What I have always sought from books, and one reason my reading tastes can run a little…unusual at times, is to experience the world from another’s perspective. Books have this power to transport us into another world, and to allow us to occupy another’s skin. Sort of how, as a child, I would put on other people’s glasses to try to see with their eyes, only far less headache-inducing, all of this week’s selections take the reader on a narrative journey to a deeper understanding of the world and how others experience it. This week I wanted to share a few of my latest favorites, and a couple of forthcoming nonfiction picks, to add to your ever-expanding TBR* pile.
Heavy by Kiese Laymon is quite possibly the most intense emotional experience I’ve had while reading a book, and one of my most recommended books of 2018. His powerful memoir explores what it means to grow up black, male and heavy in America. It is indeed heavy to read, and very necessary too.
The Library Book by Susan Orlean is a joy to read no matter what you’re into, but book and library lovers will be especially enthralled. I am familiar with how awesome the Los Angeles Public Library is now, but I knew almost nothing about the fire that devastated the library in 1986, and even less about the fascinating early history of the institution. Consider that problem corrected. With lively storytelling Orlean crafts a beautiful ode to libraries.
Dopesick by Beth Macy delves into the opiate crisis in rural Appalachia. Those familiar with Beth Macy know to expect a thoroughly researched and well-crafted narrative and this exceeds expectations. Truly a must read for everyone. I would actually recommend this over Dreamland if I could only take one book on the opiate epidemic to my desert island library. (It could happen.)
The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers follows the curious career path of a young Yemeni American from doorman to gourmet coffee importer set against the backdrop of the Civil War in Yemen. Mokhtar is one of the most likable people I’ve met in a book and his incredible story is as energizing as a double shot of espresso.
Award-winning journalist and bestselling author Alex Kotlowitz will have a new book out in March 2019, American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago, and you will have a chance to see him in person, in conversation with Jesmyn Ward, award-winning author of Salvage the Bones, Men We Reaped, and Sing Unburied, Sing, In October of 2019.
Thick: and other essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom comes out in January, 2019, and you better know I’ll have the first copy. Her last book was the compulsively readable, insightful and witty Lower Ed, a personal narrative of the “troubling rise” and shocking cost of for-profit colleges, and I can’t wait to read more from her.
*to be read.