Kate loves to read fiction and is drawn to excellent storytelling, history, and social issues. In between novels, she likes to read non-fiction and has a particular interest in nature & science writing, theory, criticism, social justice and memoirs.
Fun, sexy, and smart as hell! Torrey Peters does not shy away from uncomfortable and complicated topics while examining motherhood, gender, sexuality, and culture in this fresh take on a love triangle. This book goes all the way, satisfying every nook and cranny of the mind while also pulling at your heartstrings. This book is revolutionary for contemporary general fiction. Read it!
This book is thrilling, remarkable, and educational for those who like to be outside. Claire Nelson recounts her story of falling while hiking solo in the California desert. She is stranded for 4 days with a shattered pelvis and very little water. As intense as her story is, her voice is amusing throughout. Her gratitude and gain from the experience is apparent, yet her enlightenment after the fall only lasts so long. Things I learned From Falling is a captivating glimpse into the journey of survival.
At times I am skeptical of anything in the realm of 'surreal' fiction, but this book was very well done and in the tradition of Argentine story-telling. Daniel Lodel has a way of making the brutality of torture and political upheavel beautiful through attempting to render the confusing relationship between love and pain.
I really began to respect and enjoy this book in Part II of the book, Looking. Beginning with a smart examination of tourism in the essay, Jaffna, I was reminded of Jamaica Kincaid's A Small Place. The two essays about photography were told in the spirit of Susan Sontag - one was about Civil War/war photography and the other, the title essay, was about a photographer whose life work centered around a family and their home in Mexico. These two essays were evocative and carried me through the rest of the book to The Museum of Broken Hearts - a fabulous essay about Vegas and to the humble and real last essay that may make you cringe; yet the completed collection will leave you with an overall warmth.
The Yellow House is a portrait of New Orleans, a family, a home. It is rich with history. The cartography of a city and a family tree is told from the perspective of Sarah Broom who grew up in The Yellow House. She examines the story of her family home and the story of a mythologized American city with stunning detail. Broom is successful in her delivery, mapping out the history of a place while telling a story at the same time. Her writing style seems influenced by Joan Didion, who's mentioned a couple of times throughout the book. Overall, I really enjoyed this read and was pleased to find myself at the end with what felt like a natural path to my next read - Slouching Toward Bethlehem.
Lonesome Dove is a sweeping epic and journey across the American west. The characters, the land, and the animals come to life with the humanity Larry McMurtry writes with. This novel felt so immediately classic, yet it took the Western genre to a totally new level. It's funny and harrowing and filled with soul and depth. I should stop here cause I don't want to spoil it if you might read it.
Tove Ditlevson's trilogy is a portrait of an artist whose eccentricities are timeless and relatable. The first book, Childhood, captures her perspective as a kid in Denmark during the 1930s. The Second, Youth, describes her ascent from adolescence to adulthood and the coming of age during the rise of the second world war. Reading the last book, Dependency, is like being plunged into a deep, sick, and twisted world with Tove. Despite the horrifying images and thoughts that her story sometimes left with me with, there is a redeeming quality to her dedication and passion. Her reflections are brutally honest and at times, darkly humorous. Her story is damning.
You do not have to be an avid reader to adore this exhibition on the art of the book. This book is for lovers of design, history, and/or pulp and literary fiction. The text is compelling and the images inspire. My imagination was left to run wild with ideas for what to read next, what to research further, and what to make.
Did you know that the name 'Selena' means moon goddess? This book is stylish, timeless and inspirational. I learned all about the life of Selena, both onstage and offstage. The dazzling and playful illustrations help to tell about her family, the music, her heritage, giving back to the community, and her legacy as the Queen of Tejano Music.
Set against the background of an English chapel-turned-art gallery, four friends and their families reckon with loss, love, lust, and the past.
Late In the Day is written like a movie. The easily imaginable characters are well-developed and the plot is dramatic.
A very good book.
A beautiful book rooted in the tradition of telling stories with memories, warnings, remedies, and spirit.
Sabrina & Corina is a remarkable story collection set in the beautiful state of Colorado. From the high desert to the Metropolis of the West (Denver), women find their connection to the land, each other, and themselves.
From Thread to Needle is a beautifully detailed look at dozens of contemporary embroidery artists. The high-quality photos make the book a tactile experience while the artist profiles are smart and evocative. This is perhaps my most treasured art book in my collection and has yet to make it to the shelf because I can't seem to close it.
Molly’s Game was a thrilling recollection of one woman’s rise to the top of the largest poker game in the world. Molly Bloom exposes the glamour, glitz, and greed of the gambling scene from LA to NYC. With unforgettable characters and an unbelievably true story, Molly’s Game had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. A stunning, five-star memoir.
Another brilliant book by one of the most underrated & masterful writers of our time.
As I read Bailey’s Cafe, I had no idea where all of these strange, tragic, and dark stories were headed; but rest assured, this novel is complete.
Gloria Naylor found a spell-binding way to interlace the disparate characters that crossed paths at the unlikely legend: Bailey’s Cafe.
The Botanical Bible is perhaps the most beautiful book on my bookshelf. It is an elegant reference complete with scientific information, history, remedies, recipes, and art. This book truly reveals the magic of the botanical world. If you enjoy nature, design, and science. Take a peek inside!
This is a truly compelling novel in which Carla Guelfenbein expertly weaves together the life of a famous writer with a chilling mystery.
Gloria Naylor is a wizard at composing a nearly perfect novel. Reading Mama Day felt like planting a seed and watching it grow into a striking, exotic flower.
I know a staff pick when I read it… This book was GREAT! For those who’d like to take a trip through the history of civilization, through the world’s visual relics and artifacts, this book is for you! Great Read for Art Admirers.
I read this book when I was covered neck to knee in hives and a rash that persisted for nine weeks. I had begun reading the Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn and quickly realized that, although I wanted to be immersed in a complex plot, I needed something a bit more meditative at that time.I picked up the advanced reader's copy of Luis Alberto Urrea's House of Broken Angels and his storytelling and characters immediately resonated with me. This is a dazzling family saga that unfolds in the midst of a funeral, a birthday, and the ruminative last days of Big Angel's (the patriarch's) life.
The Book of Emma Reyes is told through the imaginative gaze of a child. Through her memories, Reyes tells the story of growing up as an abandoned orphan, and in a Colombian convent, in a series of letters to historian German Arciniegas. In her later life, she became a painter and fixture in the art world of the mid-20th century. She befriended the likes of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and other worldly artists and intellectuals. While her adulthood was notable, her book focuses on her life before fame, glamour, and art. I really enjoyed this perspective of memory work and the unique details of her memoir.
This memoir is both funny and intense. In tackling social and personal issues, Gabrielle Union is blunt and biting. I was impressed with her ability to shed light on darkness.
Feel Free is the best book I’ve read this year. Topics range from television and films such as Get Out, Anomolisa, and Key and Peele, to social media, dance, writing, and books. Zadie Smith’s way with words had me interested in any and everything. It was a pleasure to be enveloped in such an exquisitely entertaining mind. Smith is a true book lover and had me giddy with literary love from beginning to end.
This story sank deep into my bones as it unfolded. I was haunted by the ghostly spirit of the Deep South that shaped a family bound by blood, history, and loss. Jesmyn Ward smoothly conveys the harrowing details of each character’s experience with an imaginative clarity. I loved this book.
Alcohol, painted skies, and wild weather set the stage for a bizarre and exquisite journey set in historic South America. The title and synopsis are deceiving. Ema the Captive is a dedicated and deliberate story of ceremony and freedom. Every time I read Aira, I am sure to find myself living in a painting.
Haunting. Han Kang conquers a plot so eerily close to home -- and yet so foreign, it feels unexpected. As a visual person, the imagery in this novel nearly brought me to tears.
This book is at once beautiful and difficult ... to swallow.
The thing I love most about Zadie Smith is the way her brain works. However, reading her novels, I had always felt her writing was perhaps too dense. Then I read Swing Time.
The complex themes interweave with an intriguing plot about a woman always on the verge of finding herself in the worlds of media, travel, and dance. The story unfolds with motion and left me with a feeling of completion throughout.
I really liked this unique collection of short stories. Heyman explores humanity through art, science, love, loss, aging, and relationships. The topics are very well-researched and the dynamic characters have soul. Each story is smart, raunchy, and meaningful. Unlike anything I’ve ever read.
A poignant portrayal of a teenage girl in a small American Midwestern town. The unnamed narrator works at “Chapters” bookstore, goes to the diner with friends, and makes sense of strange nights, awkward relationships, and growing up. Mairead Case’s writing dazzles from beginning to end.
The story unfolds on a family farm in Iowa. Land and memory shape a timeless tale that had me entranced. I was left saying: “Jane Smiley. I can’t believe she went there.”
Flight is a trip. A journey through history, the human condition, mind, and consciousness. The mind-bending story is tragic and beautiful. Alexie is blunt in capturing the complexity of the characters and themes throughout this colorful novel.
Reading The Sellout was like experiencing the making of public art.
I deeply enjoyed Beatty’s refreshing perspective on history in this boldly-realized novel.
Song of Solomon is timeless in its meditations on race and violence, relationships, love, and struggle. Deeply moving and culturally relevant, Morrison’s story is embedded with a historical narrative that still lives on. This book is fearless in its purity, exposing darkness and corruption with vivid imagery and emotional depth. Song of Solomon is an essential and significant piece of literature. Read this.
Jesmyn Ward immortalizes the deep South amid the tension of Hurricane Katrina. Told from the gaze of a blossoming young woman, Esch narrates a story of motherhood, betrayal, poverty, and survival.
A mesmerizing work of historical fiction, family lineage and brilliant story-telling. Luis Alberto Urrea's tale is full of life, color and soul.
An albino hunchback dwarf, a seductress with a tail, siamese twins, and a boy with fins all intertwine in this novel of freaks, family, obscenity, the beautiful, the ugly, rivalry, and LOVE.
Dunn's tale is dark and raw, pure and empathetic in its grotesque examination of strange love.
This account of Edward Abbey's season in the desert of southern Utah is exquisite. Vivid imagery and memory come together through the poetic gaze of a lone ranger in the wilderness to make for a rugged and contemplative journey.
Abbey's writing mirrors the desert landscape: unforgiving and elegant at once.
Witty, educational, funny, and intriguing. Roach elaborates on scientific curiosities with style and humor.
Also recommended: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.
A tightly knitted collection of stories that explore love. Dialogue intertwines with plot and character development to display the complex ways in which we communicate. Junot Diaz is raw, unapologetic, ugly, honest and beautiful in each work.
Inga Muscio is clever and entertaining in her elaboration on the cunt. It is an empowering and intriguing examination of the female body through a personal and cultural lens. Her manifesto is revolutionary in its bold and provocative declarations. This is the text that made me a self-defined feminist.
An intimate examination of relationships & culture in this beautifully crafted work of short stories that focus on the dichotomy between Africa and America.
An astounding novel from Argentina that is a meditation on the beautiful and grotesque in nature, the art of landscape painting, and one experience in a man's life that became a lightning rod for inspiration.
I would very much dislike to spoil what is between these two covers. You do not have to be a garden pro, or even interested in gardening, to find this book compelling. "My Garden (book)" thoughtfully examines historic, artistic, and spiritual narratives of the cultivated landscape. This garden story is deceptively grand.