Summer Reads 2017: Alyssa

Grab a book, a picnic blanket, some sunglasses and go to town.

Too Much and Not the Mood (Durga Chew-Bose)
We recently had the pleasure of launching Durga Chew-Bose's debut collection, and I can't wait to settle into these thoughtful, inventive prose-poetry essays on memory, family, pop culture, and so much more. The writing takes its time, says exactly what it wants to say, and creates a whole that is entirely more than the sum of its topics.

Hunger (Roxane Gay)
The new Roxane Gay is here! Hunger has been hotly anticipated in the store ever since we hosted an event during which Gay discussed this then-upcoming project: a memoir of her body, food, self-care, and trauma. Told with an undeniable care and vulnerability, this deeply personal work is touching, unflinchingly honest, and so very important.

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud (Anne Helen Petersen)
I've been a huge fan of Anne Helen Petersen's for a long time, always enjoying her sociological take on fame, celebrity culture, and the tabloid industry. For this new work, she turns her gaze to women who have, in one way or another, transgressed, writing critically and compassionately on topics as varied as Madonna's age, Melissa McCarthy's shape, and Nicki Minaj's confident sexuality.

Placeholders (Michael DeForge)
A struggling town plays host to tech giant Aluren to revitalize its economy in this newest DeForge zine, and things fly swiftly off the rails once the corporation begins experimenting with so-called "soft storage," or storage of digital information inside organic matter. In typical DeForgian fashion, the climax is poignant, thrilling, and charmingly banal, an endearing mix of the surreal and mundane.

So Pretty / Very Rotten (Jane Mai and An Nguyen)
Another recent store event had us launching this amazing collection of essays, interviews, and comics that explore the nuances of Lolita fashion and Japanese cute culture. Thorough and researched, but so very intimate and beautiful, the book is both love letter to Lolita, and dissection of why, exactly, the subculture has stuck around for the last forty years.

Boundless (Jillian Tamaki)
The Eisner and Governor General-winning Jillian Tamaki is back with the beautiful, incisive Boundless, a collection of comic stories that explore the links, and gaps, between real world and virtual. Showcasing her skill as an artist and a storyteller, Tamaki's characters, as they shrink slowly into nothingness or become obsessed with a mirror Facebook, find themselves distanced from, or transcending, their identities, cultures, relationships, and selves.
Bonus! I'll be hosting our next graphic novel book club on July 12, where we'll be discussing Boundless!

Uncomfortably Happily (Yeon-Sik Hong)
When two artists from Seoul move away from the city hubbub to the much quieter countryside, they are totally unprepared for the new set of challenges they'll need to face. With smooth, minimal illustration, Yeon-Sik Hong tells a story as heartwarming as it is flush with emotional depth, making this memoir of a married couple trying to make it work one of the summer's must-reads.

The Sellout (Paul Beatty)
This darkly funny novel has been on my to-read list since it came out, and a Man Booker win only solidified my decision. Beatty has crafted flawless satire, the story of slavery, gentrification, economic inequality, and blackness in America. Beatty's protagonist, Me, in his attempt to put his low income neighbourhood back on the map, lives through a story that is astute, challenging, entertaining, and astoundingly relevant.

The Idiot (Elif Batuman)
I'm about a hundred pages into Elif Batuman's account of a first year at university, and am immensely enjoying protagonist Selin's warmth, introspection, and attempts at balancing the sheer joy of learning with not knowing exactly what to do with her life. Meandering and meditative, the novel is nevertheless crystal clear in its depiction of higher education in the late 90s, with all the work, friendship, and first love implied.

The Babysitter at Rest (Jen George)
Kirkus Reviews called The Babysitter at Rest a "surgical examination of being young, female, and unfulfilled," so I'm already sold. This five story collection weaves a sardonic, cutting web of characters in the process of becoming, of women living in the amorphous spaces before adulthood. At times surreal, always emotionally deft, this book is one I can't wait to start.

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