The Literary Arts team is made up of enthusiastic readers (and writers!) just like you. In these challenging times, we turn to books for comfort, inspiration, and joy. Here are a few recent staff picks that we love. We hope you will enjoy them as well.
Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements
edited by adrienne maree brown & Walidah Imarisha
This collection knocks me all the way OUT! For starters, it is titled in honor of the legendary Octavia Butler, who revolutionized the genre of science fiction. As if that isn’t cool enough on its own, the collection also coins a new branch of science fiction—what the editors call “visionary fiction,” which is interested in creating freer, more just worlds. This is different from regular ol’ science fiction in that it centers the experiences of marginalized folks and works to write our survival into the future. JUST WOW. Each contributor imagines a world that confronts or altogether does away with oppressive power dynamics, which is SERIOUS STUFF, but that doesn’t devoid each story of humor or joy or tenderness.
An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace
by Tamar Adler
This book has been on my shelf for ages, and I finally picked it up at what turned out to be the perfect time; I love it when a book finds you that way. A meditation on the pleasure and practicality of feeding oneself well, the chapters go through different home cooking philosophies and techniques, from cooking eggs (“How to Teach an Egg to Fly”) to salvaging kitchen “mistakes” (“How to Snatch Victory from the Jaws of Defeat”), with simple, highly adaptable recipes offered throughout. Pointing out that one need not be “perfect” or “professional” to cook well, one only need be hungry, Adler writes, “when we cook things, we transform them. And any small acts of transformation are among the most human things we can do. […] we feel, when we exert tiny bits of our human preference in the universe, more alive.” I am finding Adler’s resourceful, witty approach to home cooking particularly nourishing in this time of sheltering.
The Human Division
by John Scalzi
With everything going on around the world, I’ve found that my reading during the pandemic has turned to stories in space. The Human Division is the 5th novel in Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series. While these books can be read as stand-alone stories, The Human Division is unique in that each chapter is a short story informing the overall narrative. The shifting and sometimes seemingly disconnected perspectives make the greater plot a mystery that all comes together at the end. It’s an easy read to pick up and escape with!”
Good stories are good stories, no matter how they’re categorized.Octavia Butler