On this episode of The Desk Set, we're celebrating the New Year! Read more in 2019 with tips from librarians, get a sneak peek at the most anticipated books that will be released in the new year, discover books to help you meet your new year resolutions, and hear our announcement of new reading challenge categories to inspire you to read more broadly.
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A transcript of this episode is available at the end of our show notes.
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The Desk Set is brought to you by the King County Library System. Most of the audio heard on the podcast was recorded at the Makerspace at the Bellevue Library. The show is hosted by librarians Britta Barrett and Emily Calkins, and produced by Britta Barrett. Our theme song is "I Know What I Want" by Math and Physics Club. Other music provided by Chad Crouch, from the Free Music Archive.
Emily Calkins: I'm Emily Calkins.
Britta Barrett: And I'm Britta Barrett.
Emily Calkins: And you're listening to the Desk Set.
Britta Barrett: A bookish podcast for reading broadly.
Emily Calkins: On this episode, we're talking about 2019. We'll talk about reading goals and New Year's resolutions, and how the library can support them.
Britta Barrett: Then we'll discuss some of the most anticipated books coming out in the new year.
Emily Calkins: We'll wrap up by announcing the categories for Ten to Try 2019.
Emily Calkins: Alright, so I thought we could start by talking about how to make reading part of your New Year. I know a lot of people have a resolution of reading more or reading different kinds of things, or some other kind of reading-related resolution. So let's talk about how you incorporate reading in your life.
Britta Barrett: For me it's been super helpful to listen to audiobooks. I feel like I've just heard so many more books this year, than when I was trying to read physical ones, and part of that is just the convenience of being a captive audience. In the car, at the gym, when I'm doing chores; to be able to integrate reading into a multitasking experience has really transformed the way I read.
Emily Calkins: Yeah, me too. I think the other element of that is that I am guilty, like everyone, basically, of always having my phone with me, and so I almost always have an audiobook with me as well, and I've tried reading on my phone, and that doesn't have the same level of interest for me for whatever reason. But I think you're right, adding audiobooks in is always my number one recommendation when people say, "How do you read so much?" Its like, "Well, I listen mostly. I'm cheating."
Britta Barrett: Totally not cheating.
Emily Calkins: No it's not. I firmly believe that audio books are reading, but I think people don't always think about it that way.
Britta Barrett: And then another thing that's super convenient about them is that you can put something on hold, and it will just automatically download to your phone. It's like a fun surprise to open it up and be like, "Oh, what do I have to read this week?"
Emily Calkins: Absolutely. And in Overdrive and Libby, you can search by things that are currently available, too. So if you get to the end of your audiobook before you thought you were going to, it's easy to find something that you can start right away while you're waiting for your next hold to come in.
Emily Calkins: So, Overdrive is our ebook and downloadable audiobook platform, and that's how we purchased and make available all of our digital eBooks, and our downloadable audiobooks. Libby is the app that you use to read eBooks or listen to audiobooks on your device, so on your phone, your tablet, whatever. Libby is a pretty new app from Overdrive, and it's really easy to use. I love it.
Britta Barrett: And it's got some cool features, right? Like about setting a timer. So if you want to listen while you're falling asleep.
Emily Calkins: Yeah, there's a sleep timer. On audio books, you can speed them up. So I personally can't do this, but I know lots of people who love to listen at like one and a half speed. So you can get even more reading in when you're driving or working out, or whatever it is you're doing. Like I said, there's lots of search filters, so you can search by things that are available. You can search by narrator in addition to search by author. I think most devoted audiobooks listeners have favorite narrators. I know I do.
Emily Calkins: Another thing that I do when I get into a reading slump, where I'm trying to meet a reading goal is read graphic novels.
Britta Barrett: Me, too! It also feels like cheating.
Emily Calkins: Yeah, because there's so much faster. You're observing information in multiple ways and they tend to just be shorter. I mean a trade of ongoing series is much shorter than a 300 or 400-page novel.
Britta Barrett: To be fair, there are some graphic novels like Chris Ware. I could look at one of his oversized pages for an hour just taking in all of the details, but for sure when you're reading a graphic novel time flies. It's kind of like watching TV.
Emily Calkins: So I mentioned that I sometimes use them to sort of bump up my count for the year. Do you set a goal? Like, "I'm going to read 100 books this year."
Britta Barrett: Last year my goal was 50, and I just put in all of my numbers, and so far I'm up to 75.
Emily Calkins: You're doing it!
Britta Barrett: So I just set the bar higher.
Emily Calkins: Yes. So I also set a goal. Mine was 150 this year.
Britta Barrett: How'd you do?
Emily Calkins: I'm not gonna make it, and I should say that includes picture books that I read with my daughter. So, the first time, picture books get a lot of repeat readings at my house, but the first time that we read it, if it's new to me and to her, I add it, and I'm still not going to make 150, but I think I'm going to be close. I'm over 100 already, so we'll see. And I always sort of have mixed feelings about a number as a goal, because it does lend itself to certain kinds of reading more, right? Like you end up reading more graphic novels because you think, "Oh this is really short," or like more novellas and sort of staying away from things.
Britta Barrett: There are a couple of cookbooks on my list.
Emily Calkins: Exactly. You end up sort of staying away from those things. Like, for example, Jill Lapoure's These Truths, which is on our best books list, and something that I think is probably very worthwhile. It's also like 1000 pages, and that's just a lot. It's a lot to commit to for a single book, especially if you set this number goal for yourself. So I have mixed feelings about it.
Britta Barrett: I have not read any epic fantasy this year.
Emily Calkins: Right, exactly. Exactly. No, like 600-page dialect-filled literary fiction, although a couple of 20 hour audiobooks. So, there are ways to get that stuff in as well.
Britta Barrett: That's what I love about Ten to Try, is I feel like 10 is a number that almost anyone who wants to can achieve in a year.
Emily Calkins: Yes. The number is very achievable. And the categories, when I'm designing them, I'm always thinking of things that I think are broad enough that there's a bit of room for interpretation. So, for example, on this year's list, read a book in translation. Well I think a lot of times when people think about translated works, they sort of think about literary fiction, and certainly when we talked to Megan, her translations are mostly literary fiction, but there's actually a lot of other stuff that's translated.
Emily Calkins: So, Norwegian crime fiction, most of that is translated, or Scandinavian crime fiction is mostly translated. It's not originally written in English, it's translated from Swedish or Norwegian or whatever. There's lots of mysteries from all over the world that are in translation. So, I'm always looking for categories that will both challenge people and give them a bit of wiggle room to find something sort of on the edge of their comfort zone.
Emily Calkins: And that's definitely been true for me participating in Ten to Try. We've talked a lot about biography and memoir this year, and how that's not, I don't think of that as being my jam. And yet because of the challenge, I ended up reading a bunch of biography and memoir this year.
Britta Barrett: What about for a person who finds reading kind of isolating?
Emily Calkins: So, obviously, book groups are a great way to connect with other readers. There's lots of different ways that book groups can work. Obviously, we have book groups in many of our libraries who meet in person about once a month. Everybody reads the same book. They come together and talk about it.
Britta Barrett: Can you tell us a little bit about the Shoreline Social Justice Book Group?
Emily Calkins: Sure. So in addition to just the standard book groups that we have in many of our libraries, we have some sort of special book groups as well, including one in Shoreline that's a social justice-themed book group. So it's a partnership with the Shoreline City Government and the titles are all books that address issues around social justice.
Emily Calkins: So, they use it as an opportunity to look at these sort of serious issues and also to engage in some discussion around their community, and how those issues play out locally as well as whatever is reflected in the title.
Britta Barrett: So it doesn't just have to be like a cheese plate and wine.
Emily Calkins: No, although I feel like we can never have too many cheese plates in our lives, but yes, there are a lot of different variations. We also have some book groups that readers get together and just talk about whatever they've been reading, instead of everybody reading the same title. We have a book group at our administrative building that means to talk about Ten to Try once a month, but we just started talking about whatever we've been reading in whatever category. So it's a great opportunity to connect with other readers, to talk about what you've been reading, and not have that sort of homeworky feeling that sometimes comes with a book group.
Britta Barrett: Totally, and not everyone necessarily has time to read the same book at the same moment. What I love to stay connected to my far away friends is I'll read a book I love and passionately describe it to my bestie, send them a copy or encourage them to pick one up, and then we'll talk about it when they're done with it. But sometimes that happens over the course of months.
Emily Calkins: Yeah, absolutely. I think books are, I mean obviously, or I wouldn't be in my job. I think books are a great vehicle for connection, and we always spend time in my family around the holidays talking about what have we been and gifting books to each other.
Britta Barrett: Everyone gets a book from me.
Emily Calkins: Oh yeah, I am 100% the auntie that gives books. I like to think people get excited to see what book they're going to get from me, but I'm not making any promises or saying anything on their behalf.
Britta Barrett: There's an Icelandic tradition that I think is called Yola Book Flood. Have you heard of this?
Emily Calkins: I have heard of it.
Britta Barrett: What is that?
Emily Calkins: Okay. So as far as I understand it, and correct me if I'm wrong, I believe you are more versed in this than I am. It's like a Christmas Eve and everybody exchanges gifts of books, and then you just go home and like read all night your brand new books.
Britta Barrett: Cozy up with some cocoa, get under the blanket. It just sounds so perfect.
Emily Calkins: Perfect, yes.
Britta Barrett: We have a tradition in my family, opening one present on Christmas Eve, and often I would look for the book shaped one, so that I had a fun activity to do, and it was so cool to learn like, "Oh, other people do this."
Emily Calkins: So, the whole country of Iceland.
Britta Barrett: And it can be a part of your holiday traditions, too, if you'd like to integrate that.
Emily Calkins: Yeah, I mean more books always is basically my life slogan. Okay. So if you're doing a reading challenge, whether it's a thematic challenge, like Ten to Try, or just a number of books that you're trying to read, it is helpful to keep track of your reading.
Britta Barrett: And I often use Good Reads. I think that's one a lot of people are familiar with and part of it is the social aspect. It's really fun to be able to see what your friends are reading, to share lists, to see what they put on there to read list and add it to yours. But that's not the only way to keep track.
Emily Calkins: No. You can use the library's catalog. So, if you have a KCLS library card, and you have created a Biblio Commons account, we actually have shelves in there that work in a pretty similar way, so you can keep track of things that you've completed. You have an in progress shelf, so you can show what you're reading right now and people can connect with you around that, and then they have a to read. What is it called?
Britta Barrett: Like for later?
Emily Calkins: Yeah, for later shelf.
Britta Barrett: There are hundreds.
Emily Calkins: So that, when you see something that looks awesome, you can put it on your for later shelf, especially if it has lots of holds, and this is a feature I love. If there's something that has tons of holds on it, you can put it on your for later shelf, and eventually the holds will go away. Like everyone will have checked it out and read it, and you'll get a little pop up in your catalog account that tells you like, "Oh, this book from your For Later shelf is available now." So it helps alleviate some of that waiting, and you can go and get stuff when you're ready for it instead of going on the holds list.
Emily Calkins: And then, inevitably, what happens to me, no matter how well I think I've managed my holds, is I get 20 holds in at once.
Britta Barrett: Always.
Emily Calkins: I don't know what the solution is, but maybe I should be using my For Later shelf more, because I think that would help.
Britta Barrett: So if you want to go old school, offline, is there another way to track your reading?
Emily Calkins: Sure. So if you're participating in Ten to Try, we have a challenge bookmark, which is really awesome. I just stick mine up on my bulletin board at work. It's got a box for every category. You can write down what you've read in that category. I have seen coworkers who have little stickies for the things they're planning to read, and then they can move them around. There's some shuffling, sometimes something you thought you were going to read for one category ends up being for another.
Emily Calkins: I know people who've kept like Excel spreadsheets for years, or even handwritten journals. I think that is wonderful and also I definitely would've lost one by now.
Britta Barrett: And then another thing we do in the online library services department is keep the Instagram account for the library updated, so we love to share the books that we're reading through that medium. Please tag us with #KCLS if you've checked out one of our books. We'd love to see what you're reading, too.
Emily Calkins: Absolutely. It's fun to be able to reblog those things, too. I love watching the Instagram account, and seeing stuff that our readers have shared with us.
Emily Calkins: Okay. So many of us will make reading related resolutions for New Years, but not everyone. There are other things that people resolve to do, too. Do you want to talk about some of the ways that the library can support non-reading related resolutions?
Britta Barrett: Other things besides reading? Are you sure?
Emily Calkins: It's hard to believe, but it is true.
Britta Barrett: Yeah. I mean for a lot of people, one of the most classic resolutions is to work on your fitness in some capacity. And so we've got this great streaming service called Hoopla that's got just about everything you could need to make your own personal home gym from Yoga to meditation, Zoomba, just something for everybody.
Emily Calkins: Yeah, all kinds of fun workout videos.
Britta Barrett: And lots of different ability levels. So whether you're super advanced and can twist yourself into a pretzel pose, or you want to use a chair for assistance, you can definitely find what you're looking for in Hooplah.
Emily Calkins: Another common resolution is travel, so we have travel guides that you can check out from Overdrive. So again, if you're traveling and you just download a travel guide onto your phone or onto an eReader, it's so much easier to use that than it is to be carrying around a big stack of travel books.
Emily Calkins: And we also have Mango, which is our foreign language learning service, which is really awesome. It also has an app so you can be practicing as you're preparing to go on a trip. There's a car mode, so you can be practicing as you're driving. And it has tons of languages. I think there are like 70+, the last time that I checked, which is really amazing. I don't even think that I could name 70 languages if pressed. So it's a great resource.
Britta Barrett: Absolutely. And then if you want to spend less time on your devices, there's a book that's been really popular this past year called How to Break Up with Your Phone, which suggests innovative ways to spend less screen time.
Emily Calkins: Always useful unless you're reading on your screen, in which case.
Britta Barrett: You don't have to look directly at it.
Emily Calkins: Another thing that I think is common as a New Year's resolution is getting organized. So, we have books related to all subjects, including this one. A couple of big ones that have been big titles that have been really popular, and I think been popular because they're actually useful, are the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, of course, and The Art of Swedish Death Cleaning.
Britta Barrett: Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Emily Calkins: Sure. So, as I understand it, Swedish death cleaning is a practice of people who are in the later stages of their life doing some clean up in preparation for passing on, so that they're not leaving their families with all the stuff that accumulates over a lifetime. So, that's sort of the origin of it, but I think that idea about looking at your possessions and thinking about what's meaningful and what's useful is something that can apply to people in any stage of life.
Britta Barrett: Absolutely, and another goal a lot of people have is cleaning up their finances, whether your goals are to save more for a big trip or maybe you're planning to buy some real estate, or just want to get your credit score up. There are a few books that can really help with that. One that I love is All Your Worth by Elizabeth Warren, and then Refinery29 has a book about their money diaries. Have you ever read those?
Emily Calkins: They are wild.
Britta Barrett: Fascinating to see what other people are spending their money on, and I think for so long, especially for women, a lot of the reasons why we might experience gaps in and pay rates and things like that is because we don't talk about this subject. So being able to see a very transparent money diary is really interesting.
Emily Calkins: Those are fascinating. And that book, is it out now?
Britta Barrett: It is.
Emily Calkins: Oh, I knew it was coming. I wasn't sure if it was out yet. And then, finally, one that comes up a lot is eating well, of course, so that ties back into the fitness one, but we have a huge range of cookbooks, both available, both on Overdrive, so you can check them out on your tablet and put your tablet up in your kitchen and do some cooking that way, or you can check out, of course, the print copies.
Emily Calkins: Overdrive also has tons of other books about getting organized in the kitchen, or variations on cooking. So, not just healthy eating, but maybe meal prepping so that you're ready for a whole week.
Britta Barrett: I've noticed over and over again, some of the top checkouts in Overdrive are about using your instant pot to make meals, to do meal prep. People are interested in sheet pan suppers, just anything that makes it easier.
Emily Calkins: Yeah, absolutely. And we have tons of resources about all those topics. So do you have a New Year's Resolution or a personal goal for 2019?
Britta Barrett: So this might sound weird, but a tradition in my family and among friends is to make counterintuitive New Year's Resolutions that sound kind of bad. So, one that I'm interested in is giving up on dieting culture.
Emily Calkins: Okay.
Britta Barrett: So there's a large body of research that suggests that for many people, cycling through dieting over the course of a lifetime, one, doesn't necessarily work, and two, might actually be more harmful for you than just focusing on, let's say health at every size. And so there are a couple of books that I am going to be reading that inspire that. It's kind of hard to give up on this promise of changing your body, changing your life. But I really love fat activists Vardi Tovar.
Britta Barrett: She's someone who coined a Hashtag called Lose Hate Not Weight, and she has a book called You Have the Right to Remain Fat, which is a rather provocative statement for most people.
Emily Calkins: Yeah, absolutely. I think, in contemporary culture we have all of this idea about weight loss or often now you sort of see it couched in like getting healthy.
Britta Barrett: Wellness.
Emily Calkins: Yeah, exactly. But the end goal, whether it's explicit or not, is still sort of getting down to a size that's acceptable, with massive air.
Britta Barrett: You can't see, but they're very big air quotes around that. And so I'm also really inspired by Samantha Irby's New Year, Same Trash, which is a vintage short of hers, where she talks about all of the resolution she had for herself, and the ones that she did or did not achieve.
Emily Calkins: Oh, that sounds delightful.
Britta Barrett: It's hilarious. It's such a good reminder of being kind to yourself and setting reasonable goals.
Emily Calkins: Yeah. I like it.
Britta Barrett: What about you?
Emily Calkins: So my personal golfer in 2019 is to do more travel and exploration, and I'm especially thinking about exploring locally. I'm really bad about this. I have weekends, I don't know where the time goes.
Britta Barrett: You also have a child.
Emily Calkins: Yeah. But I've lived in West Seattle for five years and I've only been to Vash Hunt twice and both times were for work, so it was just like going to the library, which is a beautiful library.
Britta Barrett: So pretty. Get on that ferry.
Emily Calkins: But just go to the library, turn around, get back on the ferry.
Britta Barrett: Same.
Emily Calkins: So my goal is to spend a little more time getting to explore, doing some big trips, but also exploring the wonderful Pacific Northwest. So, a couple of goal books that I have picked out to help me with that. The newest one is called Seattleness. This is a book from Sasquatch and it is such a fun book. It's just full of images and infographics, all about different elements of Seattle.
Emily Calkins: So there are things like a map of all of the coffee shops in Seattle, or infographics about all of the different natural water features, or different animals that live in this greater Seattle area. So, it's beautiful, and it's a fun thing just to have and flipped through. But I'm also hoping that it will inspire some exploration.
Emily Calkins: I also want to get ahold of Swimming Holes of Washington, which came out from Mountain Years. They do lots of really wonderful outdoors eBooks, and they have things like hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and sort of much more intense. But like you mentioned, I have a little one and my style is a little more laid back than hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, so I feel like Swimming Holes of Washington will be right up my alley.
Britta Barrett: I want to borrow that one when you're done.
Emily Calkins: Absolutely. I believe the library owns it.
Emily Calkins: So my last pick for this goal is A Year Right Here by Seattle author, Jess Thompson. So she is a food writer. The subtitle of this book is Adventures in Food and Family, and she spent a year exploring locally, and she writes not only about all of these wonderful sort of food-based adventure she had, which again, is right up my alley, but she also writes about traveling and exploring with her son who has cerebral palsy. So there's an element to that family exploration that's really interesting to me, but I'm just looking forward to all of her recommendations. You know, they do things like going to dig razor clams, and just some more inspiration to get out and see the beautiful world that's close, as well as the beautiful world that's far away.
Britta Barrett: Awesome.
Emily Calkins: Yeah.
Britta Barrett: And what about for people who feel like they've read every good book that exists, looking forward to the future, what are some of the most anticipated books of 2019?
Emily Calkins: Oh my gosh. First of all, I'm very jealous of that person.
Britta Barrett: Maybe they don't exist.
Emily Calkins: I'm very jealous of them.
Britta Barrett: But I think all of us reach a point where we're like, "I just need a new book."
Emily Calkins: Yes. And there's so many good things already on the docket for next year, and of course, lots of things that we want to hear about until they come out, but some that are coming up in the spring to look forward to. For fans of The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas has a new book coming out called The Come Up in February, which should be great.
Emily Calkins: One of my favorite books of last year, The Kiss Quotient, author Helen Hang, has a new one coming out in May called The Bride Test. I've been looking forward to that one.
Britta Barrett: On that same genre, the person who wrote The Wedding Date also has a book that's already out called The Proposal, but then there's another one we're getting called The Wedding Party. They just really want to spend more time in that universe and with those characters.
Emily Calkins: Yes. Speaking of universes and characters, I want to go back to Rebecca Roan Horse, who was on the podcast earlier in the year, has a sequel coming out to her first book, Trail of Lightning. It's called Storm of Locusts, and if you remember, when she was on the podcast, I think she described it as a girl gang adventure on post-apocalyptic Route 66, so super pumped about that one.
Britta Barrett: Cannot wait.
Emily Calkins: I know, I know. It's going to be great.
Britta Barrett: I really loved Arrival, and Ted Chang is a local author of speculative fiction. He's got a new one called Exhalation. That you need to read.
Emily Calkins: Yeah, those are beautiful stories. Any other sort of personal?
Britta Barrett: Yes, absolutely. It's so long.
Emily Calkins: Personal pick?
Britta Barrett: Did you read the essay "Cat Person" that took the Internet by storm?
Emily Calkins: I did.
Britta Barrett: So the person who wrote that, Christian Repenniann, has a short story collection that I can't wait to get my hands on, and I'm pretty sure it comes out in January, so it's like New Year, new book. And then local fave, Lindy West, has a book called The Witches are Coming, which is also based on an essay she wrote for the New York Times, which sort of looks at the way that, in our current political climate, it's really funny to see men describing what's happening to them as a witch hunt. And she sort of takes issue with that and examines, I believe the end of her essay said, "Yes, I am a witch and I'm hunting you."
Emily Calkins: That sounds right up your alley.
Britta Barrett: It really is. That same alley is also populated by Jessica Valenti, who edited this collection, called The Future is Feminist, and it feature some of my favorite writers. So in there we've got essays by Roxanne Gay, [inaudible 00:24:26] Mindy Kayling, and so many more.
Emily Calkins: Wonderful.
Britta Barrett: Another thing I'm looking forward to is a new graphic novel by Marie Kotomaki, who's one of my favorites. It's called Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, and then one of our local council members, Shama Sawant, has a book called American Socialist.
Emily Calkins: Oh, interesting.
Britta Barrett: Yeah. I can't wait to read more about her story. I can go on and on and on. But what about you?
Emily Calkins: Okay. So I picked five, all coming out in the first half of the year. My first one is Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James. So, he is the author of A Brief History of Seven Killings, which is set in Jamaica in the 70s and 80s. It's sort of about drug trade and Bob Marley and all kinds of things. It is one of the most astonishing books that I've ever read. It's told in something like 50 different narrators, and each narrator has a super distinct voice. So he's a great writer, and he's doing something totally different.
Emily Calkins: Black Leopard Red Wolf is a fantasy and it's the beginning of an epic fantasy series a la Game of Thrones, except that it's African inspired. So I'm really looking forward to seeing what he's going to do with his incredible writing powers and new world to explore.
Emily Calkins: I'm also really interested in The Cassandra by Sharma shields. She's a Spokane author, so Washington state, and this is a story set at Hanford Nuclear Facility in the 40s, about a young woman who has apocalyptic visions. Sharma's first novel, Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac, came out a few years ago and was the Washington State Book Award winner. And I love the way that she writes about the other side of the state. That's where I grew up, and I love to see that part of the state written about as often as this side of the state, which is all rain and clouds and moody trees, and it's very different over there. So I'm really looking forward.
Britta Barrett: Less vampires.
Emily Calkins: Yeah. Fewer Vampires on the other side of the state. I'm really looking forward to that. The Cassandra by Sharma Shields. There's a graphic memoir coming out called Kid Gloves by Lucy Nisley. Are you familiar with her?
Britta Barrett: I think we're both really smitten with her work.
Emily Calkins: She's great.
Britta Barrett: She wrote Relish, French Milk, about traveling to Paris and spending some time with her mom and just eating lots of delicious food.
Emily Calkins: She is so funny and her art is really charming and relatable. And so Kid Gloves is her memoir about getting pregnant. She had a hard time getting pregnant, and then being pregnant, and then she had a really traumatic, complicated birth and I follow her on Instagram, and she draws these hilarious comics about parenthood. So I'm really looking forward to reading that one. Comes out in February.
Emily Calkins: And then two that just feel like really in my wheelhouse. The first is American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson. This is a cold war spy thriller set in the 80s. It's about a young black woman who works for the CIA, and she's kind of been passed over for a lot of promotions, and she feels like her career may be dead-ending. So when she gets approach to be on this task force, to sort of undermine the charismatic young communist leader of Burkina Faso, she takes the job, even though she has some qualms about it, because in some ways, she really admires what this man is doing, and her role is a honeypot essentially. So, she's supposed to seduce him.
Emily Calkins: So it's partially a love story, and partially a family story, and partially a spy thriller. It's based on real events. This man that she's tasked with seducing is a real person who I don't know anything about. I don't know anything about Burkina Faso or West Africa in general. So, I'm really looking forward to getting a little history what I hope will be like a really fascinating character study.
Britta Barrett: Intriguing.
Emily Calkins: Yeah. Right? That one is high on my list. And then my last pick is Women Talking by Miriam Toews. This one comes in April. It's also based on real events. So, it's based on something that happened in a Mennonite colony in Bolivia, in the early 2000s, where more than 100 women in the colony were drugged and raped at night over the course of months, and they would wake up in the morning, and try and report this, and the men in the community kept telling them, "It's your imagination," or, "It's ghosts," or, "It's demons who are punishing you for your sins." And eventually it turned out that, in fact, that was not the case. There was a group of men in the colony who were committing this horrible crime.
Emily Calkins: So this book follows eight of these women, imagined, but that story is all true. Follows eight women sort of discussing their options after this has all come to light. They have almost no experience in the outside world. Bolivia is a country that they don't know anything about. They don't speak the language, but they also don't know if they can stay in a community that didn't value or believe their story. So I'm really, really interested to read that one as well.
Britta Barrett: Wow.
Emily Calkins: Yeah. So lots of great stuff. Those are just a few books. There's so many books and they're also great. That could be our other tagline for them. Books are so great guys. So I think we're almost done.
Britta Barrett: Yeah. In 2019, we also have new reading challenge categories to look forward to.
Emily Calkins: We do, and I think some of the books that we've talked about will fit into these categories, so I guess I'm just gonna, do you want to just alternate? I'll read one. You read one. Alright. Here we are, announcing the 2019 Ten to Try challenge categories. Read a book about history.
Britta Barrett: Read a children's book, maybe revisit a classic from childhood that you loved.
Emily Calkins: Read a book about a subject that can be difficult to discuss.
Britta Barrett: Read a book of poetry.
Emily Calkins: Read a book by a journalist.
Britta Barrett: Or a book recommended by Casey Lestaff.
Emily Calkins: Read a book by an LGBTQIA author.
Britta Barrett: Or a book about crime.
Emily Calkins: Read a book about family.
Britta Barrett: And a book by an immigrant author.
Emily Calkins: So those are our challenges for next year. We will be talking about them in future episodes, interviewing authors, coming up with some suggestions. So follow along with us, and if you like the show, don't forget to leave us a rating or review.
Britta Barrett: Yeah, and I think our next episode we're going to dive into crime.
Emily Calkins: We are.
Britta Barrett: Until next time.
Emily Calkins: Happy reading!
Britta Barrett: Happy reading!