Category: Lists

8 Books for Learning to Get Angry

Does anyone else have a hard time getting angry? It comes so easily to some people, but for me it’s been more of a learned skill in adulthood. And it’s one I still need to work on. A lot. I grew up thinking of anger as this unacceptable, out of control emotion. But I see so many motivating impulses arise from anger. So much honesty and directness. And so much danger from anger that isn’t healthily processed. In our personal lives and political lives, there is so much to be angry about. If you also struggle with this so-called “negative” emotion, here are eight books to help you learn to get angry…or learn to get angry in a healthier and more productive way.

As you’ll see from the titles, many of these books are specifically for or about women or written from a Feminist perspective. However, I think readers of all gender identities could benefit from reading the books on this list.

Mindful Anger: A Pathway to Emotional Freedom by Andrea Brandt

This is the first book on anger I ever read. It helped transform the concept of anger from something wholly negative to a normal emotion I could learn from. In the book, Brandt suggests that avoiding anger doesn’t actually get rid of the emotion. Instead, it can lead to health problems. Brandt gives detailed approaches to allowing yourself feel anger, focusing on being mindful of the physical sensations within your body. This lets you both let go of the emotion sooner and learn from the messages it’s trying to send you. If it sounds a little woo-woo, that’s because it is. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be helpful!

The Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships by Harriet Lerner

This is considered a “classic” about anger in the psychology/self help world. First published in 1985, the title singles out women but Lerner suggests people of all genders can find help in the book. The Dance of Anger examines anger through the lens of close relationships. The case studies Lerner brings up are often male/female romantic partnerships, but there are also conflicts between parents and children as well. Depending on the edition, some of these examples might feel very old-fashioned or even outdated. However, the reframing of anger as an important impetus to change is valuable and this book is a cult favorite of many people who’ve struggled with anger in their relationships.

Sister OUtsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde

This collection brings together fifteen essays and speeches Lorde wrote between 1976 and 1984. They examine the intersections of different identities relating to race, gender, sexuality, and economic status. The book argues that anger is the only appropriate response to societal injustices and inequitable treatment of different groups of people. This became a foundational text for feminism’s development past the “second wave” or “White feminist” stage (although there is still much work to do). Lorde’s unapologetic anger is inspirational in these writings. For example, she writes: “I cannot hide my anger to spare you guilt, nor hurt feelings, nor answering anger; for to do so insults and trivializes all our efforts. Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one’s own actions or lack of action.” Quotes like this reframe anger and show how it should be embraced for change to occur.

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd

Sue Monk Kidd is better known for her novels, like The Secret Life of Bees. However this spiritual memoir about Kidd’s journey from half her life existing within the traditional Southern Baptist church to discovering what she called “the divine feminine.” And anger plays a big part in that journey. Anger at a comment from two men from her church about her daughter. Anger at the patriarchal system she’d never questioned and a passive, submissive role she’d been playing within it. This anger leads to an academic exploration into female centric religions, myths, and folklore, and offers important insight into how anger can be an important motivator for personal growth.

Rage Becomes Her by Soraya Chemaly

This books takes the gendering of emotions head on – specifically the ways we think about women and anger. This is not a self help book or a book about managing anger, instead it’s a manifesto offering permission for women to become angry. It does this by listing the numerous things women have to be angry about: street harassment, sexual double standard, and pay inequality to name a few. It also looks at the physical and psychological damage suppressing anger to conform to a “nice” or “good girl” image inflicts on women’s bodies.

Eloquent Rage cover imageEloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers her Superpower by Brittney Cooper

This book follows the Audre Lorde tradition, with a collection of personal essays about straddling the identities of being Black and being a feminist. Some are playful, such as an essay using Michelle Obamas hair as metaphor for respectability politics. Others are painful to read, like how she uses the story of her mother’s attempted murder to illustrate our societal problems with toxic masculinity. With a harsh critique white feminism and the treatment of anger from women of color, these essays offer an insightful look into intersection of anger and different social identities in contemporary American society.

Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion by Carol Tavris

Here’s another pop psychology classic that has a lot that’s helpful and a fair amount that feels outdated. It takes a pretty different starting point to poke holes in the belief that anger must always be expressed. The book investigates exactly what anger is and helps readers figure out when to share it. This new revised version has updated some of the language about anger and gender and includes new sections on road rage, violence in sports, and chronic anger problems.

Good and Mad coverGood And Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger by Rebecca Traister

Ever since this book came out, my phone has been blowing up with texts from friends sending me quotes. And I can see why. It takes a long view at how women’s anger has functioned within the American political sphere. How anger can seen as a weakness for female candidates. And how anger has fueled important social movements from the suffragettes to #metoo. Traister also examines the way women have expressed anger towards each other within the feminist movement. In both of Traister’s books, she shows an uncanny ability to connect the personal experience to a larger historical story. This feels like an important thing to do through the lens of anger. Especially as we see the media attaching labels like “unlikeable” and “abrasive” to 2020’s female presidential candidates.

This article originally appeared on BOOK RIOT

Hiatus Reading: THE GOOD PLACE

Goodbye to The Good Place… For Now

The deeper we get into this hiatus from The Good Place, the more I miss the show’s flawless philosophy education and mailman sex fantasies. Rest assured it will be back for a season four, but its break is always too long.

Imagining hat the characters might be reading in their endless days gives me some brief joy between seasons. If they do take a break from philosophy lab experiments, I have some fun fiction recommendations for the Brainy Bunch/Soul Squad. There will be mild spoilers for dialogue ahead because it is too hard to talk about this show and not quote its hilarious lines.

Eleanor Shellstrop

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life

I know her favorite book is Kylie Jenner’s Instagram feed, but I think Eleanor would love to dive into We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby. Her biting and hilarious series of essays take on growing up, disastrous dates, and the Bachelorette. Eleanor and Samantha could share an Arizona rosé and make fun of the suburbs until the end of time.

 

 

Chidi Anagonye
Sudden Death cover

In the eternity of the afterlife, Chidi might have a chance to read a book that was not philosophy. He would probably love diving into Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue. The insane mash of historical figures watching a tennis match between Carvaggio and Francisco de Quevedo. Enrigue includes himself in the Dante Aligheri-esque wandering through the history of the world. It also pokes a bit of fun at philosophers, and Chidi can definitely get down with absurdist humor in the “Jeremy Bearimy” timeline.

Tahani Al-Jamil

A Duke by Default

Light spoiler—Tahani mentioned being “mad horny” in the fourth episode of season three (“The Snowplow”) of The Good Place, and I think she needs some fun reading to bring together that fact and her love of royal life. Obviously, A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole is the answer. Socialite Portia Hobbs has to employ her amazing posh skills to makeover the scruffy newly discovered duke, Tavish McKenzie. Tahani probably had to do the same thing for Prince Harry.

 

Jason Mendoza

Mars

Jason is one of those character on a Michael Schur show who is secretly brilliant. His winding breakdance crew stories always give us some kernels of moral and ethical clarity. Jeson would love the upcoming short story collection Mars by Asja Bakić, translated by Jennifer Zoble. The short stories flit between realism and science fiction, and they fit Jason’s joyful “this might as well happen” approach to life.

 

Janet

Becoming

Our favorite not-a-girl has gotten quite the crash course in human life and emotions. As she said, most of human life is just waiting for things to be over. If Janet wants an example of how a human can do some good with that waiting, she should dive into Becoming by Michelle Obama. Do I need to recommend this book to Janet, when she holds all earthly knowledge, and therefore all the glowing reviews and loving tweets? Probably not, but she’d appreciate it anyway. There’s a ton of Michelle Obama knowledge Janet needs to experience firsthand.

Michael

They Both Die at the End

Our favorite demon-turned-soul-saver Michael went through multiple big changes this season and the last, and he could find some resonance with his own existential crises in They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. Confronting their End Day by finding each other on Last Friend, Mateo and Rufus deal with their ends in distinct and touching ways. It’s a beautiful story about fear, acceptance, and friendship. Michael might continue to have panic attacks about all of the things swirling around his afterlife, but hopefully Silvera could give him some comfort about the importance of connections between friends.

Gen

Ella Enchanted

Omnipotent but impartial judge Gen (short for Hydrogen) learns as little as possible about human affairs. But she cheats once in a while. To pass the time between cases, she could pick up Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. If all of this Good Place/Bad Place point counting and totaling is based on human free will, she should consider this famous story about how you can move in the world when you’ve been stripped of that decision making power.

 

Shawn

Dark Money

After torturing William Shakespeare with an explanation of the plot of Entourage, basic demon Shawn would enjoy reading Dark Money by Jane Meyer. The insanity of the billionaires stripping the earth of resources, and its citizens of rights, is just as good as anything that The Bad Place could come up with.

 

 

 

More Diverse Philosophy

One of the best things about The Good Place is that it is always bursting with philosophical reading recommendations. Since philosophy can be kind of a white male dominated field, exploring other academic fields and literary genres could help them diversify the book recommendations. I hope the next season brings more laughs, meditations on the nature of humanity, and thoughtful books into the mix.

 

This article originally appeared on BOOK RIOT

4 Great Books About The Great Lakes

During January’s visit of the polar vortex, my obsession with the Great Lakes sunk further in and ached just like the cold on my lungs. I checked the ice levels put out by the national weather service and I snuck outside to watch the lake fog seep off of the freezing water.

I live in Chicago, but little by little I am expanding my Great Lakes repertoire. I lived for a year in a cabin along the Wisconsin coast. This year a friend and I took a trip to the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior, and I spent a weekend solo camping and writing on Washington Island on the very tip of Door County.

Back in the city, Lake Michigan touches the park behind my apartment building, and the minute water is bearable in June I swim in it. I keep swimming until that day in October where I stop, and I think to myself, “Hm, if I get in this tomorrow, I may or may not get hypothermia.”

So, in the cold months, when all all I can do is look out over the water and stick myself in the indoor pool.  I try to find at least one or two books a season that take place either in or are about the Great Lakes.

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan

This book will always be known as the thing that made me afraid of Lampreys. It is meticulously reported and covers everything from the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to water rights issues, to the current ecological well beings of the Lakes.

Lake Michigan by Daniel Borzutzky

While we often think of the Great Lakes as a place of barges, and pine forests, they are also the home to several major Urban Areas including Toronto, Cleveland, and Milwaukee. We cannot separate the Lakes from the troubles and triumphs of the cities on their shores. A good book that represents this is Lake Michigan by Daniel Borzutzky. Set in a fictitious prison on a Chicago beach, this is a set of 19 lyric poems that interrogate many of the ideas about race, and violence. It is also beautiful.

The Long-Shining Waters by Danielle Sosin

Long and Shining Waters captures the icy gleam of Lake Superior. It braids together the stories of Nora, a bar owner, Grey Rabbit, an Ojibwe woman, and Berit and Gunnar, a Norwegian couple. All three are deeply connected to the lake, and while their stories never meet, there is a voice that connects them all. Sosin’s prose somehow captures the sharpness and awe of Lake Superior, where other artists have seemed to have sanded off its edges. I don’t know how she did it, but the product is mesmerizing.

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Dr. Kimmerer’s book doesn’t take place directly on the Great Lakes, but her voice is vital to the understanding of the Region. First, she is a member of the Potawatomi Citizen Nation, which speaks Anishinaabe, the first language of the Great Lakes. She is also a scientist who specializes in moss, swamps, and plants. This book offers excellent insight into the way I saw the Great Lakes, its humans, and its ecosystems.

This article originally appeared on BOOK RIOT

9 Plays For Theatre Beginners By Diverse Authors

With so many plays available, the choices can be overwhelming. The innumerable choices are especially daunting if you’re new to the world of theatre. It doesn’t help that lists of must-read classics still paint a bleak landscape in terms of inclusion and diversity.

9 great plays for theater beginners by diverse authors. plays | plays for theater | plays for performers | diverse plays | inclusive plays

Sure, Hamilton continues to awe audiences everywhere, but it’s hardly the norm or standard. Straight white men continue to dominate the narratives, which isn’t exactly the most enticing sight for newcomers. The homogeneity definitely discouraged me when I first flirted with the idea of studying theatre.

To help you out, here nine plays for theatre beginners not by straight white men. Hopefully they’ll encourage you to add some more drama to your to-read list!

1. Fefu and Her Friends by María Irene Fornés

Fefu and her friends maria irene fornes book cover

Fornés pioneered immersive theatre with her play Fefu and Her Friends back in 1977. To top it off, it features an all-female cast, which is sadly still a rare sight nowadays.

The play follows Fefu and her friends (of course) as they rehearse a play for charity. As the play progresses, the women begin to voice their concerns about themselves and society at large, negotiating their identities and exploring their relationships.

2. for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange

for colored girls ntozake shange book cover

for colored girls… is a choreopoem, a collection of 20 monologues with music and dance that tells the story of seven Black women surviving a both racism and misogyny. By sharing their stories, the women find solace and strength through their unity.

Shange passed away late last year, but her seminal work continues to resonate.

3. The Humans by Stephen Karam

the humans stephen karam book cover

It’s Thanksgiving, and Brigid and Richard are preparing for a family dinner at their new apartment in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Chaos ensues. The Humans might seem like your run-of-the-mill family drama, with disgruntled relatives trying not to scream at one another over the turkey. But the tension of post-9/11 America underscores Stephen Karam’s Pulitzer-winning play.

4. Fun Home by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori, based on Fun Home: a Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

fun home jeanine tesori lisa kron alison bechdel book cover

Get your tissues ready, because the musical version of Fun Home is just as gut-wrenching as the original graphic novel by Alison Bechdel.

There are three versions of the title character: Alison, Medium Alison and Small Alison, with the eldest looking back on her past. Like the original memoir, Fun Home centers on Alison’s relationship with her father Bruce, as well as her burgeoning sexuality.

5. The Shipment by Young Jean Lee

the shipment lear young jean lee book cover

Lee wrote The Shipment in tandem with an ensemble of Black actors. She asked them what roles they would love to play but would never be cast in due to their race.

The play is split into two parts. The first is a highly stylised satire of stereotypes that the ensemble faces as Black performers. The second part is a naturalistic play about a friendly gathering in an apartment, with a surprise twist that is sure to tear apart the idea of “not seeing race”.

A full recording of the play is also available on Lee’s official archive.

6. Indecent by Paula Vogel

indecent paula vogel book cover

Indecent is about the real-life story of God of Vengeance by Sholem Asch, a play that caused controversy. Audiences weren’t too fond of its depiction of prostitution, throwing a Torah on the ground, and a romance between two women.

Vogel’s work provides context for the controversy, particularly the rising tide of anti-semitism and the way censorship stifles marginalised narratives. Still, it somehow manages to inspire hope. The play underscores the power of art and how it helps the human spirit survive insurmountable suffering.

7. Dutchman by Amiri Baraka/Leroi Jones

dutchman the slave leroi jones amiri baraka book cover

Dutchman revolves around a Black man named Clay and a white woman named Lula as they ride the subway in New York City. Although Baraka wrote in in the ’60s, the plot is still spine-chillingly relevant today.

The two flirt during the train ride, but racial tensions begin to mount as Lula becomes more aggressive, while the onlookers stay silent. It highlights a vicious cycle of violence enabled by passivity and detachment.

8. Eclipsed by Danai Gurira

eclipsed danai gurira book cover

Yep, you read that right. Danai Gurira might be best known for her acting work in Black Panther and The Walking Dead, but she’s also a critically-acclaimed playwright.

Eclipsed is about five Liberian women during the Second Liberian War who meet under the most unfortunate of circumstances. Captured and forced into “marriage” by a rebel officer, they form a sisterhood that refuses to lose hope and compassion.

9. Stop Kiss by Diana Son

stop kiss diana son book cover

Stop Kiss primarily explores the relationship between Sara and Callie, who are attacked after publicly sharing a kiss on the street. However, Son doesn’t depict the violence onstage. Instead, she interweaves scenes out of chronological order.

Despite the heavy subject matter, the play still maintains a sense of humour as it chronicles the awkward ups and downs and everything-in-betweens of a budding romance.

 

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Looking for more play recommendations? Check out 100 Must-Read Plays Not by Shakespeare!

This article originally appeared on BOOK RIOT

March 2019 Horoscopes and Book Recommendations

Welcome to Book Riot’s March 2019 Horoscopes and Book Recommendations! There are a ton of great new books coming out this month, so how do you choose which to read first? The answer is easy: Follow the stars!

Find your astrological sign below for your March horoscope, perfectly paired with a newly released book.

March 2019 Horoscopes and Book Recommendations graphic with ten book covers

All signs will be affected by Mercury retrograde, which will take place March 5 through 28. This can lead to communication errors, technology problems, and general weirdness. My advice for surviving Mercury retrograde? Stay inside with a good book!

Aries (March 21–April 19)

Meet Me in Outer Space book coverFebruary gets all the credit for romance, but March will be the love-filled month for you, Aries. Relationships old and new will be passionate and meaningful. Your family will also play a big role in your life this month. Spend quality time with loved ones. Seek out a new experience with your family and/or significant other to make memories this month. You might enjoy reading a heartwarming romance, like Meet Me in Outer Space (March 12, Swoon Reads) by Melinda Grace. Edie is a college student with Central Auditory Processing Disorder, and it’s getting in the way of her goals when she struggles in French class. A cute TA is the perfect person to help her improve her grades—and find romance.

Taurus (April 20–May 20)

Gingerbread book cover - crow holding orange branchMarch will be all about taking steps forward for Tauruses. Self-improvement is a priority this month, and you’re looking for ways to be a better and happier person. You’re also focused on reaching goals professionally. Big things can happen for you this month if you’re thoughtful with your work and time. Don’t forget to take care of your health. I recommend Gingerbread (March 5, Random House) by Helen Oyeyemi. This novel combines the fairytale magic of a secret gingerbread recipe with story of a woman on a journey to learn more about her deceased mother.

Gemini (May 21–June 20)

Dealing in Dreams book cover - blue with yellow birds and leaves and woman in profileYou’ve got your nose to the grindstone this month, Gemini. Your career is front and center, and your professional goals are within your reach. Colleagues and supervisors are encouraging you to keep up the good work. Be careful to avoid burnout, and make sure you get plenty of rest. Also, spend time with friends and family to make sure they feel like a priority. Read a book with a protagonist who will do anything to get what she wants, like Dealing in Dreams (March 5, Simon & Schuster) by Lilliam Rivera. In this YA dystopian novel, Nalah is the leader of a powerful girl gang. When given the chance to live in the exclusive Mega Towers, she must show her loyalty to the city’s founder.

Cancer (June 21–July 22)

The Island of Sea Women cover - blue background with two women diversCancers’ social networks will be very important in March. Friends and colleagues can help give a boost to your career and your finances. They may also have a useful perspective on your personal conflicts, as romantic relationships may be tumultuous this month. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from others, even if you prefer to be on the helping side! Check out The Island of Sea Women (March 5, Scribner) by Lisa See, a story of the power of lifelong friendship. Two girls on a small Korean island are chosen to become baby divers. Over the decades that follow, their friendship and lives are shaped by war and colonialism.

Leo (July 23–August 22)

The Other Americans book coverYou’re in your emotions this month, Leo. Romantic encounters in March come on hard and fast, and you might just catch some feelings. You may also get emotionally invested in your professional goals this month, which will raise the stakes. It’s okay to feel strongly about things. But remember to find some perspective if things get too intense. You might enjoy a book with a little bit of everything, like mystery/love story/family saga The Other Americans (March 26, Pantheon) by Laila Lalami. When a Moroccan immigrant is killed in a suspicious car accident in California, a strange cast of characters come together to uncover the man’s secrets and the town’s hypocrisies.

Virgo (August 23–September 22)

She/He/They/Me book cover - various gender symbolsYou’ve got incredible focus in March, Virgo. It will be a big month for you when it comes to professional advancement and personal improvement. Educational pursuits will be especially rewarding, so it’s a good time to learn something new. Use your energy and drive to your advantage, and set goals early in the month to guide your work. I recommend She/He/They/Me: For the Sisters, Misters, and Binary Resisters (March 5, Sourcebooks) by Robyn Ryle, an educational and creative look at gender identity. In this choose-your-own-gender-journey, you can explore different historic and cultural views on gender and learn more about intersectional identities.

Libra (September 23–October 22)

If Cats Disappeared from the World book cover - blue with profile of man and catHappiness will be the key to Libras’ success in March. Seek joy in everything you do this month, whether it’s time spent with family and friends, romantic relationships, or your career. Make time for activities and people who make you happy. If something this month gets in the way of your joy, it may be time KonMari it and show it the door. Check out If Cats Disappeared from the World (March 12, Flatiron Books) by Genki Kawamura, translated by Eric Selland. It’s a funny and heartwarming meditation on the meaning of life, all told through the eyes of a postman with a cat named Cabbage.

Scorpio (October 23–November 21)

Queenie cover - orange with profile of head with braidsMarch is a great time to hit the pause button and reconsider where you’re headed. Scorpios will spend much of the month considering their personal and professional goals. Are your priorities in line with where you want to go? It’s hard for you to take advice sometimes, but family and friends may be able to offer a useful perspective. You might enjoy Queenie (March 19, Orion Publishing) by Candice Carty-Williams, which has been described as Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah. Queenie is a Jamaican British woman living in London. When her boyfriend breaks up with her, she makes a series of questionable decisions in search of meaning in a world where she never feels like she fits in.

Sagittarius (November 22–December 21)

The Wrong End of the Table cover - pink with hummus and U.S. flagThanks to Mercury retrograde, misunderstandings may lead to some problems for you this month. Communication difficulties may lead to disagreements between family members or your spouse. Travel may also be complicated this month, so avoid any big trips if possible. Don’t jump to conclusions in difficult conversations and be precise with your words. Read The Wrong End of the Table: A Mostly Comic Memoir of a Muslim Arab American Woman Just Trying to Fit in (March 5, Skyhorse) by Ayser Salman. This hilarious and heartfelt memoir of feeling out of place in a new country is just what you need to help you laugh at your own misunderstandings.

Capricorn (December 22–January 19)

Internment cover - woman with "resist" hatYou have a habit of expecting the worst, and your worrywart tendencies may get the best of you this month. Even your best plans seem to be full of risks. But don’t let your fear of failure keep you from advancing. You can make great strides in your career this month if you remain goal oriented. Avoid starting arguments with family in March. Check out Internment (March 12, Little, Brown) by Samira Ahmed, a young adult speculative fiction novel. In the not-so-distant future, Layla and her parents are forced into a Muslim American internment camp. With the help of her boyfriend on the outside and new friends on the inside, she fights for freedom.

Aquarius (January 20–February 18)

Daisy Jones & the Six cover - woman's face in brown hairNothing will be handed to you in March, Aquarius. If you want something this month, you’ll have to be aggressive. It’s not in your nature to fight for what you want; you’d rather fight on behalf of others. But this is the time to go out and take control of your destiny! With determination, you can make great professional and personal strides this month. You might enjoy Daisy Jones & the Six (March 5, Ballantine Books) by Taylor Jenkins Reid. It follows the meteoric rise and dramatic split of a famous 1970s rock band.

Pisces (February 19–March 20)

The Parting Glass cover - woman's back with braid and bowCaution will be important for you in March, Pisces. With Mercury in retrograde for much of the month, there are many moments where things may get messy. Family fights may occur because of miscommunication. Avoid harmful language and lasting damage to relationships. If you are careful in response to emergencies at work, a promotion may come your way. Read a thrilling book that throws caution to the wind to balance your month, like The Parting Glass (March 5, Atria Books) by Gina Marie Guadagnino. In this historical fiction novel, a wealthy young woman and her lady’s maid both lead secret lives. What happens when their secret lives crash together?


Looking for more? Check out your December, January, and February horoscopes and book recommendations!

This article originally appeared on BOOK RIOT

The Future of Indie Crime Fiction Belongs to Female Authors of Color

As I have written about a few times before, indie crime fiction is ushering in a much more diverse chapter of mystery novels. While the mainstream might still be a tad too old white guy, the indie scene is vibrant and way, way more interesting. This coming March and April, readers will get a taste of what’s out there with three female authors of color you may or may not have heard of. Either way, you’ll be wanting to clear room on your TBR pile for some upcoming titles.

Fallen Mountains by Kimi Cunningham Grant

fallen_mountains

In her debut novel, Kimi Cunningham Grant proves that a literary mystery can package murdery twists with lyrical language. The end result is a fully accomplished work of prose which simply happens to be a murder mystery. Grant’s words haunt the reader every bit as much as the layers of a rural tale of crime and violence. Jumping between two timelines, the story keeps the pages turning, but it’s Grant’s lyrical writing style that keeps us lost in the lines. There is a certain hypnotic feeling of reading Fallen Mountains that makes the surprises all the more shocking. And the ending devastatingly unforgettable.

Fallen Mountains tells of the somewhat cursed titular town in rural Pennsylvania. Something that happened 17 years prior to the opening of the novel still torments Red, the sheriff, even as he plans for retirement. And whatever it is, the recent disappearance of Transom Shultz is dragging all those old skeletons to the surface. All of Fallen Mountains seems on a collision course with tragedy and crippled by their collective past. The search for Transom and the mysteries of the past play out simultaneously. And nothing in the small town is safe from the consequences of past sins.

Grant’s exploration of the backwoods mountain town is reminiscent of the best Appalachian writers. Think David Joy and Ron Rash, but leaning more into the mystery genre. And unraveling Grant’s mysteries depend upon understanding the place. She wields her sense of place like an extra character or possibly even an underlying theme. This is not a novel about a setting. This is a novel within a setting. Like the best voices of any time or place, Grant is telling a story that could be about any small town. Any rural community. But with her deft sense of storytelling, the town of Fallen Mountains takes on a larger than life meaning. And we, as readers, walk away feeling connected to the world Grant has created for us.

They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall

they_all_fall_down

Rachel Howzell Hall is becoming a big name in the indie mystery scene. Her Lou Norton police procedurals are must reads for any crime fiction fans. But with the one-off, They All Fall Down, Howzell Hall takes on the Agatha Christie whodunit…and wins. They All Fall Down is a locked room style mystery with every flip, spin, twist, turn, backflip, and summersault you could possibly want as a mystery reader. The suspense winds up with a sort of slow burn. You can all but hear the clicking climb of your roller coaster car. And went it crests the top of that hill, hold the f’ on. Both the second and third act of Howzell Hall’s thriller pack more punch than the typical cozy island mystery.

When Miriam Macy receives a surprise invitation to a luxurious private island off the coast of Mexico, she jumps at the chance to escape the drama of everyday life. The tropical paradise might even be enough to hide her from the fallout of dark secrets chasing her down from her recent past. But she soon finds that the six strangers joining her—for what they think is a television reality show—all carry secrets of their own. They’ve been lured together under false pretenses. And the lonely mansion of their common acquaintance soon becomes an isolated prison. You know where this one goes. One by one by one by one. But in Howzell Hall’s version of the staple of murder fiction, it’s all about the final twist that you’ll never see coming.

They All Fall Down treads the common ground mystery fans long for. But Howzell Hall has somehow managed to keep it fresh. The characters feel new. The secrets feel real. And the resulting story comes to life just as the characters start to drop dead. Even though readers may feel comforted by the tingling knowledge of what’s about to happen, Howzell Hall proves that the best mystery writers still have some tricks up their sleeves.

Catch Me When I’m Falling by Cheryl A. Head

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The P.I. serial novel has had quite a damn run. We are heading into, what? A good seventy years or more of badass crime fiction featuring badass detectives? And the secret to that kind of longevity is an end list list of writers who manage to reinvent the sub-genre with an endless list of unique private dicks. So say hello to Cheryl A. Head. Head’s Detroit detective, Charlie Mack, dives headfirst into her third case in March with Catch Me When I’m Falling. Head’s novels crack with the sharp dialogue and noirish characters we’ve come to expect from the best detective novels. But Charlie Mack gives readers just enough new to make the familiar still feel fresh.

Charlene “Charlie” Mack heads up one of the most respected private investigation firms in Detroit. She’s a black woman struggling with her sexual orientation and dealing with an aging mother. But none of that stops her from applying her rare intelligence to solving murders, cold cases, and conspiracy plots. Bury Me When I’m Dead and Wake Me When It’s Over both proved to be strong entries into the hardboiled genre. And now with Catch Me When I’m Falling, Charlie Mack goes undercover as homeless to track down a serial killer.

If these three talented authors of color prove anything to us, it’s that the future of indie crime fiction is female and fabulous. In March and April, whether new to the scene, new to the sub-genre, or simply continuing to dominate, Kimi Cunningham Grant, Rachel Howzell Hall, and Cheryl A. Head deserve your attention. Crime readers, take note: the next page in mystery is here.

This article originally appeared on BOOK RIOT

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