Will's Staff Picks
"In this memoir, comedian, Maria Bamford, tells her brutal and unexpectedly candid journey through various mental health disorders, and the 'cults' that have shaped her life. This book is uniquely specific, peculiar in the best ways, and really captures the hilarious comedic voice of Bamford's stand up on the written page."
"Equal parts supernatural horror, romance, Western and historical fiction, Vampires of El Norte tells the story of a vaquero, Néstor, and a curandera, Nena, as they fight to save their home from American army that is invading from the North and from an equally terrifying supernatural threat. This book is beautifully written and Cañas' characters come to life off the page."
"I’ve read a number of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s novels and this is by far my favorite (which is difficult cause I love Mexican Gothic). This novel has everything: dark magic, suspense, horror, characters that come to life off the page and prose that reads like a classic Hollywood film. It makes the magic the characters encounter feel real!"
"King of Armadillos is an one-of-a-kind coming of age story following Victor Chin, a Chinese immigrant who is diagnosed with Hansen's disease (otherwise known as leprosy). After initially wanting to escape the facility he is sent to in New Orleans to return to his family in New York, Victor soon feels a sense of freedom away from his obligations and with newfound opportunities during his treatment. This book is unforgettable and Chin-Tanner's writing is full of emotion."
"Wolfsong is a queer fantasy romance for the ages. Following Ox, a human among a pack of werewolves, this book is an epic that follows Ox on his journey to understanding his worth, becoming a leader and finding love. TJ Klune knocks it out of the park with this one!"
"A thought-provoking, unsettling and emotional set of stories set in various speculative universes but feel very at home in ours. Through each story, McCombs shines a light on aspects of humanity that we often ignore, the good and the bad. And the titular novella is a beautiful tale about the strength of queerness, the power of art and love between a chosen family set against the backdrop of the unknowns of space."
"In The Late Americans, Brandon Taylor crafts together a series of interconnected stories about a group of friends in Iowa City that is about art, class, race, and chosen family. It is at once intimate and full of desire while also violent and consequential. Taylor captures the voice of each character beautifully as he switches perspectives throughout the novel."
"Quietly Hostile is a hilarious series of essays that showcases Irby at her best. Told with a sharp wit and a deep sincerity, each essay is a powerhouse with personal favorites of mine being her essays on how she would rewrite the entire Sex in the City series and one about her unmade TV pilot."
"A beautiful coming of age story about grief, ambition, and what it means to be loved, Maame tells the story of 25-year-old Maddie who has been the sole caretaker for her father who has Parkinson’s disease while her mother is in Ghana. But when her mom returns, she is able to move out and begin her own life, that is until tragedy strikes and she must learn to balance her family and traditions with the life she wishes to have. Jessica George’s writing is poignantly specific and flows like a stream of consciousness; I really love the way it incorporates Maddie’s text messages and google searches along with her subconscious in the narration."
"TJ Klune's newest novel, In the Lives of Puppets, is a sci-fi adaptation of The Adventures of Pinocchio that brings all of the author's signature styles. This book is funny, queer and heartfelt with a loving group of characters including one character who is on the asexual spectrum and another who is genderfluid. While seeming to be a fun sci-fi adventure, what Klune ended up writing is a prescient tale about resisting authoritarian regimes, the power of found family, and finding hope when it seems lost."
"When Louise returns home for her parents' funeral, she and her brother uncover long hidden family secrets and an entity that has haunted both of them for much longer than they have realized. While scary and very much a horror novel, this book is a beautifully heartfelt exploration of family and grief. It truly brought me to tears by the end!"
"An incredible debut novel! Jackal mixes the horror of a slasher, a monster movie and the real life fear of inequality, hate and prejudice based on moments of real history like the Flood of Johnstown, PA. Using horror as it’s backdrop, this novel deals with themes of race, class, and abuse in a masterful way that speaks to our current moment in America. Adams' writing is captivating and will have you up all night unable to put the book down!"
"This is a fantastic series of essays! Cutting and hilarious but also heartfelt and emotional, this dives deep into Gilpin’s childhood, career, and personal life and really takes the time to create a stark portrait of what being a woman in Hollywood is really like. I highly recommend the audio book because Gilpin’s delivery of her essays is excellent!"
"'I'm Glad My Mom Died' is an extremely compelling, darkly funny, and beautifully emotional memoir from former iCarly star, Jennette McCurdy. Jennette is brutally honest in describing her life working as a child star, her abusive relationship with her mother and her battle with eating disorders. It's incredibly hard to put this book down!"
"For anyone familiar with Hannah Gadsby's Nanette, you are familiar with both Gadsby's style of comedy but also her ability to hit an emotional gut punch to her audience. In 'Ten Steps to Nanette', Gadsby puts her traumas and struggles in life on full display while laying out the path that these traumas and a career in comedy formed that led her to her Emmy Award winning Netflix special. Front and center in this memoir is Gadsby's complicated relationship with her siblings, father, and especially, her Mum."
"The Sentence by Louise Erdrich is a fantastic novel that takes an introspective look into one year in the life of a woman who works in a bookstore in Minneapolis taking place from November 2019 to November 2020. It’s about a formerly incarnated woman, a bookstore haunted by its best customer, a loving yet complicated marriage, people being tired of the way things have always been, and finding connection in a time when connection seems impossible. This book perfectly captures the fear, confusion, outrage, desire for justice, and loss that defined the year 2020. With every word, Erdrich manages to find beauty in a time of so much chaos and confusion."
"'Ghost Lover' is a brilliant collection of short stories from Lisa Taddeo. Taddeo’s one of a kind storytelling shines in this form with each story focusing on complex women, while exploring themes of sexuality, wealth, female friendship, love, and men’s intentions. Fans of 'Three Women' and 'Animal' will love this collection."
"In her latest collection of essays, Phoebe Robinson hilariously reflects on the pandemic, her relationship, race, hair, travel, business, Black excellence, and more. Her essays are full of thoughtful insights about the past few years in America and in her own life, as well as hilarious pop culture references, footnotes, and a love for U2 that is unmatched. Robinson is refreshingly honest and laugh out loud hilarious throughout the series of essays."
"Beautiful Country is a phenominal book about Qian Julie Wang's experience living in Brooklyn as an undocumented immigrant in the 90s. Wang shares how she lived in constant fear that she or her Ma Ma and Ba Ba would be deported at any moment, and the trauma she experienced growing up being labeled illegal. And at the core of this novel is Qian's curiosity, resourcefulness and love for her parents."
"Filthy Animals is a moving series of short stories, some linked, others that stand alone, that perfectly showcases the writing talents of Brandon Taylor. Through each story, Taylor explores love, sexuality, anger, violence, and depression in a way that feels melancholic and energizing. Each character comes to life on the page and Taylor writes with such clarity about their lives that it’s hard to believe these are fictional stories."