Friday Bookbag, 1.26.18

friday bookbag

Friday Bookbag is a weekly feature where I share a list of books I’ve borrowed, bought, or otherwise acquired during the week. It’s my chance to buzz about my excitement for books I might not get the chance to review.


9781939419965The Annie Year by Stephanie Wilbur Ash

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

why I’m excited: The Annie Year is a dark comedy that falls a bit outside my regular tastes–it’s about a small-town CPA who becomes entangled in meth labs and a scandalous affair–but the author is local, it was a Minnesota Book Awards finalist, and I’m excited overall for a book that promises to be humorous, even if it touches on dark topics. I’ve lived in a small town deep in meth country, and I’ve been involved in community theatre–the novel takes its title from a production of Annie that’s going on as its protagonist’s life falls apart–so I’m sure there will be plenty here for me to relate to.

9780544912588Salt Houses by Hala Alyan

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

why I’m excited: I loved Hala Alyan’s short story, “No Good,” so I leapt at the chance to read her debut novel when I saw it on my local library’s shelves. Salt Houses is the story of a family repeatedly uprooted by Middle East conflicts, beginning with the Six-Day War of 1967; I’m already in love with Alyan’s prose and I’m looking forward to immersing myself in this complicated novel of family, place, and displacement.


See books here that you’ve already read or that are on your to-read list? What are you excited to read this week? Let me know in the comments, and feel free to link to your own book reviews and blog posts!

Short Story Roundup, 1.3.18

Short Story Roundup

Short Story Roundup is a feature where I gather the best short stories I’ve read this week and share them with you every Wednesday. The stories might have been published yesterday or 100 years ago, but as long as I’ve read and loved them in a given week, you’ll find them here.


No Good” by Hala Alyan

  • genre: literary/realistic
  • publication: The Rumpus
  • date: December 2017
  • why I loved it: “No Good” is a snapshot of cruelty and self-destruction that took my breath away. It’s a reminder of the way love can harm as easily as heal, and its fluid, lovely prose will uplift you even as its plot drags you down. Hala Alyan is a poet, both figuratively and literally, and her grasp of language and the human heart is truly inspiring.

The Little Rogue” by Maria Kuznetsova

  • genre: literary/realistic
  • publication: Keyhole Magazine
  • date: Fall 2015
  • why I loved it: Rufina, the failed actress at the center of “The Little Rogue,” is vain, out of touch, and more than a little silly, but in Kuznetsova’s skilled hands, her unlikeability is also her charm. We are all unlikeable in some way, and this story’s skillful blend of love, pity, and lampooning made me feel intensely connected to a character whose life experience is vastly different from my own.

What short fiction have you read and enjoyed this week? For the writers out there: Has any of your work appeared online or in print this week? Tell me all about it in the comments!