This haunting and haunted story about motherhood and a writer's obsessive search for meaning and her muse immediately hooked me with the line “This is a female text, composed while folding someone else’s clothes," which captures something of its raw and tender nature. It's a new favorite in one of my favorite genres -- novels and memoirs by poets -- and it's also a gripping read.
I read this book in a single sitting, spellbound by the great Lucille Clifton's prose and her approach to writing a family memoir unlike any I'd ever read. Generations captures all the intimacy and immediacy of trading memories around a kitchen table, with observations and revelations that reverberate well beyond the walls of the family home. This is a must-read.
Stories about families seemed to be a theme for my reading this year, and Immediate Family by Ashley Nelson Levy is one of the most original and moving versions of this story I've ever read. It's about the many ways in which a family can grow and change, with the deep and complex relationship between siblings as its center. I laughed and cried, and came away from this book feeling full of awe.
I think of Second Place as a pandemic novel, in a sense. An isolated couple welcomes a troubled artist to stay with them indefinitely at their home at the edge of a marsh. This book feels like salt air, complicated loves, and eerie calm. Rachel Cusk is an incredible writer, and whether you loved the Outline trilogy or didn’t (full disclosure, I didn’t, don’t hate me — and I loved this book) this place and these characters will pull you into their depths.
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants (Hardcover)
Braiding Sweetgrass had been a bestseller at Point Reyes Books long before I got around to reading it, and doing so was like experiencing a childlike wonder at my surroundings when I thought I knew their contours well. While there's plenty for natural science lovers to learn here, it's the chapters on language that have forever altered how I look at the living world. Like the sweetgrass, this book is a gift in so many ways.
On seasons, botany, California, lichen, Emily Dickinson, poppies, New England, letter-writing, and home. I couldn't ask for more.
Of all the books I read "again, again" and "one more time" to our toddler, Sato The Rabbit is one I absolutely never tire of. This book contains several very short stories about Sato's adventures, which include taking a big bite of and then setting sail upon a watermelon boat, catching stars in a net to illuminate a moonless night, and opening a walnut to find a delightful array of comforting things plus a whole world inside. I smile on every page, no matter how many times I read it. I think my kid does too, but that's beside the point.