Bess's Picks

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Outlawed Cover Image
ISBN: 9781635575422
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Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - January 5th, 2021

In North's alternate history of late 19th-century America - where an undefined plague has decimated the population, destroyed the young US, and enabled a variety of extreme gender expectations - woman's purpose is entirely bound up in bearing healthy children, and those who are barren are shunned or even hanged as witches. Resisting these constrictions, a group of outlaws (inspired somewhat by the Sundance Kid and crew) provide a different possible life. They are outcasts who don't conform to society's roles. Outlawed shows us the trauma of enforcing gendered roles, and the freedom provided by open sexual and gendered expression.

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Indian-ish: Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family Cover Image
By Priya Krishna, Mackenzie Kelley (By (photographer))
ISBN: 9781328482471
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Published: Mariner Books - April 23rd, 2019

Kirshna worked with her mother, Rita, to record favorite family recipes -- delicious and accessible mashups of traditional Indian flavors and techniques and more typical American influences. Two of my favorites are dahi toast dipped in ketchup and nachos with chaat spices and chutneys. The uncomplicated recipes celebrate flexibility and improvisation over stricltly traditional fare.

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Beowulf: A New Translation Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374110031
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Published: MCD x FSG Originals - August 25th, 2020

Headley infuses a tradition of staid translations with a vibrant performative quality and feminist, humanizing empathy. Her language embraces Old English words along with social media jargon ("hashtag: blessed") creating a lively, entertaining, and energetic text. She allows Grendell's mother complexity, inviting the reader to empathize withher, a woman who is all too often and easily reduced to a one-dimenstional monster.