Step into my office

It’s Friday so let’s take a quick break and you come see all the ridiculous (and occasionally way too relatable) instagram videos I saved for you.

Ready?

Happy weekend, y’all.

Does anyone here know Merriam or Webster?

So I (along with everyone else in my timeline) have recently become obsessed with Wordle, a tiny once-a-day word game where you try to guess the word-of-the-day in 6 guesses. (Click here for details.) And I am a very big fan in spite of the fact that Wordle keeps insisting that my words don’t exist.

Today it told me that “foxen” is not a real world in spite of the fact that it totally is because I included it in my book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened 10 years ago.

“One ox. Two Oxen. One fox. Two foxen. ~ me”

Agree to disagree, Wordle.

But I am a patient person so I took a deep breath after screaming a little bit and tried again:

WTF, Wordle.

And look, I guess maybe my book is a bit underground for some, but there is no way that people who lived through the 80s are not aware that a CHUD is a cannibalistic humanoid underground dweller that lives in the sewer and eats homeless people. One chud. Two chuds. This is all basic science.

So I looked up how to actually get a word recognized by the dictionary and turns out that it has to be in common usage by a lot of people so I’m going to need you to start slipping this shit into your casual conversations enough that it starts to catch on. People might think we’re weird but these are two very good words and increasing awareness of CHUDs is always good, so people might think you’re insane at first but just keep in mind that we have an important agenda here and so when they say you’re crazy you can say, “Yeah. Crazy like a bunch of foxen” and then everyone wins.

Except the CHUDs. Those fuckers depend on your silence.

He might have a point.

Victor always gets mad about the fact that I consistently those little red warning numbers on my phone telling me that I have several hundred unread text messages, voicemails, and emails but in my defense, I don’t even see those numbers anymore. Victor says that’s not really a defense so I explained that I actually have read many of those emails but then I get overwhelmed with responding and change them to “unread” to remind me to respond when I feel less anxious and then that just never actually happens. And with my thousands of unread voicemails I assume they’re calls from people who don’t actually know me because people who know me know I’m afraid to answer my phone but I always read the automated voicemail transcripts to make sure there’s no emergency and then Victor was like, “So you totally read the transcripts and respond?” and I was like, “Of course I do” and then he showed me this transcription from two years ago and yeah, maybe I have a problem.

Hello, strangelings.

I would like to now call to order year 3 of the Fantastic Strangelings bookclub. YEAR THREE, Y’ALL. We have traveled to distant lands, crossed time, explored ancient lore, listened to unique voices, laughed hysterically, stretched our minds, gotten comfortable being uncomfortable, fallen in love with characters, haunted gothic castles, explored race, sexuality, hate and love. And we’re just getting started, because already I have read so many books coming out this year that will take us to beautiful and terrible places and expand our minds and our outlook with new and amazing stories from fascinating writers who make us think and laugh and learn.

And the first book of the year is such a good one because it’s a quirky, cozy mystery but with stronger themes on invisibility that are so worth exploring. And if you’ve been waiting to join the Fantastic Strangelings this a perfect month to start with.

It’s The Maid, a novel by Nita Prose.

Dorothy Barker looks slightly nervous because some murder mysteries can be terrifying but this one is a refreshing sort of Agatha Christie-esque story and I loved it. Here’s a quick taste:

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.

But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. 

A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.

I think you’re really going to like it.

And if you’re anything like me and need several books to get you through the month, here are some other books coming out in January that I recommend:

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan (Book 1 in a gorgeous fantasy inspired by the legend of the Chinese moon goddess)

Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz (A darkly gothic tale of grave-robbing, surgery and young romance in 19th century Scotland. Seems like a weird combo, but it totally works.)

Deserter by Junji Ito (the latest graphic novel story collection by Ito – master of bizarre body horror – does not disappoint)

My Annihilation by Fuminori Nakamura (I don’t even know how to classify this book. Psychological thriller, puzzle box sort of novel that implicates the reader in a crime? Very complex, but in a good way.)

How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu (Strange and haunting sci-fi. And Arctic Plague, a theme park for dying children, a talking pig, interstellar starships. There’s a lot going on here and all of it is fascinating.)

I’m opening up the discussion below and on the Fantastic Strangelings facebook page if you want to discuss last month’s book, A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw, but no worries if you haven’t read it yet. Discussions stay open forever so you can drop in whenever you want.

Happy reading and welcome to our new members!

Recapping my year in books.

I’m not sure 2021 counts as a real year so personally I’m just counting it as 2020 part two and holding out audacious hope that 2022 finds a way back to normality, but one thing that last year was good for was staying home and reading books. According to Goodreads I read 180 books, which is very insane until you look a little closer and realize that a shitload of them are graphic novels, which TOTALLY count as real books but realistically I can tear through a dozen a day if given the chance.

I’m trying to get ahead of the game for the Strangelings Book Club this year so I’ve already read 36 early 2022 books that are amazing and it’s making choosing the perfect books such a hard but wonderful problem. Every month I read a dozen strange and wonderful books from unique and diverse voices that we think aren’t getting as much attention as they deserve, and then we highlight my favorites for the month and mail our very favorite book (and other little surprises) right to you. And January is a perfect month to join if you want to support authors and Nowhere Bookshop at the same time. Just click here for details.

(As a little aside, it is 1000% okay if you read zero books last year and instead made 20 scarfs or watched 100 slasher films or cooked 8 cakes or petted 15 cats. I’m incredibly lucky that I get to read books to support a community that I love and that I have the time, energy and fantastic number of books available to me and this is only because of your support of Nowhere Bookshop.)

Want to see some of the books I read last year and loved?

See anything on my list that you loved too? Anything I missed? Anything you can’t wait for next year?

I needed that. Maybe you do too.

So I’m at Nowhere signing books, which looks like me in the back room with boxes of books and a stack of personalizations that sometimes read “Surprise me!” (which 75% of the time leads to me implicating you in a fascinating crime that will confound your grandchildren when they come across it one day) and sometimes have lovely notes that the sender wants to me write to the person they’re sending my books to, and sometimes it’s wonderful, funny or inspiring messages that people want me to write so that they remember them, and sometimes it’s slightly veiled threats that I can only assume they are sending to enemies while disguising their handwriting since I’m the one writing “We love you but please stop microwaving fish in the company breakroom” in their book and I tip my hat to your creativity.

But this requested inscription was actually exactly what I needed to hear for myself, and maybe you might need it too.

“The you who you are is better than the you who you want other people to think you are.”

Amen. (Thank you for the reminder, Amy. Your book is on the way.)

Happy New Year, everyone. Let’s be kind out there.

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