The Washington Library Association met online this year instead of in Spokane. Most years there is a panel focused on Washington authors with the cheeky title “WA Do I Read Next?” This year I had the pleasure of joining this panel event online with other librarians and local authors to celebrate recently published books by authors from our fair state.
Here is a list of many of the books we talked about in this panel, and here are just some of the books I had the honor of sharing with the audience:
88 Names, by Matt Ruff
The new HBO show Lovecraft Country produced by Jordan Peele and Misha Green may have brought more attention to Matt Ruff, but he has been quietly writing smart, genre-bending stories for years now. 88 Names is a riff on virtual reality, where John Chu makes his living as a “sherpa” in Multi-player Role Playing Games, where the rich come to rack up points and prestige fast. This is an offbeat cyber-thriller for fans of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One and Ready Player Two.
The Fixed Stars, by Molly Wizenberg
I find serial memoirists so fascinating–they open their messy lives to us with regularity, and let us peek in. Admit it–there is a vicarious thrill that these kinds of memoirists provide. Wizenberg first made a splash with her cooking blog Orangette, and her memoir with recipes, A Homemade Life, where she also detailed meeting her future husband online. Her second memoir., Delancy, shares how she and her husband opened a pizza restaurant in Seattle. But The Fixed Stars is her most intimate yet as she discovers, after the birth of her daughter, that she feels surprisingly attracted to women and femmes. This memoir proves that it’s never too late to come out and find your truth even if it explodes the life you thought you wanted. Wizenberg also weaves her reading and research on sexuality and love throughout, making it great for fans of Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts.
Become America, by Eric Liu (Sasquatch)
We live in a world where it is easy to feel defeated and give into despair. Eric Liu is an exuberant voice telling us that we have the power to affect change, that society is how we behave. This collection of essays invoking reckoning and repair just won the WA State Book Award. This Thursday, Seattle Public Library is hosting a virtual Evening with Eric Liu: more information and sign up here (registration required).
Shortly after the 2016 I had the good fortune of attending one of the first Civic Saturdays that Eric Liu and his organization Citizen University put together as a civic analogue to church. There were poems read, hymns sung in choral form, and then a civic sermon provided by Eric that asked us to reflect on our history, our present, and our responsibility to ourselves and our communities to work towards a richer civic life. Liu’s sermons are stirring reminders that change is possible, that we are more connected than our politics wants us to think, and that every single one of us has power and potential. Also check out his previous book, You’re More Powerful Than You Think, and check out a Civic Saturday online. And join me next Monday, for a few more selections from this year’s WA Do I Read Next?
~ Posted by Misha S.