Sometimes I wish I could hibernate in the cold winter months like a grizzly bear. I would huddle under my warm blankets with the great pile of books I never get around to reading and lose myself in the adventures and knowledge therein. Alas, life calls, and the pile beside my bed is only getting taller—thanks in part to recommendations from Literary Mama staff that will no doubt be added.
Libby Maxey, Senior Editor and Literary Reflections Editor, shares this one: “Although I haven’t had much time to read lately, I’m glad I found time for Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad. The book, now nearly a decade old, is a clever and modern exploration of aging—the titular ‘goon’ is time—that charmed me throughout, even though I wouldn’t have thought myself its target audience. The book’s constellation of characters connects through New York City, punk music, and the sex and drugs associated with that scene, but I was drawn in by the unique metaphors, apt characterizations, and smart pacing. I also appreciated Egan’s compassion for her cast, for all their many, many faults. The disjointed, non chronological chapters can be frustrating for those expecting a novel (just ask my friends on Goodreads), but if approached as a collection of linked short stories, there’s satisfaction in watching the individual pieces overlap to fill out the big picture. Egan won both a Pulitzer and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Goon Squad, but even if she hadn’t, I would still be eager to explore more of her writing.”
Juli Anna Herndon, Poetry Editor, recommends this empowering read for girls (and women in general): “This winter I have been delighting in Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World, edited by Kathleen Ragan. I am an avid reader of folk- and fairy tales, but this volume satisfies a hunger I didn’t even know I had. Ragan collects a multitude of stories from around the world, all of which center on women, girls, and their journeys. The stories follow rigorous guidelines set by the editor (with a little help from her young daughters) to illuminate the power, resourcefulness, cleverness, and capability of women through the ages. Very few of these stories were ones that I was familiar with, and I have enjoyed being introduced to new fictional friends in my reading. Tales are grouped by geographical region, and each story is followed by a short interpretive note explaining its significance in the volume. This is the collection of fairy tales I wish I had grown up with, and I expect to pass it on to many of the women and girls in my life. As a bonus, there’s even a fantastic foreword written by Literary Mama contributor Jane Yolen!”
Social Media Editor, Abigail Lalonde, offers this suggestion for a provocative read: “Amber Tamblyn’s Any Man was my recent pick for book club. I had a feeling it would be a conversation starter, and it did not disappoint. Any Man offers a glimpse into the world of rape survivors, but here Tamblyn flips the narrative with a female rapist and male victims. To me, this narrative allows the reader to fully understand the treatment of rape victims. Tamblyn uses experimental writing styles throughout the novel weaving poetry, art, and even a Twitter feed with traditional storytelling. Though my book club was divided on both style and substance, the book allowed for an intense discussion of feminism, character development, and rape culture. I both read and listened to Tamblyn’s debut novel (she’s published several poetry books in the past). I suggest doing both in order to fully appreciate the style of the book, but if you can choose only one, the audiobook is a star-studded, incredibly produced piece that I can’t recommend enough.”