Friday, October 26, 2018


Written by: Don McGregor and Paul Gulacy

First line: Come out of the sunlight—rise from the burning dawn—stride into the watching noon—hide in the midnight shadows.

Why you should read this book: For historical purposes: this is the first work ever marketed as a "graphic novel" thus disproving the idea that comics were only for semi-literate mouth breathers and five-year-olds. It works really hard to feel generate a sense of edginess and righteousness as it draws a world of the future in which violence and technology has stripped some degree of humanity from the human race. Enter Sabre, a consummate gunslinging anachronism accompanied by a nearly naked, nubile, and naughty companion, and his mcguffin-esque quest to help some people who we never see and whose destiny is not addressed in the context of the story.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Really overwritten, really inexplicable, really hard to plow through.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Written by: JK Rowling

First line: Non-magic people (more commonly known as muggles) were particularly afraid of magic in medieval times, but not very good at recognizing it.

Why you should read this book: Voldemort has slunk out of sight, but Harry has plenty of other problems in his third year at Hogwarts, including being pursued by a large, canine specter of death, attacked by floating, corpsified specters of death, a professor who repeatedly predicts Harry's imminent death, and not having a parent or guardian to sign the permission slip that would allow him to go into town on the weekends. Meanwhile, the vicious killer, Sirius Black, has escaped from the wizard prison of Azkaban, and all the adults are hiding his apparent intent from Harry in the name of protecting Harry from the truth. Armed with his trust cloak of invisibility, which Harry seems incapable of hanging on to for more than five minutes at a stretch despite it being one of the most valuable artifacts on the planet, plus a magic map that reveals more than most maps can manage, and, of course, his friends, Harry will try to survive this book while playing quidditch and passing his third year of school (this book is also notable for Hermione smacking Malfoy in the face).

Why you shouldn't read this book: You still hear the screams of your dead parents. 

Saturday, October 6, 2018

A Room Away from the Wolves

Written by: Nova Ren Suma

First line: When the girl who lived in the room below mine disappeared into the darkness, she gave no warning, she showed no twitch of fear.

Why you should read this book: Bina isn't just running away from home, where her mother seems to care more for the feelings of Bina's wicked stepsisters than for her own daughter; she's running to somewhere: an all-girls boarding house in New York City where her mother once spent a summer that has grown to mystical proportions in Bina's imagination. But something strange is going in at Catherine House, something she can't quite put her finger on, something to do with ghosts and secrets and rules and girls who don't want to be there but can't seem to leave and an opal ring that vanishes and reappears with astonishing regularity. Bina doesn't want to leave, but she doesn't know if she can stay, and until she figures out the mystery of the house, and how it connects to her personally, she'll never figure out who she is or what she's supposed to do.

Why you shouldn't read this book: A house full of teenage girls is your nightmare, even without the ghosts.

Red Clocks

Written by: Leni Zumas

First line: Born in 1841 on a Faroese sheep farm.

Why you should read this book: In a muted nightmare America, abortion and in vitro fertilization have been outlawed and adoption is only legal for two-parent households in a book that highlights ways in which women are harmed by anti-woman legislation masquerading as pro-child values. Ro, single and middle aged desperately wants a baby but can't conceive; her teenage student Mattie finds herself trapped in an unwanted pregnancy; Susan has a traditional marriage and a traditional family but feels miserable in her life; Gin, an herbalist with a nontraditional life and worldview, is a woman with the power to help women, may also be the one who pays the steepest price. The personal is political in a novel that highlights how impersonal politics personally impact individuals.

Why you shouldn't read this book: The people who aren't going to read or understand the book are the people who most need to read this book. If you think there's any legitimacy to the phrase "fetal personhood," you probably won't pick it up, but you might learn something about actual personhood if you did.