Meg’s Favorite Reads of 2021

  • Kindred by Octavia E Butler
    Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned across the years to save him. After this first summons, Dana is drawn back, again and again, to the plantation to protect Rufus and ensure that he will grow to manhood and father the daughter who will become Dana’s ancestor. Yet each time Dana’s sojourns become longer and more dangerous, until it is uncertain whether or not her life will end, long before it has even begun.
  • The Feminist and the Sex Offender: Confronting Harm, Ending State Violence by Judith Levine & Erica R. Meiners
    In the era of #MeToo and mass incarceration, The Feminist and the Sex Offender makes a powerful feminist case for accountability without punishment and sexual safety and pleasure without injustice. With analytical clarity and narrative force, The Feminist and the Sex Offender contends with two problems that are typically siloed in the era of #MeToo and mass incarceration: sexual and gender violence, on the one hand, and the state’s unjust, ineffective, and soul-destroying response to it on the other. Is it possible to confront the culture of abuse’ Is it possible to hold harm-doers accountable without recourse to a criminal justice system that redoubles injuries, fails survivors, and retrenches the conditions that made such abuse possible’ Drawing on interviews, extensive research, reportage, and history, The Feminist and the Sex Offender develops an intersectional feminist approach to ending sexual violence. It maps with considerable detail the unjust sex offender regime while highlighting the alternatives we urgently need.
  • The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
    Pearl S. Buck’s epic Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of a China that was — now in a Contemporary Classics edition. Though more than sixty years have passed since this remarkable novel won the Pulitzer Prize, it has retained its popularity and become one of the great modern classics. “I can only write what I know, and I know nothing but China, having always lived there,” wrote Pearl Buck. In The Good Earth she presents a graphic view of a China when the last emperor reigned and the vast political and social upheavals of the twentieth century were but distant rumblings for the ordinary people. This moving, classic story of the honest farmer Wang Lung and his selfless wife O-lan is must reading for those who would fully appreciate the sweeping changes that have occurred in the lives of the Chinese people during this century. Nobel Prize winner Pearl S. Buck traces the whole cycle of life: its terrors, its passions, its ambitions and rewards. Her brilliant novel — beloved by millions of readers — is a universal tale of the destiny of man.
  • Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
    The Bram Stoker Award-winning author of A Head Full of Ghosts gives a new twist to the home invasion horror story in a heart-palpitating novel of psychological suspense that recalls Stephen King’s Misery, Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood, and Jack Ketchum’s cult hit The Girl Next Door
  • Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
    Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humor and heart, she tells of growing up the only Asian-American kid at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother’s particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence (; of treasured months spent in her grandmother’s tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food. As she grew up, moving to the east coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, performing gigs with her fledgling band–and meeting the man who would become her husband–her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live. It was her mother’s diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her.
  • Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
    The acclaimed author of Gods of Jade and Shadow returns with a darkly enchanting reimagining of Gothic fantasy, in which a spirited young woman discovers the haunting secrets of a beautiful old mansion in 1950s Mexico
  • Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson
    A lyrical and dreamy reimagining of Dracula’s brides, A Dowry of Blood is a story of desire, obsession, and emancipation. Saved from the brink of death by a mysterious stranger, Constanta is, transformed from a medieval peasant into a bride fit for an undying king. But when, Dracula draws a cunning aristocrat and a starving artist into his web of passion and deceit, Constanta realizes that her beloved is capable of terrible things. Finding comfort in the arms of her rival consorts, she begins to unravel their husband’s dark secrets. With the lives of everyone she loves on the line, Constanta will have to choose between her own freedom and her love for her husband. But, bonds forged by blood can only be broken by death.
  • Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement by Nadya Okamoto
    This is a book about gender equality in the United States and how to engage in activism to get there
  • Hot Dog Taste Test by Lisa Hanawalt
    ‘Hot dog taste test’ serves up [the author’s] devastatingly funny comics, saliva-stimulating art, and deliciously screwball lists as she skewers the pomposities of foodie subculture
  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
    The story of the tragic decline of an Indian family whose members suffer the terrible consequences of forbidden love, The God of Small Things is set in the state of Kerala, on the southernmost tip of India. Armed only with the invincible innocence of children, the twins Rahel and Esthappen fashion a childhood for themselves in the shade of the wreck that is their family — their lonely, lovely mother, Ammu (who loves by night the man her children love by day), their blind grandmother, Mammachi (who plays Handel on her violin), their beloved uncle Chacko (Rhodes scholar, pickle baron, radical Marxist, bottom-pincher), their enemy, Baby Kochamma (ex-nun and incumbent grandaunt), and the ghost of an imperial entomologist’s moth (with unusually dense dorsal tufts).