Welcome to Greta's staff recommendation page. Check out what Greta has been reading below.
Greta & Valdin is the debut novel of Rebecca K Reilly and found massive success in New Zealand, where it was first published. It is a beautiful story about love overcoming hardships among siblings. The title characters are both adult siblings who live with queer identities as well as being biracial. The representation of the characters is both nuanced and humanizing. It is a literary fiction novel that is comparative with the works of Sally Rooney. It is very humorous and has the heart of a romantic comedy. The family at the center of the novel is slightly dysfunctional, but love is woven within and that seems very reminiscent of real families. This book also does an excellent job of writing queer joy in the canister of colorful emotions that the characters experience.
This book was so validating to read, because in my experience as a woman, there is a lot of pressure to be able to check off different boxes in order to accommodate societal norms. The 2000s ideological concept of women having it all is still in the air, but is not as explicitly stated. When it comes to terms of gender equality, men are not held to nearly the same standards as modern women. Loehnen's thesis explains how rules that women follow in order to be perceived as good date back to biblical times, but they're still ingrained in our culture today and upheld by the patriarchy. It is an enriching blend of personal antidotes, interviews from voices in the self-help field, history, and theology. The only issue I have with this book is the author's previous work for Goop, which she references a couple of times. It seems kind of contradictory to what she is trying to prove in the text. This book is one of the quintessential feminist works of the year. It isn't necessarily a guide on how to live as a woman, but she dissects each "moral" thoroughly, reflects on it, and states that if we're upholding these ideals for ourselves, then we are suppressing our needs that are simply part of the human condition.
This book has already garnered much literary acclaim, but I'm here to tell you that it is worth the fanfare. Recently translated from its original French, writer Anne Berest lets readers into the private lives of a family that has been deeply wounded by the horrors of the Holocaust. When a mysterious postcard arrives with the names of the family members who perished in the camps written on it, the family is forced to face their tragic history. It also has a theme of self-discovery as the main character, who acts as a self-insert for the author, grapples with realizing her Jewish identity. It is both a historical and contemporary novel, as it switches back and forth from the past and the present. It is heart wrenching at times. Berest does a beautiful job of immortalizing members of her real-life family, giving them a chance to live on and not disappear completely. When people tell tales of the past, especially when referring to the Holocaust, they don't want the public to forget that it has occurred, because they do not want history to repeat itself. It is relevant, as extremism appears to be once again on the rise. This work is a labor of love for the author, and it shows in her writing.
Here comes a new, character driven novel about three women who are very different in nature. Their lives become interwoven when the boundaries of a complicated female friendship are pushed. Alice and Sadie have been best friends since high school. The book takes place in 1990s, when they are both in their mid-twenties. Sadie's mother, Celine, is a prolific feminist writer. Her character reminds one of a fictional Susan Sontag. Both Sadie and Celine are blunt, clever, and self-sufficient, but their relationship suffers from the animosity that exists between them. When Celine and Alice start to have an affair, all three of women's lives are changed. This book challenges the ideas of womanhood and desires. It's dramatic and will make its reader feel a voyeuristic rush. There are also many references to Freud that add an uneasy critique of the characters' actions. The relationships between the characters are the lifeblood of this book.
In Dolan's sophomore novel, The Happy Couple, the characters take precedence. It is centered around a newly engaged couple and the people in their wedding party. Celine, the bride, is hyper-fixated on playing the piano, in which she is classically trained. Luke, the groom, can't stop himself from being promiscuous and has slept with everyone in the wedding party. The writing style is similar to that of Sally Rooney (except Dolan uses quotations marks, when there is dialogue, unlike Rooney). Though the main cast of characters is unlikeable, they feel like real people, and they speak to the human condition where some readers might be able to relate to them. You'll want to find out what happens as it leads up to their happy day. The United States is lucky to get a release of this Irish gem.
Bluebeard's Castle is filmmaker Anna Biller's debut novel. You might be aware of her presence as an artist if you have seen her cult horror film, The Love Witch. The book is a feminist retelling of the French fairytale Bluebeard. Judith is a successful romance novelist. Her books are gothic and take inspiration from classics like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Shortly into the book, Judith seems to find herself in a situation that is very similar to one of her books. She has moved into a castle with a tall, dark handsome man who she barely knows. Quickly, the fantasy of the marriage starts to unravel, and Judith can't decipher whether she is living in a dream or a plain nightmare. This book takes a new look at toxic relationships, putting you in the headspace of someone in the midst of domestic abuse. The author is careful not to glamourize the brutality of it all. It is tense and hard to read at times, but it also has elements of camp. It also has a self-referential quality that is quite charming.
Melissa Broder fans rejoice. She has given us another gift with her newest novel. Death Valley puts you in the mind of a middle-aged, sober writer who is in midst of grieving for her father who is critical condition. Her husband is also suffering from a worsening chronic illness. She takes refuge in a Best Western near the desert. Broder's voice is sarcastic and celebrates the thoughts that most people have had but don't want to admit. She tends to write these unlikeable female characters, women consumed with desires and overwhelming feelings. They sometimes make destructive or selfish decisions, but as a reader, I find them very interesting. As the novel progresses, she proceeds to venture deeper into the Californian desert. It is in the desert landscape where the novel shifts from literary fiction to magical realism. The presence of a surreal magical cactus that only she can see is what makes this novel great. It gives a playful eccentricity to a story that is very bleak at times in subject matter and setting. It quickly escalates to a survival story when she can no longer go back the way she has come.
This book stretches like a dream you can't wake up from. It centers around a woman who is grieving the death of her mother, with whom she had a very complex relationship. Both women share an obsession with beauty and skin care. The main character comes to California to manage her mother's remaining estate and large debts when she discovers that her mother was a part of very exclusive spa that promises advance treatments. Although it delves into topics that are feminine in nature such as beauty standards, this is largely a horror novel, and I would not recommend it to those who are very faint of heart. In her writing, there is a certain sinister energy, but it is as intriguing as it is devilish. This world Awad has created has many layers, and nothing is as it first seems to appear. It is revolutionary in its satire of the beauty industry, achieving what lesser books only scrape the surface of.
Have you ever asked yourself, why are women's pockets generally smaller than men's pockets? In the book Pockets, by Hannah Carlson, the author will answer this question and more. This book goes all the way back to the beginning. Surprisingly, this account of history has a feminist lens. It is more interesting than one would think, and you don't have to be very knowledgeable about fashion to be able to enjoy this book.
All Night Pharmacy is a riveting account of early adulthood and learning how to live for yourself. The narrator suffers from an unhealthy relationship with her older sister nursed by booze, sex, and pills. She must find a new sense of identity when her older sister disappears after an outburst of violence. Strange and vibrant characters come in and out of her life as she tries to put the pieces together. It transports to you a wild LA landscape and showcases the transitory nature of life. One theme that is very present in the book is generational trauma, especially within immigrants of the Jewish community. Madievsky is a Jewish immigrant herself, moving to the US when she was just two years old. One of my favorite things about the novel is that, although it is full of dread at times, there is a lot of character growth in the main character, which I found to be kind of hopeful. It is highly emotion-fueled, but what is the point of art of any kind if it does not evoke some sort of emotion out of its audience?
A young woman starts working at her family’s book store after breaking up with her boyfriend and quitting her job. The author obviously loves books. The family relationships in this novel are so nuanced and interesting. I related a lot to the main character and it had made me feel like I was on the right path by becoming a bookseller.
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Monstrilio, by debut author Gerardo Sámano Córdova, will blow you away with its depiction of the ugliness and otherworldliness of grief and how it affects people differently. When Magos and Joseph lose their only child, Santiago, Magos cuts him open and takes a piece of his lung. The lung starts to grow into a monster, and they try to raise it as they would a son. The story is told from the perspective of four different narrators. The final narrator is the monster, Monstrilio. This is a book will beautiful prose and intricate imagery that will stay with you. Monstrilio will make you contemplate what it means to be human and rethink the nature vs nurture debate. I loved this novel like it was my own sick and twisted child.
For fans of books about unhinged women, this book from debut author Alice Slater will meet your criteria for the elusive genre of sorts. It follows Roach, a bookseller whose obsession with true crime makes others uneasy. The reader will be these among these people. When a new bookseller, Laura, comes to Roach's store, she sees an opportunity to make a friend who also possibly also likes to read true crime, but Laura has a dark secret that she wants to keep hidden. As the story unravels, chaos ensues. It is characterized by Roach's compulsive behavior while pursuing friendship. It is a thrilling read.
This is a nonfiction book like no other that I've ever read. It's a case study where the author follows three women for the span of eight years and brings nuance to the subject of female desire, a topic that lacks thorough discussion in modern society. It reads remarkably similarly to the style of a novel and will make the reader stir with feeling. It is a book that leaves a mark on those who choose to participate in it.
Eileen lives at home, tending for her alcoholic father, while working as a secretary at a prison for young boys. She lives a bleak existence in X-ville until a new hypnotic woman starts working with Eileen and changes the trajectory of her sad life.This is a twisted book, but what really made this work is Moshfegh's voice as a writer. It’s witty and sardonic. The author subverts genres by fusing the boundaries of literary fiction and thriller. She puts you in the headspace of an unlikeable character but still has you rooting for the protagonist. The ending will have you on the edge of your seat. I felt the tension in my body as I read her words. It was a visceral experience.