Kathie's picks

I like to read a variety of things but mostly I look for things that are surprising, that have an edge, and that are high literary and well-crafted. I like literary fiction, lesbian fiction, poetry, cookbooks, and some history and biography. Some of my favorite authors are Jeanette Winterson, Virginia Woolf, Margaret Atwood, Sarah Schulman, Adrienne Rich, Sarah Waters and Carson McCullers. Oh,and I also dig health and fitness! If this sounds like you, too, then check out my picks!
Miles from Nowhere Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594483981
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - September 2009

Mun's semi-autobiographical debut novel about a teen runaway on the streets in 1980s New York has a gut-wrenching beauty and poetry I haven't encountered since Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina, and like Allison's book, Joon's story leaves the reader ultimately hopeful despite her grim cicumstances.

Special Topics in Calamity Physics Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143112129
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - April 24th, 2007

Did you read The Secret History by Donna Tartt and love it, and wonder, where can I find another compelling, page-turning, literary who-dunnit about brainy youngsters in cliques? If you have, look no further! If not, well, Special Topics in Calamity Physics is still a fun, fast-paced and absorbing secret guilty pleasure winter-escape read that you don't have to feel embarrassed to have in your bag or read on the bus. It's win-win!

Vindication Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393325386
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - January 2004

This searing historical novel chronicles the life of the trailblazing feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, author of the classic A Vindication of the Rights of Women and mother to Mary Shelley. Deeply absorbing both in its narrative pull and its historical detail that comes to life in rich (sometimes too rich) color. If you like well-crafted, literary page-turners, check out this exuberant novel.

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679724636
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - March 17th, 1990

If you haven't read this tender and affectionate "autobiography" of Gertrude Stein's life partner Alice B. Toklas, you're in for a treat, especially if you love Paris, if you love things that are charming, and love catty gossip about the likes of Picasso, Matisse, and Hemingway. Fun, funny, and by far Stein's most accessible book. Don't wait any longer - read it today!

Waterbaby Cover Image
ISBN: 9781933368849
Availability: Special Order
Published: Soft Skull Press - September 2007

Right away I was pulled into this story by the terse and somewhat prickly narrative voice, and by Mazza's creative use of multi-media (e-mails, web pages and so on) on this thoroughly contemporary work that is part literary examination of disability and fractured families as it is an intriguing literary ghost story.

Punk Rock Aerobics: 75 Killer Moves, 50 Punk Classics, And 25 Reasons To Get Off Your Ass And Exercise Cover Image
ISBN: 9780306813399
Availability: Special Order
Published: Da Capo Press - January 1st, 2004

In never occurred to me that doing the Pogo was a great cardio move -- it's good for the calves, too! Load up your I-Pod with The Pogues and the Pistols, and skank your way to a healthier and shapelier you. Beats cardio-groove by a mile of bad spandex.

Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution Cover Image
By Alix Olson (Editor), Eve Ensler (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781580052214
Availability: Special Order
Published: Seal Press (CA) - September 2007

This groundbreaking anthology celebrates the work of the foremothers of the spoken word art scene, as well as introducing many new, urgent voices. It's as much a feminist road map of spoken word over the past twenty or so years as it is an inspirational incitement for all to carry on the feminist spoken word tradition. It includes both poems and essays by such artists as Jill Scott, StacyAnn Chin, Meliza Banales, Daphne Gottleib, and many more outraged and outrageous voices than you can shake a stick at. Not that you'd want to.

Dreaming in Cuban Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345913678
Availability: Special Order
Published: Ballantine Books - May 1st, 1999

This lovely, sometimes dreamlike novel traces the lives of three generations of women through the rise of Castro and emigration to New York. Lyrical, thoughtful, magical, and as timely as ever... In a nutshell, this is one of those novels that yu just have to read. If you haven't read it yet, why not pick it up now?

Wild Dogs: Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393328424
Availability: Special Order
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - June 17th, 2006

This creepy and poetic novel reflects on the meaning of wildness and domesticity, possession and freedom, as in: what can we own? What can we love? It's a semi-philosophical novel with a plot twist that is a real stunner.

The Beautiful: Collected Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9780916397890
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Manic D Press - December 2003

Michelle Tea is one of my favorite writers (Valencia is one of my favorite lesbian novels ever), and her poetry captures her kooky, breathy, too much coffee beat poet voice that characterizes her work so well. While not technically precise, the poems here comprise an urgent, heartbroken, euphoric, rebellious love letter to broken down America and to queer and punk cultures. XO-Kathie

The Accidental Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400032181
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Anchor Books - April 10th, 2007

This, and Alison Bechdel's book, Fun Home, were my two most favorite books of 2007. In The Accidental, a stranger's unexplained appearance during a family vacation shakes this "perfect" English family's self-perceptions to the core. Told in third person, with shifting points-of-view, the Accidental is a dazzling literary feat; one that's also edgy, quite contemporary, and surprising. If you loved Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald, I'm betting you will also love The Accidental.

Don Juan in the Village Cover Image
ISBN: 9780299190040
Availability: Special Order
Published: University of Wisconsin Press - October 3rd, 2003

The memorable protagonist in this linked collection of short stories is brash, painfully self-aware, and decidedly *not* politically correct. Exploring the milieus of lesbian bars, sex, social circles and hook-ups from Greenwich Village to Key West to Puerto Rico and beyond, these stories are surprising, titillating, edgy and, eften, uncomfortably true. A singular novel-in-stories featuring a narrator unlike any I've ever met. Strongly recommended, but not for the faint of heart.

Girls, Visions, and Everything Cover Image
ISBN: 9781580050227
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Seal Press (CA) - August 18th, 1999

This funny, tender, and heartbreaking lesbian novel features the kooky protagonist Lila Futuransky. who navigates the streets of New York's Eat Village during the 80's, looking for love, adventure, and the soul of Jack Kerouac. All of this along with a healthy dose of quer politic and questionable performance art. This is one of my favortie lesbian novels ever.

Ruins Cover Image
ISBN: 9781933354699
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Akashic Books - March 2009

Obejas made her name (and earned two Lambda Literary Awards) chronicling the lives of young Cuban lesbians grappling with identity politics. In her new book she widens her lens, telling the tale of a fifty-something year old man, Usnavy, in mid-1990s Cuba, who struggles with his dreams of the Cuban revolution and the hardscrabble reality of daily life in Cuba, between his pride in his identity and his ideals in conflict with his desire to provide for his family. Cuba comes to life in this cinematic novel full of starling images and an overflowing heart's worth of compassion.

Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook Cover Image
ISBN: 9781569242643
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Marlowe & Company - October 2007

Four words (or maybe it's three?: baja-style tempeh tacos. We can't get enough of these in our house. Seriously, we have them about once a week. I've also loved the bbq'd baked tofu and my copy of this book is marked with about a million neon post-it notes of all the other delicious-sounding recipes I haven't tried yet but can't wait to try, if we ever want to eat anything besides the baja-style tempeh tacos, which doesn't seem likely to happen anytime soon. BTW, I'm not even vegan. I just like to integrate new, yummy and healthy foods in my diet. If that's you, too, don't pass up on this great cookbook.

A Field Guide to Gay & Lesbian Chicago Cover Image
ISBN: 9781893121034
Availability: Special Order
Published: Lake Claremont Press - June 1st, 2006

Okay, I'm the co-author alright, so of course I recommend this chatty, fun and informal guide to gay and lesbian Chicago. I'm biased. But it is, to date, THE ONLY glbtq guide to our fair city and if you don't think I'm a reliable source, pick up the book and look at all of our great cover blurbs, from the likes of Ira Glass, Achy Obejas, WCF's own Linda Bubon, and more!

Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307389381
Availability: Special Order
Published: Anchor Books - August 11th, 2009

I think the word "quirky" is overused, but it certainly applies to Guo's vignettes about life for a 21-year-old woman from the provinces in Kafkaesque Contemporary Beijing. A fresh voice, Guo's Fenfang Wang is funny and sassy as she navigates the bad jobs and worse romances that fall her way. I'm kind of in love with Fenfang and this book. Page through it and I bet you'll get a megacrush as well.

Varieties of Disturbance: Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374281731
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Farrar Straus Giroux - May 15th, 2007

The stories that comprise this collection, whether twenty pages long or one sentence long, sparkle with wit and perception. Some of my favorites are "We Miss You: A Study of Get Well Letters from a Class of Fourth Graders," "Mrs D. and her Maids," as well as the lovely "What You Learn About the Baby," and "Enlightened," in which the narrator chooses to dump an old friend for not being as enlightened as she is, although she acknowledges that doing so is not very enlightened. This book is full of inventive, original gems that stand on their own but combine to illustrate the singular sensibility and humanity of the author.