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Pub Day Shout-Outs! for May 4, 2021, featuring Bechdel, Harjo, and Oh

by Jen Moyers (@jen.loves.books)


Here are three books coming out today that I'm excited to read!


Book cover of Alison Bechdel's The Secret to Superhuman Strength

Alison Bechdel's The Secret to Superhuman Strength


Description from Publisher:

"From the author of Fun Home, a profoundly affecting graphic memoir of Bechdel's lifelong love affair with exercise, set against a hilarious chronicle of fitness fads in our times.


"Comics and cultural superstar Alison Bechdel delivers a deeply layered story of her fascination, from childhood to adulthood, with every fitness craze to come down the pike: from Jack LaLanne in the 60s ('Outlandish jumpsuit! Cantaloupe-sized guns!') to the existential oddness of present-day spin class. Readers will see their athletic or semi-active pasts flash before their eyes through an ever-evolving panoply of running shoes, bicycles, skis, and sundry other gear. But the more Bechdel tries to improve herself, the more her self appears to be the thing in her way. She turns for enlightenment to Eastern philosophers and literary figures, including Beat writer Jack Kerouac, whose search for self-transcendence in the great outdoors appears in moving conversation with the author’s own. This gifted artist and not-getting-any-younger exerciser comes to a soulful conclusion. The secret to superhuman strength lies not in six-pack abs, but in something much less clearly defined: facing her own non-transcendent but all-important interdependence with others.


"A heartrendingly comic chronicle for our times."


Why I want to read it:

Alison Bechdel is a master of the graphic memoir—if you haven't read Fun Home or Are You My Mother?, do yourself a favor and check them out—so I was thrilled to see that she has a new book coming out. Bechdel beautifully balances reflections that are poignant with those that are hilarious, and the graphic format is the perfect vehicle for her work.

Book cover of Joy Harjo's Living Nations, Living Words

Joy Harjo's Living Nations, Living Words: An Anthology of First Peoples Poetry


Description from Publisher:

"Joy Harjo, the first Native poet to serve as U.S. Poet Laureate, has championed the voices of Native peoples past and present. Her signature laureate project gathers the work of contemporary Native poets into a national, fully digital map of story, sound, and space, celebrating their vital and unequivocal contributions to American poetry.


"This companion anthology features each poem and poet from the project―including Natalie Diaz, Ray Young Bear, Craig Santos Perez, Sherwin Bitsui, and Layli Long Soldier, among others―to offer readers a chance to hold the wealth of poems in their hands. The chosen poems reflect on the theme of place and displacement and circle the touchpoints of visibility, persistence, resistance, and acknowledgment. Each poem showcases, as Joy Harjo writes in her stirring introduction, “that heritage is a living thing, and there can be no heritage without land and the relationships that outline our kinship.” In this country, poetry is rooted in the more than five hundred living indigenous nations. Living Nations, Living Words is a representative offering."


Why I want to read it:

I'm a huge fan of Harjo's work, and I've been reveling in her project of the same name, which is a Story Map celebrating Native Nations poets. I am so excited to read this book, an extension of the project.

Book cover of Ellen Oh's Finding June Kim

Ellen Oh's Finding June Kim


Description from Publisher:

"Junie Kim just wants to fit in. So she keeps her head down and tries not to draw attention to herself. But when racist graffiti appears at her middle school, Junie must decide between staying silent or speaking out.


"Then Junie’s history teacher assigns a project and Junie decides to interview her grandparents, learning about their unbelievable experiences as kids during the Korean War. Junie comes to admire her grandma’s fierce determination to overcome impossible odds, and her grandpa’s unwavering compassion during wartime. And as racism becomes more pervasive at school, Junie taps into the strength of her ancestors and finds the courage to do what is right.


"Finding Junie Kim is a reminder that within all of us lies the power to overcome hardship and emerge triumphant."


Why I want to read it:

In my experience, Ellen Oh's work is always good, and I think this middle-grade book sounds phenomenal. I love the premise that Junie is interviewing her grandparents to learn more about her own history. I can't wait to read this one!

I also want to shout out Xio Axelrod's The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes, which is also being published today!


#pubdayshoutouts #middlegrade #poetry #graphicmemoir #diversereads

(A note to our readers: click on the hashtags above to see our other blog posts with the same hashtag.)


Interested in what else we're reading? Check out our Featured Books page.


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