Category: Literary Fiction

Badass Female Librarians Delivered Books on Horseback in 1930s

If you are someone who as excited about female empowerment as I am, then you’re going to love this! According to History Daily, during the Great Depression, unemployment rates soared, and in turn people endured extreme poverty, so many had little access to books.

At the time, Franklin Roosevelt was trying to resolve the Great Depression, and his Works Progress Administration created The Pack Horse Library Initiative to improve American literacy and therefore chances of employment. The librarians were mostly women who lived in the counties they served. Public schools in the local areas contributed books, magazines, newspapers and any other reading materials available.

The ‘bookwomen’ were paid $28 a month and were responsible for their own food and supplies, and horse. These librarians travelled over mountains to isolated homes—through blizzards and mud to make sure everyone had a book in their hands. The women would ride as far as 120 miles, and at times if the locations were close by, they would walk with their horses, holding on to their reins. In 1943, the program ended because employment increased massively during World War II, and nearly one thousand pack horse librarians had served 1.5 million people in forty-eight Kentucky counties!

 

Check out the photos below!

 

image via historydaily.org

 

image via historydaily.org

 

Image via historydaily.org

 

Image via historydaily.org

 

Image via historydaily.org

 

Image via historydaily.org

See more amazing photos of these heroic librarians on History Daily!

 

Featured image via atlasobscura.com
Heartbreak emoji, crying emoji, book emoji

Valentine’s Day Wasn’t So Sweet? 7 Books for Broken Hearts

If your Valentine’s Day was more of a Valentine’s Disaster, there are plenty of healthy ways to cope with the emotional fallout. There are also plenty of unhealthy ways, but we’re sure you already have those figured out. Whether you’re sick of being single, heartbroken over a relationship (this includes relationships that never happened), or just ruminating on your own limitless potential for destruction, why not take a break with a book? A book, at the very least, will never mooch off your rent money or lie about working late. These 7 books will help you on your journey to healing… or they’ll offer a pleasant distraction.

 

Juliet Takes a Breath

 

'Juliet Takes a Breath' by Gabby Rivera

 

The most infuriating pieces of wisdom are often the most accurate. For instance, as we get older, we’ve realized the advice to get some sleep is actually pretty valid (even if we still don’t listen). An even more annoying piece of truth is this one: before you love someone else, you have to love yourself. Does that mean you’re completely un-depressed and think your body is flawless? No. It just means understanding your own needs before adding someone else’s into the mix. Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera is the perfect novel for high hopes and heartbreak, focusing on a character’s self-development and personal growth after the end of a relationship.

Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff.

Will Juliet be able to figure out her life over the course of one magical summer? Is that even possible? Or is she running away from all the problems that seem too big to handle?

With more questions than answers, Juliet takes on Portland, Harlowe, and most importantly, herself.

 

The Pisces

 

'The Pisces' by Melissa Broder

 

Look! It’s that Guillermo del Toro movie about the sexy fish man, now in book form. Just kidding. While this book is also extremely weird, it’s weird in a different way. Strange, smart, and erotic, Melissa Broder‘s The Pisces will offer a fun distractions—while also commenting on the nature of why we seek out such distractions (a.k.a. calling us out).

Lucy has been writing her dissertation about Sappho for thirteen years when she and Jamie break up. After she hits rock bottom in Phoenix, her Los Angeles-based sister insists Lucy housesit for the summer—her only tasks caring for a beloved diabetic dog and trying to learn to care for herself. Annika’s home is a gorgeous glass cube atop Venice Beach, but Lucy can find no peace from her misery and anxiety—not in her love addiction group therapy meetings, not in frequent Tinder meetups, not in Dominic the foxhound’s easy affection, not in ruminating on the ancient Greeks. Yet everything changes when Lucy becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer one night while sitting alone on the beach rocks.

Whip-smart, neurotically funny, sexy, and above all, fearless, The Pisces is built on a premise both sirenic and incredibly real—what happens when you think love will save you but are afraid it might also kill you.

 

The Lovers’ Dictionary

 

'The Lover's Dictionary' by David Levithan

 

Told entirely through dictionary entries, this boldly creative novel tells the story of an ill-fated relationship. (That’s not a spoiler, but isn’t it more reassuring when you know something’s going to end?) Concise, blunt, and honest, David Levithan‘s The Lover’s Dictionary Since Levithan never reveals the gender of the protagonist’s partner, it’ll be even easier for you to find catharsis in seeing fragments of what might have been your own love story. Bonus: there are some particularly spicy passages condemning infidelity if that’s, uh, relevant to your current predicament.

basis, n.

There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you’re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.

If the moment doesn’t pass, that’s it―you’re done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it’s even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover’s face.

How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.

 

Tiny, Beautiful Things

 

'Tiny, Beautiful Things' by Cheryl Strayed

 

It’s hard to imagine tiny, beautiful things when you can only think of enormous, terrible ones instead. Though not explicitly about romantic love, Cheryl Strayed‘s Tiny Beautiful Things is certainly about personal growth and using your own strength to overcome whatever struggles you’re going through (in this case, heartbreak). Topics range from coming out, to sexual fetishes, to topics that have nothing to do with falling in love and everything to do with loving yourself. The two are more connected than you may think.

Life can be hard: your lover cheats on you; you lose a family member; you can’t pay the bills—and it can be great: you’ve had the hottest sex of your life; you get that plum job; you muster the courage to write your novel. Sugar—the once-anonymous online columnist at The Rumpus, now revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild—is the person thousands turn to for advice.

Tiny Beautiful Things brings the best of Dear Sugar in one place and includes never-before-published columns and a new introduction by Steve Almond.  Rich with humor, insight, compassion—and absolute honesty—this book is a balm for everything life throws our way.

 

The Post-Birthday World

 

'The Post Birthday World' by Lionel Shriver

 

We’re all inclined towards our own ‘What-Ifs,’ the unanswerable questions that we stubbornly attempt to answer with a million different—and, more importantly, fictional—mental scenarios. What if I had tried harder? What if they had lived closer? What if we were both two completely different people from the people we actually are, falling head over heels into a love we never actually shared? Lionel Shriver‘s The Post-Birthday World will help you consider these questions in a healthy way or, at least, in a way that’s probably healthier than whatever you’re currently doing.

Children’s book illustrator Irina McGovern enjoys a quiet and settled life in London with her partner, fellow American expatriate Lawrence Trainer, a smart, loyal, disciplined intellectual at a prestigious think tank. To their small circle of friends, their relationship is rock solid. Until the night Irina unaccountably finds herself dying to kiss another man: their old friend from South London, the stylish, extravagant, passionate top-ranking snooker player Ramsey Acton. The decision to give in to temptation will have consequences for her career, her relationships with family and friends, and perhaps most importantly the texture of her daily life.

Hinging on a single kiss, this enchanting work of fiction depicts Irina’s alternating futures with two men temperamentally worlds apart yet equally honorable. With which true love Irina is better off is neither obvious nor easy to determine, but Shriver’s exploration of the two destinies is memorable and gripping. Poignant and deeply honest, written with the subtlety and wit that are the hallmarks of Shriver’s work, The Post-Birthday World appeals to the what-if in us all.

 

Unwifeable

 

'Unwifeable: a Memoir' by Mandy Stadtmiller

 

Listen, we know that your breakup was all your ex’s fault—but on the off chance that you had anything to do with it, maybe it’s time to consider the reason why. Mandy Stadtmiller‘s Unwifeable is an unflinchingly honest memoir of self-destruction that will encourage you to really look at yourself (or possibly your messed-up hungover reflection) and face the truths you might want to deny.

Provocative, fearless, and dizzyingly uncensored, Mandy spills every secret she knows about dating, networking, comedy, celebrity, media, psychology, relationships, addiction, and the quest to find one’s true nature. She takes readers behind the scenes (and name names) as she relays her utterly addictive journey.

Starting in 2005, Mandy picks up everything to move across the country to Manhattan, looking for a fresh start. She is newly divorced, thirty-years-old, with a dream job at the New York Post. She is ready to conquer the city, the industry, the world. But underneath the glitz and glamour, there is a darker side threatening to surface. The drug-fueled, never-ending party starts off as thrilling…but grows ever-terrifying. Too many blackout nights and scary decisions begin to add up. As she searches for the truth behind the façade, Mandy realizes that falling in love won’t fix her—until she learns to accept herself first.

 

I am not myself these days

 

'I Am Not Myself These Days' by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

 

Some relationships are toxic from the start. (Of course, we mean all relationships are toxic, and love is a lie, and Valentine’s Day is a sham. Whatever consolation your broken heart needs.) But, to quote Bojack Horseman, “when you look at someone through rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags.” I Am Not Myself These Days: A Memoir chronicles Kilmer-Purcell‘s time in a relationship that should have come with a warning label… though it basically already did. Perhaps this read will help you take a look at your relationships with a more critical, discerning eye.

The New York Times bestselling, darkly funny memoir of a young New Yorker’s daring dual life—advertising art director by day, glitter-dripping drag queen and nightclub beauty-pageant hopeful by night—was a smash literary debut for Josh Kilmer-Purcell, now known for his popular Planet Green television series The Fabulous Beekman Boys. His story begins here—before the homemade goat milk soaps and hand-gathered honeys, before his memoir of the city mouse’s move to the country, The Bucolic Plague—in I Am Not Myself These Days,  with “plenty of dishy anecdotes and moments of tragi-camp delight” (WashingtonPost).

 

Featured Image Via Extraordinary Routines

Bookstr's Three to Read

Bookstr’s Three to Read This Week 2/14/19

It’s Valentine’s Day—now more than ever, we need a book to fall madly in love with. This week, we’ve got three reads that are sure to show you a good time. (If you’re in the middle of a less satisfying novel, consider a dalliance with one of these. We won’t tell.) Our picks this week are fun yet honest, ideal qualities for any date! While some of these are romance-oriented, let’s not forget that self-love and personal development counts for more than we sometimes remember. So, honestly, love yourself and give one of these a read. Without further ado, here are Bookstr’s Three to Read: the three books we’ve picked for you to read this week. Time to find your perfect match!

 

OUR HOT PICK

 

Angie Thomas' hot new release 'On the Come Up'

 

Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families.

Why?

Bookstr’s valentine is On the Come Up because we’ve fallen in love with #1 New York Times bestselling Angie Thomas, one of the most powerful voices in YA fiction today. Thomas expertly follows her breakout hit The Hate U Give with this novel, a raw, insightful, and often funny depiction of coexisting ambition and poverty. Thomas strikes a masterful balance when discussing issues of racism and structural inequality, using her light and playful voice to approach topics few other YA authors have addressed in such detail. Her careful examination of social issues and deeply nuanced characters will appeal to old fans and snag new ones. Warm, earnest, and honest, On the Come Up is your perfect book date this V-day, and it’s sure to be a match.

 

OUR Coffee Shop Read

 

L.C. Rosen's 'Jack of Hearts and Other Parts'

 

Synopsis:

Meet Jack Rothman. He’s seventeen and loves partying, makeup and boys – sometimes all at the same time. His sex life makes him the hot topic for the high school gossip machine. But who cares? Like Jack always says, ‘it could be worse’.

He doesn’t actually expect that to come true.

But after Jack starts writing an online sex advice column, the mysterious love letters he’s been getting take a turn for the creepy. Jack’s secret admirer knows everything: where he’s hanging out, who he’s sleeping with, who his mum is dating. They claim they love Jack, but not his unashamedly queer lifestyle. They need him to curb his sexuality, or they’ll force him.

As the pressure mounts, Jack must unmask his stalker before their obsession becomes genuinely dangerous…

 

Why?

Jack of Hearts and Other Parts is as unabashedly queer as its protagonist, including surprisingly frank and open discussions of sex. We’re talking better than sex-ed, complete with descriptions of different types of sex; advice on coming out; and even discussions of asexuality, an often misunderstood sexual orientation. L.C. Rosen is—excuse the pun—ballsy in his open portrayal of sex, drinking, smoking, and partying, boldly addressing facets of some teenagers’ lives that few authors cover in such detail. Readers will love this proud and confident gay protagonist, whose story is refreshingly fun and upbeat. Open, honest, and incredibly fun, this one’s hot enough to be your Valentine’s book date. Don’t drink too much coffee—you’ll want to bring this book to bed.

 

Our Dark Horse

 

Soniah Kamal's 'Unmarriageable'

 

Synopsis:

In this one-of-a-kind retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in modern-day Pakistan, Alys Binat has sworn never to marry—until an encounter with one Mr. Darsee at a wedding makes her reconsider.

A scandal and vicious rumor concerning the Binat family have destroyed their fortune and prospects for desirable marriages, but Alys, the second and most practical of the five Binat daughters, has found happiness teaching English literature to schoolgirls. Knowing that many of her students won’t make it to graduation before dropping out to marry and have children, Alys teaches them about Jane Austen and her other literary heroes and hopes to inspire the girls to dream of more.

When an invitation arrives to the biggest wedding their small town has seen in years, Mrs. Binat, certain that their luck is about to change, excitedly sets to work preparing her daughters to fish for rich, eligible bachelors. On the first night of the festivities, Alys’s lovely older sister, Jena, catches the eye of Fahad “Bungles” Bingla, the wildly successful—and single—entrepreneur. But Bungles’s friend Valentine Darsee is clearly unimpressed by the Binat family. Alys accidentally overhears his unflattering assessment of her and quickly dismisses him and his snobbish ways. As the days of lavish wedding parties unfold, the Binats wait breathlessly to see if Jena will land a proposal—and Alys begins to realize that Darsee’s brusque manner may be hiding a very different man from the one she saw at first glance.

Why?

Readers will fall madly in love with this modern update on a timeless classic. While Unmarriageable is delightful and romantic, it also doesn’t hesitate to address the double standards that women face in regards to romance, sex, and courtship. A rich depiction of Muslim culture, Soniah Kamal‘s novel glitters with beautiful language and imagery that would enchant any potential reader. It’s as fun as it is aware, expertly examining social stratification as it takes its readers on an entertaining, colorful romp. Kirkus Reviews called this release “a charming update to the original,” perfect for Austen fans and any reader looking for a perfect match.

 

So, is it a date?

 

In-text Images Via Goodreads

Which Literary Couple Are You?

Valentines day is here, and it’s not only for those who love each other, but also for the love of books! Are you and your partner curious to know where you stand as a couple? Well, following in the footsteps of several other websites, we’ve made a quiz to determine which literary couple you’re most like! Some of the answers might be a little… specific… but we’re sure you’ll find the closest one!

Have fun!

 

 

FEATURED IMAGE VIA hdqwalls.com
"Blind Date With a Book!"

Blind Date With a Book: Which of These 10 Books Is Your Perfect Match?

Those of us who have experience with dating apps know that a date with a good book might be a hell of a lot better than a date with a real person, who might engage in all sorts of appealing behaviors like (1) talking about their exes or (2) stiffing the waiter on the tip. Unfortunately, sometimes dates with a book can be a little like meeting up with that Tinder match: you judge based on appearance; you’re disinterested; you get turned off quickly, sometimes for arbitrary reasons. To ensure that this Valentine’s Day you fall in love with a new story, let’s play a little game. (Normally, you won’t want your new suitor to play games with you. This time, you can make an exception.)

Here are the rules: this article will list ten incredible books WITHOUT using their title, author, or official blurb. The choices are varied in terms of genre, length, and writing style, so there’s something for everyone—even you! Each description will conclude with a link to purchase the secret book, and, although you’ll meet your date face-to-face when you click on the link, try not to judge a book by its cover! While you might be tempted to change your mind, just remember… nobody likes a cheater!

 

"Are you ready?"

Image Via Steam

 

Bachelor #1

 

Multicolored pills

Image Via Medical Daily

 

This harrowing memoir offers a raw depiction of addiction and chronic illness, told in straightforward language with frequent, striking insights. You’ll want the narrator to make ‘better’ choices—the two of you will have that in common. Chapters aren’t numbered but are instead titled after the place the author was when the following events took place. The only constant setting is the author’s body—a grim landscape, always unfamiliar terrain. This is a rare story of recovery that doesn’t promise a neat ending: as is the nature of chronic illness, the author is still sick. The memoir confronts the assumptions of what a sick person is supposed to look and act like. With its honest, almost painfully vulnerable voice and tone, it explores how illness works when the end goal isn’t wellness but life itself. Interested?

 

BACHELOR #2

 

A terrifying skeletal horse gallops

Image Via twitter user lifemachine

 

Ever wanted to feel warm and cozy AND intensely creeped out—all without attending a family reunion? This work of genre fiction takes place in a reality only slightly different from our own, not so much an alternate universe as a universe adjacent. The fun parts of this novel feel like the warm shelter of the fictional island in which this story takes place, full of cinnamon twists and rich tea and wool scarves. The terrifying parts of this novel are also the fun parts. Plot points include: a deadly race, a slow-burn romance, delicious pastries, organs strewn across the roadway. The language is as witty as it is poetic, with snappy dialogue and a rich sense of place. If it’s relevant, the ending made me cry both happy and sad tears. Swipe right?

 

BACHELOR #3

 

A creepy car on an empty road

Image Via Master file

 

This one’s for the coldhearted realists out there—tense, dark, and short as life. Here’s the thing about this one: everyone dies at the end. That’s not so much a spoiler as it is most of the plot. Our setting is the passenger seat of a car—you’ll never leave, and neither will they. The language is succinct and the structure creative; since the book takes place over about the course of an hour, it should take you about as much time to read the novella as it does for the characters to meet their grisly, unstoppable fate. Can it really be called a murder mystery if you know exactly what’s coming? This is an intelligent literary exploration of sexuality, violence, and control with the rapid heartbeat of a paperback crime novel. Read for fast cars, dark roads, and bad men. Is it a date?

 

Bachelor #4

 

Two children stepping into a portal

Image Via Voice of Detroit

 

Magical realism meets immigration, xenophobia, global conflict, and human rights in this expansive literary novel. The story takes place on multiple continents as our displaced narrators travel the world searching for a home that may always be further and further behind them. The book explores what brings people together and what drives them apart, filled with love that’s sometimes stronger for places than for other people. Generally, the language is direct with little stylistic flourishes—not exactly blunt and to the point but not filled with metaphors either. Since the whole thing is probably a metaphor, your thirst for literary beauty (as well a close examination of the technical consequences of the story’s magical element) will still be sated. It’s international, somewhat intergenerational, highly relevant, and certainly gorgeous. Curious?

 

Bachelor #5

 

Woman drinking a bottle of wine under the covers

Image Via Last Bottle Wines

 

If you’re a fan of downward spirals, misanthropic female narrators, and the idea of New York more than the place itself, you’re about to have an excellent book date. The novel explores escapism, isolation, and self-involvement as the narrator slips further and further away from herself and the few people who remain in her life. Strange, pessimistic, and often completely merciless, this novel presents us with a somewhat despicable narrator who, although she is rife with privilege, goes to extremes to relieve her alienation from society. If you want an unflinching look at human grossness, look here. Though the language is often confrontational, it’s equally clear that the author has a strong grasp of her characters, voice, and tone. Bonus: the author is actually aware of her character’s shortcomings and advantages. Wanna try?

 

Bachelor #6

 

Haunted house complete with graves and ghost

Image Via curbed

 

This Lovecraftian horror-comedy attempts to solve several mysteries at once: that’s both the classic haunted-house caper turned a whole lot more sinister and the mystery of how these once-promising detectives got so messed up over the years. Read on if you’re a fan of elaborate traps; bizarre monsters; sleepy towns where strange things happen; and a lovable cast of characters, all of whom adds something fun to the story’s dynamic. Ridiculously witty and filled with jaw-dropping plot twists, this is a fun and mostly lighthearted read that will thrill you in every possible sense of the word. This might be a quick and easy read, but it’ll certainly stick with you long after you’ve finished. Like what you see?

 

Bachelor #7

 

Pile of donuts

Image Via Pixels

 

Like books that are highly satirical and absurd without being deliberately, self-assuredly edgy at the same time? This book explores consumerism, beauty standards, and our cultural obsession with perfection at the expense of our own identities. Told through the perspective of an unnamed narrator, the novel chronicles the disappearance of a missing person through the eyes of that missing person. And, although she hasn’t always been gone, she hasn’t been quite there, either. The language is unique and regularly incisive, its imagery so vivid it borders on the grotesque. Your reaction may vary, but one thing is guaranteed: you will not be bored while reading this. This tale of cults, conspiracies, and processed food is as engaging as it is completely unnerving. Is it a match?

 

Bachelor #8

 

Barn in a cornfield

Image Via American Bounty Photography

 

Ever fall in love with a book that’s so incredibly absurd you can’t believe it actually works? This is one of those—a poignant and surprising YA sci-fi that avoids tropes of its genre with creative choices and a believable narrator. Note that in this case, ‘absurd’ does not mean ‘nihilistic.’ This is a story of (1) bisexual teen angst, (2) rural Americana, (3) apocalypse bunkers, (4) strip malls, and (5) one sci-fi element you have definitely not encountered anywhere else. The linguistic style is a delightful juxtaposition of poetic imagery about history and the legacy we leave behind with blunt, often crass, hilarity. Example: chapter titles include “The Right Kind of Cigarettes to Smoke Before You Kill Something.” This novel is as insightful as it is strange—and it’s really, really strange. Is this happening?

 

Bachelor #9

 

A laptop with a blank green screen on an empty desk

Image Via Getty Images

 

Tell me what you think these things have in common: Millennial office culture, life as a child of immigrants, the warmth and emptiness of nostalgia, meaningless routine, a desire for human connection, and an unobtrusive genre element. If you said the answer was ‘your life,’ you might be correct. It’s also this book—an exploration of the places we look for meaning and the places we actually find it. This is a read for the overly ambitious and the underpaid. If you’ve got high hopes, a low salary, and a feeling of disconnection from your personal and cultural identity (so, if you’re alive), you’ll enjoy this creative and personal take on some light apocalyptic fiction with a defined sense of place. Hitting it off yet?

 

Bachelor #10

 

Stained glass church windows

Image Via Huffington Post

 

You might not expect to laugh or cry at this memoir—but chances are, you’ll do both. What begins as a humorous character study of a larger-than-life father figure becomes an insightful, often astounding, look into the beauty and pain inherent in religion. The story explores gender roles in family dynamics, and how the patriarchy of religion and society can enter into a traditional nuclear family. Filled with witty anecdotes and a feisty narrator, the book may appear to be yet another romp through a whacky childhood. And it is that—but it’s also an exploration of feminism, sexual assault, the writer’s struggles, power dynamics, and the respective settings of both rural Kansas and the Catholic church. Written by a poet (I didn’t use the author’s name!) the language is unique, immersive, and mesmerizing. Going for it?

 

Featured Image Via University of Colorado