Looking for something new to read? Check out our New and Noteworthy, Current Literature, and Overdrive collections for some good reads to enjoy! Here is a selection of books you will find in these collections!
Forager: Field Notes for Surviving a Family Cult by Michelle Dowd. A moving, heartbreaking, and inspiring true story of the author’s escape from an apocalyptic cult. Michelle grew up on a mountain in the Angeles National Forest, born into an ultra-religious cult—the Field, as members called it—run by her grandfather, who believed that his chosen followers must prepare themselves to survive doomsday. Bound by the group’s patriarchal rules and literal interpretation of the Bible, Michelle, and her siblings lived a life of deprivation, isolated from Outsiders and starved for love and food. She was forced to learn the skills necessary to battle hunger, thirst, and cold; she learned to trust animals more than humans; and, most importantly, she learned how to survive by foraging for what she needed. With haunting and stark language, Forager is a fierce and empowering coming-of-age story and a timely meditation on the ways in which harnessing nature’s gifts can lead to our freedom. Read more in this Salon interview with Dowd.
We Were Once a Family: A Story of Love, Death, And Child Removal in America by Roxanna Asgarian. On March 26, 2018, rescue workers discovered a crumpled SUV and the bodies of two women and several children at the bottom of a cliff beside the Pacific Coast Highway. Investigators soon concluded that the crash was a murder-suicide, but there was more to the story: Jennifer and Sarah Hart, it turned out, were a white married couple who had adopted the six Black children from two different Texas families in 2006 and 2008. Behind the family’s loving facade was a pattern of abuse and neglect. As a journalist in Houston, Asgarian became the first reporter to put the children’s birth families at the story’s center. Her reporting uncovers persistent racial biases and corruption as children of color are separated from birth parents without proper cause. The result is a riveting narrative and a deeply reported indictment of a system that continues to fail America’s most vulnerable children. Read more in a book review by The Washington Post.
Stash: My Life in Hiding by Laura Cathcart Robbins. A propulsive and vivid memoir about the journey to sobriety and self-love amidst addiction, privilege, racism, and self-sabotage from the host of the popular podcast The Only One in the Room. After years of hiding her addiction from everyone—from stockpiling pills in her Louboutins to elaborately scheduling withdrawals between PTA meetings, baby showers, and tennis matches—Robbins settles into a complicated purgatory. She learns the hard way that privilege doesn’t protect you from pain. Facing divorce, the possibility of a grueling custody battle, and internalized racism, Robbins wonders just how much more she can take. Robbins harrowingly illustrates taking down the wall she built around herself and what it means to be Black in a startingly white world. With its raw, finely crafted, and engaging prose, Stash is the story of how badly the facade she created had to shatter before Robbins could reconnect to her true self. Robbins discusses her story in an interview with Thoughts from a Page Podcast.
The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff. Five years ago, Geeta lost her no-good husband. As in, she lost him–he walked out on her, and she has no idea where he is. But in her remote village in India, rumor has it that Geeta killed him. And it’s a rumor that just won’t die. It turns out that is known as a “self-made” widow comes with some perks. No one messes with her, harasses her, or tries to control ( ahem, marry) her. It’s even been good for business; no one dares to not buy her jewelry. Freedom must look good on Geeta because now other women are asking for her “expertise,” making her an unwitting consultant for husband disposal. With Geeta’s dangerous reputation becoming a double-edged sword, she has to find a way to protect the life she’s built–but even the best-laid plans of would-be widows tend to go awry. Filled with clever criminals, second chances, and wry and witty women, Shroff’s The Bandit Queens is a razor-sharp debut of humor and heart that readers won’t soon forget. Read The New York Times Book Review to learn more!
Victory City by Salman Rushdie. In the wake of an unimportant battle between two long-forgotten kingdoms in fourteenth-century southern India, a nine-year-old girl has a divine encounter that will change the course of history. After witnessing her mother’s death, the grief-stricken Pampa Kampana becomes a vessel for a goddess, who begins to speak out of the girl’s mouth. Granting her powers beyond Pampa Kampana’s comprehension, the goddess tells her that she will be instrumental in the rise of a great city called Bisnaga–“victory city”–the world’s wonder. Over the next 250 years, Pampa Kampana’s life becomes deeply interwoven with Bisnaga’s, from its literal sowing from a bag of magic seeds to its tragic ruination in the most human ways: the hubris of those in power. As years pass, rulers come and go, battles are won and lost, and allegiances shift, the very fabric of Bisnaga becomes an ever more complex tapestry–with Pampa Kampana at its center. Brilliantly styled as a translation of an ancient epic, Victory City is a saga of love, adventure, and myth that is a testament to storytelling’s power. Read The New York Times Book Review to learn more!