The Great Book Organization

Plus a memoir, a classic, and anticipated releases for the second half of the year

Hey, readers!

This week marked the beginning of the Great Book Organization of 2021. We are transforming what I’ve affectionately called “the book room” for the last four years into a nursery and that means rehoming a lot of books—like, hundreds of them. The most exciting part of this process is that my amazingly talented friend Cameron (you can find him and his work on Instagram) is making floor to ceiling, built-in bookshelves for us in our living room. They’re going to be gorgeous, and I’m so excited for books to be a focal point of our living space. But while they’ll hold a lot of my collection, they won’t be able to contain the whole thing, which means I have some hard decisions to make. Right now I’m in the process of sorting through my books deciding what’s going to go on the new shelves, what we’ll pack away into storage, and what I’ll donate. My plan is to primarily fill the new shelves with unread books so I have access to anything I might want to read. It’s a good plan, but I’m sad thinking about my favorite books packed away…possibly for years! I’ll keep you updated on the process as it develops, but for now I’ll just request all the positive (and decisive) vibes you can send my way!

This week in books.

This week I read…

  • Nobody Will Tell You This But Me by Bess Kalb. I’d been in a bit of an audiobook* slump after finishing Project Hail Mary and decided to download this on a recommendation from Erika of @dailyebookdeals. I generally love memoir on audio, and this one blew me away. It’s a really interesting construction where Kalb tell’s her grandmother’s life story in her grandmother’s voice. It took me a little bit of time to settle into that ( for the first few chapters, I had to keep reminding myself who “me” and “you” were), but once I settled in, I fell in love with the voice of this memoir and the family at its center. This book made me both laugh and cry—and while I know that’s a cliché, it’s actually really rare in practice! If you love memoirs, I highly recommend picking this one up. The audio is excellent, but I’ve heard there are pictures in the paper copy so you may want to try it that way. Amazon | Bookshop

  • The Round House by Louise Erdrich. I read this with a student I tutor (it’s his summer reading, which I think is awesome!) and was once again blown away by Erdrich’s gift for storytelling. This book is hard. It follows 13-year-old Joe and his family after the brutal rape of his mother. Joe’s family are members of the Ojibwe tribe and questions of tribal land and jurisdiction come into play as the community seeks justice. It’s a breathtaking and beautiful read, and it makes me want to read the other works in what Erdrich refers to as her Justice Trilogy: The Plague of Doves and LaRose. Amazon | Bookshop

Now I’m reading…

  • History of the Rain by Niall Williams. In this novel, Ruthie Swain decides to read through her father’s library to learn more about who he was as a poet and a person. It’s a book for book lovers and, as such, I am completely captivated by it. Amazon | Bookshop

  • Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie. I started this retelling of Antigone last year and was loving it when I had to put it aside because of other priorities. This week I restarted it on audio* and I’m so glad I’ve finally returned to it. Amazon | Bookshop

*You can get two audiobooks for the price of one with my link or by using code FICTIONMATTERS at checkout!

Links I love.

It’s here! LitHub’s most anticipated releases of the second half of the year list is out and I added a lot to my TBR.

Vulture Books shared their best romance novels and best sci-fi / fantasy novels of the year so far.

4 novels about immigration that decenter America.

We’ve been watching a lot of Jeopardy! recently so I loved reading through these 100 literary clues from past episodes.

Code Switch did a great interview with Libertie author, Kaitlyn Greenidge.

High drama memoirs and novels to get lost in this summer.

Remember the viral short story “Cat Person”? This article about a woman who is sure the story is about her is a fascinating story about who owns a story.

End notes.

Watching: Alone. There’s a new season of the survival show on Netflix and it’s an intense one! This season, contestants are trying to last 100 days in the arctic. The conditions are brutal and the contestants are quite the bunch of characters.

Listening: The new season of Marlon & Jake Read Dead People is great so far. I particularly love the episode Good Books by Terrible People.

Making: A quick trip to Santa Fe. We’re staying at a cool little hotel and are planning to fit in as much pool time and green chili as we can in 48 hours.

Loving: The FictionMatters Patreon Discord server. This newer perk of the Patreon community is so fun—it’s basically a text channel where we can have ongoing conversations about books and bookish topics. There’s a thread for anyone seeking book recommendations, one to discuss current reads, and various places to chat about buddy reads and book club selections. It’s so delightful to have a community to reach out to when I need to process a recent read and a place to turn when I’m in need of a recommendation.

Readers, I hope you always have shelves big enough for your book collection. For questions, comments, or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to reach out by emailing or responding directly to this newsletter. I love hearing from you!

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Happy reading!


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