Welcome to our Reading List! Find new recommended reads here every month, find spotlights and recommendations for our book world friends, and shop with us!
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"This collection of deeply personal poetry is a mirror into the legendary artist's enigmatic world and its many contradictions.
Written in his own hand from the time he was nineteen, these seventy-two poems embrace his spirit, his energy -- and his ultimate message of hope." - Bookshop.org
"After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noem Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside... there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family's once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noem digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness." - Bookshop.org
"Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing."- B&N
Essays: W. Kamau Bell- The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6' 4", African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama's Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian
Bell is hilarious and smart. His essays are eye-opening and feel like a warm hug. He tackles topics like the importance of Doc McStuffins, superheroes, and politics through the scope of racial inequality in the U.S. He feels like an old friend (but way funnier).
A queer and multicultural cast in a cute, funny (and sometimes tear-jerking) tale that takes place in a theme park. Also: adorable talking dog included.
Recommendations from Bookseller Serena Morales, Winner of the 2020 Duende-Word BIPOC Bookseller Activism Award.
See their full blog post here!
"This month’s recommended reading comes in celebration of Latine/x Heritage Month. Featured here are several poetry collections from Latine/x authors, each of which are uniquely challenging in the ways they scrutinize, from various angles, what it means to be of an othered identity/race/heritage/ethnicity/lineage in this country. I am excited to celebrate these poets’ work because each of them—again, I must emphasize, distinctly—challenge colonial assumptions and capitalist/imperialist lines of thought around the value of a person’s life, bringing an elevated level of attention and imagination to the formal elements of their craft while doing so. These are poets who understand the political potential of poetry in trying, turbulent times, and in this understanding, valiantly refuse state-prescribed measures of human worth, for themselves and the communities to which they belong. I hope you will consider buying and reading their books."- Serena Morales
"In Guillotine, Corral explores the relationship between desirability and migration, skillfully connecting the shame, longing, and grief tied to queer identity—in particular for those who endured through the AIDS crisis—with that of undocumented immigrants, who know the Sonoran Desert intimately, as one might know a lover. Employing personae and startling lyricism, this many-voiced collection places us, viscerally, in the body of the borderlands and those who travail it. At once deeply haunted and fully alive, these referential, soul-stirring poems will awaken inside you that which need no longer be dormant. Let it."
"Always with great care and rigor, Natalie Diaz turns the pyramid of America’s self-defined, self-corrupted values on its head and collapses it. Here, space is given to desire, to queer intimacy and ‘othered’ appetites, and to loving the body—all the bodies—that we occupy with a ferocity that rivals the violences given to them. These poems are immensely tender, uncompromising, by turns sensual and cerebral, they explore all the ways giving and receiving love makes us known, make us both bestial and beautiful: 'Like any desert, I learn myself by what’s desired of me— / and I am demoned by those desires.' Diaz grants permission to the lover, the reader, even herself, to honor our multitudes and view pleasure as a site of endless decolonizing possibilities."
"An audacious, innovative debut collection that explores queerness, gender, nature, and the immigrant family experience. Though these poems, at times, deal with trauma, they maintain a sense of playfulness, sustained through the language, and an unapologetic allegiance to pleasure, erotic and otherwise. They are occasionally confessional, though these confessions are not ones that require redemption, rather, they ask, rhetorically: “Is it not amazing that we are still alive?” A deliciously transgressive collection that turns the closet inside out and goes for the throat in the process."
"Murillo’s remarkable, indicting sophomore collection interrogates how antiblack racism pervades the American cultural consciousness, connecting his inquiry, with stunning virtuosity, to the ways our literary imagination is similarly constructed, and confined, by this same violences. At the heart of the collection is an impossibly good, deeply referential sonnet crown sequence surrounding the deaths of three men in Brooklyn. The sequence, and the book more broadly, deals with themes of loss, vengeance, and cultural memory. The collection is both choral and confessional, resonating on both a personal and collective level. Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry is truly a crucial, seminal work; you will find that it is highly valorized amongst all our favorite poets, for good reason. Not just a required reading, but a compulsory re-reading, and re-reading and re-reading..."
"Former US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera does it again: he saves America from itself by handing it a mirror. Herrera rescues the people—working people, migrants, those who are “green-yellow-brown” and “golden sienna ochre”—from invisibility through direct address. In this collection, it is their stories that are honored and elevated, as the personal is expressed through the polyphonic, and both are centered in an act of radical care. The speakers here refuse the myth that the state’s violence defines the people it oppresses, instead asserting that that violence is what defines the oppressive state: “this is not a poor-boy story / this is a pioneer story / this is your story / America are you listening.” Fans of Natalie Diaz, Aracelis Girmay, and Marcelo Hernandez Castillo will find much to appreciate in this tender and revelatory collection."
"This is the rigorous and formally-deft debut collection of Julian Randall, a (self-described) Living Queer Black poet from Chicago. The poems here are testimonials against erasure, through them the poet, who is both biracial and bisexual, refuses the binaries forced upon him. Artful in it’s associative power, the speaker references various Greek mythic figures—Sisyphus, Narcissus, Theseus, etc.—while also being in conversation with music artists like Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, and Kanye West. The collection is also notable for the many forms, both found and experimental, employed as a tool to challenge and interrogate the social mythologies created in the service of policing Black boys and men who do as the poet does: refuse."
"True to the Nuyorican poetic tradition from which Toro comes, this dynamic, musical collection comes alive on the page, as you might suspect from its title. Tertulia refers to a Latin American social gathering in which attendees engage in discourse around cultural, political, and artistic topics. The collection—which is told in five acts, lending to its overall sense of grandeur—examines and denounces the conditions that plague the Latinx diasporic community, including colonialism and immigration, as well as economic and racial disparity. A complex, unrelenting, and ambitious work that will both delight readers with its linguistic acrobatics, and challenge them with its sharp sociopolitical commentary."
Liza's recommendation for healing: These poems celebrate, encourage, and offer the reader a new perspective on hope and self-love.
Liza's recommendation for healing: Yrsa Daley-Ward's collection bone captures desire, vulnerability, and joy beautifully. This book is a place to find solace..