At Louisville Literary Arts, we all love to read. But our interests in literature are as varied as hats on Derby Day. Some of us gravitate toward poetry, while others prefer an epic novel. A few of us love reading creative nonfiction. In this space, we recommend recent books we've read, and hope that you'll find something just right for your reading list.
Amy Recommends: THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI by Helene Wecker (Harper Perennial, 2013)
"This book tells the story of Chava, a golem whose master unexpectedly dies, and Ahmad, a jinni trapped in a copper flask centuries ago, who is released one day by a tinsmith. As they both struggle to adjust to life in turn-of-the-century New York, Chava and Ahmad strike up a friendship. This richly woven tale of characters born of earth and fire forging a strong bond, deftly blends magic and realism and is a remarkably strong first novel by Wecker."
John recommends: APPALACHIAN ELEGY by bell hooks (University Press of Kentucky, 2012)
"Though she is known primarily as an essayist, bell hooks’ Appalachian Elegy examines, in great depth and with acumen, the penetrating notion of 'place' that rests at the heart of her already distinguished critical oeuvre. The book begins with an essay, which lays out the agricultural, ecological, and identic concerns in the work, followed by a series of 66 numbered though untitled and unpunctuated poems. Really, readers might think of Appalachian Elegy as a single long poem; I know I do. The pieces are serious, thoughtful, and conceptually wide-ranging, though they are unified in form and tone. Hooks’ mastery of language makes for a smooth read, but not necessarily an 'easy' one, as these poems exhibit, to quote hooks, 'a constant passing / of life into death / and back again.' "
Alice recommends: THE WALLS AROUND US by Nova Ren Suma (Algonquin, 2015)
Genre: Young Adult
"The inmate who manages the library cart in the girls’ detention center is a quiet observer, and she knows that something strange is happening, like deja-vu, 'that inside-itching, the prickling electricity in the quiet section of my brain,' and it has something to do with her new cellmate, Orianna. This inmate and Violet, a rising ballet dancer on the outside, tell the story of how Ori came to join the other girls at the detention center, and what happened to them afterward up in the looming stone prison at the top of the hill. Yes, it’s a young adult novel, but the themes – prejudice and privilege, scapegoating, turning a blind eye – are adult concerns, presented in Suma’s chilling, lyrical prose, laced with raw teen emotion and the sinking realization that the walls will be there forever.