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Staff Picks: Books

Did you hear about the man who fell through his harp?

I don’t know what I could tell you about the plot of Contrary Motion that might make you want to read it. Newly divorced, neurotic, almost good enough to be a big city orchestra concert harpist Matthew Grzbc (No, I did not forget a vowel.) is the star of this one. Do I have you yet? 

Contrary motion refers to a technique in harp playing where the hands move in opposite directions on the scale.  That isn't working either?

Well, I picked it up because the author, Andy Mozina, is a professor of English at Kalamazoo College and I thought I would see what one of our neighbors is writing. Before I could even get to it, my wife grabbed it and read it in a couple of days. She loved it. I did too. Great writing can you draw you into any kind of story. Give Mozina’s funny, quirky, and poignant novel a try.

Furiously Happy!

Furiously Happy is the second book by Jenny Lawson, who is known on The Internet as The Bloggess. If you haven’t read any of her work, I suggest starting with her blog about Why you should learn to pick your battles. (Warning: Article contains swear words. So do the books. Lots of swear words.)

The tagline for Furiously Happy is “A funny book about horrible things”, and that’s exactly what it is. Lawson gives us an honest inside look at what living with a severe depression and anxiety feels like. She puts on display all the ugly and sad feelings, but also shows us how to live life fully. As always, the best part of her writing is the stories about her bizarre daily adventures, and antidotes about her dysfunctional-yet-loving relationship with her husband Victor.

I recommend this book to people who suffer from anxiety themselves, and anyone who wants to understand those who do.

Kalamazoo Community Mental Health wants to reduce the stigma of mental health. Learn more here.

The Red Parts

On the eve of publishing a book of poems about a murdered aunt, whose 1969 death was thought to have been part of a killing spree of a serial killer who targeted college age women near the Eastern Michigan and University of Michigan campuses, author Maggie Nelson unexpectedly received a phone call from a police detective in Ann Arbor, Michigan, who tells her that he believes he's cracked the case and is about to arrest a new suspect. This is where The Red Parts, Nelson's brilliant true crime memoir begins. 

Local readers may recall the case given the suspect was employed at Borgess Hospital and lived in nearby Gobles. More than simply a straightforward account of the criminal trial, Nelson critically probes her own complicated family history in addition to trying to make sense of our culture of violence and sexism. Available to stream using your Hoopla account and in book form, The Red Parts is a fascinating page turner from a writer with a fresh, bold voice.