A quick note before I get started to say that yes, I am doing the James Garfield Miracle again this year and I’ll probably do it later this week or early next week. It’ll be like last year, a stuffed animal sent to anyone struggling to buy a present for each kiddo until the funds run out. 🙂 Check back for details on how to help and how to ask for help.
But now, I totally want to discuss last month’s Fantastic Strangelings book club pick (Still Life by Sarah Winman) because it was one of my favorite books of the whole year and I need to talk about it. I’m going to open up the Fantastic Strangeling facebook page for discussion but my thoughts on the book are also in the comments here in case you don’t do facebook. (And as always, no worries if you’re behind…the threads stay open forever so just drop in or lurk whenever you want.)
And in case you missed it, this month’s book is A History of Wild Places, a novel by Shea Earnshaw, a hauntingly beautiful, hypnotic, and bewitching story about fairy tales, our fear of the dark, and losing yourself within the wilderness of your mind. Twisty-turny…I picked it up to read the first page and didn’t put it down until I was done. I think you’re gonna like it.
And if you’re like me and need more than one book to get you through the month, here are the other books I read that come out this month that I loved:
Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim (an epic, sprawling story of love, war and redemption set against the backdrop of the Korean independence movement, following the fates of a young girl sold to a courtesan school and a poor son of a hunter. Great historical fiction on a fascinating subject I’m embarrassed to say I knew nothing about before.)
Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan (Such a tiny book with such a powerful story. Again, historical fiction teaching me how dumb I am…this story is dedicated to the women and children who suffered time in Ireland’s Magdalen laundries, which I didn’t even know existed until I read this book. Both heartbreaking and optimistic. I only wish it was longer because I immediately wanted to know all of the stories that were lost to time.)
The Midnight Girls by Alicia Jasinska (Okay, ignore the cover which makes it look very 80s middle-school because the actual story is so very good. A Polish folklore sapphic fairy tale where rival witches make beautiful and complicated monsters? YES PLEASE.)
No Beauties or Monsters by Tara Goedjen (Twisty, turny YA novel that kept me guessing until the end.)
Lost & Found: A Memoir by Kathryn Schulz (I struggled a little with this one because it was quite sad, but a true book on grief probably should be. But also uplifting in a different sort of way? Death, gratitude and grief is always tough to mix but this book does it.)
Vivian Maier Developed: The Untold Story of the Photographer Nanny by Ann Marks (I loved the documentary about this amazing photographer whose work was famously only discovered in a Chicago storage locker after her death, but this book goes much deeper into who she probably was.)
And if you’ve been putting off joining the club, let me just say that a membership makes an excellent gift for yourself or for others and includes a Nowhere pin and lots of little surprises including bizarre emails from me and live zooms and Q&As with authors while supporting strange and wonderful books that might not get the attention that they deserve. And January’s book is DIVINE and uplifting and suspenseful and shines a light on people society often ignores and I can’t tell you any more because it’s a surprise but oh, I think you’ll love it. Click here to join.