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"How different might our country look if all of us fully understood what had happened here?" writes Clint Smith, and in "How the Word is Passed," he begins to help us do just that. From Thomas Jefferson's Monticello to the shores of Senegal, Smith looks at how the story of slavery is told and makes a compelling case for why the truth is important, not just to history, but to the here and now and the future. "The history of slavery is the history of the United States," writes Smith. With this book he offers a lifeline to help untangle and process that history. It could not come at a more critical time. I sincerely hope this book will be read and taught for generations to come. It is that important.
"My Monticello" is this year's "The Secret Lives of Church Ladies" -- a story collection that bursts with exquisite sentences and complex humanity. Then the title novella grabs you with its urgency and does not let go. Jocelyn Nicole Johnson is a force to be reckoned with. What a joy to discover this powerful debut.
One of my top fiction titles of 2021! "I Will Die in a Foreign Land" reveals the back stories, motivations, and longings of four different individuals who come together during the Euromaidan protests in Kiev. This is a debut from a small press, so join me in celebrating it!
Mystery, romance, food, and family... what more could you ask for? This super fun read is the perfect antidote to whatever ails you.
James Baldwin said it all before and beautifully, and much of it is compiled in this volume. Read for understanding of the black experience in America, for insight into America in general, and for unrivalled language and poignancy.
I'm not a huge fan of short stories, but I love a short story collection that flows like a novel, and this one does that and more. I love its complex characters, the contradictions in their lives, and how compassionately every life is rendered.
This one takes you places you may not want to go, places I certainly hadn't experienced in literature before, and it does so with so much beauty and compassion for its characters. A modern classic.
Set locally and by a local author, this is a funny, warm, and irreverent book that I think every Ithacan should read.
How does Kevin Wilson do what he does? He writes women characters with an honesty few to no other male writers ever have. And he delivers all of his characters with such love and tenderness for all of their oddities. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will make you believe in children who catch fire. I love this writer, and I love this book.
"Romanticals" as we like to call them here at BSB are hugely underrated. There are some amazing writers working in romance and Sonali Dev is one of them. I love to recommend series like her Rajes Series as satisfying, well-written escapist fun. Try some!
Another great writer of romanticals, Talia Hibbert, whose Brown Sisters series is soul satisfying and great fun.
This book and this author turned me on to how powerful romance can be. I always recommend this LGBTQ+ romance set in Ithaca. It gets spicy, in more ways than one!
This book was hugely influential on me as a college student in the early 80s, minoring in women's studies, and trying to read everything by black women writers I could find. It opened up a world to me, and I've happily stayed as engaged as possible with that world ever since.
This is another author I suggest you read everything she's ever written, but I've chosen to highlight "Flight Behavior" here because I loved it, and I don't think as many people have read it. Like many of Kingsolver's books it contemplates how humans interact with nature, as well as focusing in on one character's period of challenge and growth.
I am a fan of Mary Beth Keane. I think I've read and loved everything she's ever written. And, yes, I did hunt her down at American Booksellers Association's Winter Institute and force her to take a selfie with me. This book is a satisfying slice of America, touching on policing, gun culture, and complex family relationships. Read everything by Mary Beth Keane.