Libertie Valance

Libertie grew up in the mountains of Southern Appalachia but became interested in co-operatives while traveling in Argentina and living outside of Baltimore, MD. The first book she remembers reading was Fahrenheit 451, and they continue to be an avid reader of speculative fiction despite the ongoing convergence of dystopia and reality. Libertie is the sole survivor of Firestorm's first six years in Downtown Asheville, and in addition to telling exaggerated(?) stories about how bad things used to be, they provide bookkeeping and tech support to the co-op.

Libertie's Picks

Ariel Gore blends memoir and fiction with flecks of magical realism in this highly affecting portrait of queer, single motherhood in the midst of the "culture war." I particularly love the way the protagonist reads to her child, exploring feminist theory and fairy tales with a bruising focus on patriarchal violence. Reminiscent of Maggie Nelson's brilliant The Argonauts (but less philosophically lofty) and Kai Cheng Thom's poetic Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars (but less fantastical), this is a raw and beautiful work.

The central trope in this fantastic book by one of my fave alt-SFF authors is a sort of modified "be careful what you wish for" in which words must be used carefully because false statements can be fatal. The highly-stylized voice of the narrator pulls off a sort of hedged-omniscience in which much cannot be said with certainty lest the narrator risk making an untrue statement. This is not a book that will be pigeonholed as "feminist fantasy", but the author presents a world in which queerness is neither vilified nor normalized to the point of invisibility, and the strongest characters are not cisgender men.

This might be my favorite new cookbook. On a whim, I made a batch of Jenne Claiborne's vegan crabcakes—featuring heart of palm and chickpea for texture plus a dash of umeboshi for flavor—and they pretty much blew my mind. Better still, they were seriously quick to make. Having committed myself to working through the whole book, I can now say that this is typical of Sweet Potato Soul – the dishes are full-on flavor but simple to prepare, and they won't keep you in the kitchen all day.

Will Orwell's "boot stamping on a human face, forever" be paid $15/hour, or can the labor be automated? I enjoyed this new title from Verso Books on the future of climate crisis and automation, part of a great series of small books published in collaboration with Jacobin Magazine. Highly recommended for sci-fi geeks, who will appreciate Peter Frase's use of specualtive fiction as source material for their political projections.

It's no surprise that I'm loving Nnedi Okorafor's Akata Witch given how crazy I was about their afrocentric scifi novella, Binti. Steeped it Nigerian folklore, this new-in-paperback coming-of-age story is a young adult fantasy that I'd recommend for all ages, filled with West African juju, secret societies, and mythological creatures. I can't wait for the Fall-slated sequel!

Ok, I'm a little late to the party on reading Sarah Schulman's Conflict Is Not Abuse, but I can't recommend it highly enough. The author's thesis, that "at many levels of human interaction there is the opportunity to conflate discomfort with threat, to mistake internal anxiety for external danger, and in turn to escalate rather than resolve" has radical implications for our polarized, traumatized world and its reliance on policing, scapegoating, and "unfriending." This is a book that, having been read, may exert a lasting impact on how you approach conflicted relationships and envision "good community."

I adore this celebration of working class motherhood by Juniper Fitzgerald and Elise R. Peterson. Through unique collage and simple words, this gem from The Feminist Press shows children that love comes in all shapes and sizes. Feminist readers will appreciate the explicitly pro-sex worker and implicitly trans-inclusive message.

My favorite book of 2017! In equal parts fantasy and memoir, Kai Cheng Thom has created a story that is breathtakingly beautiful to read, full of characters who are simultaneously mythical and marginal. Sex workers, chosen family, girl gangs, and magic populate this novel where reality and metaphor collide. (Content warnings: self-harm, police brutality, suicide, and transmisogynist violence.)

Wow. This book was not what I was expecting but it won me over fast. Vivek Shraya's sparse yet impactful personal history gives way to a meditation on what makes masculinity so toxic. Powerfully, the author does not flatten masculinity into whiteness, straightness, or cisgenderness; nor does she speak entirely from a position of contemptuous distance from masculinity, having once identified as a man. In the end, the result is more bell hooks than Valerie Solanas.

From the moment I read the first page of this book, I was obsessed. I xeroxed copies and gave them to friends, left them in cafes, read them out loud to awkward strangers. Possibly, the most brilliant work of dead-serious political satire ever written, SCUM Manifesto is in a class of its own—the sort of polemic you put down and ask, "Where do I sign up??".

Hilda is a kid who loves rocks, befriends mythical beasts, and navigates conflict with a supportive but nervous single mother. The comics are gorgeous, Miyazaki-esque productions full of cozy and enchanting details while the adventures are contemporary-feeling and lacking in pretension. Age appropriate for kids but recommended for evvveryone!
Marianne's book tells the stories of two families — one White, one Black — as they react to a police shooting in their community and explore the importance of sticking up for people who are treated unfairly. It was published by the American Psychological Association and designed as a resource for parents and educators.