30-Day Journey with Dorothy Day edited by Coleman Fannin

Broadleaf Books has a wonderful 30-Day Journey series featuring important spiritual thinkers. I requested a copy of the 30-Day Journey with Dorothy Day because I've been drawn to Christian anarchism in recent years, and thought it would resonate. (It did.) It's hard to sum up a life like Dorothy Day's in a brief introduction, but Coleman Fannin does a great job helping us get to know what Day accomplished, what motivated and inspired her, and making us to want to learn more about her. Day was one of the founders of the Catholic Worker Movement, so her Catholicism is deeply woven into her writing. But as someone who isn't Catholic, I didn't find that alienating at all. I enjoyed learning…

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Let’s Get Back to the Party by Zak Salih

Zak Salih's debut novel Let's Get Back to the Party is a look at cultural identity (specifically, gay identity) in the midst of a rapidly changing society. Set in the year between the U.S. marriage equality ruling and the mass shooting at Pulse in Orlando, the novel follows two gay men, Sebastian and Oscar, childhood friends recently reunited after years of estrangement. I enjoyed the character-driven, leisurely pace of Salih's writing. He digs deep into the psyches of these two men, and the slower pace and alternating points of view gave me the opportunity to get to know Sebastian and Oscar on a profound level. Let's Get Back to the Party explores cross-generational friendships within the gay community—and the feelings…

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Ladder to the Light by Steven Charleston

I truly needed the boost of hope and courage that reading Steven Charleston's Ladder to the Light gave me this past month. This is one powerful little book. Charleston, a retired Episcopal priest and bishop, is also an elder of the Choctaw Nation and a practitioner of Zen meditation. He leaves interpretation open for the phrase "the Spirit" so that as many people as possible feel at home in his writing, saying, "theological debates are for another day." He throws those doors open wide and invites readers "to interpret the nature and meaning of the Spirit for themselves." This book is radical in its inclusion and unity without falling into syncretism, and avoids the trap of offering spiritual platitudes and…

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Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo

"History is very kind to the memory of mediocre white men." Ijeoma Oluo's Mediocre is a history of how the United States has upheld white male power, the systems they created, and how this has impacted society and given us the systemic issues we all continue to face today. Oluo sets a tone from the start of the book, when she gracefully, effortlessly shows how simple it is to be trans-inclusive: "Men without uteruses should not control our reproductive choices." "When I talk about mediocrity, I talk about success that is measured only by how much better white men are faring than people who aren’t white men." It was nice to see that allyship so clearly, right off the bat. I…

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Catch Lili Too by Sophie Whittemore

Catch Lili Too was an unusual reading choice for me, but when the author approached me about their "queer punk fantasy" book, something about this description was irresistible: Lili is a Mesopotamian siren, and life as an immortal being is hard enough as it is. She’s asexual (which is incredibly difficult to reconcile if your entire point as a mythical being is to seduce people to death). She’s also struggling with depression from being alive for so long. She moonlights as an immortal detective trying to track down a serial killer so ruthless that it makes even her murderous soul uneasy. However, there’s something larger at work than just one serial killer. A small town is hiding an even deadlier, global-scale…

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Novellas in November: Short Classics

The theme for Novellas in November week four (hosted by Rebecca at Bookish Beck) is short classics. Classics aren't something I normally reach for, and I have to make a real effort to include them in my reading. I'm finicky when it comes to classics, and there are a ton of popular ones I'm bored to tears by (see the question at the end of this post). When looking through past classics I've read, I found that I especially loved short stories by authors like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Isaac Asimov, and Ray Bradbury. I did find some novellas, though—I enjoyed all of the books below (some are more on the "modern classics" side of things). The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (44…

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Novellas in November: Translated Literature

The theme for Novellas in November week three (hosted by Cathy at 746 Books) is novellas that are translated literature. I gravitate toward Japanese literature (Haruki Murakami being one of my favorite authors) but I tried to branch out a bit here. Well, I did a 50% branching out, at least! The only book on this list that I haven't read yet—but it's on my TBR—is Troubling Love. I've been hesitating on reading Ferrante because I wasn't sure if I wanted to read her books in the original Italian, or as a translation. If I'm honest with myself, my Italian isn't where it used to be, and 2020 has sucked any willpower I might have had about doing the extra…

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Nonfiction November: Books for Leftists

Books for Leftists The prompt for week 3 of Nonfiction November is "Be the Expert" (hosted by Rennie of What’s Nonfiction). I thought it would be timely to talk about books for leftists. Let's use the word "expert" more like the word "enthusiast", because I'm always learning and listening and I still have a lot of theory to read up on. Obviously this would include books by Dr. Angela Davis (especially Are Prisons Obsolete? and Freedom Is a Constant Struggle). I see her books all over social media, so I'd like to highlight some other books that center leftist ideals—including anarchist principles of non-coercion, voluntary association, and mutual aid. These books have made a huge impact on me, just as…

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Novellas in November: Nonfiction

The theme for Novellas in November week two (hosted by Rebecca at Bookish Beck) is nonfiction novellas. I didn't realize novellas could include nonfiction as well. That word always insinuated "fiction" to me. But it turns out, there is room for the word "novella" in the nonfiction world. It's a way to describe nonfiction that's longer than an essay, but not quite the length of a book. There's a thought-provoking post about it over on the Brevity blog from way back in 2009. Regardless of what terminology we use, this week's topic fits in perfectly with Nonfiction November, and I'm excited to share some shorter nonfiction works I've enjoyed and recommend. On My Way To Liberation by H. Melt (28…

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Nonfiction November: Book Pairings

The prompt for week 2 of Nonfiction November is "Book Pairing" (hosted by Julz of Julz Reads), where we pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. I've got three book pairings for you today! The fiction titles I've chosen have the same subject matter as their nonfiction counterparts. C and I have been reading through the young people's version of Neil deGrasse Tyon's Astrophysics for People in a Hurry and are enjoying his goofy sense of humor and knack for explaining huge concepts in an easy-to-understand manner. I recently read To Hold Up the Sky by Cixin Liu [my review], which incorporates a lot of astrophysics and quantum physics in its hard sci-fi short stories. Some of those…

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