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Author Picks: 6 Books I Can’t Wait to Read This Year

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Blair Fell’s debut novel THE SIGN FOR HOME is a coming-of-age love story about a DeafBlind young man and his interpreter. It’s an Indies Introduce pick for Winter/Spring 2022 and an Indie Next pick for April 2022. Fell lives and writes in Queens, New York, and works as an ASL interpreter. Visit him at blairfell.com or connect with him via Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Making choices between multiple good options has always been a huge challenge for me. I’m the sort that pulls two knobs on a candy machine, so I don’t have to make the decision. When fretting over which book to read next I like to ask myself: What is the sort of book my soul needs right now? I tend to love novels about writers, or something that make me see the world with different eyes, or a story that takes me on a speculative ride. And, of course, great writing! So, after sorting through my TBR, here are the books I can’t wait to read next.

Tell Me an Ending
by Jo Harkin

Jo Harkin’s TELL ME AN ENDING is a speculative novel about a future where a tech company can selectively erase our unwanted traumatic memories. Sounds useful right? Hmm not so fast. Clients can opt in or out of knowing if they’ve gone through the process. So, what happens when a new law passes and everyone who has gone through memory erasure receives a letter notifying them that some awful—unidentified—memory was removed? And what happens when some of those individuals decide to discover what exactly they wanted to forget? Exploring issues of “secrets, grief, and identity,” this thought-provoking thriller is exactly what I want to read on my summer vacation.

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Tell Me an Ending
Jo Harkin

Never Let Me Go meets Black Mirror in this thrilling dystopian debut about a tech company that deletes unwanted memories, the consequences for those forced to contend with what they tried to forget, and the dissenting doctor who seeks to protect her patients from further harm.

What if you once had a painful memory removed? And what if you were offered the chance to get it back?

Tell Me an Ending follows four characters grappling with the question of what to remember—and what they hoped to forget forever.

Finn, an Irish architect living in the Arizona desert, begins to suspect his charming wife of having an affair. Mei, a troubled grad school drop-out in Kuala Lumpur, wonders why she remembers a city she’s never visited. William, a former police inspector in England, struggles with PTSD, the breakdown of his marriage, and his own secret family history. Oscar, a handsome young man with almost no memories at all, travels the world in a constant state of fear.

Into these characters lives comes Noor, an emotionally closed-off psychologist at the memory removal clinic in London, who begins to suspect her glamorous boss Louise of serious wrongdoing.

Clever and propulsive, Tell Me an Ending is a speculative novel exploring what the world would be like if we were able to wipe away our worst moments. In this polyphonic tale, author Jo Harkin raises provocative questions about the nature of memory, through characters who confront new knowledge about themselves and a need for answers, meaning, connection, and story.

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MENTIONED IN:

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True Biz
by Sara Novic

Sara Novic’s novel TRUE BIZ is about a Deaf boarding school and features three interlocking stories of a teacher and two students—one of whom is Deaf, a non-signer, and just entering the Deaf world for the first time. As an ASL interpreter I’ve encountered similar scenarios countless times, and always find it moving. The non-signing Deaf person’s linguistic journey and discovery can be one of the most profound events of their lives. Novic is Deaf and, though her first language was English, she has firsthand experience of learning ASL later in life, and just this alone makes me extremely excited to read her novel.

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True Biz
Sara Novic

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MENTIONED IN:

Kristin Harmel’s 10 Favorite Books from the Past 10 Years

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How to Communicate
by John Lee Clark

John Lee Clark, who is DeafBlind, is a phenomenal poet and essayist who you absolutely need to read. His first essay collection, WHERE I STAND: ON THE SIGNING COMMUNITY AND MY DEAFBLIND EXPERIENCE, was stunningly good. Don’t let that unruly title fool you, the subjects of his essays are expansive and will be of interest to anyone—hearing, Deaf, DeafBlind, or otherwise. His essay on how to interpret “The Star Spangled Banner” into ASL should be required reading for every person in the country. This year he has a new poetry collection, HOW TO COMMUNICATE, and his next essay collection, TOUCHING THE FUTURE: ESSAYS, comes out in 2023. I’m already planning to devour both.

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How to Communicate
John Lee Clark

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MENTIONED IN:

Kristin Harmel’s 10 Favorite Books from the Past 10 Years

By Kristin Harmel | October 7, 2022

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New in Paperback: 10 October Releases Primed for Autumn

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By Off the Shelf Staff | September 30, 2022

Close
Easy Beauty
by Chloé Cooper Jones

EASY BEAUTY is the debut memoir by Chloé Cooper Jones, a philosophy professor who lives with a condition called sacral agenesis. Her memoir explores what it means for her to live in a world where her own existence and value is put under the microscope by the able-bodied. Jones was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and, having already dipped my eyes into the first chapter, I found her writing so breathtakingly beautiful, insightful, and engaging that it was difficult to put down. I can’t wait to finish it—as well as devour whatever she writes next.

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Easy Beauty
Chloé Cooper Jones

“Soul-stretching, breathtaking…A game-changing gift to readers.” —Booklist (starred review)

From Chloé Cooper Jones—Pulitzer Prize finalist, philosophy professor, Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant recipient—a groundbreaking memoir about disability, motherhood, and a journey to far-flung places in search of a new way of seeing and being seen.

“I am in a bar in Brooklyn, listening to two men, my friends, discuss whether my life is worth living.”

So begins Chloé Cooper Jones’s bold, revealing account of moving through the world in a body that looks different than most. Jones learned early on to factor “pain calculations” into every plan, every situation. Born with a rare congenital condition called sacral agenesis which affects both her stature and gait, her pain is physical. But there is also the pain of being judged and pitied for her appearance, of being dismissed as “less than.” The way she has been seen—or not seen—has informed her lens on the world her entire life. She resisted this reality by excelling academically and retreating to “the neutral room in her mind” until it passed. But after unexpectedly becoming a mother (in violation of unspoken social taboos about the disabled body), something in her shifts, and Jones sets off on a journey across the globe, reclaiming the spaces she’d been denied, and denied herself.

From the bars and domestic spaces of her life in Brooklyn to sculpture gardens in Rome; from film festivals in Utah to a Beyoncé concert in Milan; from a tennis tournament in California to the Killing Fields of Phnom Penh, Jones weaves memory, observation, experience, and aesthetic philosophy to probe the myths underlying our standards of beauty and desirability, and interrogates her own complicity in upholding those myths.

With its emotional depth, its prodigious, spiky intelligence, its passion and humor, Easy Beauty is the rare memoir that has the power to make you see the world, and your place in it, with new eyes.

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MENTIONED IN:

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By Kristin Harmel | October 7, 2022

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Close
What Are You Going Through
by Sigrid Nunez

Having read and adored Sigrid Nunez’s THE FRIEND, I have been highly anticipating her follow-up, WHAT ARE YOU GOING THROUGH. Her writing can feel more like memoir than fiction, which I really like—especially since the narrator is a middle-aged writer like me! The title is taken from Simone Weil, who wrote “The love of our neighbor in all its fullness simply means being able to say to him, ‘What are you going through?’” The subjects of her work can be serious (in this case, assisted suicide), but rather than exploiting trauma, Nunez gives us thoughtful, sometimes funny, memoir-like novels detailing life in all it’s quiet, rarely explored, melancholy beauty. I’m definitely here for that.

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What Are You Going Through
Sigrid Nunez

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MENTIONED IN:

Kristin Harmel’s 10 Favorite Books from the Past 10 Years

By Kristin Harmel | October 7, 2022

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By Sharon Van Meter | October 6, 2022

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October eBook Deals: 10 Books You Know You Want

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New in Paperback: 10 October Releases Primed for Autumn

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By Off the Shelf Staff | September 30, 2022

Close
Pilot Imposter
by James Hannaham

James Hannaham was recently placed at the apex of the “top tier of inventive American writers” by the Washington Post, and I would agree. His PEN/Faulkner Award–winning novel, DELICIOUS FOODS, where a personified version of crack cocaine was one of its narrators, was simultaneously fun and devastating. This is why I can’t wait to read Hannaham’s current book PILOT IMPOSTER, a mixed-genre work (prose, poetry, fiction, images) that is his response to the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa among other things . . . like Internet plane crash investigations. My curiosity abounds!

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Pilot Imposter
James Hannaham

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MENTIONED IN:

Author Picks: 6 Books I Can’t Wait to Read This Year

By Blair Fell | April 18, 2022

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The Sign for Home
by Blair Fell

THE SIGN FOR HOME is out now!

Arlo Dilly is young, handsome and eager to meet the right girl. He also happens to be DeafBlind, a Jehovah’s Witness, and under the strict guardianship of his controlling uncle. His chances of finding someone to love seem slim to none. And yet, it happened once before: many years ago, at a boarding school for the Deaf, Arlo met the love of his life—a mysterious girl with onyx eyes and beautifully expressive hands which told him the most amazing stories. But tragedy struck, and their love was lost forever. Or so Arlo thought. After years trying to heal his broken heart, Arlo is assigned a college writing assignment which unlocks buried memories of his past. Soon he wonders if the hearing people he was supposed to trust have been lying to him all along, and if his lost love might be found again.

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The Sign for Home
Blair Fell

When Arlo Dilly learns the girl he thought was lost forever might still be out there, he takes it as a sign and embarks on a life-changing journey to find his great love—and his freedom.

Arlo Dilly is young, handsome and eager to meet the right girl. He also happens to be DeafBlind, a Jehovah’s Witness, and under the strict guardianship of his controlling uncle. His chances of finding someone to love seem slim to none.

And yet, it happened once before: many years ago, at a boarding school for the Deaf, Arlo met the love of his life—a mysterious girl with onyx eyes and beautifully expressive hands which told him the most amazing stories. But tragedy struck, and their love was lost forever.

Or so Arlo thought.

After years trying to heal his broken heart, Arlo is assigned a college writing assignment which unlocks buried memories of his past. Soon he wonders if the hearing people he was supposed to trust have been lying to him all along, and if his lost love might be found again.

No longer willing to accept what others tell him, Arlo convinces a small band of misfit friends to set off on a journey to learn the truth. After all, who better to bring on this quest than his gay interpreter and wildly inappropriate Belgian best friend? Despite the many forces working against him, Arlo will stop at nothing to find the girl who got away and experience all of life’s joyful possibilities.

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MENTIONED IN:

Kristin Harmel’s 10 Favorite Books from the Past 10 Years

By Kristin Harmel | October 7, 2022

8 Cozy Books That Will Make You Think

By Sharon Van Meter | October 6, 2022

Indie Booksellers Recommend: 10 Fall New Releases Booksellers Love

By Off the Shelf Staff | October 5, 2022

October eBook Deals: 10 Books You Know You Want

By Off the Shelf Staff | October 4, 2022

New in Paperback: 10 October Releases Primed for Autumn

By Alice Martin | October 3, 2022

The 10 Most Popular Books of September

By Off the Shelf Staff | September 30, 2022

Close

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