If you’re a bookworm like me and always on the lookout for great books to read, I think you’ll be inspired to add at least one of this month’s recommendations by Literary Mama staff to your reading list. I’m most intrigued by What She Ate and the essay collection We Are Never Meeting in Real Life., but you may prefer a thriller like Crossed. If you are looking for something a little more literary, a poetry collection strangely entitled Requiem for a Robot Dog might fit the bill.
Libby Maxey, Senior Editor and Literary Reflections Editor, piqued my interest with this one: “I recently finished reading Laura Shapiro’s entertaining What She Ate, a sort of food-based biography of six decidedly different women, organized chronologically: Dorothy Wordsworth (devoted sister of the poet), Rosa Lewis (quirky culinary queen of Edwardian London), Eleanor Roosevelt (yes, that Eleanor Roosevelt), Eva Braun (Hitler’s young, self-dramatizing mistress), Barbara Pym (unassuming English novelist), and Helen Gurley Brown (Cosmopolitan editor and proud dieter). I hardly need say more, as there’s probably at least one name on that list that piques your curiosity! What all these women have in common is an unusual relationship to food, one created by the intersection of their personal and professional lives (or lack thereof) with the time and place in which they lived. Shapiro uses their particular stories to illuminate their times, but also invests in an intimate, life-long portrait of each woman and the way that food figured into her life.”
Senior Editor, Christina Consolino, may get you hooked on a new series with this recommendation: “I just finished Crossed, the first novel in the Luce Hansen Thriller series by Dayton-area author Meredith Doench. Thrillers don’t land on my to-be-read pile very often, but when they do, I expect them to deliver. Crossed did just that. Doench easily brings the reader into the complicated world of Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent Lucinda Hansen, who has just been assigned to a crime that took place in a town she had no intention of returning to. As Luce investigates what might be a serial killer in this small Ohio town, it quickly becomes clear that she will have to confront her past in order to figure out the present. The book is rich with procedural details and multi-layered characters—including Luce’s girlfriend, Rowan—and it tackles some hefty topics, including ex-gay ministries. The story drew me in right from the first page, and I’m looking forward to reading the second and third books in the series.”
Allison Blevins, Poetry Editorial Assistant, hopes you’ll enjoy this volume: “I found the heart of Requiem for a Robot Dog in the poem ‘Therapy.’ Author of the collection, Lauren Scharhag, writes, ‘I think God / is the problem.’ While the focus of her book isn’t always religion, I felt her work was searching. Sometimes the poems directly address God. In ‘Pardon,’ she tells us that ‘for our purposes, God is this prison.’ Sometimes the search is for a connection with another person. Sometimes it is a robot dog reaching out, teaching the reader a lesson about the ‘truth of [our] grief.’ In Scharhag’s Requiem, our mundane and ordinary lives intersect with the sublime. She rollercoasters us through a four-line poem about a dropped strawberry, to another poem that masterfully spans several pages and forces us to confront our place in the world. In Scharhag’s world, like our world, Crystal Pepsi, Garbage Pail Kids, familial death, and refugees collide. I left this book with more questions about myself and my world than when I entered. Requiem for a Robot Dog is truly a liminal space holding up a mirror to our culture and beliefs and shared experiences.”
Abigail Lalonde, Social Media Editor, rounds off the selection with this one: “I made a book pact to myself this year to read more essays, books written by female authors, and especially more by women of color. I recently finished We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. by Samantha Irby, which checked all of the boxes for my goal. The cover, adorned with an angry, frazzled looking cat sealed the deal for me. After reading the collection of essays, I fully realized why Irby arranged her collection to end with the title busting essay ‘We Are Never Meeting in Real Life.,’ as after reading her words, I felt like she was my friend, spilling secrets, making me laugh, providing me with comfort and sometimes discomfort. She was exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it. Irby commits her full honesty to this collection of essays about her childhood, dating, break-ups, budgets, and as the cover suggests, her cat Helen Keller. Bouncing back and forth between serious and comedic tones and topics, Irby had me both laughing until I cried and straight up crying, sometimes even in the same essay. I have never read anything by Samantha Irby before reading Real Life, and while I have conceded to the fact that we most likely won’t meet in real life, I have most definitely found myself a literary friend.”