Coming off the wildest year of our lives, 2021 felt comparatively uneventful. Although we started off with high uncertainty and the threat of societal collapse—and how many years can claim that?—a political transition and the rollout of vaccines led to a tenuous sense of normalization. But "normal" never really worked for us.
Members of our community picked up books that presented a grand challenge to national myths and books that intimately addressed our desire for healing and collective growth. Abolition and mutual aid, having been solidified as central to a shared vision of a world transformed, appeared across many of our fiction and nonfiction favorites, but our reading was varied. Presented here are new titles that resonated with members of our collective and the many individuals who generously kept our little co-op going strong through a second pandemic year!
This gritty evocative novel explores the question of what an anarchist community can do to resist the assaults that are sure to come if any such social formation were to exist. Yet more important still is that this is an exciting and mysterious novel, a story of war and love in some fictional mountainous country with echoes of nineteenth century Latin America, eastern Europe, central Asia; by the time you’re done you feel you’ve gotten a glimpse into a forgotten part of our history that is nevertheless very real.
—Kim Stanley Robinson, author of Red Mars
Chambers’ writing is always tender and healing, but this book has something else braided into it ― something more... This is a book that, for one night, made me stop asking ‘what am I even for?’ I’m prescribing a preorder to anyone who has ever felt lost. Stunning, kind, necessary.
―Sarah Gailey, author of Magic for Liars
Darcie Little Badger deftly weaves traditional elements of native American storytelling through the book, which is very much concerned with the links between the natural/human and supernatural/Reflecting world… an undeniably charming story, with a variety of fully realised, relatable and fun characters, each with their own authentic voice.
—Mahvesh Murad, Tor.com
Ashkenazi Herbalism fascinates the reader with its deep detective work and thorough research of a healing tradition that was mostly lost by the horror and genocide of the Second World War, which destroyed Jewish communities and culture throughout Europe… Whether you are an avid herbalist, history buff, or plant lover, you’ll find something in this book to satisfy your soul.
—Phyllis D. Light, MA, author of Southern Folk Medicine
[A] dazzling array of stories about civilizations across many continents and thousands of years, all of which are grappling with what it means to be free… The Dawn of Everything begins as a sharp rejoinder to sloppy cultural analysis and ends as a paean to freedoms that most of us never realized were available. Knowing that there were other ways to live, Graeber and Wengrow conclude, allows us to rethink what we might yet become.
—Annalee Newitz, author of Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age
Riveting, insightful, and very funny… an unforgettable portrait of three women, trans and cis, who wrestle with questions of motherhood and family-making. Destined to be a 21st century classic, Detransition, Baby will definitely keep you up late and might destroy your book club, but in a good way.
—Andrea Lawlor, author of Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl
Grievers is a beautiful debut novella by adrienne maree brown, who is already one of our most important voices in Afrofuturism and true-life worldbuilding. Grievers could not be more timely, tackling loss, plague, gentrification, memory and grief with a path toward hope in a future Detroit. Each paragraph is lovingly crafted, a story unto itself, blending into a tapestry no reader will soon forget.
—Tananarive Due, author of Ghost Summer: Stories
brown is both pragmatic and compassionate in her advice, recognizing that a broken system breaks people and that we can only do the work that is needed as the people we are. That maybe we can both get to our destination of a better world together and learn to be better to each other as part of the same process.
—Marius Mason, political prisoner
It’s testament to Leigh Cowart’s skill and charm that a book about pain should feel so joyful, that a deeply taboo subject should get such a bright and vivid airing, and that experiences that should induce winces instead trigger laughs and moments of deep profundity. Hurts So Good is a book of wonderful paradoxes—a rich, hilarious, and endlessly fascinating look at a world that most of us know but few of us understand.
—Ed Yong, author of I Contain Multitudes
The hype is real with this one and let me tell you, it is deserved…. An unapologetically queer and feminist sci-fi adventure with a ruthlessly compelling protagonist and an explosive ending that ramps up the stakes for the sequel, Iron Widow is perfect for fantasy lovers and fighters of the feminist agenda!
—Mimi Koehler, The Nerd Daily
Bless Kink for opening up the spaces between all binaries, for daring to hold open desire between bodies on the brink of ecstasy. Between pleasure and pain, between hunger and thirst, between power and surrender, these stories will remind you how desire let loose can write us back to life. A pure erotic fury. An unapologetic delight brought to the cusp of trembling.
—Lidia Yuknavitch, author of Verge: Stories
With a fantastic stroke of transhistorical artistic wizardry, N.O. Bonzo simultaneously conjures up and re-imagines the visionary aesthetics of the early twentieth century anarchist movement to make Kropotkin’s appeal for cooperation feel as urgent as ever.
—Mark Bray, author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook