Recent reads

Still sneaking in some reading beyond what YA I review for TLT or need for research. I’m also reading chapter books like a mofo, now that I work at an elementary library. I tweet about them and did quick Post-it Note reviews of them on TLT, but didn’t include them here, since I’ve read SO MANY lately. I’ve also read a giant pile of picture books in the past few weeks.

 

Here is a picture of my nightstand. On top are the books I will read in the next two to three weeks. Below are my “just in case” books–books waiting to be read, but really there for whenever I need a backup supply in case I run out of library books (ha ha) or whatever. Next to my desk in my office is  a shelf with 37 books waiting for me to review them. I work in a library. I visit my public library at least twice a week. It’s fine. I’m fine. This is all manageable. I don’t have a problem. I DON’T.

What books have you read and liked lately? Help me make my TBR piles even more out of control. 

 

Thousand Star Hotel by Bao Phi

Good god was this good. Do yourself a favor and go get this. Support a Minnesota writer. Support a Minnesota publisher. Support good, smart, profound poetry. First generation Vietnamese-American Phi writes about racism, poverty, family, history, trauma, memory, masculinity, white supremacy, parenthood, and so much more. His powerful, fiercely political poems gave me chills. GET THIS.

 

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

This book feels like something different from Green. I like his writing—I like hyperverbal teenagers who are interested in oddball things and kind of hang out on the fringes of life. Here, I feel like he’s doing something different than his other books. To a large degree, his other books, which, again, I like, seem like the same stock characters over and over. But in this new one, Aza stands out as feeling multifaceted and raw in a way none of his previous characters feel. Her struggles with anxiety, with controlling her thoughts (or being controlled by her thoughts), with social stuff, with reality/rational thought, and with getting the right treatment make this story important. I thought I was going to be getting a kind of wacky mystery story, but the mystery at the heart of it hardly plays a role. Though a bit slow and not always as fleshed out as I would have liked, this compelling look at mental illness will certainly educate readers—many readers will, of course, see themselves in Aza, too. I’m pretty much guaranteed a good cry at some point in every Green book. Here, it came in the very last paragraph of his acknowledgements, where he thanks his mental health support team. “There is hope,” he writes, “even when your brain tells you there isn’t.”

 

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

It took me a while to get into this, and then also a while to read it. For me to spend a week on a book is pretty much unheard of. But I love Egan’s writing, and the story was compelling, so I pushed through. Set mostly around WW II and the decade before it, it follows the lives of Eddie, who finds relatively stable work in the world of bribery, corruption, and gangsters, and his daughter, Anna. At some point, Eddie disappears and the story mostly becomes Anna’s during WW II, where we find her working in a naval yard and about to become the first female civilian diver. There is far more going on in the plot than I can summarize here. Despite feeling like it was such a slow start, and like I mostly wanted to skim some later parts that were following someone other than Anna’s life, I really enjoyed this. I’m not much for historical fiction, but the unique premise grabbed my attention, and I knew Egan could make me care.

 

Bitch Planet, Volume 2: President Bitch by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro (Artist), Taki Soma (Artist)

Have you read any of the Bitch Planet comics? Because you really should. This second book collects issues 6-10. I LOVE this comic. LOVE. Like, so much love that I have a tattoo inspired by the comic. Bitch Planet is where non-compliant women are sent for failing to conform to gender role expectations and comply with the patriarchy. This second volume introduces inmates of another auxiliary compliance outpost—this one for trans women. We also meet President Bitch in this one. SO DAMN GOOD.

 

I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual by Luvvie Ajayi

If you like your social/political commentary to be mixed with humor, than this book is for you. Rape culture, racism, social media, feminism, privilege, friendship and so much more is addressed in this smart book of essays. She views many of these things through the lens of being a Nigerian immigrant and a woman. If you’re looking for someone to judge everyone (or, to “mind everyone’s business” as Ajayi often writes) and offer solutions for how to do better, check this out.

 

So Sad Today: Personal Essays by Melissa Broder
This collection of essays is so deeply personal, so raw, so confessional, that there were parts I just had to skim over because they made me so uncomfortable. That’s some pretty impressive honesty, if I can’t look straight at it. Broder writes about eating disorders, abortions, sex, polyamory, mental health, social media, and so much more. As you might expect, it was her essays on mental illness that resonated the most with me. How could they not, with titles like “Honk if there’s a committee in your head trying to kill you” and “Under the anxiety is sadness but who would go under there.” A good read if you can stomach the brutally honest approach to things most people never say out loud.

 

First Avenue: Minnesota’s Mainroom by Chris Riemenschneider

This indispensable look at First Ave’s long and complicated history is AMAZING. The pictures: amazing. The artifacts, like flyers for shows: amazing. The stories: amazing. The bands: AMAZING. I devoured all of this, but particularly enjoyable to me was the 90s section, where I could relive the many great shows I saw there as a teen and in college. Phenomenal book.

Real talk: parenting a kid with mental illness

If you’re a parent, or, hell, if you’re a person, you’re supposed to act like everything is fine, good, great. “How are you?” “I’m good!” You can handle everything. You know what you’re doing. You have this infinite reserve of patience and energy and good cheer and resilience. You’re not supposed to say everything sucks and is terrible and is so hard. It’s not! Everything is good!

Nothing is good.

It doesn’t matter if that’s a lie, because it’s what my brain believes. My brain believes lies. Everyone has their talent, and this is mine. My brain eats every good thing that ever happens in my life, writes it off as a fluke, and spits it out. My brain absorbs every remotely negative or challenging thing, convinces me that this is what I deserve, and feeds off those negative thoughts over and over.

Yum.

So, you can imagine, being stuck in a relatively endless cycle of hard parenting gives my brain a lot to work with. For 6+ months, Callum has been struggling. Hard. A bout of deep depression and suicidal ideation obliterated any progress he was making in school. It turns out that if a kid has ADD, anxiety, and depression (even if all are being treated and addressed), school and LIFE can be really hard. Go fig. It turns out that if a mother has anxiety and depression, parenting her kid through those challenges can be awful. Revelatory, right? And, because this child is genetically mine, I get the added fun of constantly thinking I DID THIS TO YOU. I PASSED THIS MENTAL HEALTH NIGHTMARE TO YOU. And, let’s not forget, I also get to feel like a failure all the time. Not because I objectively think I am, but because Bad Brain lives on lies.

Here is a week in our life:

Callum is missing 14 assignments from the past few weeks. Teachers call me, administrators call me, detention happens. We take Callum to his psychologist, to his psychiatrist. I send paperwork in triplicate to various people. I ask teachers to fill out forms. I send emails to his school, talk with his teachers, refill prescriptions, and give pep talks. We sit for hours trying to cheerlead him through homework, trying to shut up the damn lies his own brain tells him about himself and his abilities. Callum stays after school twice a week for extra help. I cry. A lot. I go to work, clean the house, run errands, try to write things for SLJ or TLT or for my neglected novel. I go through his binder, I check Schoology, I print off missing work, I email his teachers some more. I remind him to do things like shower and eat and sleep, because Bad Brain tells us things like WHO CARES? CARING FOR YOURSELF IS POINTLESS. FEEL BAD! DO THINGS TO FEEL WORSE!

Bad Brain is kind of an asshole.

Meanwhile, I sit in front of my SAD light. I take Prozac, Elavil, and Klonopin. I wake up a thousand times in the night from nightmares and panic attacks. I then sit there and ruminate over the horrors of life. I turn on Parks and Rec for company, trying to drown out my brain. I snuggle dogs. I go to work and act like Buddy the Elf all day for elementary kids (because! I! have! to! be! cheerful!) then come home and am just so tired from putting on The Extrovert Show all day. I feel like everything I do is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. This is not the part where you need to remind me that that isn’t true (though so much love to everyone who does constantly remind me of this)—I know it’s not true. I am doing everything I can to help my kid through This. But, Bad Brain, remember?

Matthew’s mantra through all of this is that we just need to prioritize our kid not hating himself and wanting to die. That is a Tall Order. And one that feels especially monumental in the face of so much other STUFF that surrounds this.

If parenting is easy for you, and your kid is perfect, then yay for you. Also, you’re a liar. I don’t know anyone who would categorize parenting or their kid like that. But if things are crappy and hard, I hear you. I see you. This sucks. It’s not easy. It’s demoralizing. I am tired. My kid is very, very tired. But we fight for him. We advocate. We do the work. He does the work. It is awful and tiring and endless. It is truly a Sisyphean task, and every day we just try to not be flattened by that boulder. Every day we push harder and try again.

It is terrible. It is exhausting. But it is our reality. We want our child to feel better. To do better. But it’s not that easy.

It sucks and is terrible and is so hard.

An ode to girlgangs

If you are lucky in life, you will find a friend who just totally GETS you. Somehow I’ve been lucky enough to find multiple packs of friends who are absolutely MY PEOPLE. My girlgangs. The people who allow me to be the absolute worst version of myself (may most of our conversations about parenting never be repeated) while inspiring me in a zillion ways how to be a better friend, parent, writer, advocate, thinker, and person. Friends who make me laugh, who also have no desire to ever act “grown up” (whatever that is), who are there for all the tears and the joys and the secrets and the revelations. Friendships that survive through texts and calls and emails and visits, that span years and miles and phases and changes.

The wise Mindy Kaling said “best friend is a tier, not a person,” and I am fortunate to have so many wonderful women in my life who just get me in ways that at times it seemed like no one ever would. Everything else drops away and for a while all that exists is just the joy of being in their company.

A weekend in Duluth with my college girls, sharing laughter and tears and a crapload of candy, was just what I needed. Therapy is the best therapy, but good lord do heart-to-hearts with best friends do a lot of therapeutic good, too.

So once again, the day is saved thanks to the Powerpuff Girls (and the Snow Queen).

 

Questions that would more accurately assess my mental health

Billy does an impression of me.

When I go to the doctor for my mental wellbeing, I generally get to do these little assessments that help them decide if my anxiety and depression are getting better or worse. In some ways, these assessments are actually helpful. Sometimes circling all of those answers points out to me that, yeah, I need some tweaking to my treatment. But also, the questions are kind of vague and the scale is not super helpful. Whenever I fill it out, I always think, gosh, there are so many better ways to assess my own particular mental health.

The form sounds something like this: Over the past two weeks, how often, if at all, have you been bothered by the following things. Then you get to answer on a scale of 0-3 (not at all, several days, more than half the days, nearly every day). I always get a really high score, which, as an overachiever, feels good.

 

If they wanted to REALLY ask what I’ve done/thought/felt/been bothered by to see how I’m truly doing, my form would include questions like these:

Have you vacuumed your garage?

Is bread your primary food?

Are you looking at pictures of adoptable dachshunds online crying?

Are you spending most of your free time lying on the floor?

Do you bake a ridiculous amount?

Are you generally on the verge of crying?

Are you listening to “Autoclave” on repeat?

Have you put off working on your manuscript?

Have you written the words “I hate everything” today?

Are you unable to concentrate on reading?

Do you stare out your bedroom window at the highway behind your house?

Are you sometimes just a teensy tiny little bit unsure how you physically got from point A to point B?

Are you living on Pepto because the mere idea of existence is making you physically ill?

 

I feel you, Billy.

Turning on the comments to this post for your own personal mental health markers. Or you can tell me on Twitter or Facebook. If we’re not already friends there, you can friend me. I mostly post about books and my dogs—I am consistent across all platforms.

Introducing Oscar the dachshund

A thing I like to do when I feel miserable is look online at old dachshunds that need homes. I know. It’s a terrible idea and, of course, I end up feeling way, way worse. If I really feel like I hate myself, I look up old dachshunds who need homes who are also cart dogs, aka dachshunds with back problems who need wheels to get around. Yes, I know. I have issues.

Anyway.

So last week I was looking up dogs and crying, when I discovered this nice old man, Oscar. Below is his picture from the rescue people. Look at Oscar. LOOK AT HIM.

 

 

The rescue agency was going to be at an adoption event on Saturday in Minneapolis. So we debated. And we went. And, well, obviously, we got him. How could we not? He’s 12, he has 3 teeth, he’s kind of cranky… he was built for us. Also, look at him. His tongue is always hanging out of his mouth because he has hardly any teeth and a mouth full of stitches. He’s adorable.

Oscar’s story is that someone abandoned him recently at a human society. He was immediately put on the euthanasia list because of his age and his severe dental issues. Almost all of his teeth were rotten and he was a mess. The rescue people swooped in and fostered him. When we met him, he was about a week out from a really extensive surgery to remove all but three teeth. He was scared. Not only had he been abandoned (and likely not treated great prior to that), but he’d been at a foster home for a while, and now was in a pet store where three random humans were beaming at him and telling him they were in love.

We brought him home, worried that Edward and Billy would be furious. They are good dogs. They like other dogs, are not aggressive, and really posed no actual concerns other than the fact that we had been their people, and their people ONLY, for nearly 14 years. The meeting went great. All three instantly got along. All three went outside together, ate together, and slept in the same bed. It turns out he is not cranky at all. Not even a little. He was just standoffish with us at the event. He is, in fact, a completely loving and sweet little dachshund whose tail never stops wagging.

There is not a lot we can do in life to really truly feel like we’re helping anyone. But if we can give this senior dachshund, a dog the shelter was about to put down because they felt he was unadoptable, a nice retirement full of love, snuggles, and tons of attention, we will feel like we’ve done something good in this world.

Now, please enjoy some pictures. If you live around us, come visit. He is very friendly.

 

 

First meeting in the pet store.

 

A night in the life of Anxiety Brain

I literally cannot remember a time in my life that I wasn’t completely anxious all the time. I mean, I’m medicated (and have been for 22 years), and have a bunch of tools to use thanks to cognitive behavioral therapy, so it’s tolerable, but my brain is still an anxious brain. All the time.

Here is how my brain works:

Last week, our neighbor’s cat died in our yard.

I know.

Here’s the story:

Matthew discovered a dead cat in our yard. He texted me at work and was like, Um, what do I do? I suggested he call animal control to see if they could remove it. It didn’t have tags or a collar and we didn’t know what to do. But as I thought about it, I thought, Hmm, I only know one neighborhood cat that I sometimes see out. I texted Matthew. Is it gray? It was. Check if it’s the across-the-street neighbors’. Naturally, at 1 pm, no one was home. I told him to hold off on animal control until we talked to the neighbors. If it was their cat, I wanted them to know and not just have us say, Well, some gray cat was here, dead, but now it’s gone. Maybe it was yours? We’ll never know.

Yeah.

Anyway. Matthew was on a conference call when Callum got home from school. Before Matthew could stop him, Callum went out to play and found the cat. I pulled in to find him sobbing in the driveway. I also pulled in directly behind the neighbor. So, I went across the street to have literally my first ever conversation with these people. Long story short, it was their cat. It looks like it just curled up and died–nothing appears to have attacked it etc. So at least it was peaceful, right? But that’s not much help.

So. I have pet death on my mind. That night, Billy starts acting funny. He’s crying to himself nonstop. He is a grumbling, grunty old man, but he doesn’t cry. He cried for HOURS. He kept me up until 3 a.m crying. Around 1 a.m, I thought, Holy shit, my dog is totally dying. Animals know. He’s dying. I’m in bed with him and he’s dying. Edward is snuggling him SO HARD right now because he knows his brother is dying. I can’t sleep because what if I do and Billy dies and then I’m in bed with my dead dog and I missed being there for him and so on times infinity.

Next round of thoughts: Billy will be dead by morning. Do I tell Callum Billy died and then he has to stay home and miss his field trip or do I tell him after? Wait, that will scar him forever, keeping it from him. God. Do I have to go to work? I’ll be a wreck. Plus, we have to take Billy to the vet to be cremated. Oh my god, what will Edward do without his brother? How will any of us go on? Why is life so terrible? What is the point of all this, anyway? We’re just completely insignificant specks of dust on a planet in one of one hundred billion galaxies. Everything is meaningless (this, oddly enough, is the thought that always calms me).

Billy didn’t die. Obviously. He stopped crying, slept, and was his usual wild and weird self in the morning.

My brain will take any thought and follow it all the way through to its most horrible conclusion. I do not have passing thoughts. I just have thoughts that pile up and wait to be fully explored so I can completely uncover all of the horrors that might be waiting for me. There are no happy endings. There is no “maybe everything will be okay.” There is only CATASTROPHIC THINKING! OBSESSIVE RUMINATION! That’s my brain’s specialty. Neat, huh?

This is why I sleep listening to television shows on my phone all night long–so if I wake up, I already have some other chatter in the background to grasp onto rather than the first stupid thought that leaps into my brain. Nighttime is Anxiety Brain’s favorite time to come out and play. It’s the perfect free time to really dig deep into exploring all the terrible things that could happen in life. And they’ll certainly happen if I don’t worry REALLY HARD about them. This will either keep them from happening or at the very least prepare me to deal with their eventuality.

I like my brain for all the nice things it allows me to do and think and create. But I don’t like that it can take a really innocuous thing, like my dog crying, and three minutes later have me very seriously thinking about where I will keep his ashes.

What I wouldn’t give to be able to pluck my brain out at night and send it through some sort of cleaner that scrubbed away all this kind of garbage while I slept unbothered. Someone get on inventing that.

My life motto.

Twin Cities Book Festival

This past weekend was the super fantastic Twin Cities Book Festival. Don’t know what that is? Here, go learn! It’s a great event full of interesting books, awesome speakers and panels, and tons of book people. I was trying to remember why we missed last year, but it was because I was speaking at NerdCon. We had a great time this year wandering around, picking up books and literature about organizations of interest. The whole event is also a total exercise in avoiding eye contact, as many of the vendors are very eager to talk to people, which is FINE, but is not my thing unless I’m interested. I was, however, very glad to bump into all kinds of area writers and to meet cool new people, too.

Anyway.

Here are some pictures of the day.

 

 

I took this picture to make sure to remember to order this book.

We bought one of these tiny accordion-fold zines for my artist brother.

 


An important debate Matthew instigated.

 

We were Carrie-less for this event, but Sajidah and Peter did great!

I was so glad to get to meet S.K. Ali in real life after lots of Twitter interaction. She was lovely. Her book is wonderful, too.

This was another good panel.  Make sure you read Malinda Lo’s recent blog post about LGBTQ YA by the Numbers: 2015-16. Also, her new book is FANTASTIC. I took a picture of this book cover because I feel like that’s the face I’m always making. Also, so is Sam Weir.

I also finally get to meet Rachel Gold IRL. She approached me and said she was pretty sure I was who she thought, but she’d peeked at my socks during the panel and that solidified her hunch. My brand on Twitter is fun socks, books, mental health, and donuts. Truth in advertising.

I can’t wait to read both of these.

Of course we bought this. OF COURSE WE DID.

Looking forward to our next Rain Taxi-sponsored event in a few weeks!

Super gigantic book sale

I dug deep into what tiny bit of energy I’ve been able to hang onto and made it to the Half Price Books giant clearance sale at the state fairgrounds on Friday and Saturday this past week. Callum and I were off work/school on Friday and Matthew took the morning off. Nerds like to be first at book clearance sales. We weren’t first. Not even close (though in the first 200, as we got free tote bags!). Friday was more chill there—busy, but not jammed. We were there for two hours. I was hunting down specific books for work and also just content to rifle through tons and tons of books rather aimlessly. When we went back Saturday, it was MUCH busier. People were taking it upon themselves to pull unopened boxes down from the stacks along the walls and start sifting through them. I used Saturday’s return visit to get some childhood favorites for some flashback reviews. Though I paid for it by being desperately exhausted after we left, we had a blast. Here are some pics from our visits!

Tell me your favorite words

I’m writing this on Saturday, day 9 of enjoying this horrible virus that has made my body its captive. No, I’m not dramatic about it at all. Though I dragged myself to work every day (sorry, coworkers!), I came home and went directly to bed, sometimes sleeping for 14 hours at a shot, sometimes reading and feeling sorry for myself, sometimes just being in bed, waiting for this to magically go away. I am a terrible patient, usually. Usually, I am desperately ill and still like, But my to-do list! I should clean. And run errands. And be productive. But this round of illness, I said hell no to all that business and went to bed.

 

After reading three books yesterday, my eyes started to give out, so I decided to instead make a list of some of my favorite words. Sometimes my brain completely spins out thinking about how there are only 26 letters in the alphabet and they make up alllllll these words (and putting the words in certain orders creates books and conversations and ideas and discoveries and and and!). My whole life I’ve had favorite words—and words I absolutely hate (don’t even get me started on pamphlet).

Here’s the list I made of some of my favorites:

 

If you’re reading this, chances are we know each other in some capacity. And if that’s true, chances are our interests overlap in some very important ways (I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess books/libraries). So I assume you’re a word person, right? So, tell me your favorite words! Tell me on Facebook or Twitter. Send me running to the dictionary. Give me something new to try to casually work into conversation. Maybe later we can talk about words we hate (I mean, seriously, look at that lump of consonants in the middle of pamphlet. mphl. So gross).

Recent reads

Still sneaking in some reading beyond what YA I review for TLT or need for research. I’m also reading chapter books like a mofo, now that I work at an elementary library. I tweet about them and did quick Post-it Note reviews of them on TLT, but didn’t include them here, since I’ve read SO MANY lately. I’ve also read a giant pile of picture books in the past few weeks.

What adult books have you read and liked lately?

 

The Windfall by Diksha Basu

Probably circa 15 years ago (dear lord), my pal Leo Landry said to me something along the lines of, “Your ideal book is about a gay Indian girl and there’s glitter on the cover.” My reading tastes do not change much, so that statement still holds true. I love fiction set in India, so when this colorful cover caught my eye, I snapped it up. Anil and Bindu Jha come in to a LOT of cash when Anil sells this website. They move across Delhi to a fancier neighborhood, which brings new pressures and drama with it. Their son Rupak is having his own issues in America, where he’s supposedly working on his MBA but really is struggling (and secretly seeing a white girl). A fun if sometimes really slow comedy of manners.

 

Class Mom by Laurie Gelman

I read almost this whole thing on a plane ride to San Francisco. It was a totally fun, quick read. Jen is in her late 40s and has two college-age daughters and a kindergartner. She gets roped into being the class mom and, unsurprisingly, finds herself embroiled in lots of classroom/parental drama. She’s exchanging (possibly?) flirtatious texts with an old high school crush, training for a mud run, and trying to solve the mystery of a perpetually absent mom. This was funny and really easy to get completely roped into.

 

I Know What I’m Doing — and Other Lies I Tell Myself: Dispatches from a Life Under Construction by Jen Kirkman

In the early summer, I read Kirkman’s other book, I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids. This second memoir picks up a few years after the previous one, looking at Kirkman’s life post-divorce and exploring how, even in her 30s and 40s, life is still very much a work in progress. She’s hilarious, even when tackling serious subjects.

 

No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America by Ron Powers

Pretty self-explanatory title, right? Powers writes about the history of mental health care (or “care,” as all too often is the case), detailing the horrific past treatments (or failures to treat), the current debates, and how far we still have to go in getting accessible, compassionate, adequate treatment for all. He pairs this historical and research-based narrative with a personal one—his two sons have/had schizophrenia, with one son eventually dying by suicide. Though often dense and occasionally meandering, this extensive look at the disastrous history of mental health care is fascinating and enraging.

 

The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple by Jeff Guinn

YOU GUYS. Holy crap. For about 10 days, this book was my life. Every night while Matthew made dinner, I would recap the day’s reading for him. I read the last 40 pages out loud to Matthew and Callum. This book was RIVETING. It’s a super detailed and dense look at life inside the Jonestown cult. I really had no idea at all about the group’s deeply socialist perspective and works. Guinn goes all the way back to Jones’s parents, telling readers about them and their marriage, then takes us through Jim Jones’s entire life, from being an odd but charismatic child to his strong dedication to racial and economic equality to the eventual drug-addled, paranoid, power-hungry demagogue that I thought I knew all about. I knew nothing. I seriously want to read this book a second time already. If you’re into cults (as I am), or just like a really great but really slow-going nonfiction read, check this out. Guinn’s Manson book is now in my library queue. GAH.

 

God is Disappointed in You by Mark Russell, Shannon Wheeler (Illustrator)

For an atheist, I sure read a lot about religion. Or maybe it’s because I’m an atheist that I read a lot about religion. Matthew was listening to this book on audio and dying of laughter, playing me his favorite parts. While I’m a huge fan of podcasts, I have never been able to listen to books on audio. My brain wanders and I don’t absorb the words the same way. Maybe it’s because I know there’s a book out there and I’d rather just read it. Who knows. Anyway. This hilarious cut-to-the-chase version of the bible will leave you howling… unless you have no sense of humor about religion. Then this book is probably not for you. Bonus: the audio is read by the fab James Urbaniak (Arthur from Difficult People, the best show ever to exist ever EVER).

 

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Lois’s life as a software engineer in San Francisco changes when she orders some soup and sourdough bread from a new restaurant. Not long after her addiction to this delicious food starts (and she stops living off of Slurry, a gross nutritional gel), she begins baking bread, too, using the starter the restaurant’s owners give her. It opens doors for her she never knew she needed, giving her a hobby, connecting her with people, and eventually pushing her toward new ideas at work and a new lease on life. Weird, funny, and completely engrossing.