Insomnia

Clare’s Staff Pick:

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Insomnia by Marina Benjamin

This is a stunning collection of dreamy vignette meditations on sleeplessness. Invoking Greek gods, psychologists, fictional characters, painters, philosophers, and poets (to name a few) Benjamin invites us to experience insomnia in her prose, which reads like sleepless stream of conscious thoughts, or alternatively, like discordant dream scenes.
In these beautifully disarrayed ramblings, Benjamin catapults from scene to scene, lingering on a variety of disjointed topics including: bed types, deafness, how sleeplessness makes you an island, a ghost, a zombie, falling in love with sleep, Penelope the sleepless unweaver, sugar addiction, sleep aids… these pieces make up a starry constellation of Benjamin’s insomnia.

For lovers of Maggie Nelson, Anne Carson, Rebecca Solnit, Eula Biss and Susan Sontag.

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Heart Berries

Clare’s Pick:

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Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot

Heart Berries is a dazzling lucid memoir, poetic and a little experimental, about a Native American woman’s experience of becoming. With the weight of her childhood trauma and survival, this is a story about the many ways Terese feels her pain and sick.There is the heart sick–broken hearted account of her tumultuous love affair. There is the mind-sick story of being diagnosed with PTSD and bipolar disorder and is living for a while in the hospital. There is the indian sick, which she considers a sickness from generations of hurt passed down. Terese bears her struggles, indecencies, shame and madness with power, vulnerability and strength, where telling her story is medicine.

The Haunting of Hill House

Clare’s staff pick:
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The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

I love this book. It’s incredible feminist gothic horror, a spin-tingling, hair-raising ghost story to the core to be sure, but also at play here is, an exploration, I think, of how truly gruesome a specific type of feminine loneliness can be. Invited among three others to participate in some experiment or experience at Hill House, Eleanor is an overthinking, awkward outcast, trying desperately to fit in while the hauntings of Hill House rail around her, singling her out, hystericizing her in a rotten way. I empathized with Eleanor to the very end.

A Rather Haunted Life

Kathryn’s Staff Pick:

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Shirley Jackson – A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin

Biography at its finest. I couldn’t put it down. As a Jackson fan, I was delighted to learn more about the author of my favorites The Haunting of Hill House, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and “The Lottery.” As a woman, I was heartbroken to learn how sexism and misogyny affected Jackson. As a writer, I was hooked by Franklin’s prose, so moved by the narrative she made of Jackson’s life that I cried, laughed, and sighed as I read. Recommended for Jackson fans, biography lovers, and writers.

Paradise Rot

Clare’s Staff Pick:

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Paradise Rot by Jenny Hval

An unusual queer coming of age & coming out novel about a pale scandinavian transfer student in an American city.  Upon changing countries, Jo moves into an apartment with walls made of thin plaster. In this abode, every noise is audible, and narrator frequently dwells, for example, on the different ways she and her roommate pee. Her roommate is wispy, tangential and ethereal, often drunk. They become entangled in each others sounds, shuffles and sighs, each noise magnified in this strange thin-walled home, until they become entangled so deeply in each other it is hard to say where one girl ends and the other begins. Pairs well with Jagganath by Karin Tidbeck. Side note: Jenny Hval is an incredible musician. Favorite album is Blood Bitch, the theme of which revolves around the question: “Do vampires menstruate?”

Her Body and Other Parties

Kathryn’s Staff Pick:

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I can’t recommend this book enough! An instant classic in psychological realism, cognitive dysphoria, and queer feminist fiction. A must-read for fans of Shirley Jackson and Angela Carter. Machado is a genre blender and master storyteller, weaving the surreal, fantastical, and the horrific. Incredibly relevant. Gives voice to women’s rage, pain, and oppression. Effortlessly shifts from humor to horror. “The Husband Stitch,” “The Resident,” and “Inventory” are my favorites.