“When I first began to compile this list, I simply wanted to share some great writing with you,” says Brooklyn Public Librarian Jamie Kulakowski, the curator of this month’s On The Shelf installment. “To share a list of books that I found to be noteworthy, or that could inspire discourse. What I ended up with is not going to make it to your mama’s book club. As it turns out, everything on this list is pretty dark and twisty, with just a hint of things otherworldly. I guess I have a type! So fortify yourself, and dive into some seriously interesting and profound reads.” Take a closer look at Jamie’s 5 selects, perfect for moody April shower season, below!
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by Omar El Akkad
An amazing debut novel that’s a little bit frightening and incredibly relevant. Set in the not-too-distant-future, the United States is reeling from the devastation of the second civil war. Diminishing resources, rogue drones, rebel armies, plagues—you name it—have all ravished the country. We watch as our once great nation succumbs to forces that relegate us to “third world” status as greater empires rise. A perfect companion to today’s polarized sociopolitical climate, American War is a speculation of hard times to come. This is a great book club read if you’re looking for something a little outside of the mainstream, guaranteed to generate an intense discussion.
What it Means When a Man Falls From the Sky
by Leslie Nneka Arimah
Everything about this book is gorgeous. Everything. The characters are so lush, and their relationships so vibrant. I haven’t read anything in a long time that took my breath away the way that this does. If you were maybe interested, my absolute favorite story is Who Will Greet You at Home. But there wasn’t a single story that I wasn’t impressed with. I heard an interview with her once, and she was so down to earth, and seriously funny. I kind of wish we were best friends. If you love short stories, you won’t be disappointed. If you have never read a collection of short stories, start here. I hope you love it as much as I do.
The Impossible Fairy Tale
by Han Yujoo, Translated by Janet Hong
Janet Hong did a stellar job on the translations. In most cases I don’t even think about the translation, but saying I was impressed would be an understatement. You’ll see what I mean when you get to Part Two. Cleaved into two halves, the first is a dark and twisty tale. The second is a glimpse into the mind of the writer while writing the first half. At first, it feels like the book devolves into a jumbled mess, but do yourself a favor and take some time to reflect on it. The longer I think on it, the more I like it. It’s a real star of the metafiction genre.
The Summer That Melted Everything
by Tiffany McDaniel
This stunning debut novel is everything dark and beautiful and scorching. McDaniel is a seriously gifted storyteller and the proof is in the pages. We all have things that keep us up in the night, the hidden dark parts of us that we don’t want anyone else to see. McDaniel brings those things into the light in just the perfect way. I just can’t praise this book enough. I was absolutely enchanted. For those of us who need a little defrosting, the Summer That Melted Everything gets pretty toasty even though it won’t leave you feeling warm.
by Brian Catling
This is my current read. It’s the first book in a multi-narrative genre-bending trilogy; the sequel was released in 2017. I can’t tell if this title is science fiction or fantasy, a little of both, or a little of none. Maybe it’s steampunk or magical realism. What I do know is that I am fully hooked and can’t wait to see where it ends. Between the mystical forest, the visionaries, the brat, the photographer, the writer, the hunter, and the A.I., I can tell there is interconnectedness, but I have yet to find it. If you want a journey, this one is epic.
Jamie Kulakowski is an Assistant Branch Manager and Adult Specialist at Brooklyn Public Library. Dabbling in amateur photography and papercraft, she’s figuring out her next great hobby (other than reading, of course). She has a happy home with her Hubs, Smunchkin, and Boo Bear. She has lived up and down the East Coast with a couple stops in NYC and now currently resides in Queens.