My Year of Rest and Relaxation

Elise’s Pick:

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My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

This is the blues. This is also a rebirth — and above all, an intelligent story about the pain and recovery of a modern convalescent, whose ills are of the psyche.

Most people would agree that true transformation comes from facing your crisis, your tragedy, your whatever-it-is head on. Moshfegh suggests a different remedy in the face of psychic pain: act like an animal and go into deep hibernation. The narrator is knee deep in the muck of her life; flashes of her painful past are on the verge of immobilizing her. What does she do? Listen to her instincts and self-medicate into oblivion. Moshfegh is a talented writer, nose diving into the very personal grit of her character’s lives. This story unravels into something darkly humorous, relatable, and transformative.

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Two Serious Ladies

Elise’s Staff Pick:

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Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles

A delightfully odd tale. Written in 1943 by modernist Jane Bowles. In “Two Serious Ladies” we enter the orbit of two women, both teetering on the edge of abjectivity. One of the women roams Staten Island on a spiritual quest, whose path involves random encounters with strange men. The other woman is on a seemingly endless vacation in Panama, languidly passing time. What is the link between these two? They each make preposterous choices that are equally motivated by boredom and curiosity. Somehow this book manages to be humourous in its telling, yet earnest in its pursuit. Bottom line: this story is well written and these women are fascinating. They consistently muster up an unusual species of bravery on their existential quest to knowing themselves.

Links We Love – July

From our JULY newsletter: interesting book and reading-related articles we’ve read lately


Thoroughly charming: Who want to run a Scottish bookstore for a weekend?: A Critic Sells Books Down by the Seashore[NYTimes]

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My favorite book list of them all: Obama’s 2018 Summer Reading List. [link to Facebook}

This intriguing book is out today and has one of the most beautiful covers I have ever seen: ‘The Seas’ by Samantha Hunt Puts A Feminist Twist on Mermaid Mythology. [Bustle]

Anne of Green Gables

Clare’s Staff Pick:

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Oh what a glorious, splendid and magnificent tome! This story simply burbles with breathless delight, simmers with magnificent beauty and boils over with stupendous joy. (I’m using all the big words I can, Anne, I do hope you appreciate my adjective choices). An incredibly charming page turner, at heart this is the simple story of a very unique, charming and very red-haired orphan girl with an imagination wider than the sky who finds love and family and adventure after adventure. I read it for the first time at age 26 and was so enthralled I finished the last page and started from the beginning again. If you haven’t gotten around to reading this classic yet, treat yourself. I promise you won’t be disappointed. 

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark

Clare’s Staff Pick:

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I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

Oh this book is scary. If you’re in need of a story to satiate morbid curiosity or to make those little bitty hairs stand up on the back of your neck and arms or to make your clutch your blankets drenched in fear at the sound of the creaks and stirs of your old house late at night, this is the book for you. The stories within and around this book are fascinating; it’s the story of the mystery serial killer discovered after decades, the story of the woman obsessed with cold cases who died while writing this story, and it’s the new science story of how modern genealogy research is dramatically changing criminal investigation–giving more power to law enforcement agencies making us wonder how much ownership we can claim over our own DNA. (Pairs well with The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks).

Not That Bad

Clare’s Staff Pick:
*trigger warning

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Not That Bad edited by Roxane Gay

An incredibly important and timely collection of essays curated by Roxane Gay, each dealing with various forms of pertinent daily misogyny. These essays vary greatly in intensity and trauma, from street harassment to violent gang-rapes, but they all pulse with these irrevocable facts: we are all living in a rape culture where misogyny is normalized, the violence and harassment born out of this misogyny is omnipresent, and it’s not okay. Certainly a page turner, this book will have you seething by the end. Twist that fury into a determination to refute and change the prejudice and violence by which our society wrongfully thrives.

God’s Hotel

Clare’s Staff Pick:

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God’s Hotel by Victoria Sweet

A “sweet” exploration of a quirky curious alternative hospital in San Francisco, God’s Hotel will have you rethinking all you ever thought about hospice care and medicine! Victoria Sweet chronicles her experience working at the almshouse Lagunda Honda Hospital, the last of its kind, caring for the city’s most vulnerable populations. The relationship Sweet has with her  fascinating patients is told with humor and affection and intelligence. Her critical approach to modern medicine is refreshing, and the way she solves medical curiosities using the philosophies she derives from Hildegard Von Bingen’s writings is fascinating. (After reading this I had a brief email correspondence with Sweet, asking about which Hildegard Von Bingen translation I should read).