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Mirandas-Picks-2021

1. Dreaming of You by Melissa Lozada-Oliva

A macabre novel in verse of loss, longing, and identity crises following a poet who resurrects pop star Selena from the dead.

2. Girlhood by Melissa Febos

A gripping set of essays about the forces that shape girls and the adults they become. A wise and brilliant guide to transforming the self and our society.

3. Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz

A livewire debut from Dantiel W. Moniz, one of the most exciting discoveries in today’s literary landscape, Milk Blood Heat depicts the sultry lives of Floridians in intergenerational tales that contemplate human connection, race, womanhood, inheritance, and the elemental darkness in us all.

4. What Makes You Think You’re Awake? by Maegan Poland

Poland’s stories usher in a world where mortal fear, the threat of violation, and the body’s looming betrayal drive us to look beyond surface appearances.  This collections moves among richly imagined landscapes, bringing to life the deep loneliness at the heart of the modern condition and the ephemerality of the bridges we build against the dark.

5. Fault Lines by Emily Itami

Funny, provocative, and startlingly honest, Fault Lines is for anyone who has ever looked in the mirror and asked, who am I and how did I get here? A bittersweet love story and a piercing portrait of female identity, it introduces Emily Itami, a debut novelist with astonishing resonance and wit.

TERRYS-PICKS-2021

1. Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins

New York Times bestselling author Morgan Jerkins makes her fiction debut with this electrifying novel, for fans of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jacqueline Woodson, that brings to life one powerful and enigmatic family in a tale rife with secrets, betrayal, intrigue, and magic.

2. Mouths of Rain: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Thought, Edited by Briona Simone Jones

Using “Black Lesbian” as a capacious signifier, Mouths of Rain includes writing by Black women who have shared intimate and loving relationships with other women, as well as Black women who see bonding as mutual, Black women who have self-identified as lesbian, Black women who have written about Black Lesbians, and Black women who theorize about and see the word lesbian as a political descriptor that disrupts and critiques capitalism, heterosexism, and heteropatriarchy. Taking its title from a poem by Audre Lorde, Mouths of Rain addresses pervasive issues such as misogynoir and anti-blackness while also attending to love, romance, “coming out,” and the erotic.

3. Outlawed by Anna North

Featuring an irresistibly no-nonsense, courageous, and determined heroine, Outlawed dusts off the myth of the old West and reignites the glimmering promise of the frontier with an entirely new set of feminist stakes. Anna North has crafted a pulse-racing, page-turning saga about the search for hope in the wake of death, and for truth in a climate of small-mindedness and fear.

4. Night Rooms: Essays by Gina Nutt

Night Rooms is a poetic, intimate collection of personal essays that weaves together fragmented images from horror films and cultural tropes to meditate on anxiety and depression, suicide, body image, identity, grief, and survival.

5. The Renunciations: Poems by Donika Kelly

The Renunciations is a book of resilience, survival, and the journey to radically shift one’s sense of self in the face of trauma. In this gorgeous and heartrending second collection, we find the home one builds inside oneself after reckoning with a legacy of trauma—a home whose construction starts “with a razing.”

CAIDAS-PICKS-2021

1. Crying in H Mart: A Memoir by Michelle Zauner

From the indie rockstar of Japanese Breakfast fame, and author of the viral 2018 New Yorker essay that shares the title of this book, an unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity.

2. Libertie: A Novel by Kaitlyn Greenidge

The critically acclaimed and Whiting Award–winning author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman returns with an unforgettable story about the meaning of freedom. Inspired by the life of one of the first Black female doctors in the United States and rich with historical detail, Kaitlyn Greenidge’s new novel resonates in our times and is perfect for readers of Brit Bennett, Min Jin Lee, and Yaa Gyasi.

3. Who is Maud Dixon?: A Novel by Alexandra Andrews

Taut, twisty, and viciously entertaining, Who is Maud Dixon is a stylish psychological thriller about how far into the darkness you’re willing to go to claim the life you always wanted.

JAIMES-PICKS-2021

1. Gay Bar: Why We Went Out by Jeremy Atherton Lin

An indispensable, intimate, and stylish celebration of the institution of the gay bar, from 1990s post-AIDS crisis to today’s fluid queer spaces.

2. Infinite Country by Patricia Engel

For readers of Valeria Luiselli and Edwidge Danticat, an urgent and lyrical novel about a Colombian family fractured by deportation, offering an intimate perspective on an experience that so many have endured—and are enduring right now.

3. Bewilderness by Karen Tucker

Set in rural, poverty-stricken North Carolina, this “beautiful, gritty, and piercing” novel follows two young women—best friends—as they “journey through the highs and lows of friendship, love, and addiction,” perfect for readers of Julie Buntin’s Marlena (Erika Carter, author of Lucky You). Told in a riveting dialogue between the girls’ addicted past and their hopes for a better future, Bewilderness is not just a brilliant, funny, heartbreaking novel about opioid abuse, it’s also a moving look at how intense, intimate friendships can shape every young woman’s life.

4. Las Biuty Queens: Stories by Iván Monalisa Ojeda & translated by Hannah Kauders

In this acclaimed story collection, Chilean transgender performer and author Iván Monalisa Ojeda delivers an irreverent, honest and full-throated love song to New York City from the perspective of a group of trans Latinx immigrant friends who walk the streets, get high, compete in beauty contests, look for clients on their impossibly high heels, and fall prey to increasingly cruel immigration policies.

NDOBES-PICKS-2021

1. Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Gossip Girl meets Get Out in this YA contemporary thriller by debut author Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé about two students, Devon Richards & Chiamaka Adebayo, and their struggles against an anonymous bully.

2. Honey Girl: A Novel by Morgan Rogers

Perfect for readers of Queenie, this coming-of-age debut follows a young black woman just finishing her Ph.D in astronomy who impulsively gets married in Vegas and decides to leave her perfectly ordered life for a summer in New York with the wife she barely knows.

3. The Vixen by Francine Prose

Critically acclaimed, bestselling author Francine Prose returns with a dazzling new novel set in the glamorous world of 1950s New York publishing, the story of a young man tasked with editing a steamy bodice-ripper based on the recent trial and execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg—an assignment that will reveal the true cost of entering that seductive, dangerous new world.

GABYS-PICKS-2021

1. Crying in H Mart: A Memoir by Michelle Zauner

From the indie rockstar of Japanese Breakfast fame, and author of the viral 2018 New Yorker essay that shares the title of this book, an unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity.

2. The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on a Human-Centered Planet by John Green

In this remarkable symphony of essays adapted and expanded from his groundbreaking podcast, John Green reviews different facets of the human-centered planet—from the QWERTY keyboard and Staphylococcus aureus to the Taco Bell breakfast menu—on a five-star scale. John Green’s gift for storytelling shines throughout this artfully curated collection that includes both beloved essays and all-new pieces exclusive to the book.

3. One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

From the New York Times bestselling author of Red, White & Royal Blue comes a new romantic comedy that puts a queer spin on Kate & Leopold. Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop is a magical, sexy, big-hearted romance where the impossible becomes possible as August does everything in her power to save the girl lost in time.

4. Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford

Somebody’s Daughter steps into the world of growing up a poor Black girl, exploring how isolating and complex such a childhood can be. As Ashley battles her body and her environment, she provides a poignant coming-of-age recollection that speaks to finding the threads between who you are and what you were born into, and the complicated familial love that often binds them.

5. Summer Sons by Lee Wandelo

One-third The Sound and the Fury, one-third The Fast and the Furious, and one-third The Secret History, Lee Mandelo’s debut Summer Sons is a sweltering, queer Southern Gothic.

CHRISTINES-PICKS-2021

1. Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

Artemis Fowl meets Men in Black in this exhilarating debut middle grade fantasy, the first in a trilogy filled with #blackgirlmagic, about a young girl who must earn a spot at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs in order to find her missing brother—only to discover that her unprecedented levels of potential and power have marked her as a suspect in the ongoing fight against an evil magical threat. Perfect for fans of Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, the Percy Jackson series, and Nevermoor.

2. Matrix by lauren Groff

Equally alive to the sacred and the profane, Matrix gathers currents of violence, sensuality, and religious ecstasy in a mesmerizing portrait of consuming passion, aberrant faith, and a woman that history moves both through and around. Lauren Groff’s new novel, her first since Fates and Furies, is a defiant and timely exploration of the raw power of female creativity in a corrupted world.

3. This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

Darkness blooms in bestselling author Kalynn Bayron’s new contemporary fantasy about a girl with a unique and deadly power.

4. Broken (in the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson

As Jenny Lawson’s hundreds of thousands of fans know, she suffers from depression. In Broken, she explores her experimental treatment of transcranial magnetic stimulation with brutal honesty. But also with brutal humor. A treat for Jenny Lawson’s already existing fans, and destined to convert new ones, Broken is a beacon of hope and a wellspring of laughter.

5. Cazadora by Romina Garber

In Cazadora, the follow-up to Lobizona, Romina Garber weaves together Argentine folklore and what it means to be illegal in a timely, intimate, and emotionally powerful narrative.

SYLVIES-PICKS-2021

1. My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

In her quickly gentrifying rural lake town Jade sees recent events only her encyclopedic knowledge of horror films could have prepared her for in this latest novel from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones.

2. The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

A fast-paced, thrilling horror novel that follows a group of heroines to die for, from the brilliant New York Times bestselling author of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. In horror movies, the final girl is the one who’s left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. The one who emerges bloodied but victorious. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her?

3. Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Vampires, humans, cops, and criminals collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive? Or will the city devour them all?

4. Midnight, Water City by Chris McKinney

Hawai‘i author Chris McKinney’s first entry in a brilliant new sci-fi noir trilogy explores the sordid past of a murdered scientist, deified in death, through the eyes of a man who once committed unspeakable crimes for her.

LUPES-PICKS-2021

1. Doctoring the Devil: Notebooks of an Appalachian Conjure Man by Jake Richards

Who were the old conjurors and witches of Appalachia? What were their practices and beliefs? How can you learn the ways of conjuring for yourself? Appalachian folk magic and conjure are little known today, but forty or fifty years ago just about every person you might ask in Appalachia either knew something about it themselves or knew someone who did it. These practices and “superstitions” are at the core of Appalachian culture. In Doctoring the Devil, Jake Richards speaks to those questions and more, offering the various ways of rooting out the “devil”—any unfriendly spirit bringing bad luck, poor health, and calamities of all sorts.

2. The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel

From the author of Fun Home, a profoundly affecting graphic memoir of Bechdel’s lifelong love affair with exercise, set against a hilarious chronicle of fitness fads in our times The secret to superhuman strength lies not in six-pack abs, but in something much less clearly defined: facing her own non-transcendent but all-important interdependence with others.

3. Where Tomorrows aren’t Promised by Carmelo Anthony with D. Watkins

Carmelo’s story is one of perseverance and determination; of dribbling past players bigger and tougher than him, while also weaving around vial caps and needles strewn across the court; where dealers and junkies lined one side of the asphalt and kids playing jacks and Double Dutch lined the other; where rims had no nets, and you better not call a foul—a place Where Tomorrows Aren’t Promised.

LANEYS-PICKS-2021

1. Kink: Stories edited by R.O. Kwon & Garth Greenwell

Kink is a groundbreaking anthology of literary short fiction exploring love and desire, BDSM, and interests across the sexual spectrum, edited by lauded writers R.O. Kwon and Garth Greenwell, and featuring a roster of all-star contributors including Alexander Chee, Roxane Gay, Carmen Maria Machado, and more.

2. Finlay Donovan is Killing It: A Mystery by Elle Cosimano

Edgar-Award nominee Elle Cosimano’s witty, fast-paced adult debut follows struggling suspense novelist and single mom Finlay Donovan, whose fiction begins to tread dangerously close to the truth. When Finlay’s overheard discussing the plot of her new novel with her agent over lunch, she’s mistaken for a contract killer, and inadvertently accepts an offer to dispose of a problem husband in order to make ends meet… and she soon discovers that crime in real life is a lot more difficult than its fictional counterpart.

3. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight translated and illustrated by Michael Smith

A beautifully-illustrated new edition of the definitive masterpiece of medieval alliterative poetry.

4. Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

5. Witch, Please by Misty Bell Stiers

A touching and thought-provoking account of how a woman explored a spectrum of religions—ancient and new—and ended up, unexpectedly, becoming a bona fide witch—plus a celebration of modern Wicca and witchcraft, spell books, broomsticks, holiday recipes and recipes for the changing of the seasons, and much more.

HOLIDAY 2021 GIFT GUIDE: STAFF PICKS
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