“The Merry Spinster,” Mallory Ortberg


It is with great excitement that I post this, the first ever edition of Lit, He Wrote.

This blog has, from the beginning, been an effort to celebrate diverse voices that are commonly marginalized, or generally “othered.” This, of course, came to reflect my own personal experience as a cisgendered woman. I don’t want this blog—and, in turn, my reading—to be limited by what I find the most relatable. That isn’t progress. The net must be cast wider.

Plus, Mal Ortberg is, like, legend status to me. For all he has done and continues to do for inclusivity, feminism, and everything in general, he belongs here.

In The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror, Ortberg reimagines folk tales and biblical stories, incorporating dark and terrifying twists. The stories are brimming with Ortberg’s signature humor and bravado, but gravitas is never lost. With every tongue-in-cheek reference to a familiar tale, you’re also side-swiped by dark reflections of humanity and gender. These moments, the ones that are closest to reality, become the most chilling of all. Continue reading


“Sing, Unburied, Sing,” Jesmyn Ward


Let the record show that I—Kristin of Lit She Wrote—have, for the first time ever, finished an advanced reader copy before the book’s release date! Please, hold your applause. I’m no hero. Everyone calm down.

In all seriousness, there’s a reason that this notoriously slow reader got through Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward: it’s incredible. The story follows 13-year-old Jojo and his troubled, often absent mother Leonie as they travel across Mississippi to pick up Jojo’s father, Michael, after his release from prison. Jojo’s relationship with his mother is strained, perhaps beyond repair, largely due to Leonie’s substance abuse and distracting infatuation with Michael. Jojo and his toddler sister Kayla find refuge in the care of their stoic grandfather, River, and healer grandmother, Philomène. Continue reading

“Hunger,” Roxane Gay

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 11.24.43 PM

This is, without question, the most anticipated book I’ve discussed on Lit She Wrote. Historically, many of my choices have been books that have already been established in fiction and nonfiction circles. I work in a bookstore, so it takes a lot to get me excited about new release Tuesday, and even more to convince my bank account to buy anything in hardcover.

Roxane Gay has the unique ability to do both. Hunger is a memoir of Gay’s experience having what she calls an unruly body in a world that will show it no mercy. I tore through the first 75 percent of this book rapidly; I could barely put it down. At that point, however, I forced myself to slow down. Why? Because I didn’t want this book, in which I was seeing so much of my own experience, to end. Continue reading

“Neon Soul,” Alexandra Elle


Young women are finally having their day. With Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur holding firmly to its bestseller position—both in hardcover and paperback—there’s been a renewed interest in poetry, particularly in young adults. As a bookseller and poetry buff, seeing young women coming into the store every day and heading for the poetry section has been gratifying and heartwarming, if I’m honest.

Many ask me for recommendations after finishing Milk and Honey. I have a few standbys (which will be discussed here at some point). Neon Soul, a new release from Alexandra Elle, just shot to the top of my recommendation list.

Continue reading

“Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


I have struggled for the past few days to decide what to post about on International Women’s Day. It seems as apropos a day as any to be writing for my feminist book blog, and I have a backlog of books to discuss, but I couldn’t make up my mind.

Luckily, when I arrived at work yesterday morning—an opening shift at a bookstore on New Release Tuesday—the answer was waiting for me on the bestseller table. Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It ticked a lot of boxes. A book with “feminist” in the title, by a known feminist author, and one short enough to read in a day. I’m choosing to call it an International Women’s Day Eve miracle.

Continue reading

“We Should All Be Feminists,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie



I could, in good conscience, end this post here if I wanted to. But I don’t want to. The subject demands and deserves time and thought far beyond its own short length.

We Should All Be Feminists is a short book—or long essay—by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who adapted it from her own TEDx Talk. The book outlines her introduction to feminism and how sexism and misogyny have shaped her life, as well as the lives of countless women.

Continue reading

“Milk and Honey,” Rupi Kaur


This is the first time I’ve written about an extremely topical book here. The book has been on the NYT best sellers list for several weeks, and as a bookseller I got to witness it suddenly skyrocketing. Women were coming into the store to request it. Others were reserving copies online. In my time working at the bookstore, I hadn’t seen many poetry books become popular. This one, for a while, was out of stock in our warehouse. So, naturally, when I saw we’d finally gotten a few copies in store, I was quick to buy it for myself. I’m a lover of poetry, particularly modern poetry, and one that was being linked to other feminist poets and authors was sure to appeal to me.

Continue reading

“Are You My Mother?” Alison Bechdel


Familial relationships are complicated. There’s no sugarcoating it. A childhood in a tense environment can spell lifelong trauma.

In Are You My Mother?, Alison Bechdel chronicles her relationship with her mother throughout her life. The memoir is framed by the works of psychoanalyst David Winnicott, whose theories on the true and false self and transitional objects Bechdel found particularly relatable.

Continue reading

“Americanah,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


Literature is at its best when it moves you. A good novel will elicit an emotional response of some kind. A great novel reaches out and slaps you in the face. It might be depictions of harsh reality, or emotionally charged character behavior. But it nevertheless needs to not only reach you, but also affect you.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie possessed this quality in droves.

Continue reading

“A Thousand Mornings,” Mary Oliver


People often shy away from poetry, thinking it’s too complicated, saying that they just don’t get it. Worse: that it’s boring or old. Fair enough. I can’t say it’s for everyone. But, I am a firm believer that any avid reader who decries poetry just hasn’t read the right poems yet.

In Mary Oliver’s A Thousand Mornings, we see the space in which traditional poetic themes are gracefully met by modern sentiments and feelings.

“I go down to the shore in the morning
and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in or moving out,
and I say, oh, I am miserable,
what shall—
what should I do? And the sea says
in its lovely voice:
Excuse me, I have work to do.”

I Go Down to the Shore, p. 1.

Continue reading