“What We’re Reading” is a feature about readers in the community and the books they love, in their own words. To kick things off, we thought it would be fun to check in with the founders of local nonprofit organizations that support the literary arts. Find links to their groups in photo captions.
Book title: “In the Dream House” by Carmen Maria Machado
What it’s about: “In the Dream House” is a memoir like nothing I’ve ever read. It examines a relationship from crushing beginning to volatile implosion while exploring the realities of verbal and emotional abuse, stories of queer archetypes and psychological tropes common in folklore.
Why I chose it: I’m currently working on a memoir myself, and I’ve been hungry for memoirs that take risks with subject, form and narrative voice. Seeing what Machado does in this book gives me a little added courage and inspiration to continue my own work as creatively, authentically and boldly as possible.
Book title: “Why We Swim” by Bonnie Tsui and “The Island of Sea Women” by Lisa See.
What it’s about: “Why We Swim” is about water and why it seduces us, so we keep coming back to it again and again; for pleasure, for exercise, and healing.
“The Island of Sea Women” is about two friends, who come from very different backgrounds. They are part of their village’s all-female diving collective, who are responsible for their community’s income source, which is harvested from the sea. It covers many decades starting in 1938 through the year 2008. It talks about the two girls’ relationship and how they process all the different events that their little island in Korea experiences during that 70-year time period. The women live on Jeju Island, which is right below South Korea.
Why I chose it: I am working on a poem about my life-long desire to be an avid swimmer, which I didn’t realize until I was 43 years old. I am also reading “Raphael: Painter in Rome” by Stephanie Storey for our Keep St. Pete Lit virtual book club meeting on August 5. The author will be a part of the Zoom event, so our audience can ask her questions about the book.
Book Title: “Blueprints for Better Worlds” by St. Petersburg author Tenea D. Johnson. She’s an amazing speculative fiction writer (also a musician and poet) who recently appeared on Wordier Than Thou’s virtual programming. She did a solo reading about a month ago, and she was also part of our Nerdier Than Thou virtual con last week.
What it’s about: I’m just a couple of chapters in so far, but I really enjoyed her recent readings and Q & As with us. They left me wanting to know more about this post-apocalyptic story and the world she created.
Why I chose it: This story seems like the perfect book to read during these uncertain, crazy times. And hearing Tenea talk about her work leaves the reader with a sense of hopefulness that I think we could all use right now.