An Anabaptist Jólabókaflóð: Tom Smith’s faves

Tom Smith lives in the New York City neighborhood that’s located somewhere between Harrisonburg, Va and the Bronx. He’s a counselor at Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center, a program of The Alliance for Positive Change. He spends the rest of his time using mass transit as a poorly lit, mobile reading room. He can be found on Goodreads using the email pileofgreyrocks@gmail.com and on Twitter as @gambolloch.

Here’s some of his favorite reads:

51T8DSgiusLBeatles ’66: The Revolutionary Year, Steve Turner
1966 was a busy year for the Beatles. It was the year they first saw another kind of mind with LSD, compared themselves with Jesus, stopped touring, released Revolver, and began recording Sgt Pepper’s. I had a lot of fun reading this and actually learned a bit more about one of my favorite bands.

Mean, by Myriam Gurba
Mean is a coming-of-age memoir about a lesbian woman of color growing up in white suburban California. It is at times very disturbing, and I offer it with several trigger warnings. Gurba pulls no punches as she talks frankly about her personal experience of racism, homophobia, sexual assault, and trauma. That said, she also manages to write a genre bending piece of nonfiction that is also funny, raw, and beautiful. In the space of a page I went from almost crying to laughing out loud.

The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again, by A.C. Wise
It’s a collection of interconnected stories about a group of women who keep the world safe from evil scientists, robots, and monsters. A.C. Wise writes a fun book that is filled with camp and heart. I would love to see this as a graphic novel or an animated series.

Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
I’m a sucker for a good family saga and Pachinko delivers. It is a novel that follows several generations of a family from Korea living in Japan in the years before and after WWII. It’s a deeply compassionate book filled with complex characters and a rich narrative.

The Leavers, by Lisa Ko
I became a Leavers evangelist this year. If we met and talked about books, chances were that I was going to bring it up. It’s about Deming Guo, a boy living in the Bronx, whose mother, an undocumented immigrant from China, suddenly disappears without a trace. He’s adopted by a white couple who live in a small town in Upstate New York and is left to rebuild his life as best as can as he struggles with unanswered questions.

Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Science Fiction and Fantasy from Transgender Writers, edited by by Cat Fitzpatrick (Editor), Casey Plett (Editor)
This is a solid collection of SF short fiction that is jam packed with stories from wide variety of genres from space opera to post apocalypse. No anthology is perfect, but I was impressed with how many great stories were included and I have continued to think about many of them long after I finished reading them.

 

Author: joeldermole

Joel Mathis is a freelance writer who lives in Lawrence, Kansas with his wife and son. He spent nine years as a syndicated columnist, co-writing the RedBlueAmerica column as the liberal half of a point-counterpoint duo. His honors include awards for best online commentary from the Online News Association and (twice) from the City and Regional Magazine Association.

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