Will crocodile be able to help rat find Wilbert? Did crocodile EAT Wilbert? What IS a Wilbert? This story is one of my absolute favorites this year. So funny that I keep laughing every time I read it!! (Try his book Flat Rabbit too!)
Sunshine Lewin lives with her Mom, Dad, and baby brother--but sometimes she gets to visit her Grandpa in Florida. When Sunny visits him though, she has to adjust to some things, like eating a buffet dinner at 4 pm...and some hard things like missing her big brother who is away at a miltary boarding school. This book is full of 1970's flair. Fun, but a little sad sometimes too. I LOVE it!
All's Faire in Middle School captures the tribulations of Imogene, a girl in the midst of a transition from homeschooling to attending public middle school. When Impy starts school, she begins to realize how different she is from the other children. Her family works at the yearly renaissance faire and her father sells pool supplies. They live in an apartment and shop at thrift stores, unlike some her more privileged classmates. Class and race are gently addressed, but without the pitfall of sentimentality. Watch Impy strive to learn the difference between popularity and true friends, while also striving to slay the dragon at the faire. Lively, relatable, and fun!
Take a roadtrip across Florida with 72 year old Johnny Ribkins! He's got to unearth his buried treasures from all around the state to pay back some mobsters--but it's also a kind of family reunion. You'll love discovering the unusual talents of all of the Ribkins. Finally, a "family" book is fresh, interesting, and warm--without being sentimental. A great blend of humor, poignancy, and plot.
When K loses his wife, Sarah, to cancer he develops a unique coping mechanism. He reads about Einstein's Theory of Relativity and decides that his grief can be managed by the concept that time is an illusion. He imagines that his life with Sarah will replay ad infinitum and thus, he can let go because she will never really be gone. He also becomes completely literal in his desperation for a more factual and non-emotional life. Surprising, poignant, and funny.
Homesick For Another World is a collection of short stories that capture displacement, both geographical and emotional. A professor summers in a town that she considers a slum, escaping into drugs and sex in an attempt to feel something. However, her own needs often leave her blind to the people who surround her. A young man from a small town moves to Hollywood in hopes of becoming an actor, despite his limited exposure to television or movies. His more worldly landlady serves as a mother and mentor, but her knowledge comes from a painful life of loss. In voices that are blunt, crushing, and intimate, Moshfegh captures lives with small details. These characters are sad adventurers, aching to find a sense of home, a theoretical place that may never be found. In the narrow space of a slim story, Moshefegh gives us claustrophobic truths. I have loved every word that this author has ever written. To call myself a fan is to devalue the depth of feeling that her work has inspired, the depth of understanding that she has given me, despite us never having met. I love this book.
“Join 85-year-old Lillian on a New Year's Eve stroll through Manhattan, a city as changed by time as Lillian herself. As with Joyce's Ulysses, the reader is privy to a life told in snapshots of memory within a single day. Based loosely on the life of Margaret Fishback, Lillian is a former Depression-era advertising copywriter for R.H. Macy's and a poet of light verse. She is also a mother and an ex-wife. Rooney's work has a light touch, but she is never frivolous. Rooney has the capacity to portray depth within brevity, pain within humor. Here is a novel that both entertains and enlightens, a balance rarely achieved.”
— Sarah Sorensen (E), Bookbug, Kalamazoo, MI
The wild and the mundane. Feelings of desire and nihilism. In many fragments, Parrish creates pieces that feel somehow surreal one moment and terribly immediate the next. His ability to force opposing ideas and feelings into small spaces is admirable and startling.
"And so here I am, in a burlesque club below the Tropic of Cancer, in this damp city where dreams are marbled with nothingness."
This tiny book is filled with 3 mighty tales that feel like dreams, juxtaposing poverty, violence, and blight with decadence, sex and lavishness. A read that begs you to go slowly and ends fast.
Sometimes when you order a unicorn out of a comic book, you wind up with a...GOATICORN!!! Lucy is confused and frustrated with her naughty goaticorn. Why is he so wild? Why does eat everything? And what about his stinky smell? Lucy wants to send him back. But sometimes a goaticorn is filled with love and sometimes that is what really counts.
Portia Kane catches her pornographer husband cheating and decides to leave him and start a new life...sort of. Her new life is mostly about getting back to herself. To return to a life more genuine, she will have to navigate the issues she faced growing up: a mentally ill mother, a teacher whose guidance once meant everything to her--and of course, she will make new friends along the way. This story is heartwarming, heartbreaking and a satisfying read.
A novel that burns as hot as a summer day, but carries a note of the whimsy and magic of A Mid-Summer Night's Dream! Marriages come apart, lives tangle and personal crises erupt. Beautiful, tender, and brutal. It will feel so honest that you will remember scenes long after you have closed the book.
Before you see the movie, check out the book! The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) is a children's classic that has remained as entertaining now as it was when it was first published. AND it is totally worth reading again as an adult. It is the story of an orphan girl named Sophie who is kidnapped in the night by a giant and begins a new life with him in his cave. The two form an unlikely friendship.
The silliness of the language makes up a lot of the humor of the story, but it is often unexpectedly poignant too. Consider the BFG's statement, "'Words,' he said, 'is oh such a twitch-tickling problem to me all my life.'" Ostensibly, the BFG's lack of education makes his communication skills inexact and jumbled. However, there is also the more emotional and adult understanding of how words can often fail us. That is the genius of the book, the ability to say things that hold more meaning the longer that you think about them.
This book is simple enough for young readers and thoughtful enough to satisfy adults. I suggest reading it together as a family.
Have you ever gotten a little obsessed with a book? Felt a kinship with others who love it too? What if you could meet the author, but the author wouldn't give you any answers to your billion questions? What if every exquisite thing felt botched and wrong and you just didn't even know who you are anymore? What if you feel all of these things and you are only in high school?
Then read this.
Sometimes you are an exuberant little gnome with responsibilities. Sometimes you have a little trouble focusing on those responsibilities and let your friends down on a school gardening project. Then you feel kind of sad. That is when you learn how to fix your mistakes!
Told with almost no words at all, Varon uses illustrations to create an emotionally resonant story of the friendship between a dog and robot. This is an amazing story for anyone who has ever truly missed someone or been lonesome.
Who better than the guy who declared love "a dog from hell" to tell you something mushy? But you know what? Love doesn't have to be pretty. It can be a big pulvarizing mess. Bukowski might just surprise you. He can be tender, vulnerable and a complete terror of drunken mistakes. Cheers!
This is Bukowski. This is Bukowski On Cats. Any Questions? Okay fine, here's the deal--Bukowski had gooey little feelings about cats in spite of being, well, himself. Also, he said that they have prettier eyes than you. Or me. Or people in general. This makes me want to hug his rickety corpse. Feel the love--buy the book.
If you would like more felicity in your life, start here! Mary Oliver has the rare gift of expressing and sharing joy without being cloyingly sweet or artificial. I sat and read these poems in the rain while sipping coffee in my parents' backyard. If you have the opportunity to read them outside, even if it is only in the tameness of a backyard, please give it a try! It felt like a lovely meditation. Oliver writes with kindness and gentleness about nature,
I love this book to the point of near speechlessness. Hunter tells the story of so many people that I have known with the characters that she invents. Restless teen girls, alcoholic mothers, tragic accidents--lots of rough edges written with the kind of insight that only comes with love.
Look, I don't know if you read the original P&P, but it is a truth universally acknowledged that the book is far better when imagined as guinea pigs. Unlikeable characters? Nope. Not possible. Because they are guinea pigs, guinea pigs falling in love. And wearing little costumes. Romance is not dead--it's just for guinea pigs. That seems right.
I cannot get enough of this picture book! Meet the little bison toy. His human is away and he would like to experience snow for the very first time. His best friends are Plastic Ball and Sting Ray. Plastic Ball knows what snow is because he read it in a book, but Sting Ray knows the poetry of snow. Together they venture out. Incredibly sweet and lovely!
Whether you are a long time fan or meeting Jenny Lawson for the first time with this book, you are in for a treat! It is ridiculous, funny and, well, furiously happy--even in the face of depression, anxiety, and moments of just plain craziness.
Lawson chronicles the absurdities of her life with self-deprecation as she heads to an Australian zoo to hold a koala while wearing a koala suit, tries out a few late night cat rodeos, etc. Sometimes, these hijinks even result in photos that intersperse the book.
In short, I'm really not sure how you could have more fun reading a book. So, put mathematically:
reading Furiously Happy = being furiously happy.
Of course, maybe you don't like being happy. That'd be a real game-changer and I'd have to tell you not to read this. That'd be sad. But then, if you wanted to be sad...I guess that's okay too.
Wait, what happened there? We got off track. I love this book and I want you to love it too. Please read it so that I can feel like I have spread some joy.
F*ck Feelings explores our lousy feelings and lousy behaviors in ways that are both pragmatic and hilarious. It's a guide to handling the things in your life that are difficult with realistic expectations. Thus, the Bennetts do not suggest that you can overcome any obstacle, rather that you can find the best way to react to obstacles, even when insurmountable. If that seems bleak or overly negative, I can assure you that it's not. If you fight the unwinnable battles with the presumption that they are winnable, you pretty much make everything worse for everyone. That doesn't mean that you don't live up to your values or aspire to have a more meaningful life, it just means you don't exhaust your energy where it will never be rewarded.
Although the book title seems to suggest that you should reject feelings altogether, it is more about letting go of useless negative energy and being realistic about your life while altering what you CAN control. It's a good read for anyone looking to boost healthy behaviors and thoughts without getting too sentimental or magical about the process.
This graphic novel is a riveting page-turner. Minnie starts her diary as a 15 year old in San Francisco. Her single mother is dating, a world Minnie is just starting to explore...by dating one of her mom's boyfriends. Gloeckner captures Minnie's naivete, self-doubt, lust, and longing. An amazing account of the poetry and mistakes of adolecence, as well as how vulnerable we are at that age to the manipulations of adults.
Remember landline phones? Georgie does. It's what she used as a teenager to call her boyfriend Neal when she still lived in her parents' home. Now, a couple decades later she's using it again to call Neal...
The catch? She's calling him in the past. On the landline, Neal is still a teenager. He doesn't know that they end up getting married and having two daughters. He only knows that they are dating.
The story is funny, cute, and very sweet. Rowell intermingles moments of silly humor with genuine feeling, making for a winning combination of entertainment and emotion.
Don't like your poetry smooth and pretty? This is a great option. Nick Flynn's book is composed of poems that feel raw and visceral, dark and sad. He addresses addiction, recovery, suicide, parenthood, love, and complacency that masquerades as love.
If you aren't acquainted with Flynn, try him. And if you are? Well, welcome back.
The 100 year old house is filled with generations worth of secrets. Begin in the year 2000, follow the house back to 1900. Makkai's book has a touch of mystery, ghosts, and magic--but at its heart, it is the story of people, especially artists, poets, dancers and actors. It is a story that meditates on imperfect loves and the ways in which they challenge us. It is a book with the rare gift of wisdom.
"His wedding gift, clasped round my throat. A choker of rubies, two inches wide, like an extraordinarily precious slit throat."
These are gothic fairytales, told in emotionally wrenching ways. Nobody does it quite like Angela.
Cath and Wren are twins starting college. Cath is shy and quieter than her sister; she's nervous about being away from home and their bipolar father who needs his daughters as much as they need him---maybe more. When Wren decides that they need separate dorm rooms, Cath must start to form an identity and life apart from being a twin. This means embracing her inner fangirl who loves to write fic, but also getting out into the world and making new connections.
It's a sweet book that balances humor with genuine warmth. It's relatable, entertaining and a real page-turner! (Also, you don't have to know anything about being a fangirl or fantasy fiction to get into this story!)
Check it out--I'm a Newbery Medal winner!! They aren't handing those out to just anybody! I won because I contain awesome squirrel hijinks, comics, poetry, and much more! Curious? Flip through a page or two. Flora and Ulysses have a variety of adventures involving donuts, weird-looking lamps, Mr. Klaus the cat, and...well I shouldn't give away all of my secrets. You'll have to read me and find out!
This book is labelled a memoir, but it is really a rather philosophical meditation on memory. Manguso spends much of her life recording her life...meticulously. It often takes her away from the moment, but it also feels unbearable to forget. Beautiful, complex, and yet so simple. How do we handle losing moments we hold dear? How do our minds alter them unintentionally with every remembrance? I don't want to forget her book, even though with time it seems nearly inevitable.
I adore this book! Bartholomew is used to living with his mother whose mental health is declining with her increasing age. In her confusion, she dies believing that her son is not her son, but "Richard." With her passing, Bartholomew is left completely alone in the world and to cope he begins writing letters to his mother's favorite movie actor, Richard Gere. The book is composed of these letters. As Bartholomew spends time in therapy, he starts to form his own goals which surround friendship and love. He begins to engage with a variety of other people who also feel like misfits and to understand that he too is worthy of companionship.
Profoundly kind and gentle in its approach, this novel addresses the mental fragility that resides within us all and the need to feel connected to others and to the world. Quick's book is often humorous, but not at the expense of his characters. He creates people whose eccentricities might generate a few laughs, but laughter that comes with understanding and compassion.
If you want a novel that can make you think, feel, and smile, then look no further!
Hey look--it's Ryan from The Office and he wrote a book! Did you know that Novak was a writer for the show? Or that in his new collection of stories he actually has one about Battle Creek?! Well, he totally does. His short stories are ridiculous, quick and fun. And, you get to find out what "dark matter" is--sort of...
What didn't these rowdy dinosaurs do last night? This is dinosaur mayhem! Get ready for walls to be written on, dishes to get smashed, and a lot of unravelled toilet paper.
The dinosaurs don't really mean to be bad, they just sort of are...
Fun-loving and funny, this picture book is packed with photos of dinosaur hijinks that will keep readers entertained, regardless of age.
Stuffed with literary allusions and the bitter insight of experience, this graphic novel is ostensibly about immigration from Russia, divorce, and dating. I'd argue that the real meaning is love and selfhood. Poignant, funny, and kind.
This graphic short story collection is classically creepy, allowing your mind to imagine more terror and gore than what is actually present on the page. I love reading it slowly in the dark before bed. It's fun to reread even after you know all of the endings!
Each piece has the feeling of a vintage style horror fairytale, yet each feels surprisingly fresh and modern. The art is striking and Carroll uses it to convey suspense, fear, and the haunting silence that is particular to visual art.
Celeste is the new middle school teacher. She's young, attractive and charming--and she knows it. In fact, she carefully manipulates her classroom environment to use these qualities to exploit her male students. Here is a well-written novel about abuse and statutory rape. Thought-provoking, timely, and important.
Allie Brosh has the magical ability to make anything hilarious and to relate her own experiences with self-deprecating absurdity in the face of even weighty matters like depression. Or, you know, dog related hijinks. That's another topic she addresses. Her simplistic illustrations capture emotions and events with surprising accuracy.
Once you start reading, you'll long to blow through it all at once, but what do you do once it is over? Start again. That's probably the best way to deal with that situation. There's something really joyous about this book with its brightly colored pages and terrorizing geese. Need to feel better? Read it. Already feeling pretty good? Super, you should read this book.
Every time I need to go to the bank or grocery store, which are for me the worst places on earth, I look to Allie for inspiration. Trust me, that statement will make perfect sense after you read it.
So, to re-cap: terror geese, dog related humor, and hilarious depression! Yay!
"And even though they were very different, they felt the same way about most things."
In this lovely graphic, two odd ducks come to find that having a best friend who is lots different than you is exciting, inspiring and joyous! Sweet and touching at any age.
"Women can live far more comfortably with secrets, don't you think?"
Hmm...This collection of short fiction is filled with uncomfortable secrets. At times strange and reminescent of the fairytales of Angela Carter, but always a distinct voice. Hall gives you brief glimpses into unsettling places.
Forney's graphic memoir presents the author's struggles as an artist with bipolar disorder. Her use of illustrations to show her vacillations between mania and depression are particularly illuminating. At times funny and lively, at others poignantly sad, this is a unique memoir that keeps you constantly engaged. Forney writes/illustrates like it matters. And it does.
Loosely based on Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa, this picture book is a beautiful tale of sisterhood, moodiness, and creativity. When Virginia feels sad, Vanessa struggles to cheer her up--then she paints her a beautiful new world for them to share. Lovely, sweet and tender. This is a wonderful choice for sensitive, creative children.
Sometimes a kitty needs to defend his family from aliens (bugs). That means training hard to be a real space cat (he's not a real space cat). Watch him adventure! This book is a charming story of love and loyalty, but it is also just really dang funny.
Fun home...short for funeral home. Bechdel is genius at conveying family dynamics with due sense of humor and tragedy. While this classic graphic functions as a coming of age, it is so much more. Worth all the buzz and awardy things--unique and special.
Alexie is an amazing writer who manages to write for both teens and adults with equal skill. I love that he writes Native American characters with fire, force, and humor. In Flight, you follow a boy who travels back and forth through time in an effort to understand himself, his choices, and the world at large. This book has the power to touch and inspire you.
Good grief, this book is hilarious, smart and thought-provoking. It makes me want to spend 81% of my time with Mr. Saunders. Since I cannot do that--and you probably can't do that either--how about reading this book? It's brief, a little frightening, and generally a good time!
Sometimes a person might shy away from a collection of short stories because they fear the brevity of the stories will result in a lack of connection or emotional resonance. This book proves the power of the short story, the raw beauty, the weight of thought and feeling. There is so much truth in this fiction.
This is my favorite Diaz book! I love it even more than The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao--AND THAT WON THE PULITZER. THE PULITZER. These stories are vibrant, alive, and meaningful. Diaz writes about America and the Dominican Republic with the voice of experience and the mastery of a writer with tremendous skill.
One of the things that I know for sure is that this is one of my very favorite memoirs. This brief book feels raw, honest, and anything but self-glorifying. As Dorothy reflects on her life, there is a sense that she needs to be heard as much as the reader needs the words that she is offering to us. She writes about abuse, poverty, love, sexuality--life. I may own a copy of this book, but this book also owns a part of me.
If you are a Vonnegut fan, you might have missed this one. Despite not being one of his better known books, Slapstick contains all of the classic satire and humor that his more iconic books have been lauded for in the past. First published in the 1970's, Vonnegut says in the prologue that this is the closest thing to a memoir that he will ever write. Well, we know now that that isn't actually true. However, it definitely makes for an interesting read.
Basically, the story involves twins that are described as monstrously ugly and only intelligent when pressing their heads together. Then some pretty dystopian stuff happens. You know, because the first part was so cheery. If you like smart humor and satire, this is a great read!
You remember this one, right? Ralph (the mouse) lives in a motel with his family and ends up befriending a boy (Keith, a human) who is staying in his room. Keith has an awesome toy motorcycle and Ralph is just the mouse to ride it. Adventurous and independent, Ralph starts out riding the motorcycle because it is just so much fun. He learns with time that he also has the capacity to use his bravery to help others.
This is a good story to revisit as an adult for the nostalgia, but also a solid recommendation for children. The short chapters and cute illustrations make this a nice choice for children who might be intimidated by longer options or a fun book to read aloud together!
'...but if any of you are wondering whether Mrs. Winter is quite all right again now, the answer is NO. And she never will be.'
Yup, that's the problem with having a magic finger that can zap your enemies. Sometimes you zap them and well, they stay zapped. But don't worry, you will probably laugh pretty hard when you get a load of what happened to Mrs. Winter. And if you like water fowl, read this. Now. Today.
Don't let the black and white cover fool you--this is a dirty wild ride. It also really has nothing to do with postal carriers. Have you seen the movie with Lana Turner and John Garfield? It's great. This is better.
"She ran from window to window frantically, trying to open them, like a wild bird in a cage, seeking a way through the bars to freedom."
When you live in a mountain paradise of goats and flowers and your aunt hauls you out to the city to live with a bunch of rich weirdos, it's going to lead to some culture shock. At least Heidi has a cool companion named Clara. Clara is in a wheelchair and doesn't get out much, so Heidi means a lot to her. Plus, Heidi arranges a pile of kittens for them. Now that is an awesome friend.
I'm having so much fun reading this!