Author: Katherine C.

A Balance of Grit and Comedy

I hadn’t heard of Michael Arceneaux’s I Can’t Date Jesus until taking a poll on Instagram for reading suggestions. We asked our followers for suggestions on what to read in 2019, and this came through as an April recommendation. I think mostly because of the title, all of us Bookly Katherines were immediately intrigued. I mean, titles don’t get much better than I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé. I also hadn’t heard of Arceneaux until reading this, his debut essay collection. But this is one of my favorite experiences, uncovering a new (to me) author and their work. His essays cover a range of raw experiences from flawed family dynamics, growing up in Texas, living in an oppressive culture as a gay black man, dating, to faith and Christianity, etc. I found all 15 essays raw, humorous, self-aware, and immersive. His vulnerability enriched each story. And as a privileged, hetero white female who grew up mostly overseas my life experiences have little in common with …

Injustice Laid Bare

Since reading The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin nearly 15 years ago, I’d been looking forward to reading more of his writing. In the past, life and other books had gotten in the way, but with If Beale Street Could Talk as Bookly’s March selection I finally revisited Baldwin. James Baldwin was an author, activist, and queer black man at his creative peak in 1960’s / 1970’s America. His words have a power that’s lasted generations. He wrote works of fiction and nonfiction that channeled the voices of the oppressed. And in his novel If Beale Street Could Talk (1974) he tells the all too familiar story of a young black man in America. Fonny is living his life among family and first love, pursuing his creative passions in New York City. And yet all that, and much more, is stolen away. Framed for a rape he didn’t commit, Fonny is imprisoned with little hope of freedom. Even after discovering that Tish, the woman he loves, is carrying his child, we bear witness to the desperate and near hopeless decay …

Steam Fest

In true Drew and Alexa form, I’ll get right to it… this one kinda fell flat for me. I think that’s an unpopular opinion, so if you disagree with me you’re probably in the majority. I had high hopes because I know a lot of others really liked The Wedding Date. But maybe my hopes were too high? Romance or love stories aren’t usually my first pick, but Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren and One Day in December by Josie Silver are two I really liked. And I’d heard Guillory’s debut would be similar. But before reading it I read a review that basically hit the nail on the head: “The book is also unexpectedly raunchy, since Alexa and Drew’s connection starts as a purely physical one and they only later develop deeper feelings. The characters never find a situation that doesn’t turn them on at least a little bit” (Kirkus Review) I’m fine with some steam and a good love story, but for me things were a bit unbalanced. I liked the …

A Classic Power-house of Women’s History

Women, Race and Class by Angela Davis has been on my list for a few years. I’d heard the name Angela Davis before, but it wasn’t until Ava DuVernay’s Netflix documentary 13th that I gained better context as to the living legend that she truly is. As someone who believes in the pursuit of equal rights and social justice, and that we’ve been failing at both for a long time, I also know that my part in that includes continuing my education. As a privileged white female my pursuit of equality and justice comes much more easily than it does to most. But as it’s said, “until we are all free, we are none of us free” (Emma Lazarus). To achieve these goals reading a book won’t do the job. But book after book, and year after year, if we can strive to know more and do more with what we know maybe we’ll get a little bit closer in this lifetime. Don’t you think? Angela Davis has been a memorable part of my continuing education, and …

A Booklover’s Gift Guide

After years of book gifting, we have a long list of ideas saved up. And since book lovers like us seem to own most books, it’s good to have a stock of book-related ideas on hand. So, welcome to our complete book lover’s gift guide! Whether you love books and want to share the wealth, or you need the perfect gift for a book lover, we’ve probably got something for you and yours on this list… B O O K R E L A T E D Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany A beautifully illustrated love letter to all things books by Jane Mount. From bookstores and their resident pets to gorgeous curated stacks we immediately added to our TBR (to-be-read) list, this book’s the perfect gift for any bibliophile. Also, Mount just released a 2019 Planner that’s equally as swoon-worthy! Ideal Bookshelf Jane Mount’s shop of book spine illustrations (and more). There are themed prints to choose from, or you can customize one with your favorites. Out of Print They have endless clothes, accessories and …

Loving Elvis Babbit

Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett (our November selection) has flown somewhat under the radar. I’d not heard much about it until voting on what to read for Bookly in 2018, and I feel like that’s somewhat the norm. Not many have heard too much about this one, but those who have seem to have really enjoyed it. It’s the story of Elvis Babbit and her family after her mother’s drowning during a routine sleep swimming episodes. Survived by 11-year-old Elvis, her sister, and her dad, the family goes down an odd path of grief involving world record baking, talking birds, seashell jesus sculptures, zoological metaphors, and more sleep-driven chaos. For all its quirks, Elvis, the Babbit family narrator, brings a bright and young perspective of hope to her family’s tragedy. Her voice was entirely unique and a pleasure to read. I will say, this is the type of book/story that isn’t usually my first choice. A character-driven family drama where nothing much happens except a quirky familial arc. However, Harnett didn’t drag it along. The pacing …

Great Mysterious Confusion

I’m always game for a good thriller or scary story. I think it goes back to why I first started loving to read. I remember watching my cousin devour R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series and telling me how scary it was. I was sure books couldn’t be scary. How could words on paper come close to a scary movie or haunted house? I wasn’t quite Fear Street ready so I started with Goosebumps. To my surprise Welcome to the Dead House was actually scary. Who knew words could have such power?! I know, give me a break, I was young. Then came Fear Street, all things Mary Higgins Clark, and any good scare I could get my hands on. And that hasn’t changed. C.J. Tudor’s The Chalk Man was exactly what I was in the mood for, especially this time of year. Written by an English, author set in an English town, it tells the story of four young friends— Eddie, Mickey, Hoppo and Fat Gav— and how the horror of one summer haunts their lives. Playing with chalk …

Humanity in Two Forms

I’d been looking forward to both of these books for awhile. The Giver is one I wish I’d read as a young adult, but never did. I still wish that, but better late than never, right? And Seven Brief Lessons on Physics initially hooked me with the beautiful cover and tiny size. But let’s take this one at a time… I first read The Giver by Lois Lowry, a long awaited check off my must-read-eventually list. But I think I made a mistake before even picking it up. A few years ago I saw the movie (2014), and I wish I hadn’t done that. As I was reading I was picturing the movie set, the actors, and turning over in my head the differences between the movie and the book. It ruined some of the magic. At least it’d been quite awhile since I’d seen the movie so it wasn’t fresh in my mind, but it was present enough to color my first impression. So if you haven’t read this one yet, definitely don’t watch the movie …

Unlike Anything Else

For the past year I’d been hearing people rave about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. But frankly, I didn’t really believe the hype. I thought it was another romanticization of hollywood glamor and a fictional icon’s love story. Which I’m okay with, and it is that. But so much more. This book is unlike anything I’ve read before. Beginning as the life story of Evelyn Hugo as she tells it to a unknown journalist for unknown reasons, we learn about each of the seven husbands as her story becomes more significant than I ever expected. I’d say there are two major twists in the story of Evelyn Hugo, neither of which I saw coming when I started reading. Eventually the first was hinted at, and I saw where it was going. But the second I didn’t see coming until it hit at the very end. I enjoyed Jenkins’ writing (much like I did in One True Things), and the characters were interesting, but the story she tells is unlike anything I’ve ever read. I don’t …

ALL ABOARD!

At the end of the day, I didn’t look forward to picking this one up off my nightstand. So many fellow bibliophiles, my husband included, had praised it as a one-of-a-kind work of nonfiction. And yet, why wasn’t I looking forward to reading it? I’ve read one other of David Grann’s books, The Lost City of Z, about one man’s fanatical obsession with the mysteries of the Amazon and his equally mysterious disappearance. And I remembered from reading that one, that Grann’s investigate journalism style sometimes overwhelmed me. During the early pages he bleeds a seemingly infinite number of facts, characters, dates, and figures onto the page. It felt like I was running with a speeding train trying to grab hold so I could jump aboard and ride more comfortably for the rest of the story. And Killers of the Flower Moon was no exception. Although, much like The Lost City of Z, somewhere around 50 to 100 pages into the story I felt like I’d found my bearings and was fully onboard. Yet the book was still …