Book Responses (June 2020 - December 2022)

DECEMBER 2022 BOOKS

NOVEMBER 2022 BOOKS

OCTOBER 2022 BOOKS

SEPTEMBER 2022 BOOKS

AUGUST 2022 BOOKS

JULY 2022 BOOKS

JUNE 2022 BOOKS

MAY 2022 BOOKS

APRIL 2022 BOOKS

MARCH 2022 BOOKS

FEBRUARY 2022 BOOKS

“The Stranger” by Albert Camus, translated by Matthew Ward (published in 1942)

I was a teenager when I voraciously devoured the Camus canon, seemingly in a single heart-burning gulp, and am slowly revisiting. This text, in particular, feels most essential; in taut, unfettered prose, Camus accomplishes a literary and philosophical feat that would otherwise warrant a tome. This is a radical character study in compassion and empathy as Camus takes us directly into the heart of the matter: that our actions, regardless of intent, can be our public undoing in the most startling way, without our say. The game of bargaining with oneself in the face of this absurdity, the acknowledgment of the void — of our utter purposelessness in the universe — can be a most fecund place where purpose and freedom can begin.

“In the Eye of the Wild” by Nastassja Martin (published in 2021)

On theme, I was caught in a squall on the side of a mountain when I finished this book. Anthropologist Nastassja Martin has crafted a visceral and harrowing book on animism that stares directly into the torturous experience of being attacked by a bear in the volcanic terrains of Kamchatka — a jutting landmass in the far east of Russia where the buran wind dictates the winter — and what comes after. Martin sets the impossible task of ethnographic objectivity, resulting in a prose that is piercing and unsettling, especially in the first half as Martin details excruciating multiple maxillofacial surgeries.

“The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain” by Annie Murphy Paul (published in 2021)

Science writer Annie Murphy Paul makes the case that we’ve been culturally duped and limited by thinking that we must use only our brains to think. Leaning into the notion of interoception — an awareness of the body — Paul reflects upon scientific, sociological, historical, architectural, kinesthetic, and psychological data on thinking with the body. I really appreciate how Paul develops cogent and engaging narratives to extrapolate upon ideas throughout.

“Burnt Sugar” by Avni Doshi (published in 2019)

A razor-sharp narrative, not a word wasted, of the enemy combatant that is your mother, your child. Doshi’s writing is a satisfying heartburn, it is an empty stomach full of ibuprofen, the mechanized internal release of swelling, the aching knot of a developing ulcer hidden in a pit you cannot see. This first-person narrative is so brutal and honest, examining how to care for a loved one when love is not extant, when it might have never been there.

“My Private Property” by Mary Ruefle (published in 2016)

After years of persistently and lovingly recommending Ruefle, a dear friend finally thrust a copy of her work into my hand, and I am so grateful.

“The Post-Birthday World” by Lionel Shriver (published in 2007)

Nobody writes elitist assholes and well-educated idiots like Lionel Shriver.

JANUARY 2022 BOOKS

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