Friday, March 31, 2023

Best 3 Books of March

You know the meme: Being an adult is saying "next week things will slow down a little" over and over again until you die. That was March. That's to say, March was a blur. I traveled to Seattle for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference, I watched a butt-ton of basketball, but I did manage to find a few moments here and there to read some books -- five books, total. Here are my favorite three.

3. The Wrong Way to Save Your Life, by Megan Stielstra -- If "memoir in essays" is a thing, that's what this is, and it's soooooooo good. You know that Cecily Strong character on Saturday Night Live, Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation With at a Party? These essays are the EXACT OPPOSITE OF THAT. Reading Megan Stielstra is like sitting at a bar with a very cool new friend, and getting lost in her stories. 

2. Empty Theatre, by Jac Jemc -- This hilarious novel tells the intertwined stories of cousins King Ludwig II of Bavaria and Empress Elisabeth (Sisi) of Austria. Not at all your staid, stuffy historical fiction, this fantastic read is more like a satiric Victorian soap opera. It's light and funny, playful and provocative, and just a really fun rewarding reading experience. 

1. A Country You Can Leave, by Asale Angel-Ajani -- This book is about a 16-year-old Black, biracial girl named Lara and her fierce but deeply flawed Russian immigrant mother. The two live in a trailer park in California, and try to navigate the fraught divisions of culture, class, and race. Lara voice in this novel is completely engaging, and you feel for her immensely. It constantly seems like she's in a no-win situation, that forces beyond her control (whether privileged white people or violent men) will have an outsized impact on her life. It's not fair, of course it's not. And her mother, often drunk and spouting bullshit truisms at her, isn't much help to her.

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