Carmen's Picks

Carmen moved to Asheville on a whim in 2013 and hasn’t looked back. She credits reading to shaping her character...whether that’s good or bad, nobody can decide. On her bookshelves you can find anything from contemporary fiction, feminist commentary, magical realism, to 19th century novels (she may or may not have a copy of Little Women that’s survived 18 years and 2 torrential downpours and no, she will not stop reading it). In another life she was probably a cat or Sylvia Plath.

When she’s not slinging books she can be found tending to her houseplants, planning potential vacations, searching for fun cocktails, or re-watching episodes of Law and Order SVU with her partner and their pets. She thinks that if the world had more bookstores it would solve most geopolitical problems, but she doesn’t know much about geopolitics, so don’t take her word for it.

Play It As It Lays: A Novel (FSG Classics) Cover Image
By Joan Didion, David Thomson (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780374529949
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - November 15th, 2005

Most people meet Joan Didion in an autobiographical or journalistic essay form. I fell in love with her because of this novel. This book challenged the way I saw the female character portrayed. "Unlikeable" women hold a precarious place in both literature and society, and Didion plays with nihilism, apathy, and moral grey areas throughout the book in a way that generally leaves people squirming. It's a scathing look at Hollywood in the 1960s, a theme she is no stranger to, but what resonated with me was Maria's unsettling awareness of the lunacy of the world surrounding her, as well as her attempts at finding agency in a world that didn't allow for female agency. This book may not be light or easy, but you'll devour Didion's terse language and acute cultural observations. You won't be able to shake this book once you're done.

Juliet the Maniac: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781612197593
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Melville House - May 7th, 2019

The Days of Abandonment Cover Image
By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781933372006
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Europa Editions - September 2005

What an astonishing book. A raw, feverish, electrifying account of the depths of the human psyche when we lose grasp of the stories we've built for ourselves. Ferrante pulls you beneath the surface of the water and doesn't let go. Is there such a thing as an exquisite drowning? I'm beginning to think so.

The Queen of the Tearling: A Novel (Queen of the Tearling, The) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062290380
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Paperbacks - April 14th, 2015

I fell into this series without even meaning to. It follows the life of Kelsea Glynn, a girl who has lived in exile her entire life while unknowingly being groomed to be the next queen. Seem like a familiar plot? Think again. This series has serious layers. A failed utopian society in a dystopian world, dark and corrupt magic, an impending massacre, and a surprisingly insightful look at power structures, gender roles, human nature, and government. I couldn't put this book down.

Her Body and Other Parties: Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555977887
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - October 3rd, 2017

I've only recently gotten into short stories, and oh boy, do I feel late to the party.  These stories practically bleed off the pages.  They're a little horrific (don't let that deter you if you aren't a fan - I'm not either ), a little science fiction, a little queer, and a thick thread of feminism tie it all together.  Each story keeps you guessing and wanting more.  I can't believe this is Machado's debut collection...  consider me a die-hard fan.  

Men Explain Things to Me Cover Image
ISBN: 9781608464661
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Haymarket Books - September 2015

Essential reading for all. The term "mansplaining" may have lost some of its punch, years after the essay credited with popularizing it was published, but the ideas presentedremain just as, if not more, relevant today.  

Solnit thoughtfully connects numerous cultural power structures and the everyday silencing of women to the epidemic of violence against half the world's population.  This book will enrage you, make you think, a nd in the end, give you hope that the fight for equaility hasn't seen its last d ay.  

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143125679
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - July 29th, 2014

Smart, fantastical, a little dark and twisty. I had such a blast with this book and am eagerly awaiting the sequel! 

Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781608469468
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Haymarket Books - September 4th, 2018

I'm absolutely smitten with Rebecca Solnit. Read this book. Read all of her books. Just do it.

The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385720250
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Anchor - October 17th, 2000

The Bell Jar Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060837020
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Perennial Modern Classics - August 2nd, 2005

The Great Believers: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735223530
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - June 4th, 2019

Garden Spells: A Novel (Waverly Family #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780553384833
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bantam Discovery - April 29th, 2008

Bad Feminist: Essays Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062282712
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - August 5th, 2014

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062420718
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - June 12th, 2018

Women Talking Cover Image
ISBN: 9781635572582
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - April 2nd, 2019

Eight women learn that they (and their children) have been repeatedly violated by the men in their remote Mennonite colony. The book follows their gathering to discuss whether or not they will fight, flee, or do nothing. What results is an astonishingly intelligent and witty discourse on violence, patriarchal structures, and civil responsibility. Toew's manages to give the women an agency that is raw and inspiring. Their relationship dynamics are relateable, at times hilarious, and their voices grow stronger over the course of the novel. In the wake of the #metoo movement, this book is current and essential, using an isolated real-life event to shed light on a world of women waking up and standing up.