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Friday Book Debrief Vol 22

Every week we’re sharing what our some of our writers are currently reading.

For all of our US readers, we now have our own Bookshop! You can find the full list of the below books here and with every purchase you will be helping local independent bookstores! If you do not live in the US please support your local independent stores, lots are now doing local deliveries and they need your help more then ever in these uncertain times. - ❤️

Future Tense Fiction: Stories of Tomorrow edited by Kristen Berg, Torie Bosch et al. thebookslut book reviews. Charlie Jane Anders is the author of The City in the Middle of the Night and All the Birds in the Sky, which won the Nebula, Locus and Crawford awards and was on Time Magazine's list of the 10 best novels of 2016. Her story "Six Months, Three Days" won a Hugo Award and appears in a new short story collection called Six Months, Three Days, Five Others. Her short fiction has appeared in, Wired Magazine, Slate, Tin House, Conjunctions, Boston Review, Asimov's Science Fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, ZYZZYVA, and several anthologies. She was a founding editor of, and she organizes the monthly Writers With Drinks reading series and co-hosts the podcast Our Opinions Are Correct with Annalee Newitz. Her first novel, Choir Boy, won a Lambda Literary Award. Madeline Ashby is a science fiction writer and strategic foresight consultant living in Toronto. She is the author of the Machine Dynasty series from Angry Robot Books, and the novel Company Town from Tor Books, which was a Canada Reads finalist. As a futurist, she has developed science fiction prototypes for Intel Labs, the Institute for the Future, SciFutures, Nesta, the Atlantic Council, Data & Society, InteraXon, and others. Her essays have appeared at BoingBoing, io9, WorldChanging, Creators Project, Arcfinity, MISC Magazine, and FutureNow. She is married to horror writer and journalist David Nickle. With him, she is the co-editor of Licence Expired: The Unauthorized James Bond, an anthology of Bond stories available only in Canada. You can find her at and on Twitter @MadelineAshby. Paolo Bacigalupi's writing has appeared in WIRED Magazine, Slate, Medium,, and High Country News, as well as The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. His short fiction been nominated for three Nebula Awards, four Hugo Awards, and won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best science fiction short story of the year. It is collected in Pump Six and Other Stories, a Locus Award winner for Best Collection and also a Best Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly. His debut novel The Windup Girl was named by TIME Magazine as one of the ten best novels of 2009, and also won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, Compton Crook, and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards. He is also the author of Ship Breaker, The Drowned Cities, Zombie Baseball Beatdown, The Doubt Factory, The Water Knife, and Tool of War. Meg Elison is a science fiction author and feminist essayist. Her debut novel, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, won the 2014 Philip K. Dick award. Her second novel was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick, and both were longlisted for the James A. Tiptree award. She has been published in McSweeney's, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Catapult, and many other places. Elison is a high school dropout and a graduate of UC Berkeley. Find her online, where she writes like she's running out of time. Lee Konstantinou is a writer and Associate Professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is also a Humanities editor at LARB. He's written fiction, criticism, and reviews. He wrote the novel Pop Apocalypse (Ecco/HarperPerennial, 2009) and co-edited (with Sam Cohen) The Legacy of David Foster Wallace (University of Iowa Press, 2012). Cool Characters: Irony and American Fiction was published in 2016 by Harvard University Press. Carmen Maria Machado's debut short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, was a finalist for the National Book Award and the winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction, the Brooklyn Public Library Literature Prize, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the National Book Critics Circle's John Leonard Prize. Her essays, fiction, and criticism have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, Granta, Harper's Bazaar, Tin House, VQR, McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, The Believer, Guernica, Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and has been awarded fellowships and residencies from the Guggenheim Foundation, Yaddo, Hedgebrook, and the Millay Colony for the Arts. She is the Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania and lives in Philadelphia with her wife. Maureen F. McHugh grew up in Ohio, but has lived in New York City and, for a year, in Shijiazhuang, China. She is the author of four novels. Her first novel, China Mountain Zhang, won the Tiptree Award and her latest novel, Nekropolis, was a Book Sense 76 pick and a New York Times Editor's Choice. She was a Finalist for the Story Award for "Mothers & Other Monsters," and won a Shirley Jackson Award for her collection After the Apocalypse. After the Apocalypse was also named one of Publishers Weekly's 10 Best Books of 2011. McHugh teaches scriptwriting at the University of Southern California. She and her husband and two dogs used to live next to a dairy farm. Sometimes, in the summer, black and white Holsteins looked over the fence at them. Now she lives in Los Angeles, California, where she is trying desperately to sell her soul to Hollywood but as it turns out, the market is saturated. Annalee Newitz writes science fiction and nonfiction. She is the author of the novel Autonomous, nominated for the Nebula and Locus Awards, and winner of the Lambda Literary Award. As a science journalist, she's written for the Washington Post, Slate, Ars Technica, the New Yorker, and The Atlantic, among others. Her book Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize in science. She was the founder of io9, and served as the editor-in-chief of Gizmodo and the tech culture editor at Ars Technica. She has published short stories in Lightspeed, Shimmer, Apex, and Technology Review's Twelve Tomorrows. She was the recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at MIT, worked as a policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and has a Ph.D. in English and American Studies from UC Berkeley. Her new novel, The Future of Another Timeline, comes out September 2019. Nnedi Okorafor is an award-winning novelist of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism. Born in the US to Nigerian immigrant parents, Okorafor is known for weaving African cultures into creative settings and memorable characters. Her books include Lagoon (a British Science Fiction Association Award finalist for best novel), Who Fears Death (a World Fantasy Award winner for best novel), Kabu Kabu (a Publisher's Weekly best book for Fall 2013), Zahrah the Windseeker (winner of the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature) and The Shadow Speaker (a CBS Parallax Award winner). Her 2016 novel The Book of Phoenix was an Arthur C. Clarke Award finalist, while the first book in her Binti Trilogy won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novella. Her children's book Chicken in the Kitchen won an Africana Book Award. She is a full professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Deji Bryce Olukotun is the author of two novels and his fiction has appeared in five different book collections. His novel After the Flare won the 2018 Philip K. Dick special citation award, and was chosen as one of the best books of 2017 by The Guardian, The Washington Post,,, Kirkus Reviews, among others. His novel Nigerians in Space, a thriller about brain drain from Africa, was published by Unnamed Press in 2014. He is currently the Head of Social Impact at the audio technology company Sonos and a Future Tense Fellow at New America. Mark Oshiro is the Hugo-nominated writer of the online Mark Does Stuff universe (Mark Reads and Mark Watches), where they analyze book and TV series. Anger is a Gift is their debut YA novel. It was honored with the 2019 Schneider Family Book Award for Best Teen Book and is a 31st Annual Lammy Awards finalist in the LGBTQ Children's/Young Adult category. Hannu Rajaniemi is the author of four novels including The Quantum Thief (winner of 2012 Tähtivaeltaja Award for the best science fiction novel published in Finland and translated into more than 20 languages), and Invisible Planets, a short story collection. His most recent book is Summerland, an alternate history spy thriller in a world where the afterlife is real. His short fiction has been featured in Slate, MIT Technology Review and the New York Times. Hannu lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a co-founder and CEO of HelixNano, a venture- and Y Combinator-backed biotech startup. Emily St. John Mandel's fifth novel, The Glass Hotel, will be published in spring 2020. Her previous novels include Station Eleven, which was a finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award, and won the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Toronto Book Award, and the Morning News Tournament of Books, and has been translated into 32 languages. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter. Mark Stasenko is a television writer who wrote on the Peabody Award-winning show American Vandal. He is in development on a series about Enron with Alex Gibney attached to direct and is adapting the Future Tense Fiction short story "Overvalued" into a TV series with Universal Cable Productions.  Future Tense Fiction is a collection of electrifying original stories from a veritable who's-who of authors working in speculative literature and science fiction today. Featuring Carmen Maria Machado, Emily St. John Mandel, Charlie Jane Anders, Nnedi Okorafor, Paolo Bacigalupi, Madeline Ashby, Mark Oshiro, Meg Elison, Maureen F. McHugh, Deji Bryce Olukotun, Hannu Rajaniemi, Annalee Newitz, Lee Konstantinou, and Mark Stasenko--Future Tense Fiction points the way forward to the fiction of tomorrow.  A disease surveillance robot whose social programming gets put to the test. A future in which everyone receives universal basic income--but it's still not enough. A futuristic sport, in which all the athletes have been chemically and physically enhanced. An A.I. company that manufactures a neural bridge allowing ordinary people to share their memories. Brimming with excitement and exploring new ideas, the stories collected by the editors of Slate's Future Tense are philosophically ambitious and haunting in their creativity. At times terrifying and heart-wrenching, hilarious and optimistic, this is a collection that ushers in a new age for our world and for the short story.  A partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University, Future Tense explores how emerging technologies will change the way we live, in reality and fiction. Future Tense Fiction is a collection of original fiction commissioned by the partnership.

Future Tense Fiction: Stories of Tomorrow edited by Kristen Berg, Torie Bosch et al - Akilah

I'm savouring the last of this wonderful science fiction anthology from authors of disparate, multiple backgrounds and identities who shared with readers vignettes of life in the future. There is warmth, hope, and a sense of connection even in the saddest stories. Carmen Maria Machado, Nnedi Okorafor, Emily St. John Mandel, and Annalee Newitz are among the contributors. You've already bought it, haven't you? Well done.

If not, buy it here.


The New Me Halle Butler (Author) Halle Butler is the author of Jillian. She has been named a National Book Award Foundation "5 Under 35" honoree and a Granta Best Young American Novelist. thebookslut book reviews "[A] definitive work of millennial literature . . . wretchedly riveting." --Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker "Girls + Office Space + My Year of Rest and Relaxation + anxious sweating = The New Me." --Entertainment Weekly   I'm still trying to make the dream possible: still might finish my cleaning project, still might sign up for that yoga class, still might, still might. I step into the shower and almost faint, an image of taking the day by the throat and bashing its head against the wall floating in my mind. Thirty-year-old Millie just can't pull it together. She spends her days working a thankless temp job and her nights alone in her apartment, fixating on all the ways she might change her situation--her job, her attitude, her appearance, her life. Then she watches TV until she falls asleep, and the cycle begins again. When the possibility of a full-time job offer arises, it seems to bring the better life she's envisioning within reach. But with it also comes the paralyzing realization, lurking just beneath the surface, of how hollow that vision has become. "Wretchedly riveting" (The New Yorker) and "masterfully cringe-inducing" (Chicago Tribune), The New Me is the must-read new novel by National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" honoree and Granta Best Young American novelist Halle Butler. Named a Best Book of the Decade by Vox, and a Best Book of 2019 by Vanity Fair, Vulture, Chicago Tribune, Mashable, Bustle, and NPR

The New Me by Halle Butler - Alexandra

I picked this book because of its title since during these times we are all in a need of reinvention - well, maybe it's just me :P And I'm in a phase where I like to read books with characters with whom I can identify: female, in her thirties, who questions all life decisions she has made so far, and this is the case in The New Me. Still in the beginning, but can't wait to find out her self-knowledge process and what her changes are going to be, if any.

Buy it here.


This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman - Melissa

It's still really hard for me to concentrate on reading like I had been doing pre-quarantine. I keep picking up a book and just not feeling a connection, but I'm hoping that much will change with This Beautiful Life.

Buy it here.


 The Illness Lesson Clare Beams (Author) "Astoundingly original, this impressive debut belongs on the shelf with your Margaret Atwood and Octavia Butler collections."--New York Times Book Review Named a most anticipated book of 2020 by Time, Vanity Fair, Esquire, O Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Bustle, BookRiot, Domino, and LitHub "Brilliant, suspenseful...A masterpiece."--Elizabeth Gilbert, author of City of Girls At their newly founded school, Samuel Hood and his daughter Caroline promise a groundbreaking education for young women. But Caroline has grave misgivings. After all, her own unconventional education has left her unmarriageable and isolated, unsuited to the narrow roles afforded women in 19th century New England. When a mysterious flock of red birds descends on the town, Caroline alone seems to find them unsettling. But it's not long before the assembled students begin to manifest bizarre symptoms: Rashes, seizures, headaches, verbal tics, night wanderings. One by one, they sicken. Fearing ruin for the school, Samuel overrules Caroline's pleas to inform the girls' parents and turns instead to a noted physician, a man whose sinister ministrations--based on a shocking historic treatment--horrify Caroline. As the men around her continue to dictate, disastrously, all terms of the girls' experience, Caroline's body too begins to betray her. To save herself and her young charges, she will have to defy every rule that has governed her life, her mind, her body, and her world. Clare Beams's extraordinary debut story collection We Show What We Have Learned earned comparisons to Shirley Jackson, Karen Russell and Aimee Bender, and established Beams as a writer who "creates magical-realist pieces that often calculate the high cost of being a woman" (The Rumpus). Precisely observed, hauntingly atmospheric, as fiercely defiant as it is triumphant, The Illness Lesson is a spellbinding piece of storytelling. Product Details Price: $26.95  $24.26 Publisher: Doubleday Books Published Date: February 11, 2020 Pages: 288 Dimensions: 6.4 X 1.1 X 9.5 inches | 1.2 pounds Language: English Type: Hardcover ISBN: 9780385544665 BISAC Categories: Women

The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams - Marian

Late 19th century experimental women’s education centered on Transcendentalism at a rural farmhouse in Massachusetts is the setting for this book. There is hysteria raging amid the young women schooled in “unladylike” subjects like philosophy, history, and classical languages. I’m an American historian and am loving this one!

Buy it here.


 Becoming by Michelle Obama An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - OPRAH'S BOOK CLUB PICK - NAACP IMAGE AWARD WINNER In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America--the first African American to serve in that role--she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare. In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her--from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world's most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it--in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations--and whose story inspires us to do the same. Product Details Price: $32.50  $29.25 Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (NY) Published Date: November 13, 2018 Pages: 448 Dimensions: 6.4 X 1.4 X 9.5 inches | 1.75 pounds Language: English Type: Hardcover ISBN: 9781524763138 BISAC Categories: Personal Memoirs thebookslut

Becoming by Michelle Obama - Maggie

Netflix just announced a special on Michelle Obama's Becoming tour so I figured it was the perfect time to finally pick up my copy of her memoir that my mom got me for Christmas when it first released. I am 60 pages in and her voice is so comforting and her analysis on race and socioeconomic status growing up in Chicago is wildly refreshing.

Buy it here.


Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl thebookslut book reviews Publisher: Random House Published Date: April 02, 2019 Pages: 288 Dimensions: 6.3 X 1.0 X 9.3 inches | 1.1 pounds Language: English Type: Hardcover ISBN: 9781400069996 Ruth Reichl is the bestselling author of the memoirs Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me with Apples, Garlic and Sapphires, and For You, Mom, Finally; the novel Delicious!; and, most recently, the cookbook My Kitchen Year. She was editor in chief of Gourmet magazine for ten years. Previously she was the restaurant critic for The New York Times and served as the food editor and restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times. She has been honored with six James Beard Awards for her journalism, magazine feature writing, and criticism. She lives in upstate New York with her husband and two cats.

Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl - Jessica Maria

I’ve never read an issue of Gourmet magazine, but I grew up in the ‘90s obsessed with magazine culture (more of the Spin, Jane, Sassy, Bust variety…). I’d heard good things about this memoir from the former Editor in Chief of Gourmet, but I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy her soothing voice over the audiobook details what it was like to feel out of her depth when handed over the management of a Conde Nast magazine. Loving it.

Buy it here.



Sending love to wherever you are in the world, from all of us at the book slut. x


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