Independent Bookstore Day Author's Picks
Today is Independent Bookstore Day! As part of our celebrations, we asked some of our favorite local authors to recommend a book to our customers. Here's what they had to say.
Carla Shedd is a professor of sociology and African American studies at Columbia. Her newest book is Unequal City, and her recommendation is Manning Marable's How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America:
I first read How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America while writing my undergraduate honor's thesis on the political economy of the US penal system at Smith College. Marable's prescient theoretical and socio-political analysis of Black America's plight inspired me to become a sociologist whose research examines the intersections of race, place, crime, and (in)justice in formative social institutions (e.g., public schools and juvenile courts) toward informing and reforming public policy. In a trilogy of books on race, crime, and the carceral state, think of How Capitalism as the prequel and Unequal City as the sequel to Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow.
In Nature Poem I kind of have this open contempt of nature and low key reverence for it all. In Black Wave, nature is quite literally rotting all around the world and is presented almost with nostalgia. It's an interesting juxtaposition!
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a wondrous novel with an epic journey and memorable characters in the tradition of The Wizard of Oz. From the beautiful design and the breathtaking full-color illustrations throughout, to the gentle humor and touching prose, this book is truly a gem.
What can writing do. What can the book do. What can performance do, the body defiant in public, in protest, in demonstration, that literature fails at. And how can that disappearance and documentation be then traced in a book. How can a book contain somehow the furious energy of its failure, of its processes, its drafts, its many notebooks. How can a book contain and name a community, in all of its fragments and fractures.
Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan's newest novel, Sarong Party Girls, has just been released in paperback. She recommends The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga:
I'm always particularly drawn to voice-driven books and The White Tiger has been one of my favorites for years -- Aravind Adiga's protagonist Balram Halwai truly is like no other in fiction. I love the energy of the prose -- the words really do leap off the page -- as well as the complexity and the bombastic magnetism of this tremendously unreliable and often unlikeable narrator. I often thought about Balram's voice as I was writing Jazzy in Sarong Party Girls.
Ms. Bixby's Last Day is a beautiful, heartfelt testament to the power that a teacher can have over so many kids' lives. A gorgeous book for both kids and adults.
This book pulls the absurdities of adolescence, language, and sexuality from their seats in the body onto the surface of the page. Sarduy's prose is lively and clever, full of double- and triple-meaning, intense sensory descriptions, and self-reference. Likewise, the plot twists and folds back on itself like a Mobius strip, evading any easy attempts to make sense. But that's not the point, anyway; the point is to enjoy it.
I love my brother’s work - but worry a little, because he’s clearly a little dark and twisted compared to me … how did that happen?
When I visit schools, kids always ask, “What's your favorite book?” and I never know whether to talk up Tolstoy, Greek myths, or Aesop's Fables. Should I tell them how much I loved Charlotte’s Web or tell them about adult masterpieces, like Age of Innocence or One Hundred Years of Solitude or All the Light We Cannot See? Tell you what, Book Culture, I’d be honored if you'd pair Speed of Life with Life After Life. I’ve enjoyed many of Kate Atkinson’s books (starting with Behind the Scenes at the Museum), and am awestruck by her storytelling and inventiveness. I’m afraid I can’t say much more lest I spoil her novel for you. But if you like to think about time itself, and whether or not there can ever be any do-overs, our books make a pair.
I love how Paul Beatty has imagined Berlin (my favorite city!) through the eyes of “jukebox sommelier” DJ Darky, a transplant from L.A. who’s tearing the city apart in search of a brilliant jazz musician known as the Schwa who’s gone underground there. The book seesaws between introspection and razor-sharp satire. You’ll embarrass yourself by laughing aloud if you read it in public.
Please come by to celebrate with us today, and pick up some of these great recommendations!
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