Bookstore / Roundup

Read This Next: Celia Recommends (August)

Read This Next: Celia Recommends (August) — 08/30/2017

A recent meeting of the Subtext Books Freestyle Book Club focused on nostalgia as a theme; it got me thinking about memory, and how we think about ourselves when we write about other places and other people. I’ve picked three books that examine our pasts and how we memorialize them, and how we deal with certain places that we’ve left behind. All are thoughtful, clever, and firmly unsentimental—good ones to reread and share.

The Leavers | I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp | On the Camino

The Leavers
Lisa Ko

Algonquin Books, 2017

Lisa Ko’s first novel is a richly detailed story about family and loss. Deming Guo lives with his mother and a surrogate family of Chinese Americans in the Bronx. When Deming’s mother disappears, the eleven-year-old boy is swiftly adopted by a white family living in upstate New York and loses contact with the few people who knew his mother. I don’t know how to describe the singular beauty of this novel except to say that it is deeply generous and empathetic. Ko explores the nuances of familiar relationships with a careful, challenging intentionality. Buy now»


I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp
Richard Hell

Ecco Press, 2013

Richard Hell may not be as fondly and often remembered as his contemporaries—Patti Smith, David Byrne, any of the Ramones—but he was an equally essential part of the punk scene that defined New York City in the 1970s. Always more of a writer than a musician, Hell’s career and writing is marked by unabashed love for a diversity of art, culture, and poetry, and skepticism for the disingenuous. This memoir is a thoughtful and starkly honest reflection on youth, music, and bad decisions, without glamorizing the grim and dangerous aspects of ’70s NYC. Buy now»


On The Camino

Fantagraphics Books, 2017
Nonfiction/Graphic Memoir

I have always loved Jason’s precise, sparse art and dialogue. There is something instantly classic about the clarity of his work. This graphic memoir details his month-long trek on the Camino de Santiago, a five-hundred-mile pilgrimage route in Spain, for his fiftieth birthday. He perfectly captures the way the mind wanders in solitude, his thoughts wandering from the beauty of the trail to his wet socks to old movies. This isolation is occasionally punctuated by fellow travelers, who weave in and out of his journey as they also follow the Camino. Buy now»