All posts tagged: Friday Reads

Friday Reads: January 2023

Curated by SOFIA BELIMOVA

Happy new year! If you’re hoping to read more in 2023, we’ve got just the thing for you: exciting book recommendations from our contributors. From reportage that reads like a page turner to romance against the backdrop of political turmoil, these exhilarating books are perfect for cozying up somewhere warm. 

Friday Reads: January 2023
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Friday Reads: December 2022

Curated by SOFIA BELIMOVA

 

Last month, we launched Issue 24, which features wispy, ethereal poems, striking watercolors of the Stebbins Cold Canyon flora and fauna, stories about resilience in the face of war and natural disaster, and essays that celebrate humor and heritage. Wondering what our contributors are reading to keep themselves inspired? Look no further than this month’s Friday Reads.

 

Book Cover of Meet Us by the Roaring Sea by Akil Kumarasamy. Abstract drawings on black background.

Friday Reads: December 2022
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Friday Reads: November 2022

Curated by SOFIA BELIMOVA

 

We launched Issue 24 last week, which features an exciting medley of writing: pieces about journalists and translators, forest fires and traveling icebergs, ghosts, cousins, and parents. Wondering what our contributors are reading? Check out their book recommendations below: 

Friday Reads: November 2022
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Friday Reads: October 2022

Curated by SOFIA BELIMOVA


As the weather gets cooler and rainier, you may find yourself looking to spend time indoors with a good book and a steaming cup of tea. In this installment of Fridays Reads, we bring you exciting book recommendations from two of our volunteer readers, which dwell on dark, absurd, and solitary experiences. 

Image of Caren Beilin's book cover: an expressionist painting of a girl and a cat wearing green.

Caren Beilin’s Revenge of the Scapegoat, recommended by Grace Ezra (reader)

“The sun develops as it ends. The color gets so stabby.”

Hard and luminous, Revenge of the Scapegoat scowls as the reader delights. Beilin has set out to examine the expression, cultivation, and inheritance of the scapegoat’s situation, not shying away from the unyielding responsibility of the role. Not only is this novel undoubtedly accomplished, Revenge of the Scapegoat had me laughing myself feral.

Beilin’s narrator, Iris, is working as an adjunct at an arts college while toiling with her husband, Joe (an alcoholic who insists that the road to sobriety has been paved by microdosing heroin) and a recent diagnosis of autoimmune rheumatoid arthritis at only thirty-six years old. Her two feet seem to be most affected by the pain, affectionately named Bouvard and Pécuchet after the title characters of Flaubert’s posthumous novel (“the only one lit majors and bookstore owners read”). Iris’s chummy feet quickly become major characters in the story; they exercise dignity and concern as well as good humor. The two fall into asides about history and literature, compelling the reader to group the pair with the other eccentric artists that make Revenge of the Scapegoat such a gratifying indulgence in the absurd.

I haven’t even gotten to the part of the book that thrills and sets the story to motion. Iris receives a collection of letters written to her by her father in which he ascribes heaps of cyclical family trauma to her. The first time that she received these letters was when she was a teenager, though Beilin makes it clear that the inauguration of the family scapegoat happens in childhood. Iris (as alter ego “Vivitrix”) clears off to the Pennsylvania countryside, where she’s employed by a stirring gallerist and apathetic widow, Caroline, and her “Heathcliffish” son, Matthew. There are also heart-stepping cows, but I’ll save all of that magic for the actual read.

Revenge of the Scapegoat was a transference for me: not an escape, but that rare book that takes you somewhere completely new, strange, and fantastic. It would normally be a big ask for a book to take me “in that fetid twilight marinade refusing suicide barking at peaches in a pact with the unrevealed,” but for Beilin, she can serve it up with potency and pleasure.

 

Image of the cover of Vladimir Nabokov's Invitation to a Beheading, writing on plain, beige background with the words, "a novel by the author of Lolita" at the bottom.

Vladimir Nabokov’s Invitation to a Beheading, recommended by Tyler Hayes (reader)

“I have no desires, save the desire to express myself—in defiance of all the world’s muteness.” 

Invitation by Vladimir Nabokov follows the surreal—but not unfamiliar—events following the trial and indictment of one Cincinnatus C., an intelligent but quiet man. While imprisoned with him, we meet laconic guards, pernicious spies, and even butterflies. We learn that he has been charged with nothing more than “gnostical turpitude,” and that the punishment is death by decapitation. 

In the end, Nabokov’s achievement here is in dispelling the notion that we can transcend absurd performance—let alone find joy—in the presence of those who don’t understand us. His deployment of incisive, subtle duplicity, which manifests as both humor and pathos, is virtually unmatched at this word count. Read it as both cause and cure for solitude.

Friday Reads: October 2022
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Friday Reads: September 2022

Curated by SOFIA BELIMOVA

For our September round of Friday Reads, we spoke to two TC contributors, who recommended vibrant prose that leaps off the page and compelling poetry that transcends linguistic barriers while echoing with the sound of home.

Cover of Per Petterson’s Men in My Situation, depicting a car covered in snow, a street light, and a dark sky.

Friday Reads: September 2022
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Friday Reads: August 2022

Curated by SOFIA BELIMOVA

Is your summer to-be-read list getting sparse? Check out these exciting reading recommendations by TC’s latest contributors, including vibrant poetry that explores identity and relation and two novels that dwell on strange encounters and liminal places. 

 

Image of Maya Marshall's poetry collection: woman in a white slip with a blond afro and animal mask.

Maya Marshall’s All the Blood Involved in Love, recommended by Susanna Lang (Contributor)

Those of us already familiar with Maya Marshall’s poetry have wanted to see a collection for years, and her debut, All the Blood Involved in Love (Haymarket, 2022), is worth the wait. There are many poets writing now who focus on their identity, but they do not all have access to such rich language that lifts the concerns linked to her identity—Black, female, queer—to the level of poetry. 

Friday Reads: August 2022
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Friday Reads: July 2022

Curated by SOFIA BELIMOVA

This round of Friday Reads brings you mini book reviews from The Common’s Literary Publishing Interns. From shapeshifting professors to self-deprecating travelers, these reading recommendations will enliven your summer TBR list, whether you curl up with a book in the sunshine or cool off somewhere in the shade.

Friday Reads: July 2022
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Friday Reads: June 2022

Curated by ELLY HONG

In this round of Friday Reads, we hear from two poets whose work was featured in Issue 23 of The Common. Read on for mini reviews of an imaginative and timely poetry collection and essays on the transportive power of that genre.

 

Friday Reads: June 2022
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Friday Reads: April 2022

Curated by ELLY HONG

Here at The Common, our incisive volunteer readers are the first to review fiction and nonfiction submissions to the magazine. In this month’s round of Friday Reads, they recommend three exciting new works of speculative fiction.

Friday Reads: April 2022
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