7 books that expanded my worldview

May is my favorite month, and I swear it’s not just because it’s my birthday month. Finally, the weather is really starting to warm up; finally, we can break out shorts, tank tops, and sundresses. During those first few weeks of feeling the sun's rays on your skin, it's hard not to feel hopeful and optimistic about the longer days ahead. In that spirit—and because my birthday gives me perspective on who I am and who I once was—this month’s column focuses on the books that have shaped me: books new and old that have expanded my view of the world. perspective, changed my understanding of myself, deepened my awareness of the human experience, and upended my ideas of what literature could do. (As a reminder, you can find more of my and other busy writers’ favorite new spring books here!)

old stuff

Maggie Nelson's Blues

Maggie Nelson is perhaps best known for her groundbreaking The Argonauts , a hybrid of memoir, philosophy, and essay that arguably brought the idea of ​​"memoir+" to brought it into the mainstream, but I found her most moving work to be 2009's "Bluets." This slender experimental text is a meditation on the color blue, presented as a numbered list containing 240 observations about the reality and connotations of the color blue. Is it poetry? Is it prose? Does the answer really matter? Regardless, it quietly offers great insights into love, grief, and the very nature of our humanity.

Brutz Bookstore

The wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Jean Rhys's 1966 feminist interpretation of Jane Eyre was my introduction to literary reimagining and reinforced for me the need to examine the classics through their sociopolitical context. Powerful education. "Wide Sargasso Sea" is largely narrated by Creole heiress Antoinette (Mr. Rochester's eventual wife), who describes her childhood in postcolonial Jamaica, the loss of her family's wealth after the abolition of slavery, and her Arranged marriage to Rochester, England, and increasing abuse and abuse. As his wife, she suffered dehumanizing treatment. It's a nuanced and often harrowing look at the oppression of women and the long-term consequences of colonialism and the slave trade.

The vast Sargasso Sea

This Is Chance: The Great Alaska Earthquake, Fairy Chance, and the Broken City She Holds Together by Jon Mooallem

When New York Times Magazine writer Jon Mooallem's book about the historic 1964 Alaska earthquake comes out in 2020, I won't shut up about it. The story follows Genie Chance, a young and ambitious reporter who broadcasts for three consecutive days after a disaster that devastates her city, providing a sense of calm and order amid the horrific chaos. The story, with its core of resilience, community and hope, particularly resonated during the height of the pandemic and has stayed with me for years.

This is your chance! bookstore

new things

Kittens photographed by Holly Wilson

Holly Wilson's debut novel tells the wonderful, surreal, and crazy story of Molly. Molly, a 10-year-old girl living in a strange co-op in 1992 Illinois, forms an unexpected friendship with 23-year-old Jeanie. A 3-year-old woman who moved in after being released from prison. When Jenny fakes her death, Molly doesn't believe it and sets out on a journey to find Jenny. There's a lot going on in this book, even beyond the death hoax - the twins' quest for revenge, a supernatural version of the Chicago Fair, a confusing pen pal relationship, an attempt to communicate with Molly's dead mother through a staged séance. — and between the pranks and Molly's rudeness (see: the book's title), it's certainly not for everyone. But for anyone with a high threshold for weirdness, this is a wonderful and wild ride.

kitten bookstore

"The Roommate" by Emma Copley Eisenberg

I loved Emma Copley Eisenberg’s true-crime memoir The Third Rainbow Girl And excited to read her debut novel. It did not disappoint! A strange take on the classic road trip story, this book follows photographer Bernie and writer Leah—new roommates who turn into more than friends—who set out to inherit Bernie's unexpected legacy, This was left to her by her previous ex. professor. Throughout their adventure, the pair encounter uniquely American characters in motels, restaurants, small towns and beyond as they explore the intersection of art, sex, love and ambition.

roommate bookstore

North America Nicolás Medina Mora

Talented Mexican journalist Nicolás Medina Mora makes an exciting debut feature about Sebastián Arteaga y Salazar The expansive, ambitious, and confident story of the 20-something journalist who left his home in Mexico City after winning a fellowship at the prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop. Sebastian, who grew up in a privileged environment in Mexico, became disillusioned with the academic culture of the "North" and the tendency of self-proclaimed liberals to tokenize him. Medina Mora deftly weaves Sebastian's personal and political experiences - Trump's attacks on immigrants, his mother's cancer, and the ups and downs of a romance with a Latin-obsessed American girlfriend — intertwined with centuries of Mexican colonial history.

north america bookstore

something unexpected

Theo Ellsworth's abilities

I saw Theo Ellsworth's graphic novel at a comic convention, based solely on the cover art. So complicated! What I got was a mind-bending journey inside the artist's mind that was both intimate and interactive. (Throughout the story, Ellsworth leaves room for the reader to name the protagonist.) Ellsworth's imagination is a miracle and a gift, and Capacity brings the creative process to life, through fantasy A world of mazes, monsters and magic to depict it.

Capacity Bookstore