Friday, December 14, 2018

Book Your Stocking with Rajia Hassib

Book Your Stocking 2018

Book Your Stocking: December 14

Welcome to Book Your Stocking, an annual reading recommendation series in which writers and readers share the books they'd most love to discover in their stockings, or sock drawers, or doormats this year--whether that's a book they've read, want to read, or wish would exist. 

Please welcome novelist Rajia Hassib for sharing today's bok-wish.  


Create Dangerously by Edwidge Danticat
Edwidge Danticat has always been one of my favorite authors. She writes with a tender authority, with compassion and yet with the severity of a truth well drawn, and she masterfully manages to present characters living in a different country and representing a different culture as ones as familiar to us as family—and isn’t that the dream of every minority writer? But I only recently stumbled upon her collection of essays, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work, and I found that it was one of those rare books that I read and felt as if I was the ideal audience for it: a book about writing as an immigrant, about being an immigrant and an artist, about the ties that bind readers and writers of totally different backgrounds. 

In the book’s titular first chapter, Danticat writes: “Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. This is what I’ve always thought it meant to be a writer. Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them.” It’s a reminder of the freedom we take for granted, of the people all around the world who are still persecuted and murdered for attempting to speak their minds, of how writing and reading are often acts of challenging authority, of exhibiting “disobedience to a directive,” and of how, all around the world, peoples still do it all the same. Recent reality is a reminder that such risks are still present, often closer to home than we like to admit. Jamal Khashoggi would agree, I think. 

Those essays remind me of how important writing is, challenge me to reconsider my identity and how I’m presenting it, and that assure me that we should all be passionate about reading and writing while also challenging me to do better. I love all of Danticat’s work, but these essays have a special place in my heart. 


About today's reader:

Rajia Hassib, photo by The Oberports
Rajia Hassib was born and raised in Egypt and moved to the United States when she was twenty-three. Her first novel, In the Language of Miracles, was a New York Times Editor's Choice and received an honorable mention from the Arab American Book Award. Her second novel, A Pure Heart, is forthcoming from Viking (Penguin) in August of 2019. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Marshall University, and she has written for The New York Times Book Review and The New Yorker online. She lives in West Virginia with her husband and two children. Learn more at


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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Book Your Stocking with Eva Silverstone

Book Your Stocking 2018

Book Your Stocking: December 13

Welcome back to Book Your Stocking, the annual series in which avid readers share the ONE book they'd love to discover in their stocking this winter. Today's reader is The Most Certified of Book Suggesters, which as you know, is a librarian's official title. 

Thanks to Eva Silverstone for creating today's installment of Book Your Stocking.

The Book of Dust
I would love to receive The Book of Dust (Volume 2) by Philip Pullman, but it hasn’t been released yet. His Dark Materials is a three-book series by Philip Pullman that is one of my most favorite ever. La Belle Sauvage is the first book in the follow-up series to His Dark Materials (actually a prequel), and I tore through that book with incredible gusto. I can’t wait for the next installment. Philip Pullman creates a world where magic, religion and life all mix and it’s fascinating and smart and challenges readers to think. I love this!

How to learn more about this book:

About today's reader:
Eva Silverstone

Eva Silverstone works at the Downtown Public Library in Spokane, WA where she’s in charge of all the art exhibits at that location. She also works the reference desk, manages the meeting rooms, and does “other duties as assigned.” One of her favorite things is recommending books to people. When not at work, Eva makes her own art which has recently been textile based.


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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Book Your Stocking with Michael Noll

Book Your Stocking 2018

Book Your Stocking: December 12

It's the twelfth day of Christmas, and one of my truest book-loving friends is here to share the book he'd be most pleased to pull from his stocking this winter. 

Please welcome today's reader, Michael Noll. 


Heavy: An American Memoir
Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon (2017)

I can't remember the last book that I've finished and immediately thought, "I need to read this again," but that's the case with Kiese Laymon's memoir Heavy

He writes about weight, food, and his childhood growing up the brilliant black son of a brilliant black mother who was a university professor but often scraping by (and sometimes not). 

The book intentionally cuts across the usual narratives of bootstrap self-improvement found in such stories and is written in one of the most captivating voices in current American prose (which is why the audiobook was named the best of the year by Audible).


Michael Noll
About today's reader:

Michael Noll is the author of The Writer's Field Guide to the Craft of Fiction and short stories that have appeared, most recently, in Crazyhorse. He edits the craft-of-writing blog Read to Write Stories and works as the Program Director for the Writers' League of Texas. 


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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Book Your Stocking with Michael J. Wolfe

Book Your Stocking 2018

Book Your Stocking: December 11

Thank you for returning to today's Book Your Stocking. Every December day of 2018, avid readers are sharing the one book they'd be glad to find in their winter stocking this year. Please welcome Michael J. Wolfe back to this year's edition. Read his last year's book recommendations, here.

Half-Light: Collected Poems
by Frank Bidart

It would delight and no doubt astound me to find in my stocking Half-Light: Collected Poems 1965-2016 by Frank Bidart, because 

  1. throughout the years his poems have always been around but not close enough; I’ve never owned one of his books; 
  2. What could be better than waking up on Christmas morning to a giant book of gay poems with a beheading gracing the cover?
  3. My stocking is so tiny and barely fit for a gift-card that for this 700+ page book to be in my stocking would mean something impossible would have occurred overnight, and I’d very much like to believe in that possibility as well as in the magic in Bidart’s poetry. 


Michael J. Wolfe
About today's reader: 

Michael J. Wolfe lives in L.A. where he is currently developing a documentary series based on queer history. He can be found online at


Check out more recommendations from Book Your Stocking contributors: 

Monday, December 10, 2018

Book Your Stocking with Jack Kaulfus

Book Your Stocking: December 10

We've officially entered week two of the holiday season. This is the second year of Book Your Stocking, a series in which avid readers recommend the books they've most loved in the past year and would be delighted to find in their own stockings, socks, or slippers. 

Today's contributor is Jack Kaulfus, whose book-list I meant to feature last year, but I lost the list through the crevices of email and discovered it too late. Luckily, Jack agreed to share the list this year. Please welcome author Jack Kaulfus!


Half an Inch of Water by Percival Everett
One of my favorite books by Everett is Wounded, which is about all my favorite subjects: queer cowboys, horses, and the intersection of cultural violence, racism, and environmental disasters. I was thrilled to see Everett return to this territory, and am happily making my way through these wry, emotionally hefty stories.

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
This book has really stuck with me. For all its humor and character-driven drama, it's also a fast-paced mystery that tackles mental illness, cultural oppression, and gender identity. I listened to it, and it was a terrific recording with a excellent voice actor at the helm.

His Bloody Project by Graeme McRae Burnet
If you're like me and you secretly want to move to Wales and never return, this book will do until you can get your hands on some more Welsh fiction.  Even though it does take place in Scotland in 1869, it's got murder, peat bogs, and a schoolmaster named Gillie. It's a fictionalized dossier detailing the stories of a few people involved in a terrible family murder. The varying points of view deftly examine issues of class, education, and gender, making it a fantastic, layered mystery.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Reading this book was like watching a movie. It took a little longer, but not much, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about this particular multiverse since. This may be because I'm sci-fi soft and need my quantum physics to be couched in a dysfunctional family, but this one is two thumbs up for that day you can't afford Netflix anymore but you feel like some Black Mirror.

Her Body and Other Stories by Carmen Maria Machado
Kind of horrific, kind of funny, kind of inappropriate, complicated, multi-layered, super-feminist. Like every good book should be.

Marlena by Julie Buntin
I'm so happy this book exists. It's a meditative, page-turning, satisfying story about a beautiful mess of characters in a lot of snow. I barreled through it in the way that you can when you're actually enjoying each sentence.

Large Animals by Jess Arndt
Unabashedly queer and grounded in the visceral, Large Animals is a treasure of original writing, images, and ideas. Carefully crafted around characters who are struggling with some of the most basic questions of being, these stories always seem inches from going off the rails. That element of uncertainty under the control of Arndt is exhilarating and ultimately completely satisfying.


Jack Kaulfus
Jack Kaulfus is the author of  the story collection Tomorrow or Forever (Transgress Press 2018). Jack lives in Austin, Texas with their spouse, Bianca. Learn more about Jack, their writing, and upcoming appearances at Follow Jack on Facebook.


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Sunday, December 9, 2018

Book Your Stocking with Ann Tweedy

Book Your Stocking: December 9

One of the best ways to spend a Sunday is with Ann Tweedy. Lucky for everyone, Ann is here today to talk books, wishes, and stockings. 

Please welcome Ann to today's edition of your favorite wintertime book-suggestion series.


We're On: A June Jordan Reader

We’re On:  A June Jordan Reader
, June Jordan, ed:  Christoph Keller and Jan Heller Levi.

In my stocking this year, I’m hoping to get We’re On:  A June Jordan Reader (Alice James Books 2017).  I love Jordan’s poetry—her grittiness, her advocacy for racial justice and for sexual freedom, her plain spokenness.  As a bi poet, I consider her one of my foremothers and feel empowered by her explicit linking of bisexuality and freedom.  Jordan was extremely prolific, publishing over 20 books in her lifetime, so We’re On doesn’t include all of her work.  But 500 pages of poetry, prose, and letters will get me well on my way to becoming more intimate with Jordan’s work and poetics.

About today's reader:

Ann Tweedy
photo by Karen Wolf
Ann Tweedy is a poet and lawyer for Indian Tribes who currently lives in Pierce County, Washington.  She is the author of The Body’s Alphabet (Headmistress Press 2016), which won a Bisexual Book Award and a Human Relations Indie Book Award and was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and a Golden Crown Literary Society Award. Visit her website to learn more.


Check out more recommendations from Book Your Stocking contributors: 

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Book Your Stocking with Shellie Faught

Book Your Stocking 2018

Book Your Stocking: December 8

There is no better time for reading and wishing than winter. Luckily, Book Your Stocking combines both. All December long, writers and readers are sharing the books they most would love to discover in their stockings, socks, or shelving units this holiday season. 

Today's contributor, Shellie Faught, is making a direct request to both an author and ALL forward-thinking publishers, for exactly the book she would like to find . . . sooner than soon. Please welcome Shellie to the series.


Hole in the Middle by Kendra Fortmeyer
The book I would be thrilled to find in my stocking does not yet exist -- a collection of short stories by author Kendra Fortmeyer. Her fiction is a delicious blend of surrealism, humor, heartbreak, and compassion. 

Her debut young adult novel, Hole in the Middle, is smart and beautifully written (and would make a fantastic addition to any teenage girl's stocking). 

Kendra's stories can be found on her website ( and "Asymmetry" will be released next season on the podcast, "LeVar Burton Reads" and can be heard and read on Podcastle, but a bound collection would be lovely for a stocking. 

Maybe in 2019? 

About today's reader:
Shellie Faught

Shellie Faught lives in Austin, Texas, and has an MFA in Creative Writing from Texas State University. Her fiction has appeared in Black Fox Literary Magazine and her debut novel -- a quiet story about Satanic Panic -- is forthcoming . . . someday. Learn more about Shellie and her writing at her website:


Check out more recommendations from Book Your Stocking contributors: 

Friday, December 7, 2018

Book Your Stocking with Bonnie Brunt

Book Your Stocking 2018

Book Your Stocking: December 7

'Tis the season for solitude and reading. Also, in many climates, socks, stockings, and other warm-foot coverings. As such, the best thing to do with a stocking is clearly to hang it from a knob, a door, a fireplace, a heater vent, or a shelf and then to put a book in it. 

Realizing the need for book suggestions to put in said stocking, all December, writers and readers are sharing the one book that they want to discover in their sock. If you aren't near their socks, the next best thing is to put the book in your sock or in the sock of someone you really like. 

That's what we do here every day of December on Book Your Stocking. So, without further ado, please welcome today's avid reader, Bonnie Brunt, with her book-wish. 

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (cover art)

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (2017)

I would be so pleased to find this book in my stocking because I have wanted to read it for a long time. The premise is fascinating: the parallel paths of two half-sisters born in different African villages, one of whom was captured and sold into slavery, the other who married an Englishman. I am eager to read this story.


Bonnie Brunt
About today's reader: 

Bonnie is a mom, traveler, word-nerd, a speaker of Spanish. She's also a lover of nature, books, movies, and the arts. Formerly a Spanish instructor, she now serves as Dean of Visual and Performing Arts at Spokane Falls Community College.


Check out more recommendations from Book Your Stocking contributors: 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Book Your Stocking with Regi Claire

Book Your Stocking: December 6

For as much of December as we can fill, writers and readers--nay, book lovers--are sharing the book they would love to find in their winter stocking this year. So far, contributors have shared a book scheduled for publication, a book that may not be a book, a book discovered on the radio, and now, today's book is a book that somehow fell between the spines of all the other books she's read so far.

I'm happy to welcome writer Regi Claire back to this year's edition of Book Your Stocking.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (1994)

A little ashamed of this inexplicable gap in my literary education, I admit to never having read Chinua Achebe’s acclaimed novel Things Fall Apart. It is one of several twentieth-century classics I have for a long time been meaning to seek out. Now, sixty years since its first publication, I hold my Christmas stocking wide open to receive this book with grace, and gratitude.


About today's reader: 

Regi Claire
Regi Claire is a Swiss-born novelist and short story writer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. She has had work included in Best British Short Stories and is a two-time finalist for a Saltire Book of the Year award. Learn more about Regi, her books, and upcoming events at


Check out more recommendations from Book Your Stocking contributors: 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Book Your Stocking with Donna Miscolta

Book Your Stocking: December 5

Book Your Stocking 2018
You love books. Your favorite person loves books. You have a burning desire to love books. You have a book list ten miles long composed of book titles you must read now.


This is the place to be to revel in that love of books and to add another 1/4 mile to your to-read list. All December, writers and readers are sharing the book that they'd love to find in their winter stocking, whether they've read it, wish to read it again, or just discovered it.

Today's book recommendation is a discovery. Please welcome  Donna Miscolta who found a voice from the radio and traced it to a new book, just released this November.

Insurrecto by Gina Apostol
This is the book: Insurrecto by Gina Apostol

This is how I found it:
One morning in November, I turned on the radio and dropped into an author interview Scott Simon was conducting on NPR’s Weekend Edition.

I sat in the car, alert to the voice of the author whose intelligence, passion for her novel’s subjects, and humor and goodwill transfixed me.

Later, I went to the NPR site to read the interview with Gina Apostol and to find the passages that had most riveted me. 

Like this one about Elvis and who he belongs to:

The thing about Elvis is that I — you know, I didn't like him because he was my mom's favorite. But it was only a few years ago that I realized that all these songs that my uncles, when I was a kid, would sing — this is in the '70s — would sing for, like, long long long guitar-strumming fests, were actually all Elvis songs. So I actually thought Elvis was Filipino for a long time. ...

And this one about Americans’ history that goes beyond liberator:

I think it's important, for instance, for an American to recognize its multiple histories. You know, this history of wanting to be the liberator in the Spanish-American War period, but also recognizing the inhumanity that came from that war. So there's this tension of the two.

And this one about the kind of book it is:

…it's a Filipino book, it's an American book…

And this one about her intention as a novelist:

So I think as a teacher, it's just — given the difficulty of our times, it's also kind of liberating for me to do the work that I do as a novelist that's not at all separate from the ethical reader that I want, and the ethical citizen that I want in my classroom.

Shouldn’t we all read this book?


About today's reader:
Donna Miscolta
(photo by Meryl Schenker)

Donna Miscolta’s story collection Hola and Goodbye, winner of the Doris Bakwin Award for Writing by a Woman, was published by Carolina Wren Press in 2016. It won an Independent Publishers award for Best Regional Fiction and an International Latino Book Award for Best Latino Focused Fiction. She’s also the author of the novel When the de la Cruz Family Danced published in 2011. Recent work has appeared in The Fourth River, Cascadia Magazine, Moss, Blood Orange Review, and Seattle Review of Books. She writes a monthly blog at


Check out more recommendations from Book Your Stocking contributors: