Why Do People Read Bad Books?

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Recently I’ve been reading What Makes This Book So Great, by Hugo and Nebula Award winning author Jo Walton.  In it, she takes various essays regarding the science fiction/fantasy genre originally blogged on Tor.com, and incorporates them under a single cover.  It’s a fascinating read from a well versed and extremely well read woman who [….]

LitStack Rec: Two Award-Winning Titles from WTAW Press & Born A Crime

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And There And There was Evening And There Was Morning, Essays on Illness, Loss, and Love, by Mike Smith The Truth About Me: Stories, by Louise Marburg WTAW Press, a new independent nonprofit publisher, hit a home run last week when their two inaugural titles, released in 2017, each received top prizes from the Independent [….]

LitStack Rec: I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place & Siege Line

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I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place: A Memoir, by Howard Norman Howard Norman’s memoir, I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place, is a collection of five long essays, each connected by a time and event of what the author calls an “arresting strangeness.” A Midwest summer of working in a bookmobile and an encounter with [….]

LitStaff Recs: The Empathy Exams & Three Parts Dead

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The Empathy Exams: Essays, by Leslie Jamison The Empathy Exams blends memoir, literary, cultural and moral investigation, and its essays are rich, astute, and candid. This is Jamison’s second book (following a 2011 novel The Gin Closet), winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize that went on to the New York Times bestseller list. Jamison [….]

LitStack Rec: Changing My Mind & Hunger Makes the Wolf

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Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays, by Zadie Smith This collection of essays came about by accident, Zadie Smith tells us in the foreword, but the voice and curiosity behind it makes this read seamless and satisfying. My hope, as a reader of essays, is to learn something, whether the topic is snow camping or religious [….]

LitStack Recs: Crash Course & Ninefox Gambit

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Crash Course: essays from where writing and life collide, by Robin Black The third book from short story writer and novelist Robin Black collects her recent essays, many of which first appeared on the great, and sadly erstwhile literary blog, Beyond the Margins. Crash Course, subtitled essays from where writing and life collide, is aptly [….]

Litstack Recs: Life Would be Perfect if I Lived in That House & A Natural History of Dragons

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Life Would be Perfect if I Lived in That House, by Meghan Daum The moral of this story might run be careful what you wish for, especially if the house you get doesn’t live up to the fantasy you’ve been harboring. For Meghan Daum, novelist, essayist, L.A. Times columnist and extreme home aficiondo, the pursuit [….]

LitStack Recs: Manhood for Amateurs & Low Town

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Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son, essays by Michael Chabon The trope of fatherly wisdom, borne of experience and dispensed with measured calm, is a wonderful thing, but how realistic it? There are memoirs about fathers such as Alysia Abbott’s Fairyland and Will Boast’s Epilogue, in which fathers [….]

LitStack Recs: Manhood for Amateurs & Zombie Baseball Beatdown

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  Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son, essays by Michael Chabon You know a book on fatherhood is going to be interesting when the title includes the word amateurs. The trope of fatherly wisdom, borne of experience and dispensed with measured calm, is a wonderful thing, but how [….]

LitStack Rec: The Oysters of Locmariaquer & Thief’s Magic

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The Oysters of Locmariaquer, by Eleanor Clark Late in Eleanor Clark’s extraordinary book, she tells us the oyster needs the same landscape that a plein air painter does: a certain air, light, chemistry. “The explanation,” she writes, “might be quite simple, not esoteric at all—in some common equation of factors and atmospheres.” Only a writer [….]