Books of the Month, February 2018

Looking for a good book? Here are my favorites from the past month.

IMG_9110What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, by Lesley Nneka Arimah. Holy crud, but this woman can write! I don’t often read short story collections, mostly because a short story sucks me in so completely and then poof, it’s over, and I have to gather up emotional energy to read the next one. But these stories flow one into another in an almost novelistic way, even though each features different characters. Set in Nigeria, the U.S. and elsewhere, this book is about the ties –of family, of love, of misery, of geography– that bind us. Astonishingly good.


True Crime Addict, by James Renner. This book, by a citizen detective who set out to solve a cold case about the disappearance of a young woman in the New Hampshire woods, is fascinating. Not only because of all the hidden stories he uncovers, but also because it’s a glimpse into the origins of fixation, and how closely attuned they are to our long ago personal histories.


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Rainlight, by Alison McGhee (yeah, me). Why did I re-read a novel that I myself wrote a long time ago? Because I am a fool who can’t remember all the details, ages, and dates of my own characters’ lives, and yet I continue to write novel after novel in which they appear and reappear. It’s horrible to re-read my own work –I usually try to avoid it at all costs–because I just want to keep revising it. That said, this novel (my first) surprised me. It was really pretty damn good. Super cheap too, as an e-book anyway.



The Bright Hour, by Nina Riggs. This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read. Nina Riggs was a poet, something abundantly clear in every passage of this lambent, funny, heartbreaking and profoundly tender memoir. I loved this book and will not forget it.



Wonder, by RJ Palacio. I’m late to the party here with Wonder, but what a kind, observant, and loving book it is. Told in different voices, most of them middle-schoolers, this novel charts a year in the life of Auggie, a kid with chromosomal differences that have given him an extremely unusual face. Palacio has her ear to the pulse of life in middle school, all the ins and outs and warring factions of a time I for one would rather not remember, and she brings all of it –the good, the bad, the ugly– to memorable life.

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