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We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman

Oh my goodness. I never thought any book would have me weeping more than A Little Life, but Catherine Newman’s We All Want Impossible Things broke that record along the floodgates. This is not to say the novel is a depressing one: in fact, its depictions of life-affirming, forever-friendships veritably burst with love and wit. Newman perfectly captures the confusing contradictions that accompany end-of-life care: the emergencies among the mundanity, the darkly hilarious moments that punctuate the slow-motion, eviscerating heartbreak. Some readers who’ve said goodbye to terminally ill beloveds may find that their wounds are too raw for this novel. I, on the other hand, read it a few months after cancer took a very close friend of mine and I found it to be incredibly cathartic. Many moments were eerily—no, magically!—similar to moments I shared with Becky toward the end. I underlined like mad and scribbled in the margins; more than once I started to make a mental note to share certain excerpts with Becky, knowing she’d recognize herself and our friendship in the words, then remembering she’s not anywhere I can reach her. Five stars. Pairs well with Kathryn Schulz’s Lost & Found and/or Janine Kwoh’s Welcome to the Grief Club.

We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman (List Price: $25.99, Harper, 9780063230897, November 2022)

Reviewed by Janet Geddis, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Foster by Claire Keegan

Claire Keegan’s books are little, quietly epic works of art. Foster is the story of a lonely child sent to live with relatives one summer, not knowing whether she would return home. The love and compassion shown to her on the Irish farm starkly contrast with the child’s family. Keegan’s prose is gorgeous.

Foster by Claire Keegan, (List Price: $20, Grove Press, 9780802160140, November 2022)

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

It Came from the Closet by Joe Vallese

It’s human nature to look for validation of oneself in the art we consume, and It Came From the Closet is a collection of essays by queer and trans authors on their interpretations and interactions with horror films. Edited by Joe Vallese, these essays are tender and funny, vulnerable and courageous. It Came From the Closet will make you see movies you’ve watched numerous times in a different light and that is a spectacular point of view.

It Came from the Closet by Joe Vallese, (List Price: $25.95, The Feminist Press at CUNY, 9781952177798, October 2022)

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

The Town of Babylon by Alejandro Varela

A full-hearted homecoming story of reckoning with the past as it hits you hard and fast all while trying to carve a way forward–when for so long it looked like the only way was straight. Bounces around the lives of late 30s queer Latino and his former classmates and family to map out the landscape of the suburbs and the inner lives America so often pushes aside. Astute, enraged, and charming as hell.

The Town of Babylon by Alejandro Varela, (List Price: $27, Astra House, 9781662601033, March 2022)

Reviewed by Luis Correa, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Still This Love Goes On by Buffy Sainte-Marie

Beautiful and poignant, this stunning ode to Cree life sings with love for the relations that sustain it—between people, with the land, and the communal practices that have endured through generations. Flett’s warm, evocative artwork is, as always, a treasure, imbuing Sainte-Marie’s lyrics with tender resonance.

Still This Love Goes On by Buffy Sainte-Marie, (List Price: $18.95, Greystone Kids, 9781771648073, September 2022)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Chirri & Chirra, In the Night by Kaya Doi

I don’t know how Kaya Doi does it, but even though this is EIGHTH book in the Chirri & Chirra series, it’s still just as magical and enjoyable to read as the first. The formula, rather than being tiresome, is soothing and reassuring—you know from the first “dring-dring!” that you are setting off on a charming adventure with tasty treats and friendly animals. This one, with a full moon festival in the forest, works particularly well for bedtime reading.

Chirri & Chirra, In the Night by Kaya Doi (List Price: $16.95, Enchanted Lion Books, 9781592703845, November 2022)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery

A September 2022 Read This Next! Title

Jonathan Escoffery’s debut If I Survive You chronicles an American immigration story full of hope, heartbreak, promises broken, and most importantly the constant struggle. Told in interconnected stories, If I Survive You addresses class, race, and economic disparity but is also funny. Mark my words, Escoffery is a rising literary star.

If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery, (List Price: $27.00, MCD, 9780374605988, September 2022)

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Stories from The Tenants Downstairs by Sidik Fofana

An August 2022 Read This Next! Title

Sidik Fofana’s first book is a series of connected stories written from the perspectives of the tenants of a residential building in Harlem. The chapters in Stories From the Tenants Downstairs are solely unique as each tenant’s struggles with rising rent cause different outcomes and each person tells their story in different formats and styles. This book shines a light on what millions of Americans are experiencing today: the exhausting, funny, desperate, and hopeful human experience.

Stories from The Tenants Downstairs by Sidik Fofana, (List Price: $26.00, Riverhead Books, 9781982145811, August 2022)

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Berry Song by Michaela Goade

A July 2022 Read This Next! Title

This beautiful ode to family and land and the indelible connection between them is a delight to read. Rhythmic text and soft, bright illustrations bring the foraging Tlingit family’s love for each other and the land they inhabit to vivid life. Berry Song is full of love, gratitude, and reciprocity, and is an essential book for all ages.

Berry Song by Michaela Goade, (List Price: $18.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316494175, July 2022)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp from Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA

Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov

Nostalgia, memory loss and the European Union walk into a bar… Every section of this book feeds into the next like those nights where you wake up six times and experience the same dream, mutated sixfold. And just like the day after the dream, this book hasn’t ended for me, since I think fondly of it long after completion, sewing the remembered bits together as best I can into my own narrative (it’s minty mental mouthwash and lord knows I need it).

Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov, (List Price: $27, Liveright, 9781324090953, May 2022)

Reviewed by Ian McCord, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Essential Labor by Angela Garbes

Essential Labor is incredibly timely, but it opens up a timeless approach to mothering as catalyst for change. Speaking from both her experience as a daughter of Filipino immigrants and as a mother, Garbes explores the small, gentle ways we can nudge the dominant narrative, opening a wider world to our children. The Covid-19 pandemic brought down capitalism’s illusory curtain separating labor and the home, yet little changed in societal terms. Garbes argues that the invisible labor that women, mostly BIPOC women, do in the home is the most essential work there is—and that if we embrace a more communal, interdependent, caring way of living, we can make this work not just pleasurable but revolutionary. This is an essential book—it’s challenging, it’s bold, it’s a call to action.

Essential Labor by Angela Garbes, (List Price: $25.99, Harper Wave, 9780062937360, May 2022)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp of Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Paradais by Fernanda Melchor

A feral parable on the violence of racism, misandry, and class from a preeminent, new voice of contemporary Mexican literature. Melchor’s style in Paradais is writhing and slippery, capturing not only a portrait of desperation but the ugliness of the toxic thread that runs through the underside of our collective psyche.

Paradais by Fernanda Melchor, (List Price: $19.95, New Directions, 9780811231329, April 2022)

Reviewed by Luis Correa from Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen

This collection is like a candy bag of sweets that will delight you with bright colors, textures, flavors, and then wash over you with strange childhood nostalgia and pucker the sore parts of your cheeks. Swinging from trivialities like ad jingles and jumping on trampolines to deep observations about love, family, and identity, these poems are able to sweep the highs and lows, silly and serious into folded notes you can keep in your pockets like confetti for all occasions.

When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen, (List Price: $16, BOA Editions Ltd., 9781942683339,  April 2017)

Reviewed by Julie Jarema from Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel

Readers of Kaikeyi will be pulled into this lyrical counternarrative of the reviled queen from the ancient epic Ramayana. Known as a jealous, villainous stepmother who banished Rama and put her own son on the throne, Patel tells a much more nuanced, compassionate tale of a brave woman caught between manipulative gods and a patriarchal society who nevertheless tries to improve the lot of women in her kingdom. Kaikeyi’s voice is stunningly spirited, and Patel’s mesmerizing prose is immersive and inventive. This will definitely appeal to fans of mythological retellings in the vein of Circe.

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel, (List Price: $28.00, Redhook, 9780759557338,  April 2022)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Time Is a Mother by Ocean Vuong

An April Read This Next! Book

Nothing short of beautiful. Fresh feeling poems populated with violence, the roadside, love, and what endures. Where war and tragedy and trauma persists, so do the bold spirit in each of these poems, unafraid to look back be tender. What I found most compelling in Time Is a Mother was the rhythm, dilating and breathing one moment, rapid and pulsing the next, capturing the flow of relative time the way only a voice like Vuong’s can.

Time Is a Mother by Ocean Vuong, (List Price: $24, Penguin Press, 9780593300237,  April 2022)

Reviewed by Luis Correa, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

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