I love character-driven fiction, unusual structure, morbid nonfiction, and diverse representation.
I love, love, loved this essay collection. A must-read for recovering Cool Kids everywhere. Long live messy, earnest feeling.
Like if Gillian Flynn was a gay man and wrote Fatal Attraction. This book is such delicious, sleazy fun. Pick it up and enjoy a vacation in the moral gray area.
Admittedly, I am neither a fan of RHCP nor Anthony Kiedis. However, this book is RIVETING. An LA story, a rock n’ roll story, a drug story. Big kudos to the ghost writer, Larry Sloman for taking what must have been a jumbled mess of confused memories and shaping them into a compelling story. One of my favorite rock memoirs.
An emotional and tense story centering around two best friends trying to outrun a super-rabies epidemic. Just, whatever you do, don't say "zombies". Though this epidemic is a faster-moving and more localized event written before the pandemic of 2020, it's hard not to draw parallels to recent events when Tremblay comments on 'medical resources (...) 'stretched to the breaking point,' exacerbated by 'a myopic, sluggish bureaucracy' and a president 'woefully unprepared to make the rational, science-based decisions necessary.'
Unfolding over the course of a single day, this book rushes by at turbo speed, introducing us to a diverse cast of characters who reflect the best and worst of how we react to crises. Pairs well with some popcorn and a hard rock soundtrack!
Queer, antifascist librarian outlaws in an alternate-timeline Wild West. This is a great action story with plenty of character development and emotional stakes.
No, I’m not tired of praising Grady Hendrix and his hilarious, emotionally devastating horror. Or his penchant for writing women who aren’t 25-year-old beauty queens. This book has all of that, plus a TON of references for fans of slasher films, and possibly a statement about the cyclical nature of violence and the value of restorative justice? JUST TAKE MY MONEY, GRADY.
Palahniuk at his best, if you ask me. Here, he channels his desire to shock and dismay into a hilarious exploration of beauty, worth, and the commodification of people. If you don’t mind unlikeable characters and worst-case scenarios, this may be the book for you.
This book is a great resource and thought exercise for anybody that falls anywhere on or off the gender spectrum.
It feels presumptuous to even begin to describe Morrison’s utterly heartbreaking, beautiful first novel. This is required reading. The great American novel. An event as much as a story- one you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life.
A lovely view into the discovery, confusion, and wonder that can be a part of exploring your own gender and sexuality. Kobabe doesn’t pretend to speak for all genderqueer or nonbinary people, but gives a detailed account of eir personal path to being fully emself.
How can you resist this cover!? The book is just as funny and slightly pitiful as its cover. Depression has never been so hysterical.
I haven't read any other translation of Beowulf since middle school. This one was compelling and asks a lot of interesting questions about the fleeting nature of both language and ideas. I took my time really absorbing and contemplating the word and phrase choices. An action-packed adventure as well as an intellectual exploration of story, context, and perspective.
I loved this book so much and wish I would have found it as a teenager. It’s exactly the kind of counter-cultural, hyper-violent odyssey that I loved then and still love now. Content warnings for just about everything imaginable. But if you’re not easily shocked, this tragic story about a child who did without love and had violence as her only heirloom might break your heart.
This novella is so tightly constructed, there’s not a single word that’s extra or unnecessary. Fascinating character studies wrapped up in horrors both real and fantastic.
A great introductory history to an often overlooked art medium, in a gorgeous book full of art that is fittingly unusual and striking.
A razor-sharp story about loyalty and trauma bonding that presents us with characters whose flaws are so believable that you'll forget who to root for.
A wonderful story that combines the thrilling rush of a good western with a thought-provoking tale of feminism, gender, and reproductive justice. Compelling and packed with memorable characters.
This book has so many things I'm a sucker for- an ambiguous and hallucinatory narrative, religious fervor, discussion of mental illness and intergenerational trauma, beautiful prose interspersed with snippets of poetry, spiraling layers of metaphor and self-reference, and a metric ton of both horror and occultism. It's memoir, it's philosophy, it's commentary, and it's straight-up horror.
Machado describes this book as, "Pennsylvania Gothic, body horror, environmental horror."The elements of terror in this story work like a fractal, where the camera keeps pulling back further to show the interlinking pattern extends in every direction forever. The building sense of dread in this story was a real treat, and the true horror continued to reveal itself after I closed the book. Make sure to check out the alternate cover art by Jenny Frison.
These characters and relationships are so well-formed and believable, it only adds to the growing horror. A beautiful exploration of obsessive love, guilt and the terrors that await those who adulterate nature’s design.
We recently read this as a family with our barely-4-year-old. And while we all enjoyed it, I think I was possibly more delighted than she was. Who doesn’t want to live in a world of cozy underground burrows and kind-hearted, anthropomorphic small animals looking out for each other?
As an ambivalent fan of gore and extreme horror, it’s such a pleasant surprise to read something that balances extreme horror and humanity so well. Johnson manages to spin a bleak, terrifying, earnest story about human greed and aggression without relying on pointless edginess or traumatizing the reader. Come for the bloodbath, stay for the heart.
This thoughtful book is so much more expansive than the title even suggests. Oluo brings fair-minded analysis to every angle of the culture we’re all suffering under. A validating and rewarding read.
Taylor is an incredible writer who blends memoir, social commentary, and an almost stream-of-consciousness structure into a completely one-of-a-kind book. This is her debut, and I really hope she writes something else soon.
I've heard this novel described, more than once, as a "polemic against the factory farming industry." And while I certainly see that in here, this book is SO much more than that. It's about how we feel entitled to one another's bodies, it's about mass inaction against evil, and it's very much about grief. There was something to the writing and the never-ending series of tasks and social niceties set before the protagonist that reminded me of the best parts of Kafka's The Trial. Some of the genius of this book is that, while you read the actual story, you also witness all the possible outcomes that Bazterrica horrifyingly dangles in front of you. Only an incredibly talented writer (and translator) could bring so much smarts to a satire concept that sounds so sophomoric. The ending is horrifying, haunting, and triumphant.
CWs for violence against adults, animals, and children.
This is like a gothic horror for people that don't have the patience for a traditional, slow-burn gothic horror. At a tight 300 pages, it moves along at a snappy pace, and takes a delightful turn for the weird about 2/3 of the way through. We don't get much of a distressed damsel in Noemi, but what we get in place of that is a character with a backbone. High Place stands in for the decay that colonizers often bring to previously thriving lands and communities. Fun and spooky!
Kingfisher brings her trademark wit and weird to a new cosmic horror adventure where being devoured might be the best outcome you can hope for.
My jaw hung open as I read through some of the more grisly and suspenseful parts of this book. This book is absolutely brutal, but also beautiful and poignant. A story about identity and belonging wrapped up in a revenge story. I wasn’t ready to leave this world when the book ended, so I’m sure I’ll go back to visit often.
Y'all. This book is SO GOOD. Gleefully mashing together truly disgusting body horror and fantastical cosmic horror with meaningful and touching story, Clark moves through this short novel at lightning speed. Fascinating folkloric references are mixed into the mythos of the book, and there's a wonderful literary wink at the end. FANTASTIC.
A creepy story so sweet that it leans into rot, as fallen apples bursting in the late summer heat. Like a songwriter, Danforth carefully chooses four or five notes to create terror, starts by playing only one or two at a time, and rearranges them into different melodies before reaching a caterwauling crescendo.
Memorable, complicated characters and a truly terrifying setting make this one that will stick with you.
Perfect to inspire a spirit of adventure and fearlessness in readers of all ages.
A fascinating look at the history behind certain cryptids and UFO sightings. Dickey does a great job of showing where commonly held ideas and theories in these fields came from specific accounts and the cultural context that created these phenomena. This will give you a serious case of the "Did you know?"s.
Don't be scared by the size of this book! Though the material is heavy, Kendi divides it into five sections, each anchored to a central historical figure, giving the book a narrative drive that makes the material digestible. Full of "a-ha" moments (at least for me), this has better equipped me to see the racist foundations of our structures. The most important book I read all year.
This story lies just on the other side of our worst guesses of where the current moment in history could go. It’s a massive epic given the space to unfold at a natural pace, and the ending is startling and satisfying at once. (Content warning for graphic sexual violence.)
Who knew a book could be both a violent, gory werewolf story AND a poignant, human reflection on family and belonging? Stephen Graham Jones completely reinvented the werewolf for me.
This collection, made up of nine perfectly short stories and one short novella, is frightening, tragic, and haunting. The stories will come back to you unbidden for a long time after.
Thorough, informative, and even-handed, this is an excellent eagle-eye view of policing in America and where it went wrong.
A fun and thoughtful adventure with a whole new kind of vampire, this book kept me emotionally invested and wide-eyed in suspense. The title and cover art led me to believe it was going to be a lighter book than it was, but, while funny, there are some heavy and dark themes here.
A speculative, historical, dystopian mystery. This book may be the first and last of a very specific microgenre. Campisi creates a world that's just slightly skewed to the right of real 16th century Britain, so most of the characters and setting will be slightly familiar, but twisted in a way to reveal the ludicrousness of real history. It takes a great talent to make an illiterate preteen with little compassion for outsiders and who's never been up a flight of stairs so relatable.
Writing Alabama from the perspective of a total outsider (a German transplant) is a stroke of genius, and paints the strangeness of the landscape in dire, foreboding detail. The themes are heavy and dark, even while the teenage characters feel like they're being innocently moved by forces beyond themselves.This is a troubling portrait of young masculinity.
An interesting snapshot of a group of extremely moving and charming individuals united by a common goal and passion. As someone who isn't from Compton and wasn't aware of its agricultural roots, this book painted a fascinating picture of a lesser known corner of Compton life.
A coming-of-age adventure set in a version of the Everglades that is always on the verge of teetering into a dark fairy tale.The Bigtree family will charm you even while some of their practices repulse you. A great read if you liked Geek Love.
Written in a style that effectively puts you in the early 18th century but is also inviting and accessible, this book travels through several different moral subjects (ego, conformity, cruelty, social performance, etc) on the way to its conclusion. Weird and thought-provoking.
A western with a twist. As violent and tense as you'd expect, but also surprisingly queer and tender— all rendered with the same jagged beauty that makes the wide-open West.
It took weeks to shake the feeling that this book left me with, and each time I tossed my mind back to it for another pass, another layer of the story revealed itself to me. These characters breathe, bleed, create beauty in their world, and sometimes disappoint you. You won't be done with them at the end of this novel; they'll take up residence in the back of your mind.
This book is damned funny and readable, against steep odds. Rarely has such an unrelatable and unlikeable narrator been so compelling. A book about popping pills and sleeping for days shouldn't be a page-turner, but Moshfegh pulls it off. I found myself laughing out loud during each scene with Dr. Tuttle (the worst psychiatrist in history), and wondering seriously about who deserves sympathy and whether sympathy should even be a limited resource.
Funny, relatable, and incredibly endearing, you'll soon find yourself deciding who in your friend group is a Scout, Andy, Ari, or Gwen!
The dread of transgression against unnatural forces builds slowly and deliciously in these two stories set in full-color worlds.
The Twisted Ones is a gripping adventure story with an extremely likable and believable main character and a dog as a really well-realized central character. The mythology is really interesting and just vague enough to allow your imagination to fill in the blanks with whatever creeps you out.
This was a fun, fast read. The author combines a handful of different familiar genres, settings, and characters to create something new. The two main characters are both evil to the bone, but their sympathetic origins and seemingly genuine affection for one another will have you cheering for the bad guy. It would be a perfect quick Halloween read or a palette cleanser after something more serious.
A fun, gorey adventure through a familiar dystopia that is part Metalocalypse and part They Live. In contrast to basically every rock n’ roll fiction trope, the female protagonist is middle aged, never defined in terms of her attractiveness or lack thereof, isn’t driven by love or obsession with a male character, and is never threatened with sexualized violence. Meanwhile, there’s also enough knowledgeable metal band namedropping to amuse real fans.
Gina Apostol presents this novel in a way that feels as though you’re wearing blinders and can only see what is directly in front of you- up until the end, when your view expands and the separate pieces all click together. Sometimes it takes you a moment to figure out who you are, which smartly highlights the commonalities of the seemingly disparate characters. This story is a fascinating exploration of the construction of history and the context from which we view it.
There is nothing quite so unsettling as the ease with which Nabokov places you inside the perspective of an absolute monster. You’re trapped inside the evil, unable to look away. This is not an easy read, but it’s a rewarding one, and one you’ll have a hard time putting down.
Witness the invention of science fiction! Not just terrifying, but deeply tragic and moving. Posits questions that are still relevant, about the boundaries of science and how we define humanity.
You say you know angst? Now imagine that angst stretching on into a potential eternity. Rice’s vampires are beautiful, sensuous, and sad to their deepest core. It’s hard not to fall in love with them even when you are pretty sure that they may well be evil. Highly recommended for strange and unusual teens and adults who used to be strange and unusual teens.
A wonderful read for any age, and possibly a humorous way to take the edge out of death anxiety for teens and pre-teens. Doughty shows off both her trademark knowledge and cheekiness, resulting in a book that might make you see death as just another funny part of life.
I was so pleased with this author's ability to turn my vague parental goals and philosophies into actionable plans. I'm making my husband read it, too!
These stories start in a familiar, concrete place and then snake imperceptibly into the fantastic. Were you the weird kid at your small high school? Have you ever watched a police standoff in your trailer park? Ever had a supernatural experience while on hallucinogens? This book is for you, and when you begin to read, you’ll feel like it was written JUST for you.
Fallon writes about ecology, conservation, history, and mythology, tying it all together with her personal experiences and connection to the titular birds. Her style echoes the nature writers she clearly admires. Entertaining, informative, with a clear mission of winning people over to the protection and conservation of an important bird, this is an excellent piece of pop science writing.
Rootin' tootin' wordplay!
A lovely book about friendship, responsibility, and reciprocity.
What a fun, western twist on a classic! You'll be rootin' for this little cowgirl.
I was blown away by this collection of essays. I didn’t realize I had been seeing the DNA of Didion’s work in so much of the writing I love. Clearly hugely influential, even though the pieces are all slices of life from the '60s, the writing feels incredibly contemporary. I’ll be seeking out everything else Didion wrote, without question.
The Last Cowboys is one part ethnography, one part sports writing. Branch spent three years with the Wrights, at their homes, at their ranch, and on the road to countless rodeos. The result is a warm, fascinating account of a family that might not know how extraordinary they are.
Probably the best history of punk music I've ever read, re-establishing the lost trail of women in punk that were so important to several different genres. Goldman has a unique ability to accurately and compellingly describe the sound of songs.
What a beautiful way to introduce these two incredible artists to the little ones in your life!
This stunningly beautiful book packs a multitude of incredible lessons for kids. The “circle of life,” the beauty hidden in grief, and the responsibilities of love. Every family should have this on their shelf.
Parable of the Sower makes familiar characters in a classic scenario (a dystopian apocalypse) gripping and fresh through plain language and emotional intelligence. Though the story is grim, a heart bursting with hope and love is at its core.
Written with stonefaced hilarity, this book could make you a better writer and one eloquent sonofabitch.
A literary history of Hell (and comparable underworlds) is every bit as scintillating and page-turning as it sounds. Told with a healthy dose of snark, the book is divided into easily digestible sections, often as direct answers to questions that would naturally arise in a matter-of-fact discussion of perdition. Dark, nasty fun.
Ram Dass and I disagree on a number of theological points, and I haven’t lived a life anything like his. The questions he contemplates peacefully from a Maui beach house overlooking the Pacific, I contemplate on my dusty Tucson patio. So it came as somewhat of a surprise that I found so much of his wisdom relatable and true. Regardless of your spiritual background, age, or experience, there is a loving universality to Ram Dass’s words. This is unflinching love in the face of oblivion.
What a wonderfully broad and inclusive introduction to queer theory. I found this really fascinating, even when I disagreed with a specific point here and there. It'll certainly be a jumping-off point for other readings, many of which are cited in this book!
John Waters is nothing if not consistent. He always delivers exactly what we expect from him and, if you're a fan, exactly what you want. This reads exactly like his spoken word work. Hilarious (if stubbornly outdated).
I read this after reading her second book, From Here to Eternity, which I loved. I liked this one even more. This one is about the death industry, yes, but it's also about the individual struggle to accept mortality. Doughty gets extremely personal, seeming at once one-of-a-kind and deeply relatable.
Sometimes being a kid is hard. Wouldn't you rather be an armadillo or a worm? This book, full of beautiful and stylistic art, explores what every kid has felt at some point.
This sweet and poignant book manages to make something as painful and amorphous as loss into something both relatable and hopeful. A beautiful book for anybody— of any age— that has dealt with loss. Be ready to cry!
I don't know if I want more to grow up to be Sissy Hankshaw or Bonanza Jellybean, who are just two of the incredible characters in this story that takes place somewhere between mid-century America and the strangest corners of your dreams. If you haven't had the pleasure of reading this joyfully bizarre book, it's high time.
Totally aspirational— great for planning or daydreaming.
A clear-eyed exploration of something that is usually only discussed as the subject of jokes. An important piece of the puzzle when addressing hierarchical systems of power in the U.S.
This book is so charming and accessible. A must read. Give this to your well-meaning aunt who says all of this is "just too confusing."
Have you ever read a graphic novel with a bibliography?Reading this and taking in the beautiful illustrations is a meditation. The theory is good thought exercise, even if you find yourself disagreeing on some points.Witchbody will bring more beauty and consideration into your life.
A punk rock coming-of-age told with raw emotional immediacy.
I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything that better captured misfit teenage girlhood. Gross, embarrassing, harrowing, and absolutely gripping. There’s nothing precious about this protagonist.
This book will earn your love and then traumatize you terribly. Be warned. The language is natural, the characters people I knew in my own childhood. It’s like a workout for the heart- it’ll leave you sore but very alive.
A surprisingly natural meeting place for history, social justice, and ghost stories, and an addictive read.
A lighthearted but respectful exploration of some of the ways we deal with our dead. Coming from a perspective of cultural health and ecological conservation, you’ll walk away with as many questions as answers.
A beautifully illustrated book that prizes dreaming big and teaches kids that being tough and tender can go hand in hand.
An engaging, witty, and accessible dive into the anthropology and biology behind a long-standing taboo.