Reading Room Blog
High and low culture collide in The McSweeney's Joke Book of Book Jokes. The literary journal has collected its humor pieces, featuring all sorts of short essays, lists, and ephemera related to classic literature.
After years spent working in East Africa for a world health aid organization, Frankie Rowley returns to her parents’ (formerly summer, now permanent) home in the small New Hampshire town of Pomeroy. Although she had come stateside on numerous occasions, this visit is different. In Sue Miller’s The Arsonist, Frankie finds herself torn between the challenging but transient nature of her current job and the need to find something more permanent…permanent in terms of locale and permanent in terms of relationships.
The ten Boom family lived a quiet, respectable life in the Dutch town of Haarlem. Corrie and her father made and repaired clocks. Her sister was their housekeeper. They were loved by the community. But in neighboring countries, Nazi Germany was rising, and soon it would sweep into the Netherlands.
Hip Hop Family Tree Volume 2 picks up right where Ed Piskor's first phenomenal graphic novel left off. By 1981, the record industry has started to capitalize on the raw talent of urban youth. The sounds are slicker and the rhymes are tighter, but Piskor manages to find and highlight the raw edges of the musical movement.
Samantha Sotto’s Before Ever After is a magical, mysterious, and romantic treat. Shelley was a very locked-down person before she met up with Max, who took her and a bevy of eccentric souls on a European tour unlike any other. Stuffed into a VW microbus and crossing the English Channel, Max leads them on a truly fascinating tour off the usual path. Along the way, Shelley and Max fall deeply in love. It’s a pity it can’t last.
I Wear the Black Hat is Chuck Klosterman's sixth book of cultural essays and the first one to explore villainy in all of its forms.
Sisters Pearl and May Chin are “Beautiful Girls”—artists’ models in 1930s Shanghai. They live in amazing times in a modern city, dancing at nightclubs, dining at expensive restaurants, buying new outfits, and having lots of admirers. Neither college-graduate Pearl nor everyone’s darling May give much thought to their futures. They think they can go on like this forever, marrying as they choose, if they choose. Unfortunately for these Shanghai Girls, they are quite mistaken.
March: Book One is the beautifully constructed graphic novel biography of Civil Rights activist and Congressman John Lewis. Relying only on black and white imagery, it is quiet in its form and presentation. Lewis' struggle of growing up in the Deep South, fighting to go to college, and helping to organize lunch counter sit-ins speaks volumes and needs no distraction.