I have about three weeks until my due date, and I’m feeling the pressure to get everything ready, including my reading life. I’m trying to finish the books I’m in the middle of and figure out what books to put on my postpartum TBR. Luckily, Chelsey and I had the opportunity to talk to bibliotherapist Anne Bogel all about raising readers and how to navigate reading in the hazy newborn days for an episode of Novel Pairings. Anne’s advice gave me a lot to look forward to and made me legitimately excited about my reading life with a baby.
Speaking of these big changes, I’m going to be taking a step back from this newsletter for a while. Starting in October, I won’t be releasing a newsletter weekly. I’m going to try my hardest to get something in your inbox once a month, but we’ll have to see what life is like in the coming months! My plan is to return to weekly editions in January, but all of this is subject to change. Of course, I’ll keep you all posted!
This week in books.
This week I read…
Matrix by Lauren Groff. I love historical fiction and I love Lauren Groff so I was curious to see what the author would do with a story set in a twelfth century convent. This book follows poet Marie de France after she is banished to a struggling community of nuns by her beloved queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. I loved the reflection on faith, responsibility, and community, as well as the depiction of feminine strength. The writing in this novel was somehow both fiery and distant—a combination that really worked for this particular story, but was very different from other Groff works I’ve read. I don’t know if this will end up on my favorite books of the year list, but I did really enjoy it and I have a feeling I’ll love it more as I keep thinking about it. Amazon | Bookshop
The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra. In the last couple of years, I’ve realized just how much I love reading interconnected short stories. From Homegoing to The Women of Brewster Place to Crooked Hallelujah, this structure just works for me. I really value getting a glimpse into various characters lives and slowly understanding how those lives intersect in ways the characters may not understand themselves. This book was different from other interconnected stories I’ve read in its expansiveness. It takes place across an entire century, looking at cause and effect and the way history repeats itself. Amazon | Bookshop
The Women of Troy by Pat Barker. As far as Greek mythology retellings go, this one was just okay for me. I appreciate that Barker really did stick to women’s stories in this book, unlike The Silence of the Girls, which was dominated by Achilles’ voice. I also found the depiction of the brutality of war on women’s lives to be powerful and important. But on the whole, I just didn’t find this novel to be particularly compelling. I truly think it might be myth retelling overload—particularly Iliad retelling overload—so I may take a break from that sub-genre for a while. Amazon | Bookshop
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk. This is the FictionMatters Book Club pick for September after members voted for something eerie, atmospheric, and set in a small town. It was a little outside my comfort zone, but I was immediately wrapped up in the story and the writing. I’m looking forward to discussing this one with book club members at the end of the month! Amazon | Bookshop
Allies: Real Talk About Showing Up, Screwing Up, and Trying Again ed. by Shakirah Bourne and Dana Alison Levy. I was sent this collection as part of a paid Instagram campaign, and I really enjoyed exploring it this week. It’s filled with personal stories from critically acclaimed YA authors who share their experiences with racism, ablism, homophobia alongside stories of allyship and passing the mic. It’s also filled with reflection questions to make these topics personal and resources to transform learning into action. This would be an excellent addition to any teen’s bookshelf or a classroom library. Amazon | Bookshop
Now I’m reading…
*You can get two LIBRO.FM audiobooks for the price of one with my link or by using code FICTIONMATTERS.
Links I love.
Once again, the National Book Award longlist nominees have reminded me how many new books I still want to read!
The New York Times has some great suggestions for what to read this fall.
This interview with Patrick Radden Keefe is a great listen for anyone who loves nonfiction.
Jason Reynolds was on the Ted Radio Hour talking about connecting with kids through literature.
Do you love reading what smart people have to say about books? If so, I highly recommend checking out LitHub’s “Five Reviews” series.
I loved the focus on language in Lauren Groff’s new novel Matrix, so I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the roots of the title and her inspiration for the book.
I can’t wait to read the new Ruth Ozeki book!
Watching: We re-watched Ocean’s Eleven and it definitely stands up as a thoroughly fun film.
Listening: The You’re Wrong About episode, The McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case, is most definitely work a listen.
Making: Time to rest. I’ve been trying to finish so many work and house projects that I’ve been pushing myself a bit too hard.
Loving: Shopping for fall clothes to wear post bump—not in my pre-pregnancy size of course but browsing for oversized sweaters has gotten me excited about clothes again! I bought this Aerie Henley in a couple colors. I also bought this gorgeous cardigan and this striped sweater during the Madewell sale.
Readers, thanks for following along with my reading life during this season of change. For questions, comments, or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to reach out by emailing email@example.com or responding directly to this newsletter. I love hearing from you!
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