If you’re already a member of the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club then you already got an email from me about next month’s book club pick and you already know how giddily excited I am about it. (PS. It is never too late to join and we have spots open right now if you want to be part of a wonderfully bizarre book club that never makes you put pants on.) So today we’re going to open up discussion for January’s book (The Swallowed Man by Edward Carey) on the Fantastic Strangelings Facebook page and on this post in case you’re not a Facebook fan (no rush if you haven’t finished it!) but first I’m going to tell you all about February.
So. February was one of the hardest picks ever because there were SO MANY amazing books out there. I literally whittled it down to 10 books and Elizabeth was like, “What is wrong with you? We can’t send people 10 books” and she is right but also, it was an impossibly hard decision so I went through them all and thought “What if I could only read one of these?” and I realized it had to be The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec.
When a banished witch falls in love with the legendary trickster Loki, she risks the wrath of the gods in this moving, subversive debut novel that reimagines Norse mythology.
This book was the perfect mix of heart-ache and hope and it literally made me cry but in a really good way and as soon as I finished it I wanted to erase it from my head so I could read it again for the first time. SO GOOD.
(And you don’t need to be a big fan of Norse Mythology to know what’s going on, in case you’re wondering. Most everything I knew about Loki is from Tom Hiddleston.)
I always pick an optional bonus book for those of you who (like me) need more than one book to get you through the month and so I can highly recommend The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey. Sort of a sci-fi clone thriller but deeper than that. It was like Westworld (except it actually made sense) and at the end I was filled with a million what-if questions.
Do you need more than that? I think maybe you do because THERE ARE SO MANY GOOD FEBRUARY BOOKS AND I WANT TO SHARE THEM ALL. So here are a few that I really loved.
The Girl from the Channel Islands: A WWII Novel by Jenny Lacoat (Fascinating and based on a true story)
The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold (Like if the Walking Dead and Phantom Tollboth had a baby)
The Removed by Brandon Hobson (Heartbreaking and dreamlike.)
In the Garden of Spite: A Novel of the Black Widow of La Porte by Camilla Bruce (for true-crime lovers)
The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson (A poignant look at motherhood, race and the American Dream)
My Year Abroad by Change-Rae Lee (This book is weird as hell but I loved it)
Burning Girls and Other Stories by Veronica Schanoes (Two of these stories BLEW ME AWAY. Worth it just for those two alone, in my opinion.)
The Memory Theater by Karin Tidbeck (A folkloric fairytale about the fabric of reality)
PS. If you’re a member of the Fantastic Strangelings check your email for an invitation to a live book-discussion on zoom with Zeyn Joukhadar next month (He wrote our November book, The Thirty Names of Night). I think we’ll also be doing one with Edward Carey sometime soon but no definite dates yet. (We try to put some of them on our youtube channel if you’re an honorary member or miss it.)
My thoughts on The Swallowed Man are in the comments. Happy reading!