I was first introduced to this illustrative book of Edgar Allen Poe short stories when I was in middle school. Even to this day, I still remember my fascination with the morbid tales. What better way to celebrate Halloween than with a book of some of Poe’s most notable horror stories, with accompanying drawings by Gris Grimly.
My favorite story in this book is “The Black Cat,” a classic and one of his most well-known publications, aside from “The Raven” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.” The illustrations by Grimly really bring the stories to life, even more so than Poe’s words do.
If you’re as much of a fan of Poe as I am (or just generally enjoy dark stories), I suggest purchasing this book, as it is my favorite one from any of his collections. You can purchase it through Amazon or Barnes & Noble if you’re interested.
“Refugee Stories” By Allison Pinski
Humans of New York (HONY) just released another series of photographs about refugees traveling through Europe from Syria and Iraq.
Their first post in the series starts off with this;
(This image and screenshot was taken from here)
I love when Brandon Stanton, the creative mind behind HONY, spotlights certain groups of people or events. In this case, he interviews refugees from the Middle East who are now in Greece. Many of these people (some with their families) left their homes because of ISIS or escalated violence in the region (some of which is from the U.S.).
Stanton has truly outdone himself with this series. It is heart-wrenching and personal, and gives a very small look into the lives of refugees and the challenges they face. I could never imagine going through half of the obstacles these people have been through.
It is easy to say you don’t support these refugees coming into Europe and the U.S., but I hope many people are swayed by Stanton’s insightful new series of interviews and photographs. These are people who have been through tragedy and trauma, who need our support. I hope that anyone reading this who was once against helping these Syrian and Iraqi refugees will reconsider their positions.
You can read some of the series below, and the rest are linked via their location from HONY’s website.
(This image and screenshot were taken from here)
(This image and screenshot were taken from here)
These are all of the stories from HONY’s Facebook page as of September 30th. To read the rest, I suggest reading HONY’s blog or checking out their Facebook. The remainder of the series is linked here in chronological order by location; Kos, Lesvos, Lesvos (Part 1 and 2), Lesvos, Lesvos, Lesvos, Tovarnik, Hegyeshalom, Vienna, Vienna, Hegyeshalom (Part 1, and 2, and 3), Salzburg, and Salzburg.
To conclude the series, HONY posted the following message from here;
I hope these stories helped change your mind about the status and perceptions on refugees. If you are interested in becoming more involved with the cause, I suggest looking into these organizations and donating to the United Nations work with these refugees. You can also donate to the UN through here.
NOTE: All images in this post were taken from Humans of New York’s website or Facebook page. We have no intention of stealing or unlawfully claiming any of HONY’s work, we only mean to share this important series and encourage donation.
Self-Help (Moore) By Susan McLean
I just finished Lorrie Moore's Self-Help in one sitting. My name is Susan and I might be addicted, All joking aside, Moore's Self-Help is a fantastic collection of stories that I would highly recommend. Highlights include 'How to Be an Other Woman,' 'What is Seized,' and 'How to Become a Writer.'
According to Amazon:
"In these tales of loss and pleasure, lovers and family, a woman learns to conduct an affair, a child of divorce dances with her mother, and a woman with a terminal illness contemplates her exit. Filled with the sharp humor, emotional acuity, and joyful language Moore has become famous for, these nine glittering tales marked the introduction of an extravagantly gifted writer."
Moore masterfully creates scenes and finds subtle humor in the absurd. She grapples some of the most painful and interjects moments of joy so well that her words feel like reality.
This was my first introduction to Moore, but I'll soon be reading Anagrams, Birds of America, Like Life, Bark, and Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?
Note: photo not our own, from Amazon.
"Radical Softness As A Weapon" Lora Mathis Writes What We're Too Afraid to Feel By Susan McLean
Edited 10/8/15 7:30 pm for updated citations and to correct a misattributed quote
Lora Mathis has been one of my favorite people for a long time. I reblogged their poetry on Tumblr a few years ago and decided to find more out about whoever was writing such beautiful words. I found someone, not much older than myself, using platforms as innocent as Tumblr and Facebook to share haunting words that kicked up the dust in my soul. Since then, Mathis has published two books, both of which I quickly purchased and treasure. Mathis works with Ink/Paper Press, Where Are You Press, and Persephone's Daughter to publish physical and digital works.
Mathis has recently created the phrase 'radical softness as a weapon' to describe the phenomenon of 'abrasively feminine' content (think Virgin Suicides) to show what the femme ***please correct me if this term isn't as inclusive as it could be*** condition is like, as well as acknowledging how debilitating it can be to be a woman with mental illness. Mathis speaks more about this in this interview. Mathis says:
"radical softness is the idea that unapologetically sharing your emotions is a political move and a way to combat the societal idea that feelings are a sign of weakness. "
Add Mathis on Facebook for inspiration to be a better human being and please look at The Women Widowed to Themselves and consider supporting this incredible artist. Also, check out Mathis' website here.
Note: None of these photos are ours. The first three from Hooligan Mag were found on Mathis' website here and the next three were from their Facebook page. The last photo is by Logan Delaney feat. a shirt made by Mathis.
James Baldwin isn't a new name in the literary game. Born in 1924, and died in 1987, Baldwin has been renowned up and down for the way he tackles racism, with powerful scenes that mimic the way reality unfolds.
Sonny's Blues is a short story in Baldwin's collection Going to Meet the Man. It details a man's relationship with his brother, Sonny, and the hurdled that have prevented them from becoming close. Read for an account of the affects of addiction on those close to the addict. Check pages 114-115 for a really beautiful, well-written scene.
Also read The Rockpile and Going to Meet the Man, also in that anthology.
Note: photo from Amazon, and very much not my own
The White Oleander by Janet Fitch is one of my favorite novels. Description courtesy of Amazon:
"Everywhere hailed as a novel of rare beauty and power, White Oleander tells the unforgettable story of Ingrid, a brilliant poet imprisoned for murder, and her daughter, Astrid, whose odyssey through a series of Los Angeles foster homes-each its own universe, with its own laws, its own dangers, its own hard lessons to be learned-becomes a redeeming and surprising journey of self-discovery."
Read this novel for a harrowing tale that has the potential to change your outlook on daily life. Fitch also has another book, Paint it Black, another amazing novel which I would also highly recommend. Description also from Amazon:
"Josie Tyrell, art model, runaway, and denizen of LA's rock scene finds a chance at real love with Michael Faraday, a Harvard dropout and son of a renowned pianist. But when she receives a call from the coroner, asking her to identify her lover's body, her bright dreams all turn to black. As Josie struggles to understand Michael's death and to hold onto the world they shared, she is both attracted to and repelled by his pianist mother, Meredith, who blames Josie for her son's torment. Soon the two women are drawn into a twisted relationship that reflects equal parts distrust and blind need. With the luxurious prose and fever pitch intensity that are her hallmarks, Janet Fitch weaves a spellbinding tale of love, betrayal, and the possibility of transcendence."
Fitch's unapologetic writing will draw in nearly every reader. Be warned, though, these novels are not about the sunny side of life.
Note: both photos from the respective Amazon links, and neither the photos or the lovely cover art, are our own.
The Green Toad is a local bookstore located on Main Street (198) in Oneonta, NY. A local hotspot, the Green Toad offers a relatively large selection of books for a store its size. I especially enjoy looking at the nonfiction, poetry, and photography sections since the bookstore keeps them so well stocked with the newest releases, as well as lovable classics.
According to their website,
“Our goal at Green Toad Book Store is to create an ambiance of warmth and comfort for adults and children. Green Toad is meant to be a gathering place for our community. Stop in, browse through the incredible book selection, grab a latte, sit on a plush sofa chair, read a book, check your email, or discuss your favorite author with a friend.
I highly suggest stopping by the Green Toad if you’re in the area. Not only do they have a large selection of books, but they also sell locally-made jewelry, cards, candles, and knick-knacks. You can even stop by the Latte Lounge, which is located right next door.
Check out the Green Toad’s Facebook for local author readings, and their online bookstore.
What we're reading