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We are constantly inundated in news, posts, headlines, and information. Scroll. Scroll. Scroll. I sometimes have to pause, close my eyes for a second, and refocus. What headline link do I need to save to read later? What article has information that has left me wanting more? My notes app on my laptop and phone are filled with links and notes on things I want to further explore. Or that have made me think of something else I’d like to remember.
Basically, I’m always seeking more information and knowledge and am curious about so much, but it’s hard to keep up. I’m my most happiest when I find a thing that intrigues me and I end up following a random road, landing either down a rabbit hole or finding something great to read. I was recently watching a K-drama and decided to google what lipstick / stain / tint the actress was wearing, and suddenly I found myself reading about beauty standards, plastic surgery, and the beauty industry in South Korea. I love when that happens.
So with that in mind, I decided to take headlines and articles of interest and match them with fiction and nonfiction books – some because they are the same topic and others because they expand on an idea. Welcome to my weird brain.
Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn
I hate the term chick lit (also women’s fiction), and I hate the way people looked down on the genre (s) because it is by and for women. But I loved the books and was always frustrated by how it really only focused on white women and before we could get marginalized writers penning these works it felt like it all just disappeared. But did it really? Or did it just get slotted into other categories with different marketing? This book reminded me of what I loved about chick lit while having the things I wanted the genre to have. It’s the cousin-getting-married-must-find-a-date plot, but it’s equally focused on friendship and family, with a depth of culture and insight into immigrant life that made this one of my favorite books. It’s funny and filled with heart, mistakes, and finding your way. Bonus: Ronke Adékoluejo’s audiobook narration is excellent.
What’s Left of Me Is Yours by Stephanie Scott
Inspired by a case where using the wakaresaseya service ended in murder, Stephanie Scott wrote this novel. It’s a literal crime novel that slowly reveals the crime, taking readers into a present and past timeline. In the present, a daughter training to be a lawyer learns that what she knew about her mother’s death was not actually correct. In the past, we watch as her father hires an agency to seduce her mother so he can get an easier divorce. It’s an equally beautiful and heartbreaking book that focuses on exploring the humanity of love, loss, secrets, and the Japanese justice system.
Ten Steps to Nanette by Hannah Gadsby
Saeed Jones wrote a great response to Dave Chappelle’s transphobia and the gross argument that continues to arise that comics can basically say anything in the name of comedy without consequences. If you’ve read Jones’ work, you know how smart and thoughtful he is with difficult subjects, and I kept thinking about that article as I read Gadsby’s memoir. She writes about her life growing up in Tasmania, mental illness, the effects of homophobia, how she became a comic, and how she came to write her standup special Nanette, which explores trauma and how we process it. There’s a lot here in response to the argument of where the lines of comedy are and should be. Gadsby also narrates the audiobook, which I can not recommend enough. She’s just brilliant and tackles so many difficult subjects, opening up subjects that we need to be having real conversations about.
Dark Archives: A Librarian’s Investigation Into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin by Megan Rosenbloom
If this is the kind of headline you do not even hesitate to click because it’s equal parts weird, interesting, and macabre, and the only thing your brain is saying is “I want to know more,” then this book is probably just for you. If you’re looking for the history on macabre books, Rosenbloom has got you covered.
Black Love Matters: Real Talk on Romance, Being Seen, and Happily Ever Afters Edited by Jessica P. Pryde
This is a fantastic anthology edited by Book Riot Contributing Editor Jessica Pryde, with an excellent introduction, filled with great writers exploring Black romance in entertainment, from novels to television. You get so many different voices, critiques, personal stories, pop culture, from the history of African American romance written by Beverly Jenkins to a personal essay on finding Queer Black love by Nicole M. Jackson. You’ll find so many new writers to follow!
People Love Dead Jews: Reports from a Haunted Present by Dara Horn
This is one of those books that I wish I could make everyone read, and would be put in all school systems. The contents are as impactful as the title, and incredibly necessary to be said and read. Horn looks at how dead Jewish people are respected and mythologized, but living Jewish people are not. She writes about how Anne Frank is taught (which should be an essay assigned along with the reading of Frank’s memoir), the mythology that Jewish people had their names changed when entering Ellis Island, and so much more. It’s the kind of book that will have you putting it down often in order to really process and think.
The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb
This is a great whodunnit mystery for anyone looking for a break from a murder mystery. And it also takes readers into the world of classical music! Right before the international Tchaikovsky Competition – a massive deal! – Ray McMillian has his violin stolen. And not just any violin, but a priceless Stradivarius! He thinks two families might be involved in the theft, his own being one of them… And so while he continues to practice and fight for his career, he also goes into sleuth mode to find out who has his violin. Bonus: the audiobook is narrated by JD Jackson, and a snippet of music is played between sections (just the right amount to give a taste without making you feel like you want to fast forward).
The Unfit Heiress: The Tragic Life and Scandalous Sterilization of Ann Cooper Hewitt by Audrey Clare Farley
This book is not about Britney Spears, but it is about the laws that allow for abuse, especially controlling the reproductive rights of people with uteruses. Think of Britney Spears saying in court that she’s being forced to keep an IUD and how similar that is to the hysterectomies performed on immigrants in custody. The book is the true story and court case of Maryon Cooper Hewitt, who had her daughter, Ann Cooper Hewitt, sterilized without her consent nor knowledge for her inheritance. While it focuses on these two women’s lives, it also goes into the history of eugenics and how these laws were devised – a history we are not far removed from.
And if this list has left you wanting more bookish headlines, here you go.