What is happening in our world? Who is doing what? what is going on now? These are questions that will be answered. Enjoy.
15 Best Books of 2018 So Far
Miss Ex-Yugoslavia by Sofija Stefanovic
If you’re going to have the audacity to document a beauty contest that pits immigrants and refugees from different sides of a conflict against each other for your film class, it seems only fair to compete yourself. That’s exactly what led Serbian-born Stefanovic to strut her stuff alongside her fellow contestants from Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Slovenia for the title of Miss Ex-Yugoslavia.This stand-out memoir chronicles Stefanovic’s life from her childhood to early twenties, coming back and forth between Yugoslavia and Australia during the Yugoslav wars. The contrast between the Belgrade streets (where she once encountered a tiger cub being walked on a leash), to the ant hill-pocked back yard in Whyalla, South Australia (a remote town known for its BHP steel factory) ensures that Stefanovic’s story is as unique and wacky as it is important.
Look Alive Out There by Sloane Crosley
Whether she’s searching for her “uncle,” who starred in 117 adult films between 1973 and 1987, or attempting to reclaim her identity from a man holding her internet domain name hostage, Crosley wields her wit and commands all of your attention in her third collection of insightful and hilarious personal essays. Her psychic connection to Tracy Emin’s artwork called Everyone I Have Ever Slept With prompts one of her more poignant pieces and lingers, like so many of her stories, long after reading.
Futureface: A Family Mystery, an Epic Quest, and the Secret to Belonging by Alex Wagner
Remember the Time cover that showed “the new face of America”—a woman created by a computer from a mix of several faces? When Wagner saw that face in 1993, she thought, “That’s me!” Her mother had immigrated to America from Rangoon, Burma, in 1965, escaping a military dictatorship; her father, from northeast Iowa, claimed he was Irish American with roots from Luxembourg. Sure, she’d thought about her competing identities before, but it wasn’t until one day many years later when she was visiting the border fence dividing Arizona and Mexico as the anchor of a cable news show that something clicked inside of her. Who was she? And what of her own family’s history of migrations and escapes? Thus begins Wagner’s page-turning endeavor to uncover the truth about her ancestry.
The Opposite of Hate: A Field Guild to Repairing Our Humanity by Sally Kohn
As a liberal commentator on Fox News for two years and now on CNN, Kohn developed a reputation as an outspoken progressive who could talk openly with conservatives, finding a way to communicate respectfully no matter how much she disagreed with an opposing point of view. But over the last few years she found herself slipping into anger despite herself. Frustrated and worried about the hate she saw engulfing the planet, Kohn decided to research and attempt to understand where the root of our prejudices come from and why they make us do shitty things. She willingly turns the lens of herself and enlists the help of experts to add historical context. Most importantly, this isn’t all doom and gloom; thankfully, Kohn is funny and warm as she shares the best ways to shift the hate and dissolve the barriers between those of us with divergent views.
Creative Quest by Questlove
When Questlove was thirteen, his father’s regular drummer was injured just as he and his band (including his mom) were about to play at Radio City Music Hall. So Questlove sat in. Though not a moment that illustrates creativity per say, it speaks to another type of moment—that of acceleration—where talent meets opportunity. Questlove explores this collision of hard-earned skill with his own creative process by examining the creative process of other artists—like George Clinton, collaborators like D’Angelo, or like-minded artists including Ava DuVernay, David Byrne, and Björk. Think of this book as a remix that might help you tap into your own creativity and trust your intuition.
A Long Way From Home by Peter Carey
Until now, the double Booker prize-winning Peter Carey has, in his own words, “avoided a direct confrontation with race, and the question of what it might mean to be a white Australian.” In his new novel, Carey returns to the remote country towns of his childhood—and unrelenting expanses of land in-between—to address this fraught history head-on. When husband and wife, Titch and Irene Bobs, enter an 10,000-mile 17-day car race around the country as a publicity stunt for Titch’s used car business, they enlist the help of their neighbor and their expert navigator Willie Bachhuber. What Willie uncovers about his heritage along the way morphs their bonds and brings to light the shameful treatment of Australia’s Indigenous people.
AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE by Tayari Jones
Many couples have a safe word to call time-out from rough sex or to stop a conversation from going into that too hurtful place. For happily married Celestial and Roy, it is two words: “November 17,” the anniversary of their first date. When Roy utters these words in the midst of a fight with Celestial, it’s impossible to fathom the repercussions of trying to do the right thing. That night, Roy is wrongly accused of committing a violent crime, and later sentenced to twelve years in prison. What follows is a tender and propulsive story set in the New South about honoring love and family while daring to imagine a brighter future.
FEEL FREE by Zadie Smith
Reading British-born Smith’s brilliant second collection of essays might be the closest we’ll ever get to a real-life conversation with the fiercely private writer, whose prolific work includes five novels. But in her new essay collection, she shares original and intimate thoughts on subjects ranging from Jay-Z to Facebook to Karl Ove Knausguard, all while extrapolating what it means to live in an increasingly polarized America. All in all, the opportunity to inhabit Smith’s mind is at once delightful, challenging, and important.
Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker
Is modern civilization doomed? Is the world in a state of moral decline? It’s difficult not to think so while scrolling through the news headlines each morning. But not so fast, says experimental psychologist, two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, and Harvard Professor Steven Pinker. In his eleventh book, he makes the compelling argument that “life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide.” Pinker lends his cautiously optimism perspective on the current push and pull between tribalism and global cooperation in this illuminating text.
BACK TALK by Danielle Lazarin
Whether Danielle Lazarin is writing about the intimate moments between psychic sisters and estranged siblings, or the awkward exchanges between teenagers and their peculiar parents, she has the rare ability to evoke an entire ecosystem of human behavior—replete with decades of slights and longings—in just a few pages. The word “haunting” is so often overused, but in this case, it is an accurate description of how these stories, set between New York and Paris, maneuver their way into your thoughts long after reading.
The Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons from the Sawtooth Pack by Jim & Jamie Dutcher
Over a period of six years in the 1990s, Emmy-winning filmmaker-couple Jim and Jamie Dutcher lived with and observed a pack of wolves in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho. Their experiment coincided with the controversial decision to reintroduce wolves onto American soil. The Dutchers’ captivating account reveals wolves as emotionally intelligent creatures capable of empathy, compassion, apology, encouragement and forgiveness. Perhaps learning and observing wolves can make us better humans. If nothing else, this book will have you YouTube-ing “awesome wolf pack howl,” and hopefully it’ll ignite a passion to save their habitat so they can have thriving families, too.
Raw: My Journey Into the Wu-Tang by Lamont “U-God” Hawkins
“Growing up as hard, as rough, as wild, as crazy as we in the Wu-Tang did, death was always part of my life…It seemed whenever shit was going down, there was always music playing along with it.” So begins this propulsive memoir by Lamont “U-God” Hawkins. Hawkins was raised by a single mother in the projects of New York in the ’70s and ’80s, where he honed his survival instinct—seeing a young Mike Tyson rip out your mother’s earrings will do that to you. Along the way he found the creative collaborators in his fellow Wu-Tang members, who would change the face of hip-hop. In this timely memoir, Hawkins’ reflects on his childhood—a period when drugs exacerbated the violence in the streets—and the heady years of fame that followed, revealing a man grateful for the music that saved his life.
The Gunners by Rebecca Kauffman
One day, high schooler Sally Forrest cuts contact with her five best friends and refused to speak to them or acknowledge them in the hallway. The tight-knit group, now a member down, called themselves “The Gunners,” inspired by the name on the letterbox of an abandoned house they commandeered as their clubhouse headquarters—the place where they invented jokes and games and secret languages, bad-mouthed their parents, plotted against bullies, bickered, made up, and dreamed of the lives they would one day live far from their Buffalo. When Sally dies 15 years later, the group reunites for her funeral (reminiscent of The Big Chill) and grapple with losing her a second time. This story examines how the secrets held and harbored by friends, and the defining relationships of childhood and adolescence, never fully leave us.
Laura & Emma by Kate Greathead
Laura believes that her greatest gift to the planet is to not have children. She doesn’t hate sex, but doesn’t particularly like it either and “the idea of being expected to do it all the time seemed exhausting.” But a one-night stand with an appealing man posing as a family friend (I won’t spoil how surprising this scenario is) soon changes the no-children part of the equation. Cut to Laura as a single mother—albeit one with a nice Upper East Side living situation and a robber baron great-grandfather—and you’ve got a funny and odd in-the-best-way book that reflects a slice of New York life in the ’80s and ’90s.
Census by Jesse Ball
Some books resonate more deeply than others; they don’t merely reflect the world we’re presented with, but instead they refashioned it, even warp it, revealing essential truths. Ball’s poignant dedication to his late older brother Adam, who had Down syndrome, adds yet another layer of complexity to this surreal and powerful story. Census examines the relationship between a father and son. When the father receives news that he hasn’t long to live, he decides to become a census taker—an occupation that gives the two of them a reason to crisscross the Northern counties together on a bonding Odyssey of sorts. Part of the father’s job as a census taker is to count and mark the people they encounter along the way with a small tattoo on one rib. This rudimentary process lends an apocalyptic air to the novel that’s simultaneously grounded by the most enduring theme of familial love.