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How long has it been since you've read Jeffrey Eugenides’s Middlesex? If you haven't cracked it since it was a huge hit in 2003 (or if you've never read it at all), now's the time. This gorgeous, generous, and funny novel has two hearts: a story about immigrants, and a story about the perils and difficulties of a complex gender identity in a straight male/female world. It's timely in both respects and has aged very well. The novel's scope is so delightfully huge—to me, some of the best novels are about basically everything—that a short summary is futile.

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Middlesex (Oprah's Book Club) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312427733
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Published: Picador USA - June 5th, 2007

"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974. . . My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver's license...records my first name simply as Cal."

Island of the Blue Dolphins

This book is the ultimate girl's survival story! Karana is a young Nicoleno tribe member, who lives in solitude after having been left on the island accidentally by her family. She is the heroine; she hunts to survive, burns the fat of fish for light, and tames animals for companionship. Karana's story is a real story, girls! May we all have the courage, intensity, and canoe building skills as she! (Skip the movie, please-- its not the same). Recommended by Jenna.

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ISBN: 9780547328614
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Published: Houghton Mifflin - February 8th, 2010

Far off the coast of California looms a harsh rock known as the island of San Nicholas. Dolphins flash in the blue waters around it, sea otter play in the vast kep beds, and sea elephants loll on the stony beaches.

Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History

This book is a collection of women "who broke barriers as scientists, engineers, adventures, and inventors." This is the kind of book I read before I fall asleep at night, and when I wake up in the morning. It features inspirational, incredible, witty, smart, amazing women who continue to prove to us that we can all aspire to do great things with our lives, and that WE SHOULD. This book is about Women who work in STEM, and women who study languages, and everyone in between. What kind of woman do you want to become? Recommended by Jenna.

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ISBN: 9781594749254
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Published: Quirk Books - October 4th, 2016

A fun and feminist look at forgotten women in science, technology, and beyond, from the bestselling author of THE FANGIRL'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY

You may think you know women's history pretty well. But have you ever heard of. . .

Cold Pastoral

The epigraph for Rebecca Dunham's fourth book of poems, Cold Pastoral, is a quote by Muriel Rukeyser. It fits. Rukeyser, whose 1938 poem Book of the Dead chronicled the human cost of the Hawk's Nest mining disaster, is a clear antecedent to Dunham's poetry. Centering on the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Cold Pastoral investigates the human cost of these calamities with a deft hand. In the collection's final poem, Dunham writes,

Who will witness what follows danger's first aftermath?
Who will document the crisis that bleeds on and on?

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Cold Pastoral: Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9781571314789
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Published: Milkweed Editions - March 14th, 2017

A searing, urgent collection of poems that brings the lyric and documentary together in unparalleled ways--unmasking and examining the specter of manmade disaster. The explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Hurricane Katrina. The Flint water crisis. Thousands dead, lives destroyed, and a natural world imperiled by human choices.

Gap of Time

This is a solid retelling of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. The characters are modern but every bit as much is at stake. It's a cautionary tale about the danger of jealousy that never loses its relevance. Recommended by Kelly

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ISBN: 9780804141376
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Published: Hogarth Press - June 21st, 2016

The Winter's Tale is one of Shakespeare's "late plays." It tells the story of a king whose jealousy results in the banishment of his baby daughter and the death of his beautiful wife. His daughter is found and brought up by a shepherd on the Bohemian coast, but through a series of extraordinary events, father and daughter, and eventually mother too, are reunited.

Understanding Iraq: The Whole Sweep of Iraqi History, From Genghis Khan's Mongols to the Ottoman turks to the British Mandate to the American Occupation

This book explores the relationship between the West and the Middle East in a way that can be easily and quickly digested. Polk recreates and explains the US occupation and places an emphasis on the role that oil has played. The author's experience of over 50 years studying the country provides the reader with a hands-on sense of what is going on in Iraq and within the United States. Recommended by Jenna.

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Understanding Iraq: The Whole Sweep of Iraqi History, from Genghis Khan's Mongols to the Ottoman Turks to the British Mandate to the Ameri Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060764692
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Published: Harper Perennial - March 1st, 2006

The Dramatic History of Iraq in One Concise Volume

In the Darkroom

In The Darkroom by Susan Faludi is an incredibly smart, probing act of memoir/biography. After a 27-year estrangement, Faludi gets an email from her father. The email says that he, formerly a toxic force of masculine energy, has undergone gender correction surgery and is now living as a woman in her native Budapest. The story of the evolving father/daughter relationship is worth the price of admission alone. But Faludi isn’t content to simply recount contemporary family events.

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ISBN: 9780805089080
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Published: Metropolitan Books - June 14th, 2016


From the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author of Backlash, comes In the Darkroom, an astonishing confrontation with the enigma of her father and the larger riddle of identity consuming our age.

Black Wave

Michelle Tea’s Black Wave is like no other apocalyptic novel you’ve seen. Its first half is a shaggy, charming, queer coming-of-age story set in 1990s San Francisco that feels (appealingly) like Elieen Myles. Think Chelsea Girls goes west. After slash-and-burning her bridges with friends and lovers, though, protagonist Michelle moves to Los Angeles. Upon arrival, Michelle promptly finds out the world will end in a year. What follows is a lyrical meditation on the environment, dreams, and love anchored by a feminist, ecological sensibility.

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ISBN: 9781558619395
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Published: Amethyst Editions - September 13th, 2016

Desperate to quell her addiction to drugs, disastrous romance, and nineties San Francisco, Michelle heads south for LA. But soon it's officially announced that the world will end in one year, and life in the sprawling metropolis becomes increasingly weird.

The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature

In a series of linked essays about his childhood in rural Edgefield, South Carolina, Lanham reclaims an environmental love and ethos for people of color. He is a self-described "eco-addict," who loves nature because "I've yet to have a wild creature question my identity.

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The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature Cover Image
ISBN: 9781571313157
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Published: Milkweed Editions - October 11th, 2016

"In me, there is the red of miry clay, the brown of spring floods, the gold of ripening tobacco. All of these hues are me; I am, in the deepest sense, colored." From these fertile soils of love, land, identity, family, and race emerges The Home Place, a big-hearted, unforgettable memoir by ornithologist and professor of ecology J. Drew Lanham.

Swing Time

Zadie Smith’s funny and energetic new novel Swing Time tells the story of childhood friends Tracey and the book’s unnamed narrator; Tracey is a talented dancer, the narrator loves dance but is not gifted at it. They both live in a northwest London housing estate that the narrator eventually leaves and Tracey doesn’t. This deceptively simple story is the root of a layered, clever, and thought-provoking mediation on, well, lots of things. Smith’s primary concern is how identities can blend and mix.

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ISBN: 9781594203985
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Published: Penguin Press - November 15th, 2016

A New York Times bestseller * Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction * Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize

An ambitious, exuberant new novel moving from North West London to West Africa, from the multi-award-winning author of White Teeth and On Beauty.


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