Trascendent Kingdom

Author: Yaa Gyasi

Published: September 1, 2020

Publisher: Knopf

Where I picked up my book: Purchased from my local Indie (Old Firehouse Books)

Key Words: family relations, spirituality, race, drug use

My Rating: 4 stars

My Thoughts:

  1. I LOVED this book! I am often turned off from any books with a religious bend to them, and this book certainly has that. BUT, I soaked in every word. So if religion is a trigger for you, you might want to give this one a go anyways-I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

2. There were so many themes in this book and honestly, I went into it a bit blind-and I think that made the reading even more beautiful. Gyasi takes on religion, immigration, mental health, addiction, family dynamics with an ease and grace that I’m not sure I’ve ever read before.

3. Another thought I had about this book was the way that Gyasi wrote about science and religion. You don’t see that often in books, or in real-life if I’m being honest, and I think there is something to this. We spend a lot of time putting up a divide between these two topics, but maybe if we move closer to the center, maybe some real change would happen in this world.

4. Overall, I really loved this book. I was lucky to see Gyasi and Roxane Gay virtually speak on September 1st through Strand and it made me love this book (and Gyasi) even more, if that’s possible!

5. Highly suggest this one!

bookishfolk…read instead.

The Vanishing Half

Author: Brit Bennett

Published: June 2, 2020 

Publisher: Riverhead Books

Where I picked up my book: Purchased from my local Indie (Old Firehouse Books)

Key Words: family relations, race issues, identity, LGBTQ+

My Rating: 5 stars (I’d give it more if I could)

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My Thoughts:

I literally could not love this book more if I tried. I opened it up, thought about it every second I was not reading it and still, weeks later, I’m thinking about it on a daily basis. It was one of those books for me for sure.

Here are some of my thoughts:

  1. Bennett is a genius at weaving together a multi-generational narrative with different locations, POV, time periods and thoughts in a flawless way. When I say flawless, I truly mean flawless.
  2. Although this took Bennett years to write and it was written before the death of George Floyd (but certainly not before the death of many, many Black people at the hands of white people and police) this book seems absolutely current to what is happening at this moment in history.
  3. The cultural nuances in terms of race, age, colorism, motherhood, the Black community, matriarchal families, and gender identity was something that I can’t even imagine writing all in one book, but Bennett did it spectacularly.
  4. This is a book that looks at systemic and internalized racism, brings it to the forefront and allows the reader to sit in it for a minute. In sitting, I learned so much.
  5. The character development was out of this world-I know these characters now as humans.
  6. There is queer representation!!!
  7.  I will, for sure, read this book again and I’m typically not a double dipper with my books…or french fries for that matter 😉

P.S. Brit Bennett also wrote The Mothers and although I didn’t love that as much as The Vanishing Half, it’s definitely a fantastic book and one you should also pick up 🙂

There you have it folks! Find me over on Instagram and let’s chat books! I also create greeting cards and other paper goods (with a lot of bookish themes too) over at PAGEFIFTYFIVE. You can find me there too! And lastly, I own a shop called Makerfolk where we sell items from handmade makers around our city, our state and throughout the US. That’s me in a nutshell 🙂

Bookishfolk…read instead.

Late Migrations

Author: Margaret Renkl

Published: July 9, 2019

Publisher: Milkweed Editions

Where I picked up my book: Purchased from my local Indie (Old Firehouse Books)

Key Words: life cycles, love and loss, nature writing

My Rating: 5 stars

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My Thoughts:

I truly loved this book. It’s beautifully written (I’m not sure I’ve ever read such a beautiful book) and made me deeply think with nearly every sentence I read. Late Migrations asked me to reflect on those, oftentimes overlooked, connections that happen in life-if you’re paying attention. Renkl beautifully intertwines love and loss, parenthood, grief, the natural world, family, care-taking and the ebb and flow of life. It’s not only braided in a beautiful and poignant way, but I was sucked in from sentence one and only released once I finished the last sentence. It’s one of those books.

I highly suggest this book and reading it outside if you can-it’s true magic. And just look at that cover!!

As always, find me on Instagram and let’s talk books!

bookishfolk…read instead.

Godshot

Author: Chelsea Bieker

Published: March 31, 2020

Publisher: Catapult

Where I picked up my book: Purchased from my local Indie (Old Firehouse Books)

Key Words: cults, coming of age, mother/daughter, religious trauma

My Rating: 4 stars

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My Thoughts:

First, give me any books about cults and I’m in, 100%. Add that the cult revolves around some bizarre religion-yes please! So I knew this book was going to be right up my alley. I immediately ordered it from my local indie and it didn’t disappoint. Second, books about disastrous mother/daughter relationships are also my jam…so another check on my list! Immediately upon porch delivery (thanks Old Firehouse Books for being so quick), I dug in and barely popped out until it was over. Here are some of my thoughts:

1. The atmosphere in this book was VIVID. Parched and dry land surrounds this town and I could almost taste the dust as I read. That is some magical writing right there.

2. If I could live in a world full of women somehow, I would. Also, cult-y Christian men are the worst (only my personal opinion folks). Screw the patriarchy!

3. Flawed characters is the name of the game and Bieker’s writing of them is amazing. I didn’t even know where to put my brain when it came to some of these characters (in the best sense that is). Do I feel bad for them, sad for them, mad at them, all of the above at all different times?! Most of the characters, yes, that is exactly how I felt about them. And then some I just despised. It was the definition of flawed characters and I’m always sold on that.

4. Humans are resilient and we really see this through the lens of Lacey.

5. There are some funny bits in this book and you’ll appreciate them so much and find yourself laughing and then almost feeling guilty for laughing. It’s all part of the experience of Godshot.

Ultimately, Godshot is about a young woman coming into her own and suddenly realizing the world she grew up in isn’t actually what she thought it was. ( I have a VERY similar story. No, I didn’t exactly grow up in a cult per say, but I did grow up in a fundamentalist Christian household and church and some of this book hit veryyyyyyy close to home. I walked the walk until I opened my eyes as a young teenager, looked around, asked questions, got curious and saw what was actually happening. I can remember it like it was yesterday and oh boy, thank goodness I opened those eyes!

If you enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale, The Water Cure or The Girls-I think you’ll want to add Godshot to your must-read list! This is a debut novel and I’m real excited to see what else Bieker has to offer us!

As always, find me on Instagram, shop my paper goods at PAGEFIFTYFIVE and let’s be friends!

Bookishfolk…read instead.

Wow, No Thank You

Author: Samantha Irby

Published: March 31, 2020

Publisher: Vintage

Where I picked up my book: Purchased from my local Indie (Old Firehouse Books)

Key Words: Non Fiction, Essays, Humor

My Rating: 5 stars

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My Thoughts:

I’m not sure I’ve EVER laughed so hard at a book. I literally laughed so much that at some points, I got cheek cramps and my wife stared at me from across the room (as she was probably reading some non-fiction book about presidents and economics or something equally out of my realm of thinking and definitely NOT hilarious).

This was also one of the most relatable books that I’ve ever read (which is probably another reason I found it so funny). Is it because both Irby and I were born with snark in our bones? Maybe. Is it because we are both 40ish and life is bitch-slapping us in the face now? Quite possibly. Is it because I all of a sudden wake up with neck cramps, knee pain and feel nervous to eat certain foods for fear my stomach will rebel (but it’s perfectly fine if all I’m doing is staying home for the night-which is basically always. Even when Covid isn’t happening)? Yep, I bet. Is it because we both count our pennies and feel like maybe we are the WORST accounting/math people on the Earth? Very likely. But for whatever reason, I felt like I was reading a much more entertaining and well-written version of my own life. The good, the bad and the ugly.

This is a laugh-out-loud, knock you in the gut, nearly pee your pants kind of book that will have you laughing yourself into tears. I highly suggest you grab this collection of essays if you’re in the mood for a laugh. With all the fear and craziness going on in the world right now…this might just be the thing you need!

As always, come chat books with me on Instagram (@booksihfolk), check out my greeting card shop online-PAGEFIFTYFIVE and happy reading!

bookishfolk…read instead.