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Ruth's Picks

Ruth is a recent college graduate from Massachusetts who moved to Vermont in 2020 on a whim and still can't quite believe she gets to live in this beautiful place. Her greatest accomplishment is that she has listened to the full audiobook of David Sedaris's diaries, Theft by Finding, seven times. She keeps at least 3 collections of poetry by her bedside at all times. She is also a writer herself, and has competed in multiple poetry slams. When she isn't reading books, looking at books, or thinking about books, she is eating cookie dough and planning her next road trip. Her favorite genres are poetry, essays, memoir, short story, sociology, and literary fiction. Ruth loves getting asked for book recommendations!

Can't Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Petersen

Reviewed by: 
Ruth
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Can't Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780358315070
Availability: Click Title to See Location Inventory
Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - September 22nd, 2020

This book transformed, enraged, devastated, and comforted me as a 22-year-old on the cusp of the millennial generation (born 1998). Petersen's methodical dissection of the economic and cultural odds stacked against this generation is intensely researched and entirely accessible. I especially enjoyed the way she broke down how historical trends, like the decline of labor unions and the rise of temp work, brought us to the economic position we're in today.  I recommend this book to anyone who thinks millennials are lazy or entitled, and of course to millennials themselves. It really changed my view of the world.


On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

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Ruth
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On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous: A Novel Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780525562023
Availability: Click Title to See Location Inventory
Published: Penguin Press - June 4th, 2019

This intricately woven novel is written in the form of an immigrant boy's letter to his illiterate mother. It touches on themes of war, PTSD, race, immigration, queerness, and the violence of American masculinity. I believe the greatness of this book can only be fully understood by sampling some of its best passages, so here's one:

“You once told me that the human eye is god's loneliest creation. How so much of the world passes through the pupil and still it holds nothing. The eye, alone in its socket, doesn't even know there's another one, just like it, an inch away, just as hungry, as empty.”  

Ocean Vuong is a poet first, and it shows. This is the best novel I read in 2019. If you love his writing, check out his collection of poetry, "Night Sky With Exit Wounds."


Space Struck: Poems by Paige Lewis

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Ruth
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Space Struck Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781946448446
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Published: Sarabande Books - October 8th, 2019

Paige Lewis's poems are always doing a thousand things at once: reveling in the wonders of the natural world, calling attention to the strangeness of our contemporary condition, capturing the anxiety that underlies all of our lives, making us giggle at clever puns. One of her lines is "I have never written the word 'doom,' but nothing else fits," and it has always haunted me, especially in our pandemic-world. Another stanza I love: "I'm almost positive I've got what it takes to be a saint/ because I've stopped breaking what I can't afford,/ and if I look up for long enough, everyone looks up." Oh, and fun fact: when Paige Lewis got married to her partner, Kaveh Akbar, they had a poetry-themed wedding. Okay, I'm done gushing. Now buy the book!


Recollections of My Nonexistance by Rebecca Solnit

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Ruth
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Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780593083338
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Viking - March 10th, 2020

"When I read, I ceased to be myself, and this nonexistence I pursued and devoured like a drug." Though Rebecca Solnit has always written at the intersection of the personal and political, this is her first entirely personal memoir, and I believe it is her best work yet. It tackles issues of sexual violence, representation, and voice as they arise in her life. Particular emphasis is placed on her 20s, when Solnit was discovering herself as a writer and coming to understand all the ways the world erases and discredits the voices of women. I finished this book feeling validated and seen-- as a woman, a writer, and politically active young adult.


In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

Reviewed by: 
Ruth
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In the Dream House: A Memoir Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781644450031
Availability: Click Title to See Location Inventory
Published: Graywolf Press - November 5th, 2019

This memoir is truly unprecedented in scope, content, and style. Each chapter rarely extends longer than 1 page and explores a different facet of an abusive queer relationship through the lens of a different literary trope (stoner comedy, noir, déjà vu, etc.). As in her critically acclaimed book of short stories, Her Body and Other Parties, Machado's strength lies in her ability to create suspense and horror out of domestic life, especially women's lives. I finished this book feeling awe-struck.


Cool for America by Andrew Martin

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Ruth
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Cool for America: Stories Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780374108168
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Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - July 7th, 2020

The characters in Martin's stories are over-educated, under-employed borderline alcoholics who are aimless in their wanderings through the world-- what's not to like? The quick-witted dialogue is top-notch. Every conversation and situation that the characters find themselves in employs the nihilistic humor of the millennial generation to hilarious effect.


Luster by Raven Leilani

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Ruth
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Luster: A Novel Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780374194321
Availability: Click Title to See Location Inventory
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - August 4th, 2020

Wow. Leilani's prose is breathless, incisive, and bitingly funny.  The scathingly self-aware main character, Edie, is the most relatable character I've read in a long time. My favorite sentence from this book is "I think of all the gods I have made out of feeble men.” I read the last few pages as slowly as I could, just to savor it. This is a book I will be gifting to everyone I know. Literally. Everyone.


Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener

Reviewed by: 
Ruth
Uncanny Valley: A Memoir Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780374278014
Availability: Click Title to See Location Inventory
Published: MCD - January 14th, 2020

Who knew that an up-close view of the late-capitalist hellscape that is Silicon Valley could be so engrossing? Weiner's story is quintessentially, tragically millennial: a passionate but broke do-gooder moves to California to work on the fringe of the tech industry. The precision and wit of Weiner's prose makes this memoir one of the best I've read all year. 


Baby, I Don't Care by Chelsey Minnis

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Ruth
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Baby, I Don't Care Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781940696720
Availability: Click Title to See Location Inventory
Published: Wave Books - September 4th, 2018

“I love to go to bed sober, / which means I have to start drinking early,” writes Minnis. These poems are like the kind of friend you want to bring to a party but don't want driving your car-- aggressive, reckless, and absurd. You will devour them like a tub of cookie dough at 1 AM, except that you won't regret it.


Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh

Reviewed by: 
Ruth
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Homesick for Another World: Stories Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780399562907
Availability: Click Title to See Location Inventory
Published: Penguin Books - December 5th, 2017

Jia Tolentino calls her the "the most interesting contemporary American writer on the subject of being alive when being alive feels terrible," and I could not agree more. Moshfegh has the uncanny ability to write brilliantly unlikable characters, the kind whose foibles are so tender that you find yourself laughing and crying in recognition of their plight. This is a collection that I come back to whenever I want to feel less alone.
 


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