Here are some of Olivia V.'s recent favorites.
It's a special thing, to be found by a book. To be so perfectly and unexpectedly bound within its pages and to know you will be different in some way after you’ve read it, feeling a little less lost in the world. Passing for Human is a memoir told in fables and allusions of love, family, existence, and belonging, all crafted from shaky, deceptively simple, inky lines. Finck’s art distills the nuance and complexities of life, and her stories are told in an eloquent, authentic voice. Finck has created something beautiful that will speak to creatives, to the strange, and to those who would learn what it is to be human. I hope her book will find you, as it found me.
Thi Bui's story goes beyond her own experience as a Vietnamese-American woman and into the forces that contributed to how she came to be. A look at the intergenerational ripples of the Vietnam War, The Best We Could Do is Bui's intimate story on a subject that doesn't always get explored with the depth and care she achieves. I truly loved this book and it will be a story I carry with me for some time.
As the title would suggest, Fusselman strikes meditations on art, alcoholism, and motherhood, letting her prose ring out into subsequent reverberations just as one would strike cymbal. Using her musings on the Nutcracker as a motif, she orchestrates all of her thematic ideas into this compact but lingering essay that is perhaps ultimately looking at how we may separate the way we live from how we have lived.
Sasha is a good girl. She loves Mom, goes to class, gets good grades, comes home. But there is something she's missing, a freedom she can't quite describe. Then one day it all changes when a dark man disrupts Sasha and Mom on their vacation. He promises to never ask Sasha to do the impossible, but after being accepted to a mysterious college for "special studies," that is everything she achieves. Finally translated to English after its initial publication back in 2007, Vita Nostra is a beautiful, viscerally intense fantasy that hinges its enchantment in a philosophical and existential plane. The Dyachenkos mix up magic, growing pains, and fear of the unknown and package it in a distinct Ukrainian sensibility. In my heart it takes the space of books from authors like L'Engle and Vandermeer. This is my favorite fantasy novel this year!
Dieterich's memoir is a poignant look at love and identity and her own lifelong search for twinship or her “other half.” She contemplates these topics, as well as non-monogamous relationships and queerness, while chronicling her own relationships, each page its own moment, bites and nibbles of her life, that all coalesce into a declaration of intimacy, love, and identity. Such a lovely contemporary look at what one way being a woman in love can be like.
I always need a Pie book on my shelf, especially one as inspiring, fun, and deliciously inventive as Sister Pie! Perfect for pie beginners and experts alike, this one is my pick as the best of the season this year and is an exciting look at the fantastic Sister Pie bakery in Detroit. You can always trust a pie book based on the quality of the crust recipes and if the ingredients, especially fruit, are considered seasonally, and this one checks out! Not only that, but it knocks it out of the park, earning (forgive me) brownie points for hand pie recipes as well as having an equally delightful savory pie selection. Plus, other non-pie recipes as well! The scrumptious salad section may even make up for all the pie eaten in testing these amazing recipes.