Wednesday, December 6th 2023

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New This Week:


Amber has always had a gift where she’ll take an idea you’d previously given up all hope of understanding, and not just decipher it, but make you feel as though you’ve known it for years. But beyond powers of clarity in a time of deluge, she has never forgotten why she’s here: to fight, win or lose, and live to fight another day, so the working class can get what’s owed.

— Felix Biederman, Co-Host of Chapo Trap House



If you've been reading Ryan Grim's consistently groundbreaking reporting over the past decade, the recent monumental shift in our politics came as little surprise. For anybody who wants to understand where we've been and where we're going, The Squad is an essential read.

—Naomi Klein



The first gay novel everybody read. . . .It’s the story of youth and beauty and money and drugs. But overarchingly...the story of a new queer future.

— Michael Cunningham



Like fifteen novels squeezed between two covers, ready to blow your mind. The only other writer I can think of who packs this much moving, terrible life into each story is Alice Munro.

—Emma Donoghue



Gabrielle Korn's debut fiction imagines a world that seems freakishly, frighteningly possible—no doubt because she's done such a fine job of creating characters that are vibrantly alive, and recognizable....A great, contemporary take on the classic what-would-an-all-female-society-look-like genre, full of suspense and fair warning.

—Michelle Tea


In Tender Headed, Olatunde Osinaike asks the question, what makes a man, and what makes a man like me? As he interrogates the inner and outer workings of masculinity in all its sharp and tender parts, and the way a Black man meets the world, his poems strut and duck and weave across their pages...This work is nimble. A two-step on a tightwire. Tender Headed grooves and shines, holds us wide awake and mesmerized.

-Camille Rankine



Highlighting the year’s most significant independent journalism—including reports on toxic chemicals, climate disinformation, and union victories—Project Censored’s State of the Free Press 2024 illuminates issues and raises voices that the establishment press have throttled.



There is something bold, perhaps reckless, in preaching serenity from the volcano's edge. But, as Scheirer points out, the doctored-evidence problem isn't new. Our oldest forms of recording—storytelling, writing, and painting—are laughably easy to hack. We've had to find ways to trust them nonetheless.

—Daniel Immerwahr



In both his fiction and nonfiction, So’s generous writing spirit shines through, capturing a community of people in flux, all of whom are trying to make space for themselves—and each other—in a sometimes-claustrophobic world.

— Daneet Steffens, The Boston Globe

Now in Paperback!

This Week's Bestsellers:

December Book of the Month:

The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store

by James McBride


The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store is James McBride’s magnificently drawn portrait of a 1930’s community of African Americans and Jewish immigrants living side by side in the neglected, hardscrabble Chicken Hill neighborhood of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, struggling to survive at the margins of white Christian America. With pitch-perfect vernacular and dialogue, the prose radiates a kind of exuberance that makes this a rollicking good read, with a whole cast of larger-than-life characters worth rooting for. These big personalities are matched by a big storyline that is heartwarming and compassionate, inventive, fun, joyous, even life-affirming. This is a story of community, and beyond the fast-talking humor and intriguing backstories and suspenseful plot the novel manages to have a lot to say about class divides, racism and bigotry, kindness and courage, and, in a neighborhood of shared hopes and heartbreak, the commonalities that connect us all. The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store is an absorbing drama and a warm, humane comedy, a mesmerizing and almost magical tale with a determined sense that, when marginalized groups with interlocking destinies look out for one another, justice will win out in the end. (And be sure to read the inspiring acknowledgments at the end.) Ed loved and highly recommends!

Staff Reviews:

The Postcard

by Anne Berest,

translated by Tina Kover


How can you tell you’re alive, when there’s no one to witness your existence?


Told in the present day by Anne Berest with the help of her mother Lelia, The Postcard is a reimagining of the author’s family history that bears witness to the tragic saga of the Rabinovitch’s, seeking a safe, peaceful home in the shifting European landscape of the 20th century, from Russia and Poland to Palestine, and ultimately to France, where four family members—Ephraim, Emma, Noemie and Jacques—ultimately perished in the Holocaust, with only Anne’s grandmother Myriam surviving. Deriving enormous power from seemingly small details, the novel chronicles a Jewish family's experiences across multiple generations, a poignant tale of mothers and daughters and granddaughters, of survivors, of memory and forgetting, of collaboration and resistance, of antisemitism and the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust (while shining a spotlight on the complicity of the French in the betrayal of the Jews during the German occupation). The Postcard is a personal, gripping, sobering, haunting novel, highlighting the power of storytelling in reclaiming a family’s history (and ultimately for the author, finding her identity.) Ed loved and highly recommends!

Its that time again - We're preparing for the Holidays, and celebrating our favorite books of the year!


Take a peek at some of our Staff Favorites below, and stick with us as we count down the remaining weeks of the year with reviews of the best books of 2023!

The Wager

by David Grann


Shipwrecks and scurvy and murder, oh my!


No need to be a history buff to get into this book as Grann has a special way of making history read like a thrilling novel. I appreciated the way Grann was able to draw us into the personal thoughts and feelings of a core group of individuals involved, particularly midshipman John Byron, who would later become the grandfather of the poet Lord Byron. Witness the extreme lengths the sailors of The Wager went to stay alive, protect their reputations, and chase after a Spanish treasure-filled galleon known as "the prize of all the oceans." Boogie recommends!

The Summer Hikaru Died, Vol. 1

by Mokumokuren,

translated by Ajani Oloye


What happens when the person you thought you knew isn’t that person anymore? A riveting study in the questions of growing up, growing apart, and budding homosexual desire. This manga immediately drew me into summer in Japan touched by the supernatural, and had me mesmerized by both the story and beautiful, evocative artwork (down to the ambient sounds!). A perfect melding of BL and horror, I was blown away by this manga and can’t recommend it enough.

- Caroline

A Day in the Life of Abed Salama

by Nathan Thrall


The author’s stated ambition of this book was to tell the entire story of Israel/Palestine through one single event. The result, A Day in the life of Abed Salama, is the heart-wrenching story of the tragic death of Abed Salama’s 5-year-old-son Milad in a terrible bus accident, all set against the backdrop of the daily injustices and humiliations that make up the lives of the roughly 3 million Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank. The personal becomes the political in this deeply human portrait that weaves together the details of the accident with the intractable history and narratives of the region, in what Masha Gessen calls “a staggering achievement.” It is the story of Abed Salama and his family, of a parent’s powerlessness in protecting his child, and the greater story of the Nakba--of annexations and settlements, roadblocks and checkpoints, fences and walls, activism and resistance. “It is hard to think of another book that gives such a poignant, deeply human face to the ongoing tragedy of Palestine,” says writer Adam Hochschild. Ed agrees, and highly recommends!

The New Life

by Tom Crewe


The New Life is the fictionalized account of John Addington Symonds and Havelock Ellis, two men who boldly conceived of “a new life” for homosexual men in 1890’s England with the publication of sexual inversion, their revolutionary medical textbook on homosexuality, one of the first texts to suggest the possibility of love between men (Walt Whitman’s “manly love of comrades”) free of shame, persecution, and criminal prosecution. Using meticulously researched period details to great effect, Crewe has a rich and engrossing style, expertly dramatizing a world on the brink of social and sexual change, and with the novel’s tight pacing, I found The New Life exciting to read, combining literary fiction with the thrill of a page-turner. From the novel’s extremely erotic opening scene, the characters of John Addington and Henry Ellis come alive on the page, as they break with tradition (and propriety!) while attempting to bring homosexual love out of the shadows. In alternating chapters, we hear each of their stories—their own nontraditional marriages and unconventional lives—as the novel beautifully captures the remarkable historical moment when, at the turn of the 20th century, conventions were being re-defined and taboos broken, men and women seeking an entire new way of living and loving.

Ed loved and highly recommends, especially for fans of Colm Toibin’s The Magician!

Victory City

by Salman Rushdie


Recalling the 14th century, 300-year epoch in India’s history called the Vijayanagar Empire (referred to here as Bisnaga), Victory City is Salman Rushdie’s breathtaking new novel, mythmaking on a grand scale, where facts are sprinkled with fable, that had me in awe of Rushdie’s prodigious storytelling talents. Told in the form of a rediscovered ancient text (one that rivals the Mahabharata or the Ramyana), the novel centers on Pampa Kampana, a nine-year-old girl (who in the course of the novel will live to be 250 years old), a girl who has a divine encounter with the goddess Parvati who will then change the course of history and record its story. The story Pampa tells is a complex, rich tapestry that is magical and enchanting, spellbinding and provocative, exuberant and captivating---and one that is thoroughly enjoyable to read! Reflections on the fate of empire, the nature of history, hubris and power, the curse of sectarianism, fanaticism, sexual freedom, the equality of the sexes, and the pacifist rejection of war are all wrapped up in a mythic fairy tale that tells the story of an epoch that thrives in the richness of its stories, in its celebration of women, poetry and liberty. Victory City is a buoyant celebration of the power of words (“Words are the only victors” reads the last line of the novel), and with his trademark wit and intelligence, Rushdie offers up a dazzling display of myths, sacred legends and stories, all told in an epic tale rich in allegory that is entertainment on a grand scale, all from the master of the grand narrative. Ed loved and highly recommends!

Quietly Hostile: Essays

by Samantha Irby


When I met Samantha Irby I was struck by how humorous and down to earth she was, and the way our conversation felt like one of old pals. These characteristics manifest in her writing. Witty, self deprecating and relatable, this book is laugh out loud funny. These essays are perfect for fans of a classy poop joke, individuals who use humor to cope, and those who want to read about the real and personal.

Ellie recommends!

The Blue House

by Tomas Tranströmer,

translated by Patty Crane


Tranströmer translated by Patty Crane is an exhilarating collection of poems from the Nobel Prize-winning Swedish poet Tranströmer. Precise & hard-hitting poems on nature, political moments, & charged everyday experiences span from 1954-2004. This beautiful & monumental collection guides us to find wonder & tension in the everyday. Gabe recommends!

The Male Gazed

by Manuel Betancourt


Do I want him, or do I want to be him?


Long before he could articulate the question, Manuel Betancourt was like many other young queer folk: growing up under an expectation to perform masculinity in one particular and traditional manner. The Male Gazed is both a book of cultural criticism and the story of one young man's developing desire and identity. In his memoir-in-essays, author Manuel Betancourt explores how we are shaped by the culture we're born into, and also pop culture's potential to reshape ideas of what masculinity can be! Matty recommends if you like Ricky Martin or Saved by the Bell, a non-toxic variety of masculinity, and being gay!

The Chromatic Fantasy

by H. a.


I’ve only read a few graphic novels in my life but one has never been so mesmerizing as H.A’s Chromatic Fantasy

This reality bending tale follows a trans man named Jules who gives up his life as a nun to live as a thief and the devil’s lover in luxury. But things take a heated turn when Jules meets Casper, their seemingly true love! 

This story is full of clever social commentary, beautiful sexual tension, queer joy and trans determination! — Mondeaux

What Lies in the Woods

by Kate Alice Marshall


Owen's Top "Take Me Away" Commuter/Nighttime Mystery Thriller!


This creepy suspense gem initially slipped beneath my radar. Then a friend and also fan of the genre recommended it (Thank you, KV!)

Childhood secrets, a serial killer, foggy memories, a crime podcast and the reopening of a 20 year old crime --its all here in this hypnotic, well-crafted FIRST novel. After this read, Kate Alice Marshall's follow up novel will not slip beneath my radar. Owen recommends!


Rest is Resistance

by Tricia Hersey


Rest Is Resistance is the antidote to Grind Culture we need. In a concise 200 pages, Tricia Hersey utilizes "the time-bending philosophy of Afrofuturism" to argue the importance of rest and dreaming in America's past, present, and future. Octavia Butler, Anton Chekhov, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Sun Ra, and Alice Walker are all referenced in this manifesto, and expect The Nap Bishop be referenced in many manifesti to come. Sam recommends!

Thin Skin: Essays

by Jenn Shapland


Why is private property, accumulation, our only way to see the relationship with the world?


In this thoughtful, compassionate, and illuminating essay collection, Shapland has given us a multifaceted consideration of the fragility of human bodies, and how these vulnerabilities are informed by consumerism and capitalism, boundaries and interconnectedness, gender, and childlessness. Weaving personal anecdotes with historical research, interviews, and musings on everyday life in New Mexico, Shapland explores the ways in which the world shapes us and we shape the world, while striving to find if a truly meaningful life is possible under capitalism. There are no easy answers, but the journey is wondrous and vital. Shane recommends!


Your Lonely

Nights Are Over

by Adam Sass


Your Lonely Nights Are Over, by Adam Sass, is the perfect union of slasher and petty high school drama with a dark, sexy flair. Cole and Dearie are gay besties and the mean girls of their school. When a notorious serial killer from the 70s returns and targets the school's queer club, suspicion falls on Cole. Relationships are tested, the body count grows, and the two boys are forced to fight not only for survival, but also to hold onto their own friendship. Your Lonely Nights Are Over explores sex stigma in the queer community, emotional abuse, and the gaslighting of weaponized victimhood, while also being a masterfully told thriller that keeps the suspense burning to the last possible second. Simeon recommends!

Upcoming Book Clubs!

To help support their fight for racial and economic justice in America, we at Unabridged have chosen to support the Equal Justice Initiative. Each month we will be making a donation and ask that you join us in supporting their work


In light of recent book banning and censorship attempts in America, in 2023 we at Unabridged have chosen to support the Gerber/Hart Library & Archives in their work to collect, preserve, and make accessible the diverse history and culture of LGBTQ+ communities in Chicago and the Midwest. Each month we will be making a donation and we ask that you join us in supporting their work.

In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, reproductive rights are at risk across the United States. In 2023, we at Unabridged have chosen to support 2 local organizations in the fight to protect a person’s right to choose. Each month we will be making a donation to The Chicago Abortion Fund and Midwest Access Coalition and ask that you join us in supporting their work.

This Year's Giver's Gift Promotion is both virtual

and in-person - click for the details!

A Masterpiece That Inspired Gabriel García Márquez to Write His Own

Valeria Luiselli reviews the newly reissued

Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo

Read at the New York Times

The 10 Best Book Covers of November

By Emily Temple,

read at Lithub!

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