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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

Scattered All Over the Earth by Yoko Tawada

Scattered All Over the Earth is undeniably a classic. A pilgrimage novel with a growing cast of memorable characters embodying a beautiful kaleidoscope of language, loss, identity, and home. Tawada’s vision is, as always, wonderfully unique, often funny and particularly here, where she’s at her most poignant. Thankfully, this is only the promising beginning of what is set to be a masterpiece trilogy of books.

Scattered All Over the Earth by Yoko Tawada, (List Price: $16.95, New Directions, 9780811229289,  March 2022)

Reviewed by Luis Correa, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

French Braid by Anne Tyler

Families are messy and imperfect and Anne Tyler has spent a lifetime telling the stories of the most interesting of families. French Braid is no exception and in it we follow the Garretts from the 1950s to the present pandemic. This is a family whose individuals sacrifice and are also selfish, care deeply and chose to ignore. Tyler creates beautifully complex characters that you may not love, but you’ll definitely remember.

French Braid by Anne Tyler (List Price: $27, Knopf, 9780593321096,  March 2022)

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Song for the Missing by Pierre Jarawan

I’m still on a globetrotty search for coming-of-age stories set in the 1990s (specifically 92-96) to hold up my bland high school soft-serve experience-machine. This one here is a perfectly paced and passionate ode to Lebanon, family drama and young friendship, served up like a mystery.

Song for the Missing by Pierre Jarawan, (List Price: $19.99, World Editions, 9781642861075,  March 2022)

Reviewed by Ian McCord, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Linea Nigra by Jazmina Barrera

This slim volume navigates Barrera’s pregnancy, birth, and those first shattering days of early motherhood. In snippets reminiscent of the short breaks in between wakings and feedings, Barrera interweaves her reading life and lived life, creating a poignant primer that will be a kindred comfort and stalwart courage to any reader. Linea Nigra is a rich record of a life steeped in feminist art, revealing intersections in the body and the world; the individual and the collective.

Linea Nigra by Jazmina Barrera, (List Price: $21.95, Two Lines Press, 9781949641301,  May 2022)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

The Unwritten Book by Samantha Hunt

With a heavy heart and a recently missing cat (wringing out the old year, hearing the ringing of the new through my poorly insulated walls), I started a book that followed me home from work. For years, Samantha Hunt novels, on glancing and flipping, have always looked to be in the “Alley (up my)” or “Wheelhouse (in my)” genres, but this is my first and, by golly, I can’t stop rambling, deleting, rambling, deleting this review. She lets grief, family, empathy, childhood, alcohol, a boy band, authority, loss, parenthood, faith (and much much more) drop, all at once, into the top of the Plinko board, amazingly not jamming the derned thing up. What settles at the bottom is a nice, orderly, call for all to relish the unknown, hold tight to loss, and madlib the half-assed answers to life’s half-asked questions. I, for one, am retooling “rut” and giving a new shine to “stuck in a.” However, as newly-formed fanboy insecurities blossom, the Samantha Hunt in my mind says “well, YOU sure missed the point on the head.” But surely the fact that I got what I wanted out of [the book, which I forgot to mention is a work of nonfiction] was surely the point of it exactly. Or at least that’s what I got out of it. Surely.

The Unwritten Book by Samantha Hunt, (List Price: $28, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374604912,  April 2022)

Reviewed by Ian McCord, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

An Immense World by Ed Yong

Like many readers, I was introduced to Ed Yong’s clear and measured writing during the Covid-19 pandemic, and I was instantly drawn to his deep-thinking approach. An Immense World is (thankfully) not about Covid-19, but it does hold true to Yong’s journalistic method: big questions, acknowledgements of what we don’t know, and a sense of wonder at the complexity of life. This is such a beautiful exploration of the world as experienced by other animals—here you will learn that there are so many more senses on Earth (and in humans!) than just the Aristotelian basic five (Nociception! Magnetoreception! Proprioception! And so many more!), and Yong’s conversational, wide-eyed tone wriggles readers free of their human Umwelt, even if just for a moment. This is a transformative book, essential for anyone looking open windows in their mind to a wider, more empathic world.

An Immense World by Ed Yong, (List Price: $30.00, Random House, 9780593133231, June 2022)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

The Sunny Nihilist by Wendy Syfret

The Sunny Nihilist will open your mind to the brighter side of meaninglessness. (Hear me out.) Embracing nihilism–or at least being open to it–can free you from the constant messages we receive about how every. single. thing. must. have. DEEP. meaning. As someone who detests the phrase “everything happens for a reason” but is grateful for what past mistakes and successes have taught me, Wendy Syfret’s book is just what the doctor ordered.


The Sunny Nihilist by Wendy Syfret, (List Price: $24.95, Chronicle Prism, 9781797215808, January 2022)

Reviewed by Janet Geddis, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia


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