Reading rabbit holes

Plus books about women athletes and book pairings for Oscar movies

Hey, readers!

I had one of those wonderful reading weeks were one book led me into another, and I ended up a few books that really connected with each other. One of my favorite things about reading is the way books are in conversation with each other across time and how authors explore similar ideas in such different ways. So today, I’m excited to share these reading rabbit holes with you.

This week in books.

This week I read…

  • Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space by Amanda Leduc. I’m so glad I read this on the heels of One, Two Three (a novel focused on disability) because Leduc’s exploration of disability representation in stories was truly mind expanding. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but even as I’ve been actively seeking more disability representation in my reading, I hadn’t thought much about the way disability is portrayed in some of the earliest stories we encounter: fairy tales. Fairy tales are foundational in how many people begin to understand storytelling, right and wrong, beauty, etc. Leduc explores the way disability depiction in these stories impacts so much of how we view disability in the world. I loved it, and I learned so much. Amazon | Bookshop

  • The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz (out May 11). The premise of this thriller was too good to pass up, which is funny because it’s about a book with an unbeatable premise. The Plot follows Jacob Finch Bonner, an author who’s failed to live up to the promise of his first book and is not teaching creative writing at a middling MFA program. One session, a terribly pompous student tells him about his perfect plot—a surefire best seller. When Jake discovers years later that his former student has passed away without writing his book, Jake decides to write his own version of that incredible plot. He’s riding high on the success from that book when he gets a message suggesting someone knows where the plot came from. I thought this book was fine. I certainly couldn’t put it down, but it was eye-rolly at times and very predictable. Still, I always love a metafictional story and it was fun to read a thriller about a thriller. Preorder from Amazon | Preorder from Bookshop

  • God Spare the Girls by Kelsey McKinney (out June 22). This book is about two sisters, Abigail and Caroline, who grow up the daughters of a prominent evangelical preacher. While Abby and Caro have very different relationships with their family and their faith, both of their worlds are wrecked when it comes to light that their father has been lying to the family for years. I really enjoyed the exploration of evangelical culture, particularly how harmful certain elements of patriarchal church structures can be for women. I also thought McKinney did a wonderful job of exploring sisterhood and the desire for but absence of closeness we often feel from our own families. At times though the characters fell a bit flat, which was tough because this is very much a character-driven novel—there’s not much plot here. But I would still recommend it if you love reading about the interplay between faith, religious structures, and identity. Preorder from Amazon | Preorder from Bookshop

Now I’m reading…

  • The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games by Elizabeth Ebony Thomas. I picked this up immediately after finishing Disfigured. It’s another collection about representation and storytelling that features so many of the books I grew up reading. Amazon | Bookshop

  • Belabored: A Vindication of the Rights of Pregnant Women by Lyz Lenz. In this deeply personal yet far-reaching exploration of pregnancy culture in America, Lenz offers a passionate defense of autonomy for pregnant people. It’s fascinating to think about the way history as shaped our view of pregnancy so much that it informs everything about the way pregnant people are treated by their significant others, their doctors, even strangers. I’m finding it fascinating. And although this book doesn’t exclusively focus on evangelicalism and purity culture, it is nonetheless a great nonfiction pairing for God Spare the Girls in the way it examines how narrowly we define the roles of wife and mother. Amazon | Bookshop

Links I love.

Looking for similar stories after the closing of this year’s Oscar season? I wrote a post for Libro.fm pairing audiobooks with Oscar nominees, and there are some great books there (if I do say so myself).

21 books to read if you’ve already binged Shadow and Bone.

This queer YA pirate romance sounds utterly delightful.

I’m finding the conversation surrounding how the publishing world will and should handle potential book deals with former Trump administration officials to be really important. This article is a great overview.

Amy Tan is one of my favorite writers and I can’t wait to watch this new documentary on her life and career.

12 books about women athletes.

The Jane Austen House Museum is adding exhibits to provide more historical context for Austen’s life and world. These will include discussions of some of the harsher historical realities such as Britain’s involvement in the slave trade and on-going wars with France.

End notes.

Watching: Mare of Easttown on HBO Max. It’s so good!!

Listening: I recently caught up on some recent episodes of Still Processing, and I really enjoyed this nuanced discussion of Promising Young Woman.

Making: This simple salmon recipe was delicious. And if you were craving potato salad after last week’s newsletter, here’s that link!

Loving: Netgalley. I’ve been reading so many early copies of books through Netgalley and loving it. Anyone can sign up for an account and request access to advanced copies in exchange for reviews. I’ve been a member for ages, but only recently started using it extensively for the last couple of months. I highly recommend setting up an account if you’re interested in reading books in advance!


Readers, I hope you’re getting an escape of your own this week—even if it’s the briefest of respites. For questions, comments, or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to reach out by emailing fictionmattersbooks@gmail.com or responding directly to this newsletter. I love hearing from you!

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Happy reading!

Sara


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