I’ve been meaning to share all the books I’ve been buying/reading since the year began, but every time I think I’m ready to put together this post, I wind up buying more books to add to it.
I think I’ve hit my limit, though, or at least I’m ready to pause long enough to give these books the shoutout they deserve!
I’ll begin with graphic novels and comics: I recently reread Watchmen (a timely book), which put me in the mood for more comics, so I decided to finally try Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’s renowned series Saga. I borrowed all the currently available trade volumes (1-6) from my local library, and I fell so immediately in love with the series that, when my local comic book store participated in Image Comics Week, I picked up the whole series at a discount.
At the same sale, I also grabbed the first trade volume of Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta’s East of West. I’d picked up the debut issue a few years back and liked it, but I never wound up following it in the monthly issues. So when I spotted the first trade on the sale table, I decided to give it another try. It, too, wound up being so compelling that I grabbed the next five volumes, too, and I’m glad I did, because this series is amazing.
I’ve also been on a bit of a chapbook kick lately. It begin with a couple of Red Bird chapbooks, which I picked up along with new copies of my own Red Bird chapbook, Where There Is Ruin. But both of these new chaps are books I’ve been eager for, because one is a debut poetry collection by my grad school friend Bethany Lee (With Our Lungs in Our Hands); and the other is by author Kelly Magee (A Guide to Strange Places), whose fiction I’ve long admired.
Then there’s the chapbook I picked up at the Women’s March in Olympia, WA. There, one of the featured speakers was Washington poet (and “Her Majesty”) Lenée Reid, who gave a powerful and impassioned delivery of her poetry. After the march, I found a protest sign containing the text of Reid’s poem “One” (which ends “I am my temple our temple is we / Let us be at home as one”), and then I noticed that Reid herself was standing nearby, preparing to recite yet more poetry. I thanked her for her words and after she hugged me, she offered me a copy of Revolutionary Woo, which I happily accepted!
You can see a video of her official address to the rally here:
I also recently received my copy of the first-ever Unchaste Anthology, a collection of works by the women and gender-nonconforming writers and poets who have read in Portland’s famed Unchaste Readers series. I had contributed to the anthology’s Kickstarter campaign, because I love that reading series and I believe in the work it promotes, the voices it amplifies, and I was eager to help bring that work out into the world. And now I have this beautiful little collection!
Speaking of amazing, badass women: I also just grabbed a copy of Roxane Gay‘s new collection, Difficult Women. I’ve been a fan of Gay’s for ages, starting back when she was at [PANK] and my friend Ryan W. Bradley was publishing Gay’s debut book, Ayiti. I’ve geeked out over meeting her at AWP, I’ve devoured her commentary in newspapers and magazines, and I’ve been collecting the monthly issues of her run as a comic book writer with Marvel’s Black Panther: World of Wakanda. But about six weeks ago, I caught Gay on NPR discussing her new book, and I knew I had to pick up a copy. So when I spotted it at my local bookstore, King’s Books, I went ahead and bought it.
As I wrote the other day, I was at King’s Books for a talk and reading by local author DL Fowler, and while I already own his book Lincoln Raw, that night I picked up his earlier novel, Lincoln’s Diary. So add that to my deepening to-read stack, too.
But wait — there are MORE books by friends of mine!
Late last year, my mother-in-law was looking for ideas for Christmas gifts for me around the same time that my friend Matthew Burnside was announcing his forthcoming book-length fiction collection Postludes. I’ve been a HUGE fan of Matthew’s work for about four and a half years now, ever since his fable-cycle “For Kylie” appeared in an issue of Jersey Devil Press. Since then, I’ve read most of his online work, and I own three of his chapbooks — Book of If & Ever and Escapologies, both from Red Bird Chapbooks, and Infinity’s Jukebox, from Passenger Side Books. Still, I’ve been awaiting a book-length work from quite a while, so when my mother-in-law asked for suggestions, I tossed Postludes on the list even though it wouldn’t be out til after Christmas. Of course, I offered other options, too, and my wonderful mother-in-law obliged me in every case (I now have quite a stack of Texas historical research material to get through, too!), so I figured I’d pick up Matthew’s book later. But then Postludes turn up in my mailbox — my mother-in-law had gotten it for me, too! (Thanks again, Phyllis!)
Around the same time as Matthew’s book arrived in my mailbox, I was having coffee with Pacific Northwest author Kristin Noreen, who brought me a copy of her memoir On Silver Wings. It’s a harrowing tale — “She went for a bike ride, but woke up a week later on life support, her life forever altered” — but I’m here to tell you that it has a happy ending, because we enjoyed a lovely conversation over coffee last month.
And that’s my stack so far! Lots to get through soon, though of course I also have all the research books I have to get through, and the backlog of books from Wordstock last year I’m still getting around to, or all the books I already want to buy next (Jenny Forrester‘s Narrow River, Wide Sky is near the top of my list!).
What are you reading so far? No, wait, don’t tell me — I’m likely to buy those books, too, and I’m not sure I can afford any more! 😉