cleaning ALL of the things meant that I have listened to a ridiculous number of audiobooks! I can’t wait to share them with you, but first, bookish goods!

Bookish Goods

a photo of a white notebook featuring book darts in three colors

Brass, Copper, Silver Page Darts by Pippy Plans

I love book darts. They are just a nice clean way to flag different part of a book. Plus, these book darts come in three different colors! $5

New Releases

a graphic of the cover of The In-Betweens: A Lyrical Memoir by Davon Loeb

The In-Betweens: A Lyrical Memoir by Davon Loeb

The son of a Black woman and a Jewish man, Davon Loeb grew up a biracial boy in a New Jersey suburb. He was one of the only non white kids in his school and was singled out during events like Black History Month, which only added to his feelings of isolation. But there was also a lot of joy in his life and passions he discovered that helped him decide what he wanted to do with his life.

a graphic of the cover of Woman, Captain, Rebel: The Extraordinary True Story of a Daring Icelandic Sea Captain by  Margaret Willson

Woman, Captain, Rebel: The Extraordinary True Story of a Daring Icelandic Sea Captain by  Margaret Willson

Captain Thurídur was born in the late 1700s and became the captain of a fishing vessel and sailed the Arctic seas. Despite the intense difficulties of sailing in such cold waters, Captain Thurídur never lost a single crew member. Willson has filled this with so many incredible details from Captain Thurídur’s fascinating life.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

Last week, Jesmyn Ward announced that her next novel will be published this fall. I cannot even describe how excited I am for this book. So in honor of the occasion, let’s have a look at two nonfiction books that Ward has published.

a graphic of the cover of The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race edited by Jesmyn Ward

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race edited by Jesmyn Ward

In response to James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, The Fire This Time is a collection of essays edited by Ward. It includes pieces by incredible writers, including Carol Anderson, Jericho Brown, Edwidge Danticat, Kevin Young, Claudia Rankine, and Honoree Jeffers. Each selection looks at a different aspect of Black identity — whether that be in the past, present, or future — and often includes the writer’s personal experience engaging with Baldwin’s work. In addition to her introduction to the collection, Ward writes about how she bought commercial DNA tests for her and her parents. She describes what a privilege it is to know where you came from, and how her parents were able to regain so much knowledge by better understanding their background. Her father was even able to reconnect with his Native Nation.

a graphic of the cover of Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

In her memoir, Men We Reaped, Jesmyn Ward alternated between writing chapters about her childhood growing up in the Mississippi Delta region and the stories of five men in her life who died far too young, including her brother. With each new man we meet, Ward describes their vibrant personalities, family histories, hopes, and dreams. Each of these men’s lives ended too soon because of the systemic racism they experienced and the long lasting effects of intergenerational trauma. But her portrait of these men also includes a lot of joy, the happy memories Ward grabs and holds onto tightly through her writing. Her prose is stunning and her observations sharp. This memoir is an incredible tribute to these men and her words are a call for change in the systems that played such a huge role in how these men’s lives ended far too soon.

a photo of Gwenllian, a black and white Cardigan Welsh Corgi, sporting a super fluffy white ruff. She has just gotten a bath and is especially poofy.
Gwenllian with her post-bath floof

That’s it for this week! You can find me over on my substack Winchester Ave, over on Instagram @kdwinchester, or on my podcast Read Appalachia. As always, feel free to drop me a line at For even MORE bookish content, you can find my articles over on Book Riot.

Happy Reading, Friends!

~ Kendra