3 Time Travel Books to Get Mixed Up In

I think about the possibilities and implications of time travel way more than a normal human adult should. Let’s face it, though, filling your head with dreams of hypothetical sci-fi scenarios is more fun than filling up on the news cycle, so let’s roll with it. First off, before we go any further, if I had a time machine I would go back in time and see Roy Orbison live at his Black and White Night concert. Full stop, on the record. Sorry fam, sorry problems of the world, that’s where I’d be. Sound off on your dream time machine trip in the comments. Okay, now on to the time travel books.

There is one major ingredient I need in my time travel and that ingredient is angst. Get on board with me here. Characters that are out of their own time, loved ones left behind (or forward) in time, paradoxes. The angst goes on and on. I’m stopping myself from typing a stream of consciousness run-on sentence of angsty Doctor Who moments that had me crying my face off. I mean, there’s this one Twelve x Clara fanfic where she goes back to see him before he forgets her and I just can’t (sorry!). That being said, these next three books kinda had me crying my face off too.

An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim, Time Travel Books, Book RiotAn Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim

Here’s the set up: there’s a deadly flu pandemic in America. Frank catches the virus and his girlfriend Polly is willing to do whatever it takes to save him. Time travel has been invented in the future in order to combat the virus. Big bad business is offering to pay for the expensive, life-saving medical treatment in exchange for a one-way trip to the future as a bonded laborer. Polly takes the job to save Frank and they plan to meet up on a specific date in the future. Problem is, Polly ends up an extra five years into the future. The America she finds herself in is very different from what she was expecting and she has to cope not only with the potential loss of Frank, but also with the loss of everything that she knows about the world.

Polly and Frank are living in some dark times. I mean not only are they living in a time travel novel, it’s also just a tiny bit dystopian too. Real talk though, I love this book so much. It’s got your classic stuck-in-time angst, but there’s also the added, super relevant angst of Polly’s journey as a time refugee.

Doctor Who angst level equivalent: Rose and Ten stuck on opposite sides of that (time and space) wall.

Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen, Time Travel Books, Book RiotHere and Now and Then by Mike Chen

First off, here’s what you need to know: Kin Stewart is just your normal IT guy, he has a wife and daughter (both super sci-fi nerds btw), and his life is pretty normal. The only thing is, Kin used to be a time-traveling secret agent from the future. After a botched mission left him stranded in San Francisco in the 1990s, he had to make a new life. Then his rescue team shows up, 18 years too late.

I know, right, you already want to start reading and you don’t even know how emotional this one is going to get! Kin is quite literally torn between two lives and it gets angsty, people. I don’t want to give too much more away but there’s bootstrap paradoxes, good old ’90s hacking, time emails, and Doctor Who quotes. Get your hands on this ASAP.

Doctor Who angst level equivalent: “I’m changing history to save Clara.”

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas, Time Travel Books, Book RiotThe Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

The set up: It’s 1967 and a group of four genius, flawed, badass women invent time travel. Now they have to live with it and all the consequences that follow. Time travel is revolutionary, but it also comes with its own everyday problems. They found the Conclave to deal with all of these new issues, like time government, time crime, and time administration. These ladies are like UNIT, the Doctor, the companion, and the Time Lords all in one. But with time travel becoming a huge business, what started out as a regulatory institution quickly becomes more like a secret society, complete with the hazing of rookies and their own book of terminology.

There’s so much to unpack with this one. It’s told from multiple characters’ points of view including the original inventors, some of their family members, and some time-adjacent folks. The most important plot point is that time travelers meet up with their future selves or “silvers” constantly, which makes for some really interesting scenes. The story begins with the breaking up of the original group and continues with a pretty crazy, locked-room mystery. And it really brings the angst when the multiple story lines begin to intertwine and overlap.

Doctor Who angst level equivalent: “We keep meeting in the wrong order.”

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Work In A Bookstore

I still have dreams where I’m in the bookstore past closing time, and customers are banging on the door or lining up as far as the eye can see. The dreams are often nightmarish, and I wake up feeling panicked. I worked for five years in a big bookstore, and I genuinely wonder why my subconscious has decided to use it as the setting for some of my most anxiety-inducing dreams.

5 Reasons You Shouldn't Work in a Bookstore | BookRiot.com

I’m incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to be present for midnight Harry Potter and Hunger Games book launches. I cherish the moments where I was able to brighten someone’s day by recommending the perfect page-turner. There really is nothing like standing in a nearly empty bookstore and feeling the weight of all the pages around you.

But it’s not all fun, there are some downsides to working in a bookstore. Not convinced? Here are a few reasons you might want to slip your resume somewhere else.

1. FOMO

You’ll spend your days wondering how in the world you’re going to be able to read all those books. You look at the tall shelves surrounding you and quickly realize that the truth is you’ll never read all the books, and you panic and fall into a hole of existential dread.

2. Don’t Expect a Paycheck

Okay. You’ll get a paycheck. I hope. But you’re not going to see much of it, because the urge to buy new books will overtake all of your senses. The logical part of your brain actually dies when you’re constantly surrounded by so many books. When there’s a sale, you’ll fly into a book-buying hysteria as if the paperbacks and mass markets won’t be there the next day—but they will, and you’ll feel ashamed the next day when you come in and see the nice stack still sitting there.

3. You’ll Need to Stay Up Past Your Bedtime

When a trendy book gets a sequel, you’ll inevitably be asked to work late for a midnight book launch. There will be crowds. There will be shrieking teens and probably a few people in costume. You’ll go home past your bedtime and then you’ll be up even later because you need to start the damn book that you just bought at the launch.

4. Your Bookshelves Will Break

They’ll heave under the weight of all the books you’re bringing home. You could buy another bookshelf, but why not live dangerously? You stack and re-stack like you’re in the DaVinci Code and there’s only one possible configuration that will make sense. Eventually, you re-organize the books by spine color, because let’s face it, you’re only organizing so you can look at and admire your collection.

5. People Will Pester You For Recommendations

Customers will flock to you as if they’re Princess Leia and you’re Obi-Wan. You’re the only one who can give them what they need. Their stay stay-up-late read, the book they’ve been searching for all day, the perfect book for mom’s birthday. Sometimes they only know what the author’s name sounds like. Often, they provide you with a vague description of a book they’ve never read but saw recommended in a magazine. The hunt becomes a puzzle and you are the puzzle master. It feels good to dole out recs with confidence and slapping your “recommended by” sticker on a book is incredibly satisfying, but sometimes it’s tough to be in a position of so much power.

 

Gosh! Working in a bookstore sure is tough 😉

12 Second-Person Books Just For You

You thought the article about books written in the second person sounded interesting when it appeared on the Book Riot homepage. You vaguely remember hearing this odd term in high school English class, but your teacher assured you that you would never need to use it. Nobody writes in the second person, he said, tapping the whiteboard, except pompous artistes who don’t care about selling their books. He was a strange little man whom you quickly learned to ignore by tucking a novel into your textbook.

But the second person now haunts you. What does it mean? You wrack your brain, then proceed to the gold-embossed black leather notebook where you list all of the books you’ve ever completed. You have attached notes to each title: Slow until midway; ends abruptly; strong secondary characters. You consider yourself a connoisseur of literary structure and style. But nowhere has your past self described a book as written in the second person.

It is time to remedy this situation. A wave of resolution washes over you and you exchange your dignified notebook of completed titles for the industrial-sized plastic trapper keeper that houses your TBR list. It bulges with newspaper clippings, magazine covers, printed New York Times articles from your mother, and a napkin that you used at a table in a restaurant at an event center where Roxane Gay once did a book signing.

You burrow through until you’ve found a blank envelope, once the home of some critical piece of ephemera and now only a ghost of its former significance. Book Riot glows on your laptop’s screen, glittering with the promise of second-person narrative gems that will betray the supposed limits of the written word. With pen in hand, you prepare to add to your list.

12 Second-Person Books

Booked by Kwame Alexander

Soccer is poetry in motion. This book is poetry about soccer. A rapping librarian, a dictionary-obsessed dad, and a fractured family round out this excellent YA coming-of-age story.

Brass by Xhenet Aliu

Mothers. Daughters. Crappy jobs in mill towns and dreams that could take you away. You know what this book’s about, but you’ve never read anything quite like this painfully sharp book.

Damage by A.M. Jenkins

If you liked the sports focus of Booked, you may also enjoy Damage. You may also like it if you can empathize with a depressed high school football star’s struggle to make it through the worst of his teenage years.

The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela VidaThe Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida

Travel can take you out of your comfort zone, but the protagonist of this book is taken out of everything—including her identity—when her papers are stolen in a foreign land. Things really get weird when a movie producer asks her to be a film star’s body double. Coincidence? Or some kind of plot?

Earth and Ashes by Atiq Rahimi

The Soviets have invaded Afghanistan. As war ravages the nation, the people who suffer the most are also the most innocent. Follow the journey of Dastaguir and his grandson as they seek shelter and safety from the violence around them.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

The second-person chapters of this sci-fi heavy hitter follow Essun, a character who leaves home to find her family. There’s more, but it’s complicated, epic, grand, and vast. Just read it already.

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

After the traumatic passing of a dear friend, the problem of his dog remains. You take it in despite your building’s restrictions on pets, determined to honor his memory by caring for his grief-stricken canine.

How To Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia by Mohsin HamidHow To Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia by Moshin Hamid

In a country like Pakistan, you rise from poverty through the water trade. Even so, your newfound riches may not be able to get you the one thing you desire: the love of your lost sweetheart.

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino

If ever a story could be said to contain worlds, it would be this one. Follow its twisting narrative as you pursue an elusive book, victim of a fateful misprint.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Through the magic of the second person, you yourself can visit the incredible and unearthly Night Circus. Just don’t get lost in the tale of its star-crossed magician lovers!

Romeo and/or Juliet by Ryan North

You make the choices now! A pox on every possible house of this book. You can be Romeo or Juliet, but you’re probably going to die anyway in this choose-your-own-path adaptation of Shakespeare.

The Sweetheart by Angelina MirabellaThe Sweetheart by Angelina Mirabella

Wrestling and romance smack down in what’s essentially a sports drama. And guess who’s in the center of it all? YOU, of course!

10 Books About Girls Who Code

With more and more women entering into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) hobbies and careers, I always like to find books I can recommend to my students who have taken an interest in science, engineering, or computers. Books about or for girls who code can be difficult to come by, but here are ten books featuring girls who code that might inspire the coding phenom in your life.

10 Books About Girls Who Code

Books for Teens and Tweens

The New Girl Code: Launch of a Fashion App by Niki Smit and Janneke Niessen

This novel is about a teen named Charlie who has always felt like she doesn’t quite fit in. But when Charlie learns how to code, she finds her niche. Charlie develops her own fashion app and launches it with the help of a team of friends. However, when someone tries to sabotage her app, is Charlie up to the challenge? Told through diary entries, illustrations, and lists, this is the perfect book for teen girls who code!

Girl Code by Andrea Gonzalez and Sophie Houser

This books tells the true story of two girls who met at a teen coding camp and worked together to create their own video game. This is a relatable, funny read, and a great book for aspiring teen coders!

Girls Who Code by Reshma Saujani

This is a how-to book for tween and teen girls who want to learn how to code. The book is upbeat, has quirky illustrations, and highlights various women in coding and science. Girls Who Code pairs humor with easy-to-follow directions on how to code.

Creative Coding in Python by Sheena Vaidyanathan

Though not solely about girls, this is a great book for teens who want to dig deep with coding. With 30 different coding activities that can be done in Python, a free programming language, this book is a whimsically illustrated guide to learning to code.

Girls Who Code: The Friendship Code by Stacia Deutsch

This is the first in a series of middle grade fiction books about a group of middle school girls who learn to code, and learn a lot about friendship in the process. I like the diverse group of girls and the humor in this book. This is the perfect book for tweens interested in coding!

Sasha Savvy Loves to Code by Sasha Ariel Alston

This is an easy chapter book about 10-year-old Sasha, who reluctantly takes a summer coding camp with her friends. Sasha finds out that she really likes coding, but can she keep up with how challenging it is? This book is great for 7–10-year-olds who want to see a STEM role model their own age.

Picture Books For Younger Kids

DOLL-E 1.0 by Shanda McCloskey

This delightful picture book is about Charlotte, a little girl who loves all things tech. Charlotte loves to code, tinker, and create. But when she receives a doll as a gift, she doesn’t know what to do with it! Then Charlotte decides to use her tech knowledge to give her doll a little upgrade! This is a great book for kids ages 5–9.

How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk, Illustrated by Sara Palacios

Pearl is at the beach, and she keeps trying to build the perfect sandcastle, but it keeps getting destroyed. Pearl and her robot Pascal figure out a way to use code to create the sandcastle they’ve been dreaming of. With colorful illustrations and a simple example of coding, this is the perfect picture book for ages 5–8.

Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding by Links Liukas

Follow redhead Ruby and her robot friends on a coding adventure! Ruby is a girl with a big imagination and a knack for tech. She has to figure out some tough clues, and she demonstrates how to use coding concepts to solve problems. This book is part story, part activity book, and it’s sure to be a hit for kids ages 7–10!

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Hallmark, Illustrated by Katy Wu

This picture book biography tells the story of Grace Hopper, a computer coder who helped create COBOL. The intro of the book describes Grace as “a software tester, workplace jester, avid reader, naval leader—AND rule breaker, chance taker, and troublemaker.” This story and its illustrations will draw in readers of ages 7–10.

Why You Should Read Nursery Rhymes to Your Toddler and 6 Books to Get You Started

In the field of early childhood literacy, it is no secret that nursery rhymes are greatly beneficial to babies and toddlers. Literacy expert and bestselling author Mem Fox writes in her book Reading Magic, ‘Experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if children know eight nursery rhymes by heart by the time they’re four years old, they’re usually among the best readers by the time they’re eight.’ 

There are many benefits of nursery rhymes. Rhymes and repetition help children develop hearing awareness, build memory capabilities, and understand language and concepts. They teach children about narrative structure and stories, and how there are beginnings, middles, and endings. They encourage imagination. They help develop attention spans. They form a link between generations and are a way to preserve culture, as the same nursery rhymes are often known and recited by grandparents and parents. You can read more about the benefits of nursery rhymes here, here, and here.

If you want to read nursery rhymes to your baby or toddler, there are many great collections of nursery rhymes. I’ve put together a short list of books that are a little bit different. These books feature nursery rhymes or nursery rhyme characters, but are not your standard nursery rhyme compendium (though I would also suggest that a traditional compendium of nursery rhymes also has a valid place in a child’s library!).

Good Night, Sleep Tight by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek

One of my favourite nursery rhyme books. Bonnie and Ben are being looked after by their favourite baby-sitter, Skinny Doug. It’s bedtime, and Skinny Doug recites various nursery rhymes. The nursery rhymes are woven into the story, so there is a plot and characters that scaffold the nursery rhymes.

Bonnie and Ben Rhyme Again by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek

Bonnie, Ben, and Skinny Doug return in this sequel to Good Night, Sleep Tight. Bonnie, Ben, and Skinny Doug go for a walk, reciting rhymes and collecting nursery rhyme characters along the way. Another one of my favourite nursery rhyme books.

Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

This book doesn’t include any nursery rhymes, but it includes a whole cast of nursery rhyme characters. This is a delightful rhyming book of ‘I Spy’ that is pure joy to read aloud and great fun to spot the characters in the pictures. (I’ve written about this book before here.)

The Jolly Postman or Other People’s Letters by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Like Each Peach Pear Plum, this book doesn’t include nursery rhymes but nursery rhyme characters are a critical part of the story. The Jolly Postman delivers letters, cards, brochures, and books to various nursery rhyme characters. The book itself is a lot of fun to read, with the pages acting as envelopes that hold said letters and cards. This book would be better for older kids who have learnt to be gentle with books (I still have my own copy of this book from when I was a kid and my 18-month-old daughter isn’t getting her grubby little hands on it for at least another four years.)

Chinese and English Nursery Rhymes by Faye-Lynn Wu, illustrated by Kieren Dutcher

This is a fun book that pairs English nursery rhymes with similar Chinese nursery rhymes. There is a phonetic guide to the Chinese and an accompanying CD for learning the Chinese nursery rhymes.

Jaha and Jamil Went Down the Hill by Virginia Kroll, illustrated by Katherine Roundtree

This is a collection of Mother Goose rhymes with an African twist. Familiar rhymes and rhythm are adapted to sights, sounds, and people of each country in Africa.

50 Must-Read Eco Disasters In Fiction

Fiction at its best lets us play out our darkest fears about the future. You don’t get much darker than environmental collapse, and the way things are right now, it’s even odds on whether heat, pollinator extinction, superstorms, or sea level rise takes us out first. But hey, whatever happens, it’ll be dramatic!

Not all of these stories are about impending disaster. Some deal with past ecological collapse too. Others are so wild that they’re really just good fun. If this really isn’t enough mayhem for you, make sure and also check out more climate change aftermaths. If, on the other hand, you’re feeling a little shook by all of this reality-mirroring climate talk, remember that knowledge is power. Let’s dive right into fictional Earths where the weather just hates everybody and into Earths based in fact where the great wave of Nature’s fury is poised to obliterate us all.

All Over Creation by Ruth Ozeki

“Yumi Fuller hasn’t set foot in her hometown of Liberty Falls, Idaho—heart of the potato-farming industry—since she ran away at age fifteen. Twenty-five years later, the prodigal daughter returns to confront her dying parents, her best friend, and her conflicted past, and finds herself caught up in an altogether new drama. The post-millennial farming community has been invaded by Agribusiness forces at war with a posse of activists, the Seeds of Resistance, who travel the country in a camping car, “The Spudnick,” biofueled by pilfered McDonald’s french-fry oil.”

Almanac of the Dead by Leslie Marmon Silko

“Silko’s ambitious, massive novel is an impassioned indictment of the white man’s rule in the Americas, a prophecy of a revolution by Native Americans, and a jeremiad warning of a corrupt world rushing to Armageddon.”

American War by Omar El AkkadAmerican War by Omar El Akkad

“Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, and that unmanned drones fill the sky. When her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she begins to grow up shaped by her particular time and place. But not everyone at Camp Patience is who they claim to be.”

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

“Area X has been cut off from the rest of the world for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide, the third in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.”

Beacons: Stories For Our Not-So-Distant Future, edited by Gregory Norminton

“A riveting and provocative collection of short stories, Beacons throws down the gauntlet to award-winning writers, challenging them to devise original responses to the climate crisis. From Joanne Harris’ cautionary tale of a world where ‘outside’ has become a thing of history to Nick Hayes’ graphic depiction of the primeval bond between man and nature, each story thrills the senses as it attempts to make sense of a world warping into something unfamiliar.”

Blackfish City by Sam J. MillerBlackfish City by Sam J. Miller

“After the climate wars, a floating city is constructed in the Arctic Circle, a remarkable feat of mechanical and social engineering, complete with geothermal heating and sustainable energy. The city’s denizens have become accustomed to a roughshod new way of living, however, the city is starting to fray along the edges—crime and corruption have set in, the contradictions of incredible wealth alongside direst poverty are spawning unrest, and a new disease called ‘the breaks’ is ravaging the population.”

A Breath of Fresh Air by Amulya Malladi

“On the night of December 3, 1984, Anjali waits for her army officer husband to pick her up at the train station in Bhopal, India. In an instant, her world changes forever. Her anger at his being late turns to horror when a catastrophic gas leak poisons the city air. Anjali miraculously survives. Her marriage does not.”

Breathe by Sarah Crossan

“The world has no air. If you want to survive, you pay to breathe. But what if you can’t? And what if you think everything could be different? Three teens will leave everything they know behind in Sarah Crossan’s gripping and original dystopian teen novel of danger, longing, and glimmering hope.”

The Butterfly Effect by Rajat Chaudhuri

“In the decaying capital city of a near-future Darkland, which covers large swathes of Asia, Captain Old – an off-duty policeman – receives news that might help to unravel the roots of a scourge that has ravaged the continent. As stories coalesce into stories – welding past, present and future together – will a macabre death in a small English town or the disappearance of Indian tourists in Korea, help to blow away the dusts of time?
From utopian communities of Asia to the prison camps of Pyongyang and from the gene labs of Europe to the violent streets of Darkland – riven by civil war, infested by genetically engineered fighters – this time-travelling novel crosses continents, weaving mystery, adventure and romance, gradually fixing its gaze on the sway of the unpredictable over our lives.”

California by Edan Lepucki

“The world Cal and Frida have always known is gone, and they’ve left the crumbling city of Los Angeles far behind them. They now live in a shack in the wilderness, working side-by-side to make their days tolerable in the face of hardship and isolation. Mourning a past they can’t reclaim, they seek solace in each other. But the tentative existence they’ve built for themselves is thrown into doubt when Frida finds out she’s pregnant.”

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.

“In a nightmarish ruined world slowly awakening to the light after sleeping in darkness, the infant rediscoveries of science are secretly nourished by cloistered monks dedicated to the study and preservation of the relics and writings of the blessed Saint Isaac Leibowitz. From here the story spans centuries of ignorance, violence, and barbarism, viewing through a sharp, satirical eye the relentless progression of a human race damned by its inherent humanness to recelebrate its grand foibles and repeat its grievous mistakes.”

The Carbon Diaries by Saci LloydThe Carbon Diaries 2015 Saci Lloyd

“It’s January 1st, 2015, and the UK is the first nation to introduce carbon dioxide rationing in a drastic bid to combat climate change. As her family spirals out of control, Laura Brown chronicles the first year of rationing with scathing abandon.”

The Carhullan Army by Sarah Hall

“The world has changed. War rages in South America and China, and Britain – now entirely dependent on the US for food and energy – is run by an omnipresent dictatorship known simply as The Authority. Assets and weapons have been seized, and women are compulsorily fitted with contraceptive devices. This is Sister’s story of her attempt to escape the repressive regime. From the confines of her Lancaster prison cell she tells of her search for The Carhullan Army, a quasi-mythical commune of ‘unofficial’ women rumoured to be living in a remote part of Cumbria.”

Death of Grass by John Christopher

“The Chung-Li virus has devastated Asia, wiping out the rice crop and leaving riots and mass starvation in its wake. The rest of the world looks on with concern, though safe in the expectation that a counter-virus will be developed any day. Then Chung-Li mutates and spreads. Wheat, barley, oats, rye: no grass crop is safe, and global famine threatens.”

Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delaney

“A mysterious disaster has stricken the midwestern American city of Bellona, and its aftereffects are disturbing: a city block burns down and is intact a week later; clouds cover the sky for weeks, then part to reveal two moons; a week passes for one person when only a day passes for another. The catastrophe is confined to Bellona, and most of the inhabitants have fled. But others are drawn to the devastated city, among them the Kid, a white/American Indian man who can’t remember his own name. The Kid is emblematic of those who live in the new Bellona, who are the young, the poor, the mad, the violent, the outcast—the marginalized.”

The End Of The World Running Club by Adrian J. WalkerThe End Of The World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker

“Perfect for fans of The Martian, this powerful post-apocalyptic thriller pits reluctant father Edgar Hill in a race against time to get back to his wife and children. When the sky begins to fall and he finds himself alone, his best hope is to run – or risk losing what he loves forever.”

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

“Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.”

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

“Dellarobia Turnbow is a restless farm wife who gave up her own plans when she accidentally became pregnant at seventeen. Now, after a decade of domestic disharmony on a failing farm, she has settled for permanent disappointment but seeks momentary escape through an obsessive flirtation with a younger man. As she hikes up a mountain road behind her house to a secret tryst, she encounters a shocking sight: a silent, forested valley filled with what looks like a lake of fire.”

Gold Fame Citrus by Claire VayeGold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins

“In a parched southern California of the near future, Luz, once the poster child for the country’s conservation movement, and Ray, an army deserter turned surfer, are squatting in a starlet’s abandoned mansion. Most “Mojavs,” prevented by armed vigilantes from freely crossing borders to lusher regions, have allowed themselves to be evacuated to encampments in the east. Holdouts like Ray and Luz subsist on rationed cola and water, and whatever they can loot, scavenge, and improvise.”

Heat and Light by Jennifer Haigh

“To drill or not to drill? Prison guard Rich Devlin leases his mineral rights to finance his dream of farming. He doesn’t count on the truck traffic and nonstop noise, his brother’s skepticism or the paranoia of his wife, Shelby, who insists the water smells strange and is poisoning their frail daughter. Meanwhile his neighbors, organic dairy farmers Mack and Rena, hold out against the drilling—until a passionate environmental activist disrupts their lives.”

Hot Sky At Midnight by Robert Silverberg

“At Samurai Industries, Paul Carpenter studies his computer monitors to predict the movement of toxic clouds drifting across the Pacific Northwest. If he’s wrong, a sudden shift of wind can kill thousands. Nick Rhodes, a research scientist for the controversial Santachiara Technologies’ Survival/Modification Program, seeks better ways for humans to adapt to Earth’s hostile environment. His girlfriend, Isabelle Martine, is a kinetic therapist and political activist, violently opposed to the threatening new technology. They are among those who have opted to stay behind, scratching out a perilous existence on a poisoned planet where no one dares leave home without a face-lung and a daily injection of Screen.”

Hothouse by Brian W. Aldiss

“Millions of years beyond our time, our Earth has long since stopped spinning—and giant flora have taken over the sunlit half of the motionless world. Here humans are among the very few animal species that still exist, struggling to survive against enormous odds, but they have become small and weak, and their numbers have dwindled to almost nothing. When the aging leader of Gren’s tribe decrees it is time for the old ones to go “Up,” the younger are left to make their own way below. Although the journey will not be an easy one for young Gren, he sets off on an odyssey across a perilous world populated by carnivorous plants and other evolved vegetation. But any knowledge to be gained at the terminator—the forbidding boundary between the day world and the night—might well prove worthless for the boy and the companions he amasses along the way when the expanding sun goes nova and their Earth is no more.”

I Have Waited And You Have Come by Martine McDonaghI Have Waited, And You Have Come by Martine McDonagh

“The world has been ravaged by climate change and Rachel is left to fend for herself. Living amid a clutch of disparate communities whose inhabitants she chooses to avoid, she rarely ventures beyond the safety of the storm wall. But when Jez White disturbs her twilight existence, Rachel finds herself in a murky territory somewhere between stalking and being stalked.”

I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows

“Annie Bell can’t escape the dust. It’s in her hair, covering the windowsills, coating the animals in the barn, in the corners of her children’s dry, cracked lips. It’s 1934 and the Bell farm in Mulehead, Oklahoma is struggling as the earliest storms of The Dust Bowl descend. All around them the wheat harvests are drying out and people are packing up their belongings as storms lay waste to the Great Plains. As the Bells wait for the rains to come, Annie and each member of her family are pulled in different directions. Annie’s fragile young son, Fred, suffers from dust pneumonia; her headstrong daughter, Birdie, flush with first love, is choosing a dangerous path out of Mulehead; and Samuel, her husband, is plagued by disturbing dreams of rain.”

The Ice People by Maggie Gee

“Far into the the 21st century, civilization has broken down in the face of the deepening cold. An old man, Saul, lives in a disused airport with a gang of wild boys, who spare his life only because of his skills as a storyteller. Saul tells of his youth, days of fierce heat and dwindling fertility. Men and women live separately, the women cluster around the rare children, and men turn to each other or to robot “pets.” But Saul is different—he falls in love with Sarah.”

In the Palm of Darkness by Mayra Montero, Edith Grossman (Translator)

“‘In the Palm of Darkness’ tells the story of American herpetologist Victor Griggs and Haitian guide Thierry Adrien, who are searching for an amphibian known as the blood frog (grenouille du sang) in the mountains of violence-torn Haiti. The rich and tragic tale of Thierry’s family, his life and loves and his curious destiny, forms a backdrop for the obsessive search of the two men from different cultures, and opens a window onto another way of understanding the world.”

Mara and Dann by Doris LessigMara and Dann by Doris Lessig

“Thousands of years in the future, all the northern hemisphere is buried under the ice and snow of a new Ice Age. At the southern end of a large landmass called Ifrik, two children of the Mahondi people, seven-year old Mara and her younger brother, Dann, are abducted from their home in the middle of the night. Raised as outsiders in a poor rural village, Mara and Dann learn to survive the hardships and dangers of a life threatened as much by an unforgiving climate and menacing animals as by a hostile community of Rock People. Eventually they join the great human migration North, away from the drought that is turning the southern land to dust, and in search of a place with enough water and food to support human life.”

Marrow Island by Alexis M. Smith

“Twenty years ago Lucie Bowen left Marrow Island; along with her mother, she fled the aftermath of an earthquake that compromised the local refinery, killing her father and ravaging the island’s environment. Now, Lucie’s childhood friend Kate is living within a mysterious group called Marrow Colony—a community that claims to be ‘ministering to the Earth.’ Lucie’s experience as a journalist tells her there’s more to the Colony—and their charismatic leader– than they want her to know, and that the astonishing success of their environmental remediation has come at great cost to the Colonists themselves.”

Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta

“Global warming has changed the world’s geography and its politics. Wars are waged over water, and China rules Europe, including the Scandinavian Union, which is occupied by the power state of New Qian. In this far north place, seventeen-year-old Noria Kaitio is learning to become a tea master like her father, a position that holds great responsibility and great secrets. Tea masters alone know the location of hidden water sources, including the natural spring that Noria’s father tends, which once provided water for her whole village.”

New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

“The waters rose, submerging New York City. But the residents adapted and it remained the bustling, vibrant metropolis it had always been. Though changed forever. Every street became a canal. Every skyscraper an island. Through the eyes of the varied inhabitants of one building, Kim Stanley Robinson shows us how one of our great cities will change with the rising tides. And how we too will change.”

Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis

“Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn’t leave at all.”

Odds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel RichOdds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich

“As Mitchell immerses himself in the mathematics of catastrophe—ecological collapse, war games, natural disasters—he becomes obsessed by a culture’s fears. Yet he also loses touch with his last connection to reality: Elsa Bruner, a friend with her own apocalyptic secret, who has started a commune in Maine. Then, just as Mitchell’s predictions reach a nightmarish crescendo, an actual worst-case scenario overtakes Manhattan. Mitchell realizes he is uniquely prepared to profit. But at what cost?”

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

“Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride.”

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

“Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, disease, war, and chronic water shortages. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyperempathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others.”

The Rapture by Liz JensenThe Rapture by Liz Jensen

“It is a June unlike any other before, with temperatures soaring to asphyxiating heights. All across the world, freak weather patterns—and the life-shattering catastrophes they entail—have become the norm. The twenty-first century has entered a new phase. But Gabrielle Fox’s main concern is a personal one: to rebuild her life after a devastating car accident that has left her disconnected from the world, a prisoner of her own guilt and grief.”

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

“A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.”

The Sheep Look Up by John BrunnerThe Sheep Look Up by John Brunner

“In a near future, the air pollution is so bad that everyone wears gas masks. The infant mortality rate is soaring, and birth defects, new diseases, and physical ailments of all kinds abound. The water is undrinkable—unless you’re poor and have no choice. Large corporations fighting over profits from gas masks, drinking water, and clean food tower over an ineffectual, corrupt government.”

Solar by Ian McEwan

“Michael Beard is a Nobel Prize–winning physicist whose best work is behind him, and whose fifth marriage is crumbling. However, an invitation to travel to New Mexico offers him a chance for him to extricate himself from his marital problems, reinvigorate his career, and save the world from environmental disaster. Can a man who has made a mess of his life clean up the messes of humanity?”

Solarpunk: Ecological and Fantastical Stories in a Sustainable World, edited by Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro, Fábio Fernandes (Translator)

“Imagine a sustainable world, run on clean and renewable energies that are less aggressive to the environment. Now imagine humanity under the impact of these changes. This is the premise Brazilian editor Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro proposed, and these authors took the challenge to envision hopeful futures and alternate histories. The stories in this anthology explore terrorism against green corporations, large space ships propelled by the pressure of solar radiation, the advent of photosynthetic humans, and how different society might be if we had switched to renewable energies much earlier in history. Originally published in Brazil and translated for the first time from the Portuguese by Fábio Fernandes, this anthology of optimistic science fiction features nine authors from Brazil and Portugal including Carlos Orsi, Telmo Marçal, Romeu Martins, Antonio Luiz M. Costa, Gabriel Cantareira, Daniel I. Dutra, André S. Silva, Roberta Spindler, and Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro.”

The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson

“On the airwaves, all the talk is of the new blue planet – pristine and habitable, like our own 65 million years ago, before we took it to the edge of destruction. And off the air, Billie and Spike are falling in love. What will happen when their story combines with the world’s story.”

Strange As This Weather Has Been by Ann PancakeStrange As This Weather Has Been by Ann Pancake

“Set in present day West Virginia, Ann Pancake’s debut novel, Strange As This Weather Has Been, tells the story of a coal mining family—a couple and their four children—living through the latest mining boom and dealing with the mountaintop removal and strip mining that is ruining what is left of their mountain life. As the mine turns the mountains to slag and wastewater, workers struggle with layoffs and children find adventure in the blasted moonscape craters.”

The Subprimes by Karl Taro Greenfeld

“In a future America that feels increasingly familiar, you are your credit score. Extreme wealth inequality has created a class of have-nothings: Subprimes. Their bad credit ratings make them unemployable. Jobless and without assets, they’ve walked out on mortgages, been foreclosed upon, or can no longer afford a fixed address. Fugitives who must keep moving to avoid arrest, they wander the globally warmed American wasteland searching for day labor and a place to park their battered SUVs for the night.”

The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan

“It’s November of 2020, and the world is freezing over, each day colder than the last. There’s snow in Israel; the Thames is overflowing; and an iceberg separated from the Fjords in Norway is expected to drift just off the coast of Scotland. As ice water melts into the Atlantic, frenzied London residents evacuate by the thousands for warmer temperatures down south—but not Dylan. Grieving and ready to build life anew, he heads north to bury his mother’s and grandmother’s ashes on the Scottish islands where they once lived.”

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

“While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.

Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last—and best—hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much larger and more terrifying than anything she could imagine.”

Truth and Bright Water by Thomas King

“Truth and Bright Water tells of a summer in the life of Tecumseh and Lum, young Native-American cousins coming of age in the Montana town of Truth, and the Bright Water Reserve across the river in Alberta. It opens with a mysterious woman with a suitcase, throwing things into the river – then jumping in herself. Tecumseh and Lum go to help, but she and her truck have disappeared. Other mysteries puzzle Tecumseh: whether his mom will take his dad back; if his rolling-stone aunt is home to stay; why no one protects Lum from his father’s rages. Then Tecumseh gets a job helping an artist – Bright Water’s most famous son – with the project of a lifetime. As Truth and Bright Water prepare for the Indian Days festival, their secrets come together in a climax of tragedy, reconciliation, and love.”

The Water Knife by Paolo BacigalupiThe Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

“In the American Southwest, Nevada, Arizona, and California skirmish for dwindling shares of the Colorado River. Into the fray steps Angel Velasquez, leg-breaker, assassin, and spy. A Las Vegas water knife, Angel ‘cuts’ water for his boss, Catherine Case, ensuring that her luxurious developments can bloom in the desert, so the rich can stay wet while the poor get dust. When rumors of a game-changing water source surface in drought-ravaged Phoenix, it seems California is making a play to monopolize the life-giving flow of the river, and Angel is sent to investigate.”

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

“In a far future, post-nuclear-holocaust Africa, genocide plagues one region. The aggressors, the Nuru, have decided to follow the Great Book and exterminate the Okeke. But when the only surviving member of a slain Okeke village is brutally raped, she manages to escape, wandering farther into the desert. She gives birth to a baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand and instinctively knows that her daughter is different. She names her daughter Onyesonwu, which means “Who Fears Death?” in an ancient African tongue.”

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

“Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen’s Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok’s street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history’s lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko…”

Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong, Howard Goldblatt (Translator)

“An epic Chinese tale in the vein of The Last Emperor, Wolf Totem depicts the dying culture of the Mongols—the ancestors of the Mongol hordes who at one time terrorized the world—and the parallel extinction of the animal they believe to be sacred: the fierce and otherworldly Mongolian wolf.”

Wool by Hugh Howey

“Thousands of them have lived underground. They’ve lived there so long, there are only legends about people living anywhere else. Such a life requires rules. Strict rules. There are things that must not be discussed. Like going outside. Never mention you might like going outside.

Or you’ll get what you wish for.”

thank u, next (book): 7 Books for Ariana Grande Fans

On Thursday, April 18, pop star phenomenon Ariana Grande seemed to announce she was leaving Twitter. The message to her fans, which was deleted not long after she shared it, read, “so take breaks n read books [black heart emoji] limit your time on here. you’ll feel so much better, your brain will thank u. dw, i’m not leaving forever, imma come on & check on u bc i love u but read…… some……. books. [notebook emoji]” (sic).

Ariana Grande Book Tweet

Fans were left wondering what to read and asking Grande for suggestions (or that she write a book herself — publishers, are you listening?).

https://twitter.com/breakfreess/status/1118953063753093122

https://twitter.com/Imagnetoulouse/status/1118953063287541760

https://twitter.com/zainababab_1997/status/1118953039417757703

https://twitter.com/swtmdoriya/status/1118953026767785990

https://twitter.com/thnk_u_next/status/1118953024200822784

https://twitter.com/backoyou/status/1118953018463072258

https://twitter.com/quitcloud/status/1118952997852262400

https://twitter.com/arianag19042853/status/1118952978516520966

https://twitter.com/deluxeverytimes/status/1118952969972658178

Good news, Arianators, we’ve got a list for you! While you grieve the loss of Ari’s Twitter, we hope these will comfort you. Check out these seven books for Ariana Grande fans and let us know what you would recommend.

7 Books for Ariana Grande Fans

7 Books for Ariana Grande Fans

Text Me When You Get Home by Kayleen Schaefer

for fans of “7 rings”

Bought matching diamonds for six of my bitches / I’d rather spoil all my friends with my riches

Text Me When You Get Home by Kayleen SchaeferA celebration of friendships amongst women, Text Me When You Get Home explores the history, meaning, and legacy of the powerful relationships women have. From Galentine’s Day to Medieval friendships between women, Schaefer brings her subject to life in a way many women will recognize. As she shares stories about her own friendships, Schaefer admits she wasn’t always so proud of her rapport with other women. Rejoice in your lady brunch dates and singing Ari at the top of your lungs with this quick nonfiction read.

Wrong in All the Right Ways by Tiffany Brownlee

for fans of “Side to Side”

‘Cause I know you got a bad reputation / Doesn’t matter, ‘cause you give me temptation

Wrong in All the Right Ways by Tifanny BrownleeEmma is always on top of things. She’s a girl with a plan and as the college application process gets closer, she’s focused. But when Emma’s family takes in her new foster brother, Dylan, her world is thrown upside-down. Like Heathcliffe of Emma’s Wuthering Heights studies (and the subject of Grande’s “Side to Side”), Dylan is wrong in all the right ways. A relationship with your foster brother is wrong, though — right? With a dark past of his own, Dylan is mercurial and struggling to settle in as it is but it’s hard to resist when temptation is just down the hall.

Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

for fans of “Breathin’”

Feel my blood runnin’, swear the sky’s fallin’ / How do I know if this shit’s fabricated, oh?

Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-BrokaWith every boy she dates, Megan seems to be the lucky charm — he always finds his one true love in the midst of their relationship (and it’s not with her). So when Megan meets Owen, whose dream it is to write plays, during their school’s production of Romeo and Juliet with her cast as Juliet, she’s pretty sure this relationship will be just as doomed as the one Shakespeare wrote. It’s impossible to know if this is for real unless she tries, though. But will she get burned?

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

for fans of “God Is a Woman”

I don’t want to waste no time, yuh / You ain’t got a one-track mind, yuh

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola YoonScientifically-minded Natasha is pretty sure of herself and the world, even as it’s falling apart as her family prepares to be deported to Jamaica. On her last day in the United States, she’s determined to find a way to stay. Then there’s Daniel, a hopeless romantic who doesn’t know that he’s good at much — but he does know love is real. When the pair meet in several twists of fate, Daniel is convinced he can use science to get Natasha to fall for him by the end of the day. While Natasha entrances Daniel like some kind of goddess, his intentions are far beyond one short day together. With the universe swirling around them, is fate enough to keep them from separating?

Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom

for fans of “Problem”

One less problem without ya / I got one less problem without ya

Thick and Other Essays by Tressie McMillan CottomMcMillan Cottom brings together a collection of essays on her observations of modern society. With a sharp perspective, she takes no prisoners in comments on topics trivial (pumpkin spice lattes) and serious (politics). McMillan Cottom has no time for nonsense and suffers no fools — she really has one less problem without ya. Decidedly feminist and intersectional at every turn, this is an essay collection empowered women will love.

 

The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan by Gia Cribbs

for fans of “Dangerous Woman”

Nothing to prove and I’m bulletproof and / know what I’m doing

The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan by Gia CribbsFor as long as she can remember, Sloane’s life has been a life on the run. In each new place, she practices drills along with Agent Markham Sullivan to ensure she can escape any situation and blend in seamlessly in each community. But now she can settle into being Sloane — or so she thinks. Before long, she’s shocked by someone from her old life turning up and suddenly her safety in the Witness Protection Program is at stake. The allure of the comfort of her old life is a lot to resist and now Sloane must decide between the familiar Jason and the cocoon of security she’s worked so hard to build. She may be dangerous, but so is love.

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

for fans of “thank u, next”

Plus, I met someone else, / we havin’ better discussions / I know they say I move on too fast, / but this one gon’ last / ‘cause her name is Ari / and I’m so good with that

And We Stay by Jenny HubbardAfter a terrifying event in her high school involving her boyfriend, Emily Beam transfers to a quiet boarding school not far from the home of Emily Dickinson. As she works through the semester to process what Paul did — and what she did — Emily must come to terms with herself and her past. Emily knows she can’t take responsibility for Paul’s actions, but to heal she has to move forward and put herself first.

What books for Ariana Grande fans would you recommend?

https://twitter.com/onIynasa/status/1118970035156942849

Happy reading, Arianators!

An Earth Day Reading List for Grown-Ups

As the resident Plant Lady among my family and friends, the fact that I’m usually reading about nature and the environment is no big surprise. But, during the spring when it finally stops (mostly) snowing in Chicago, I get extra excited to read about the world around me. But on Earth Day, everything I usually find is for kids! Which is great—we should absolutely be educating the next generation on how to take better care of the world.

But if you’re like me and you want to get excited for Earth Day too, I’ve put together my quintessential Earth Day reading list for grown-ups.

Fiction

If you’re not quite ready to dive into some hard-hitting nonfiction about climate change, there are some Earth Day novels that may be more up your alley.

Queen Sugar book coverQueen Sugar by Natalie Baszile

I devoured this book in one hot, summer day, and I could not get enough of this Southern story (that I’m sure you’ve at least heard of, because Oprah). Charley unexpectedly inherits hundreds of acres of a sugarcane farm in Louisiana, and she has no idea what to do with it. She quickly learns that farming is and always has been a white man’s business, but that doesn’t stop her from fighting for her family and her place to be among the landowners and business leaders.

LaRose by Louise Erdrich

After a tragic accident resulting in the death of a child, two families must reconcile and learn to heal through their grief before it tears them apart.

I could probably recommend any of Erdrich’s novels for this list, but La Rose is my pick because of its complexity in dealing with nature vs. man and humans coming to terms with consequences of their decisions.

A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter

Never heard of this one? Neither had I until recently! After reading about women writing about nature long before men chose to acknowledge that (gasp!) women could write, I was drawn to this title specifically. Written in 1909 and adapted for film several times, this novel follows Elnora, a young girl who learns and grows up in the swamplands, collecting and saving creatures and animals.

The author also was the first American woman to form a movie production company, and she used these funds and notoriety to help conserve parts of the Limberlands (in Indiana) that still are preserved today!

The Wildlands book coverThe Wildlands by Abby Geni

The four McCloud children were orphaned as kids after a category 5 tornado destroyed their home and parents. After media attention and scrutiny, the brother, Tucker, abandons his sisters and disappears. That is, until the three-year anniversary of the tornado, when Tucker resurfaces, and takes his nine-year-old sister, Cora, with him. She becomes his inadvertent accomplice as they road-trip across the country, and the two sleep in parks, fight for animal rights, and end up on an animal-releasing spree at a zoo, all while the older McCloud sisters look desperately for their missing sister. This unsettling and thoughtful book had me thinking about it long after I finished reading it, not only because of the complicated nature of family but also because of its powerful look at humanity and empathy.

Happiness, Like Water book coverHappiness, Like Water by Chinelo Okparanta

This collection of stories discusses Nigerian women and families displaced from their homes, battling electric outages and pollution in water, loving despite being confronted with dangerous obstacles, and more.

Nonfiction

From the oddly specific to the wildly broad, here are some true accounts and narratives to brush up on your environmental knowledge.

Backyard Giants book coverBackyard Giants: The Passionate, Heartbreaking, and Glorious Quest to Grow the Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Susan Warren

I will always and forever be recommending this weird little book. A literal entire book about pumpkin growing and its competitions, you can work your way through an entire gardening season of farmers competing with others from all over the country. They fight root rot, sabotage, and heartbreak as they all strive for glory—the biggest pumpkin!

It’s equally silly as it is interesting for its discussions of “pumpkin sex,” a.k.a. genetic plant breeding, and its impact on the future of agriculture and farming.

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells

The newest release on this list, this striking account does not hold back, declaring it is “much worse” than everything we think about the state of the environment. If you want to dive headfirst into reading material for the current state of the world and the politics, fighting, and activism surrounding climate change, this is the book you need to pick up now.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle book coverAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver and her family make a decision that they will only buy food raised locally, grow it on their own, or not eat it at all. Kingsolver’s examination and exploration of their journey feels like a discussion among friends, and it makes the idea of wanting to do better, eat better, treat the earth better, a little easier and less overwhelming. Kingsolver’s funny narrative makes this seemingly daunting task funny and approachable.

What will you be reading this Earth Day?

African American Classics I Wish I’d Read In School

There’s a good chance I would have not gotten into a fight with my English teacher in my senior year of high school had we read any (and I mean any) people of color all year. And the year before that. The name of the class was International Baccalaureate, for goodness’s sake.

Anyway, when I got to college I sought out all the good literature I had straight-up missed because my high school curriculum was only interested in white authors. The classes that particularly struck me were the ones about African American literature. I read a lot of contemporary black writing, but these opened my eyes to a whole world of the past. I wonder how influential these writers could have been to the students of my school—would more black students enjoy their English classes? Would our white peers understand things better?

This is a list of just some of the African American classics I would love to see added to high school curriculums across the nation. (Staples of the genre like Beloved by Toni Morrison or The Autobiography of Malcolm X aren’t on this list because I’ve seen them taught in various high schools.)

african american classicsNative Son by Richard Wright

This is, hands down, one of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read. And for good reason. When Bigger Thomas starts working for a wealthy white family in Chicago, things don’t exactly go as planned. I won’t give away too much, but I’ll say this—Bigger does something terrible.

This was the first Book of the Month pick by a black author, and it stirred up so much controversy when it first came out in 1940. It angered everyone. Blacks, whites, elites, middle-class workers. But they couldn’t stop talking about it. This, along with the sheer quality of the book, made it a lasting part of the African American literary canon.

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

For a book some consider young adult, A Lesson Before Dying is HEAVY. It follows a young black teen named Jefferson charged with the murder of a grocery store owner. Spoiler alert: he’s innocent. That doesn’t matter to the southern court system in 1948, however. The state sentences Jefferson to death by electric chair.

Distraught over her son’s fate, Jefferson’s family asks the local teacher to teach Jefferson “how to be a man” before he dies, as opposed to the animal that the state sees him as. You will need some tissues for this one, mark my words.

african american classicsGo Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin

I’ve never been one for religious texts, but somehow Baldwin’s breathtaking novel never comes across as didactic or pushy. It elegantly delves into the institution of the Pentecostal church and its relationship with the black community in 1950s Harlem. Following the story of a variety of characters like the local fanatic preacher, a woman with a dark past, and a young boy struggling with faith and sexuality, this book is simply gorgeous. In addition, it is a semi-autobiographical work. Any glimpse into the fascinating life of gay black icon James Baldwin is worth a read.

Brown Girl, Brownstones by Paule Marshall

This debut novel centers a Barbadian immigrant community in Brooklyn as they mingle, fall in love, fight, and dream for a better life. Its main character is Seline Boyce, a 10-year-old with a contentious relationship with her mother and an adoring one with her father. Shackled by a lower class lifestyle, they want to own their brownstones and have some autonomy in a world that barely affords them any. But nothing is ever as simple as it seems.

african american classicsMoses, Man of the Mountain by Zora Neale Hurston

The Biblical myth of Moses has long appealed to enslaved populations for its strong sense of justice against the enslavers and for the exploited peoples. In this gorgeously written novel, Zora Neale Hurston rewrites the story of Moses and the Hebrews in black vernacular, making the Hebrews a stand in for black slaves and the Egyptians a stand in for white slave masters. Strange at times, magical at others, this is one of Hurston’s lesser known works but also one of her most outwardly political.

Imperium in Imperio By Sutton Griggs

This 1899 novel is endlessly intriguing. It follows two politically active black men as they try to live their lives in the 19th century. Eventually, their stories coalesce as as they both have a hand in creating a secret black utopia in the middle of Texas. Mirroring the ages long struggle between militant black politics and non-violent black politics through the two characters, Imperium in Imperio is a fast-paced thriller that packs a big punch.

african american classicsPassing by Nella Larson

Clare and Irene can “pass” as white (depending on the circles they’re in). They were childhood friends but lost contact after a tragedy. When Clare and Irene find each other after years apart, they become intertwined and seek to rekindle their relationship. As adults, Irene lives in Harlem as black, but Clare mostly lives in Europe with her white husband and daughter. She conceals her blackness from him and their peers. Trouble is, her husband is a loud-mouthed racist. Who knows what he would do if he found out who he really married?

Shocking, intimate, and one of the foremost novels about racial passing for decades, this is a must-read.

The Street by Ann Petry

I’m willing to bet your average reader has never heard of The Street, yet it was the first book by an African American woman to sell a million copies. How did this seminal novel fall out of popularity with the general audience? (Tayari Jones, who recently wrote the bestselling novel An American Marriage, explores how Petry paved the road for black women authors in this article here.)

When you read The Street, you immediately get why it was a bestseller. It centers relatable, headstrong Lutie, a black mom in Harlem looking for a place to live for her and her son. As she knows all too well, however, the street (a metaphor for every street in America) just wants to push her down. Sexism, racism, and violence threaten to stop Lutie from making a living when all she wants to do is survive.


Do you have any African American classics you particularly enjoyed?

10 Books for Curly Haired Readers

Growing up in the late ’90s and early ’00s, my hair was often gelled back into tight ponytails and then straightened within an inch of its life. One of my early short stories featured three best friends with “silky, straight hair.” I didn’t hate my hair, but I was envious of hair that always looked “perfect.” On TV and in movies, when girls get makeovers, their hair gets straightened. When characters are “crazy” or having a bad day? Curly hair. In high school and college, I loved my wavy-curly hair. Then my hair started changing again. It started getting frizzy, messy, not quite straight, not quite wavy, not quite curly, and baby-fine.

Using my internet sleuthing skills, I  recently stumbled back into the worm hole of “The Curly Girl Method.” The method is named after Lorraine Massey’s Book The Curly Girl Handbook. The method is shortened to CGM, to be more inclusive. I started my hair journey with Massey’s book in November 2018.  If you also possess hair that does not like to be told what to do, these books will provide some guidance in hair care. Parents of curly-haired kids, I encourage you to read up on curly hair care and also read about curly haired kids with your kids. Curly hair is beautiful!

Guidebooks

 The Curly Girl Handbook By Lorraine Massey 

Considered the “original” manual on curly haircare, the updated version of this book contains personal accounts, video tutorials (DVD and digital copies), and detailed explanations of curly basics. Readers are encouraged to embrace and care for their hair  without getting caught up in looking perfect. The Curly Girl Handbook is a great starting place, especially if you’ve already seen some curly/wavy Instagram pages or YouTube videos and feel overwhelmed.

Curly Like Me By Teri LaFlesh

Full of helpful photographs and detailed tutorials, Curly Like Meis perfect for people with a tight curl pattern who want to grow their hair longer. This book contains specialized tips on growing out hair after chemical treatments, how to style and comb children’s curls, and ingredient lists. LaFlesh writes with positive affirmations for tightly curled hair, making this book a valuable resource.

 The Curly Hair Book By Rogelio Samson

Written as a men’s curly hair guide, Samson details hair care, cleansing, styling, and questions with diagrams to form a hair plan. For those who do not have time for a lengthy hair routine, The Curly Hair Book might provide the answers. Samson addresses specific concerns like balding, sports, and oily hair.  This book is also great for women with male partners, or parents of curly haired boys.

 

Better Than Good Hair By Nikki Walton 

This book specifically focuses on the hair needs of black and mixed race curlies, but there are tips and tricks that everyone can use.  Better Than Good Hair includes styles, transitioning from chemically treated hair to natural, dyeing hair with henna, and more. Walton shares wisdom from years of hair blogging. She encourages readers to practice unfamiliar styles and skills, rather than being intimidated. There is also a chapter for white parents of black and mixed race children and caring for their hair needs.

The Curl Revolution By Michelle Breyer

This curated collection features practical advice and personal stories from Breyer’s website. The Curl Revolution explores curly culture through different methods and products, and teaches readers how to find their own routine. The curly haired community can be a confusing one, but The Curl Revolution seeks to help each reader unlock their potential and embrace their hair as is.

Picture Books

I Don’t Want Curly Hair By Laura Ellen Anderson

Curly Haired Girl has always wanted smooth, straight hair, but one day, she meets a girl with the smoothest, silkiest hair ever and she wants curly hair! This confuses both girls, but they learn to love their own hair. This book is funny and sweet and features a huge head of spirally-goodness curls. The illustrations are bright, with each red-orange coil perfectly detailed.

Emi’s Curly, Coily, Cotton Candy Hair By Tina Olajide

Emi is a creative 7-year-old with a head full of beautiful “cotton candy” hair. In this beautifully illustrated book, kids can learn basic haircare along with Emi as she washes and styles her hair.

 

Maggie Sinclair, Will You Please Fix Your Hair? by Hilary Grant Dixon

When Maggie’s grandmother comes to visit, she keeps asking Maggie to “fix” her hair. Using her imagination to match her curly hair, Maggie shares her creativity with her grandmother. Working on self-love and acceptance, this book features a sweet message and charming illustrations.

The Adventures of Little Miss Crazy Hair by Christopher Garcia-Halenar & Alejandro Garcia-Halenar

Spend one week in the life of Little Miss Crazy Hair and her dog Duke as they serve tea, sail the Nile, explore the jungle, and even fly over LMCH’s hometown. Each adventure calls for its own unique hairstyle, of course, and an accompanying hidden discovery. This book is perfect for adventurous readers with vivid imaginations.

Curlee Girlee By Atara Twersky

Curlee Girlee’s sideways, twisty-turny hair won’t grow down her back like spaghetti like she wants. She wants to look like everyone else. She’ll try anything to be like everyone else. Then, Curlee Girlee discovers her curly hair is different and special and beautiful. She doesn’t have to be angry at her hair anymore!

 

For a lot of people, self-love and acceptance start with appearance. Give your hair a little loving, no matter what texture you have. In the meantime, check out these nonfiction books about hair.