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!
A haunting tale of the monsters that live among us, and those who despise them. Through a series of diverse, rich and beautifully written voices, Turnbull deftly weaves together a story of supernatural beings, otherworldly entities, magic and quantum physics, superimposed onto the social and political challenges of our mundane world. Throughout, we are forced to dwell not only our own humanity, but question who exactly are the monsters we fear? Once I started this novel I could not put it down!
—P. Djèlí Clark, author of Ring Shout
A combination of scholarly research, cultural criticism, and political commentary, this book reads like An Indigenous Peoples' History in reverse, with each chapter dedicated to the successive waves of non-native migrants. Dunbar-Ortiz confronts the narrative of a liberal multiculturalism and exposes the violent settler colonialism at the heart of U.S. Americanism.
Helen Oyeyemi isn't for everyone, but if she is for you, congratulations because you are correct. At times Peaces has the feel of an old fashioned train mystery that has warped into a wacky romp of absurdity. At others it is an insightful meditation on relationships – the people who stay in our lives as well as those who cease to be real as they fade into the stories we tell ourselves about who we were when we knew them.
—Esmé, The Firestorm Collective
This is my favorite kind of book. Not only does it dissect the intricacies of interpersonal dynamics into fun charts and lists, but it also provides a helpful how-to for applying this information in your actual relationships, and to every aspect of your own life. I’m suggesting it to all my therapist friends immediately!
—Tikva Wolf, creator of Kimchi Cuddles
[P]art magical speculative fiction, part comprehensive history of the revolutionary anarchist urge. It tells the story of humans resisting imperialism, colonialism, assimilation, capitalism, and other oppressive forces, from the Indigenous European tribes fighting the Roman Empire, to French anarchists struggling to defend the Paris Commune, to Indigenous Mexicans trying to push back the encroaching yanqui in what is now California.
—Marieke Bivar, Fifth Estate
A captivating story of defying expectations and creating your own destiny - no matter the cost. It's dark, it's clever, it's sexy, and it's written beautifully enough to distract you from the horrifying choices these characters make as they stop at nothing to claim their fate. If you love tragic period epics (e.g. The Song of Achilles) and morally dubious anti-heroes this one is for you!
[A]n ode to trans joy, resilience, and communal care. A trans-utopian manifesto for a world that ‘let[s] us be beautiful / on our own terms.’ Melt’s verse is bold, stark, and uncompromising. Threading elements of familial narrative, memoir, and queer history, they trace through-lines from our past to a brighter, queerer future.
—torrin a. greathouse, author of Wound From The Mouth Of A Wound
The vibrancy of this collection articulates not only a foundation for solidarity in shared struggles against white supremacy but also the vast imaginaries and world-making potential in the diversity of Jewish cultural expression and radical—specifically anarchist—thought. As a Black anarchist, I could not be more grateful for the generosity, vulnerabilities, and fierce, unwavering love for humanity shared within these pages.
—Zoé Samudzi, coauthor of As Black as Resistance: Finding the Conditions for Liberation
Three mermaids recklessly transform themselves into humans in a quest for alcohol. What they didn't expect to find on land was capitalism or the identity crises that come from being stuck in a body that's not your own… Absolutely gorgeous artwork
—Maia Kobabe, author of Gender Queer: A Memoir
Gayatri Sethi combines verse and prose in this brave, painful, and ultimately hopeful journey to find peace inside her complex identity as a Tanzanian-born-Punjabi and mother of multiracial children… Sethi tells the story of persevering through the diaspora while confronting racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and the challenges of American academia while coming to terms with an incomplete sense of belonging.
—Veera Hiranandani, author of The Night Diary
Kaba not only challenges the corrosive notions that only policing and prisons keep us safe, but invites us to see abolition not as a far-away goal, but an everyday adventure that we can embark upon in our daily lives. Mariame Kaba is a galactic treasure. Her passion, dedication and commitment to abolition, safety and accountability are unparalleled. Read this book.
—Victoria Law, coauthor of Prison by Any Other Name