Come read with me

Several book-related things you might be interested in…

First…if you want a signed, personalized copies of my books shipped right to you just click here. If you get your order in by Friday they should arrive before Christmas and I am very happy to personalize them to you or to loved ones, or implicate you in a crime or surprise you with trivia about animal genitalia. Just make sure you specify what you want in the order comments so that you aren’t surprised with arson compliments unless you really want them. They make excellent gifts. (Books, I mean. Not arsonists.)

Second…here’s a little wrap-up if you’re looking for books and want to see some of my favorite books of 2022.

Third…Nowhere Bookshop is in the running for the Best of San Antonio awards! I would say that you should vote for us but honestly you should support all indie bookshops because they’re all worthy of your time and this year has been a bit harder for all indie bookshops across the board.

Fourth…If you’re already a member of the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club (CLICK HERE TO JOIN US, MAGNIFICENT WEIRDO) then you already know what this month’s book is, but just in case you missed my email (make sure to check it because we’re doing a live holiday online crafting cocktail hour this Thursday and you’ll want to watch) our book this month is Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion, by Bushra Rehman and it is so very good.

You know when you meet a fictional character in a book and they become so real to you that actually miss them when the book ends?  Ones where you feel like you were falling in love with all of the people, and learning and growing and feeling like you found someone else who understood you even though they’re nothing like you?  Me too.  Francie from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  Cecy from Bradbury’s From the Dust Returned.  Every single person in the All-of-a-Kind Family books.  And now, Razia Mirza from Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion.

Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion is a gorgeously written 1980s coming-of-age story about female friendship and queer love in a Muslim-American community that had me filled with strange nostalgia for people I never actually knew.  It’s a powerful reminder that we are all so different, but we are all so alike.  And like all good books, some of it is hard and some of it is sad and much of it is hopeful and heart-warming, but all of it is important.

This is where I would put a picture of Dorothy Barker with the book but Hunter S. Thomcat let his intrusive thoughts win and chewed up the book and it seemed fitting. Am I rewarding bad behavior by posting this? No, because he is a cat and doesn’t read the internet. Probably.

Need more than one book to get you through the cold, wintery month (or warmish, brown month if you live in Texas)? ME TOO. Here are a few I really liked that come out this month:

The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton – A deeply emotional tale on the changes we’d rather not see and the future we’d rather not greet.

The Sorcerer of Pyongyang by Marcel Theroux – an experimental sort of novel about a North Korean boy whose life is irrevocably changed when he stumbles across a mysterious Western book—a guide to Dungeons & Dragons.

Our Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha – a lovely celebration of the small joys that bring us together.

Alone with You in the Ether by Olivie Blake –  I suspect this will be a big book this year and one that will polarize people about the choices the characters make (and made me want to shake them sometimes) but it is VERY good.  A love story that explores what it means to be unwell, and how to face the fractures of yourself and still love as if you’re not broken.  

A History of Fear by Luke Dumas – An eerie suspense debut following the harrowing downfall of a tortured graduate student who’s been nicknamed the Devil’s Advocate for murdering a classmate, then claiming the Devil made him do it.

The Lindbergh Nanny by Mariah Fredericks – Historical fiction that brings readers into the interior of the twentieth century’s most infamous crime.

How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures by Sabrina Imbler – Fascinating essays explore the themes of adaptation, survival, sexuality, and care, and weave the wonders of marine biology with stories of the authors own family, relationships, sexuality, race and coming of age.

If you’ve finished last month’s book (White Horse) and want to discuss I’ll open up a thread today on the FS facebook page but if you’re anti-facebook I’ll leave my thoughts in the comments.

Happy reading!

There are four kinds of people

I used to think there were two kinds of people…those insist they still have plenty of gas even when they’re on empty just to fuck with their anxious wives and those of us who aren’t assholes, but then last week we ate at Whataburger and my sandwich had onions and mustard on it even though I didn’t want mustard or onions but I ate it because I am the kind of person who does not complain because I don’t like to be a bother, but then when I was almost done Victor started eating his sandwich and was like, “They left the mustard off mine” and I was like, “That’s weird. They put mustard on mine and I didn’t even want mustard” and Victor was like, “…Did you just eat my sandwich?” and I was like, “Oh. Maybe? Is that why mine had onions when I asked for no onions?” and turns out I did eat Victor’s sandwich and I apologized but I also explained that I didn’t do it on purpose and that technically he shouldn’t be mad since I only ate his sandwich because I’m too nice and that really both of us were victims here, but he said that he totally could be mad because “I’m too nice to not eat someone else’s sandwich” is not a rational excuse for anyone and I disagree, so I guess maybe there are four kinds of people.

PS. My computer is trying to tell me that the above paragraph is one unacceptably long run-on sentence that needs to be fixed but I think it’s perfectly acceptable since that’s the way I talk in real life, so I guess maybe there are 5 kinds of people and one very pedantic grammar program that is not happy with me.

Be warm. Avoid rug nipples.

So two things:

  1. We put up the winter window display at Nowhere Bookshop and you can tell that Aedan actually installed it because it’s pointing the right way. I was too sick to decorate (much better now) and then I got into a hit-and-run (I’m fine but my car’s butt is now an innie) but I did make the tiny house and the snowflakes made of damaged books so I at least helped:

And 2. Just in case you missed it (or put it off until later and forgot until now) we’re rereleasing our original limited edition Nowhere Bookshop shirts and hoodies (And yes, that’s mainly because Hailey has literally stolen all of my grey nowhere hoodies and I need new ones desperately because I live in them in the winter) so just click here if you want one. (Click through for other colors and styles but the grey hides cat fur in the most fabulous way in case this is an issue for you like it is for me.)

That was supposed to be the last thing but now I have one more because I had to throw our living room rug away because the dog defiled it but I found a rug online for $29 ($29!?) and so I ordered that but then it came vacuum-sealed in a package the size of a wet-wipe and when I fluffed it out it was tiny and there were these giant lumps in it:

Like, I can’t capture how weird it looks and Hailey saw it and couldn’t stop laughing and I explained that I had thought maybe it would unshitify itself it I just left it to breathe and Hailey was like, “‘Unshitify’ is not a word” and they’re right but it totally should be because this rug is totally shitified. It looks like it’s got nipples. Do you want a nipple rug? Because I have one.

I’m grateful that I’ve never have to do a gratitude journal.

One of my friends, Neil Pasricha, is good people. He’s one of those people who understands that sometimes I disappear for months when my brain goes dark but is there to talk for 90 minutes straight when it lights back up. He is one of the few people who can write genuinely happy things that don’t make me mad. This sounds ridiculous but personally I struggle with books about appreciating life and that’s sort of what he’s great at and usually those kinds of books make me go, “Well this is a person who has clearly never lived in the real world” except that Neil has lived in the real world and understands so many of the same struggles I’ve had and his books are less “YOU SHOULD BE THANKFUL THAT YOU’RE ALIVE, YOU UNGRATEFUL TURD” and more about, “You know what’s awesome? When you totally should have gotten a parking ticket but didn’t.” In fact, his newest book (OUR BOOK OF AWESOME) is all about that. Just lists of awesome, small things that make you smile. And that’s lovely because it’s like a gratitude journal that I don’t even have to write, and even more lovely because when I open up to any page and read a few and…honestly…I don’t feel grateful. Instead I feel nostalgia, which is better. This sounds weird but when I read “awesome” things that exist in the world when I’m feeling down it I’m often too deep into a depression to appreciate them and instead I feel this cognitive dissonance of knowing that my emotions aren’t working correctly. But when I read the “awesome” things in this book while I’m feeling down I instead use it to remember moments when I was really happy and in that way it reminds me I’ll be happy again.

I read “Making disgusting slurping noises while eating a really juicy peach” and go, “Gross.” And then a second later I remember eating peaches from my grandmother’s peach tree and how we’d make homemade peach ice cream in the backyard and for some reason my sister or I always had to sit on the antique wooden churn while all my aunts and uncles took turns hand cranking it. Why did we have to sit on the churn? I have no idea. But remembering it gave me a warm feeling in my heart. It was like the gift of a memory and the reassurance that there are wonderful, small memories I can still unlock and that there will be more that I’ll make in the future.

I read Neil appreciating “The sound of a needle hitting the record” and I think, “Who still has records?” but then suddenly I’m 10 again and discovering that my library lends out records and they have the Yentl soundtrack and I loudly sing Papa, Can You Hear Me over and over in the living room, so much that father is finally like, “OH MY GOD, YES JENNY WE HEAR YOU! THE NEIGHBORS CAN HEAR YOU. IT IS LITERALLY 6AM. PLEASE NO MORE YENTL” and so I sigh and put Yentl away and replace it with the Annie soundtrack and loudly sing that song about how I betcha my real parents are probably pretty awesome and will be coming back to get me one day and then my dad was like, “You know those headphones I said to never touch? Just take them. For the love of God, take them.”

I read Neil appreciating “When you cook something new and everyone likes it” and I turn to the next page because I can’t relate because I guess everything’s not all about me but then he’s like, “Successfully blaming your fart on the dog” and I’m back in.

Anyway, all this to say that in a strange way it’s helped me this week because several times I found myself seeing these little moments of awesome in my own life and enjoying them and wanting to share.

When an onion ring ended up in my bag and I didn’t even order onion rings.

When I found tweezers when I actually needed tweezers.

When you clean off a counter that’s been all hoardery for so long that you’ve forgotten that it was ever actually a counter and then the next morning it’s still clean and it’s like a little gift to you and you keep going back to it because, damn, that’s a good looking counter, y’all.

When Victor facetimed me from Japan last night because he wanted me to see this doll shop that I love but the noise of the phone ringing makes Dorothy Barker howl so I put the phone in front of her like she was answering the phone and I was going “Awoooo!” along with her because it’s cute and then I hear Victor explaining to the shop worker that he’s not recording the dolls and is just letting me shop from Texas and he’s like, “See, it’s my wife” but is unaware that he’s actually showing them a video of a small dog howling and he’s trying to explain it in Japanese but the shop worker is like, “What is going on here?” and then I figure it what’s happening and quickly take the phone away from the dog before Victor realizes that he’s been telling people that he’s not a weird grown man recording pictures of dolls, but is in fact, asking his wife – a dog – which one she wants.

Anyway, I reached out to Neil to thank him for sending me an advance copy of this book that I didn’t know that I needed and he was so happy that he was like, “Awesome! Want me to send some advance copies to your readers?” because he’s full of amazingness.

So if you want an advance copy leave a comment here about something awesome that you love or something awesome that has happened to you or something awesome you’re looking forward to and he’ll pick a few randomly to send a few advance books to. (Make sure to leave your email address. I won’t use it for anything except to give to Neil so he can get your address from you if you win a copy.)

And you can pre-order your copy now right here.

PS. This isn’t an ad. I’m not getting paid for it. I just thought you might enjoy. 🙂

It’s Friday and I’m cuddled up on the couch so come join me but wear a mask.

Today is Friday and that means I have videos for you, but also I’m sick so instead of inviting you into my office I’m inviting you onto the couch where I am currently cuddled up and I am spraying myself with lysol just for you. Luckily it’s not covid or the flu (GET YOUR BOOSTERS, Y’ALL) and is just the cold that’s going around but I’m still feeling lightly pitiful and Victor is out of town so I would love it if you would braid my hair and turn on your favorite comfort show and tell me I’m being your little warrior.

Also, I have a light fever so if you don’t think these are funny it’s probably just because your brain isn’t as boiled as mine:

Unrelated, the other day we were ordering food at Subway and the lady in front of us was talking some bs conspiracy theories and so I loudly said, “WE DIDN’T GET A SINGLE TRICK OR TREATER THIS YEAR AND NOW WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH ALL THIS FENTANYL?” and Victor got all big-eyed and was like, “wtf, Jenny” and I thought it was hilarious but I didn’t share it because I thought it was maybe too much but now I’m high on cough meds and it seems funny again. Sorry.

PS. I am going to jinx myself by asking this but am I the only one left who has never had covid? Because I’m all shitted up but I know other people who have had all their boosters and keep getting it and it’s weird that I never get it. Or maybe I get it but it’s super sneaky covid?

PPS. That last sentence was supposed to say that “I’m all shotted up” but autocorrect changed it and actually it’s probably pretty accurate so I’m just leaving it.

November is for reading

So last month my Fantastic Strangelings Book Club (CLICK HERE TO JOIN NOW) read Lute by Jennifer Thorne (or at least placed it on our TBR pile with very good intentions to treat ourselves to more reading time) and we talked murders during our online craft hour while I made nipple pasties for the cats.

Coming up next? This month’s book, which is getting rave reviews for very good reason:

Usually Dorothy Barker is in the picture but I couldn’t get a physical advance copy and had to read it on my phone and it would be weird to take a picture of Dottie next to my phone, especially since I use my phone to take pictures.

It’s White Horse, by Erika T. Wurth, a gritty, vibrant debut about an Indigenous woman who must face her past when she discovers a bracelet haunted by her mother’s spirit.  And it’s a perfect read for Native American Heritage month, which I didn’t even plan but yay for happy coincidences! (The author is of Apache/Chickasaw/Cherokee descent and she is fantastic.)

Heavy metal, ripped jeans, Stephen King novels, and the occasional beer at the White Horse have defined urban Indian Kari James’s life so far. But when her cousin Debby finds an old family bracelet that once belonged to Kari’s mother, it inadvertently calls up both her mother’s ghost and a monstrous entity, and her willful ignorance about her past is no longer sustainable.

Haunted by visions of her mother and hunted by this mysterious creature, Kari must search for what happened to her mother all those years ago. Her father, permanently disabled from a car crash, can’t help her. Her Auntie Squeaker seems to know something but isn’t eager to give it all up at once. Debby’s anxious to help, but her controlling husband keeps getting in the way. Kari’s journey toward a truth long denied by both her family and law enforcement forces her to confront her dysfunctional relationships, thoughts about a friend she lost in childhood, and her desire for the one thing she’s always wanted but could never have.

Part murder mystery, part ghost story…a beautifully atmospheric story about grief, generational trauma, race, class, family and friendship.  It’s listed as horror, but to me it feels more thriller/mystery.  And it made me put down the book to google several times, which is always a wonderful sign that I’m reading something that is making my mind expand.  So good.

And if you, like me, need more than one book to get you through the month then you are in luck because November has some amazing new releases that you’re not going to want to miss. A few of my favorites are:

Small Game by Blair Braverman – A gripping debut novel about a survival reality show gone wrong that leaves a group of strangers stranded in the northern wilds.

Sign Here by Claudia Lux – A darkly comedy about a guy who works in Hell (literally) and is on the cusp of a big promotion if only he can get one more member of the wealthy Harrison family to sell their soul.  Like if The Good Place was a murder mystery.

The Boy and the Dog by Seishū Hase – One dog changes the life of everyone who takes him in on his journey to reunite with his first owner in this inspiring tribute to the bond between humans and dogs and the life-affirming power of connection. You will cry.

Gilded Mountain by Kate Manning – Set in early 1900s Colorado, the unforgettable tale of a young woman who bravely faces the consequences of speaking out against injustice.

A Coastline is an Immeasurable Thing by Mary-Alice Daniel – A poetic coming-of-age memoir that probes the legacies and myths of family, race, and religion that spans from Nigeria to England to America.

Con/Artist: The Life and Crimes of the World’s Greatest Art Forger by Tony Tetro and Giampiero Ambrosi – A memoir of a forger who reveals his secrets and exposes the art world as being much nastier than I could have imagined.

We Are the Light by Matthew Quick – A timely, heartbreaking and poignant novel about a town surviving after a mass shooting.  A terrible but hopeful look at the mind-altering destruction left behind after such a tragedy.

Quilt of Souls by Phyllis Biffle Elmore – a multigenerational memoir that paints the portraits of extraordinary Black women born before and after the civil war.

Toad by Katherine Dunn – This lady wrote Geek Love (one of my fave books of all time) so I was excited about this but I also understand why she didn’t publish it when she was alive. It’s a very depressing book about depression but her prose is so incredible.

I’m about to open up the discussion thread on our Fantastic Strangelings facebook page so we can talk about Lute, but if you don’t do facebook I’ll leave my thoughts in the comments below.

Also, a giant thank you to all my fantastic strangelings. Nowhere Bookshop would not stay afloat without you and you make such a difference to our authors as well.

Happy reading!

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