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November Book(s) of the Month!

 

November Hardcover Novel of the Month
Memorial
by Bryan Washington

Benson and Mike are two young guys who live together in Houston. Mike is a Japanese American chef at a Mexican restaurant and Benson's a Black day care teacher, and they've been together for a few years--good years--but now they're not sure why they're still a couple. There's the sex, sure, and the meals Mike cooks for Benson, and, well, they love each other.

But when Mike finds out his estranged father is dying in Osaka just as his acerbic Japanese mother, Mitsuko, arrives in Texas for a visit, Mike picks up and flies across the world to say goodbye. In Japan he undergoes an extraordinary transformation, discovering the truth about his family and his past. Back home, Mitsuko and Benson are stuck living together as unconventional roommates, an absurd domestic situation that ends up meaning more to each of them than they ever could have predicted. Without Mike's immediate pull, Benson begins to push outwards, realizing he might just know what he wants out of life and have the goods to get it.

Both men will change in ways that will either make them stronger together, or fracture everything they've ever known. And just maybe they'll all be okay in the end.

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November Hardcover Nonfiction Book of the Month
Group
How One Therapist and a Cirlce of Strangers Saved My Life
by Christie Tate

The refreshingly original debut memoir of a guarded, over-achieving, self-lacerating young lawyer who reluctantly agrees to get psychologically and emotionally naked in a room of six complete strangers--her psychotherapy group--and in turn finds human connection, and herself.

Christie Tate had just been named the top student in her law school class and finally had her eating disorder under control. Why then was she driving through Chicago fantasizing about her own death? Why was she envisioning putting an end to the isolation and sadness that still plagued her despite her achievements?

Enter Dr. Rosen, a therapist who calmly assures her that if she joins one of his psychotherapy groups, he can transform her life. All she has to do is show up and be honest. About everything--her eating habits, childhood, sexual history, etc. Christie is skeptical, insisting that that she is defective, beyond cure. But Dr. Rosen issues a nine-word prescription that will change everything: "You don't need a cure. You need a witness."

So begins her entry into the strange, terrifying, and ultimately life-changing world of group therapy. Christie is initially put off by Dr. Rosen's outlandish directives, but as her defenses break down and she comes to trust Dr. Rosen and to depend on the sessions and the prescribed nightly phone calls with various group members, she begins to understand what it means to connect.

Group is a deliciously addictive read, and with Christie as our guide--skeptical of her own capacity for connection and intimacy, but hopeful in spite of herself--we are given a front row seat to the daring, exhilarating, painful, and hilarious journey that is group therapy--an under-explored process that breaks you down, and then reassembles you so that all the pieces finally fit.

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November Paperback Book of the Month
Shuggie Bain
by Douglas Stuart

I am so excited to recommend Douglas Stuart’s powerful debut novel Shuggie Bain, the heart-wrenching, harrowing story of a young boy and his alcoholic mother in 1980’s working-class Glasgow during the Thatcher era. The portrait Stuart paints in exquisite detail of young Shuggie’s coming of age (today he would be called gender-nonconforming) and his mother Agnes and a family ravaged by addiction pulls no punches in describing the dysfunction and devastating effects of alcoholism, poverty and daily trauma on a family (and a young boy’s psyche.) With the power and poignancy of Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life, and with a keen eye for setting and dialect, Stuart evokes Shuggie’s experience with a startling, searing intimacy, but also with flashes of empathy and humor and compassion that cuts through the darkness. Kirkus Review states, “The emotional truth embodied here will crack you open.  Scene by scene, this book is a masterpiece.” Ed loved and highly recommends!
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