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

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.)