My list of books to read this month

“The Rules of Magic”

By Alice Hoffman

I know nothing about this book other than that I’ve seen several trusted readers raving about it. Let’s hope it’s, well, magic.

“Manhattan Beach”

By Jennifer Egan

Spoiler: I already almost-finished this one and have some… thoughts. I was hooked until 3/4 of the way through when she switches to a new character and I checked out harder and faster than I ever have reading a book! The Goodread reviews confirm I wasn’t alone in thinking this. Egan’s writing is exquisite and she’s definitely a must-read. Just check this one out from the library before you buy.

“My Favorite Thing is Monsters”

By Emil Ferris

I loved listening to Emil Ferris talk about her work at the Chicago Humanities Festival. The Chicago book community has been buzzing about her graphic novel, set in Uptown, for some time. I’m excited to finally read it and get lost in its illustrations.

“Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay

“Once I was Cool” by Megan Stielstra

These writers’ essays are like old friends. It’s cold and I need them again.

Six things I’m loving this month

Apples. Pumpkins and their spice get all the attention these days, but apples are like the under-appreciated older sibling. I’ve been throwing them onto my sandwiches and into yogurt with honey drizzled on top. Goin fast and lose with the Golden Delicious, y’all! Loved this cover photo’s rendition of brie, Granny Smith apple slices and a cranberry chutney from Blind Faith Cafe in Chicago.

“300 Arguments” and “There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce.” These books of sentence-long essays and poetry, respectively, were on the list of recommendations at the Chicago Lit Crawl’s “Best Books of 2017” panel I attended last month in Andersonville. Read ’em.

From “300 Arguments.”

From “There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce.”

Speaking of our girl. I was surprised to find myself crying during this SNL performance by Jay-Z  of his apology song to Beyonce, “4:44.” It feels shameful and raw. Devastating in its aloneness. Wow.

Look, I apologize, often womanize
Took for my child to be born, see through a woman’s eyes

Still Processing podcast. New York Times reporters Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham host these funny and insightful culture conversations.

The short story “Likes” by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum. I don’t even have children but find this story of a father trying to understand his 12-year-old daughter’s Instagram totally relatable. This is also one of the first fiction accounts about life after last year’s election that I’ve heard that really nails its emotional aftermath.

“Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions” by Russell Brand. Brand is back. Thank heavens. After seeing this interview with Bill Maher, I can’t wait to read his new book about addiction recovery. I think a lot of people fear that breaking their addictions will mean they no longer are themselves. This brilliant sober wacko proves that’s not the case at all.

My list of books to read this month

“Emma in the Night”

By Wendy Walker

This mystery novel was my September Book of the Month Club selection.

“Love and Trouble”

By Claire Dederer

This book of personal essays explores Dederer’s midlife sexual reawakening that traces its roots back to her teenage promiscuity. It’s been noted for its honest portrayal of sexuality and its innovative takes on the creative nonfiction form.

“The Trespasser”

By Tana French

Spoiler alert: I just finished this book. It’s a little tedious but worth a read since Tana French is one of the best crime writers working these days. Plus, it’s got an unsuspecting twist at the end. Her debut “Into the Woods” is still my favorite though.

“Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows”

By Balli Kaur Jaswal

Yes, there are some erotic stories in here, but it’s not what you think! This is a funny, heartwarming tale of British Punjabi women’s reconciliation with their patriarchal community and modern country.

“The Nix”

By Nathan Hill

This book topped a lot of “Best of” lists last year, and I’ve heard both positive and negative reviews.

“What Happened”


More like “what the $&#@ happened.” I’m looking forward to reading what Hillary’s official take on all this is, beyond the easy headlines.

May the library be your regular haunt this October! Mu-hu-ha-ha.

My list of books to read this month

“American Fire”

by Monica Hesse

Diligently reported by Washington Post writer Monica Hesse, this is the true story of a decaying rural town in West Virginia that faced down a pair of arsonists who set fire to 60+ abandoned buildings over the course of half a year. The book covers the town, which as become symbolic of the struggle of modern middle and working class America, and the confounding couple that struck the match to burn it down.


“Eat Only When You’re Hungry”

by Lindsay Hunter

I just joined Book of The Month Club, a monthly online book service that lets you pick from its selection of new book recommendations. For $14.99 a month, you get a new book that’s been curated by a panel of voracious readers just like you. This August selection was my first pick. It’s written by a Chicago writer (heyyy!). It’s an anti-hero’s journey of a father on a mission to find his addiction-addled son, who has been missing for months.

“Plot & Structure”

by James Scott Bell

A Writer’s Digest University find. This book promises to help me understand the difference between plot and structure and how to outline like a pro. (Almost-Pro-Tip: Check out Groupon for deals on the magazine’s classes and workshops before you pay full price.)


“The Wrong Way to Save Your Life”

by Megan Stielstra

Anything Roxane Gay-recommended will make my to-read list, but Stielstra does her own heavy lifting in this book of literary essays about fear, faith and how to live a better life. Yes, please.