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bookmarks | fall 2008

Great Reads for Fall 2008

Fine Just the Way It IsFine Just the Way It Is
By Annie Proulx
Pulitzer Prize winner Proulx paints a vivid picture of life in the hardscrabble American West in this, her third and final collection of Wyoming stories. (The first included “Brokeback Mountain,” from which the Academy Award-winning film was made.)

A Map of HomeA Map of Home
By Randa Jarrar
Other Press
Jarrar’s debut novel is a narrative of otherness. Nidali, born in Boston to an Egyptian- Greek mother and a Palestinian father, grows up in Kuwait, flees to Egypt after the 1990 Iraqi invasion and finally lands in Texas. Despite exposure to so much turmoil and divisiveness, the teenager finds she is not unlike other American girls—much to her father’s dismay.

Filter HouseFilter House
By Nisi Shawl
Aqueduct Press
Shawl’s eerie short stories read like feminist folktales: A goddess reveals herself to two neglected city kids, a pragmatic princess talks her way out of a dragon’s lair, and more.


In the Convent of Little FlowersIn the Convent of Little Flowers
By Indu Sundaresan
Atria Books
Chilling short stories illuminate an oppressive sexual landscape for women in India. Sundaresan’s characters endure loveless arranged marriages, painful sexual abuse and fiery sacrificial death in a nation torn between tradition and modernity.

The Essential Dykes to Watch Out ForThe Essential Dykes to Watch Out For
By Alison Bechdel
Houghton Mifflin
Cartoonist and graphic novelist Bechdel has been chronicling the “lives, loves and politics” of a group of (mostly) lesbians for a quartercentury. Now she’s gathered nearly 400 of her droll strips in one volume, adding a charming cartooned autobiography as the introduction.


By Marilynne Robinson
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
This companion to Robinson’s Pulitzer Prizewinning novel, Gilead, casts its light on another household in Gilead, Iowa. Glory and her prodigal brother, Jack, return home to care for their aged father and find a way to make amends to their family and their town.

American WifeAmerican Wife
By Curtis Sittenfeld
Random House
The first lady in this provocative novel is a thinly veiled Laura Bush, but with the conceit that she’s a feminist. This isn’t entirely far-fetched: Bush, in fact, has described herself as a feminist and said she doesn’t think Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Sittenfeld hews closely to Bush's real life to create a frighteningly believable situation in which a woman finds herself complicit in an administration with which she utterly disagrees.

at the Elbows of My EldersAt the Elbows of My Elders: One Family’s Journey Toward Civil Rights
By Gail Milissa Grant
The Missouri History Museum Press
The civil rights battles of the 1950s and ’60s have been well-documented; less is said about blacks who fought segregation and racial discrimination in the decades before. This family memoir recounts the day-to-day struggles of the author’s father and mother in St. Louis before the reform movement began.

The Porning of AmericaThe Porning of America: The Rise of Porn Culture, What It Means, and Where We Go From Here
By Carmine Sarracino and Kevin M. Scott
Beacon Press
English professors Sarracino and Scott delve into the history of American pornography since the Civil War era and show how, to our detriment, it has infiltrated everyday speech, entertainment, advertising and sexuality.

Dating JesusDating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl
By Susan Campbell
Beacon Press
This fond memoir of growing up a rebellious tomboy in a fundamentalist church that expects women to be pious, subservient and, above all, quiet tells what it feels like to have Jesus as your boyfriend—and what happens when you want to break up with him.

Factory GirlsFactory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China
By Leslie T. Chang
Spiegel & Grau
Chang, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, tracked two factory workers over three years and offers an up-close look at the social pressures in modern-day China, where women must lie about their age and education to get ahead.

Labor of LoveLabor of Love
By Thomas Beatie
Seal Press
In his brutally honest memoir, Beatie, a female-to-male transsexual who stopped hormones long enough to give birth, describes his path to global fame as a pregnant man, including childhood abuse, collegiate sexual awakening and a legal and biological transition that will leave readers pondering the meaning of gender.

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