Bookstore / Roundup

Bookseller Recommendations: July

Milkweed Staff — 07/06/2020

Hi, book lovers! We’re back after a bit of a hiatus—which means we’ve had plenty of time to build up our recommendation lists! This time you’ll be hearing from folks from a variety of Milkweed departments, not just the bookstore. Read on to learn what books have entranced the Milkweed team lately, and don’t forget that you can call (612-215-2540) or email us if anything below catches your eye. ?

The Poppy War: A Novel
by R. F. Kuang

Harper Voyager | April 2019 | $15.99

I haven’t been this gripped by a novel in a long, long time. If I have a few minutes between flipping my fried eggs, I’m reading The Poppy War. If my partner briefly leaves the room to get a glass of water, I’m reading The Poppy War. If I’m dead tired from a long day but can’t quite let myself fall asleep yet, I’m—you guessed it—reading The Poppy War. Inspired by twentieth-century Chinese history, R. F. Kuang’s world is thorough and compelling, her characters distinct and possible. It’s all too easy to lean into Kuang’s lore and get deliciously lost in the intricacies of this grimdark series. Read if you love high-stakes fantasy, resilient characters, large-scale worldbuilding, and excellent prose!

The Yellow House: A Memoir
Sarah M. Broom

Grove Press | August 2019 | $17.00

I read this memoir over the course of many weeks, slowly consuming its expansive history of the author’s family, of New Orleans East, of a single house and its changing relationship to memory, shame, and freedom. Broom’s prose is entrancing and incantatory, its tone mirroring the long, sticky evenings of New Orleans. Reading this memoir is an intimate experience, and I fell under its spell completely. Broom writes: “My mother reading words aloud was my first memory of the pleasure I felt whenever care was taken with words … Writing, I found, was interiority.” That’s how this whole book feels—like a hushed, late-night conversation with a sibling, a slow unspooling of story, an invitation to explore the many literal and figurative rooms of a family home and all it represents. I learned so much from this book, and I admire the way Broom treats writing and history-making as a sacred act.

Consider the Tongue
by S*an D. Henry-Smith and Imani Elizabeth Jackson

Antenna Paper Machine | 2019 | $35.00

Consider the Tongue could be described as a cook-chapbook. S*an D. Henry-Smith and Imani Elizabeth Jackson are poets who work with text, performance, and food so the recipes here are the truest answer to what happens when you try to cook a poem. Ingredients are from the earth and the sea, and it feels like some of the recipes have been handed down from ancestors who chose the ocean during the Middle Passage rather than have their bodies and labor stolen. Intentional labor is so important and beautiful in this book. I’d recommend this for anyone who loves Toni Tipton-Martin’s cookbook Jubilee and Rivers Solomon’s novella The Deep.

The Vanishing Half: A Novel
by Brit Bennet

Riverhead Books | June 2020 | $27.00

I ripped through this novel, entranced by the weaving family line, spanning decades across the US. I felt the pulse of a small southern town, where twin light-skinned black sisters watched their father dragged out of their home by white men. After the trauma, the twins’ lives split in two: one white, one black. Flowing with thoughtful nuance and harsh truths, the story had me gasping, crying, and chuckling, as the cast of characters bounced in and out of each other’s lives. Most importantly it prompted reflections on race, gender, fear, self-loathing, passion, and identity.

Funny Weather: Art in Emergency
by Olivia Laing

W. W. Norton & Company | May 2020 | $26.95

Laing, a columnist for frieze and the New York Times, spent her early twenties as an herbalist and activist. These lenses inform her intimate, astute writing, and Funny Weather collects some of her best pieces—spellbinding profiles on Jean-Michel Basquiat and David Wojnarowicz; critical responses to reading Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts and Emily Witt’s Future Sex; and tight essays on alcoholism, loneliness, Trump. She doesn’t present art as the cure to political and structural inequities and the accompanying grief, but rather as a vehicle for us to see more broadly: “This makes art sound like a magic bullet, which should reorganize our critical and moral faculties without effort, while simultaneously obliterating free will. Empathy is not something that happens to us when we read Dickens. It’s work. What art does is provide materials with which to think: new registers, new spaces. After that, friend, it’s up to you.”

?If any of these books sound interesting to you, give us a call (612-215-2540) or send us an email to order a copy! We aren’t open for curbside or in-store shopping, but we’re happy to mail books straight to your door.

?To see more reading suggestions from bookstore staff and from some of the bookstore’s favorite authors, click here.

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