We've all got that niche genre we can't get enough of, right? Well here go with staff's niche picks in a little series called Short Stacks!
Scroll below for Josh's list of cookbooks featuring pie, Emily's favorite campus fiction, Gracie's top myth retellings, Steph's selection of Queer Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and Becca's most beloved Soul Soothers. Want more recs from our staff? Check out our staff picks and current reads.
If you are just discovering the beauty that is Fredrik Backman's work because of his latest novel ANXIOUS PEOPLE, I highly encourage you to go back and read his debut novel, A MAN CALLED OVE. I read this book many years ago and I'm still trying to sell it to everyone looking for approachable yet delectable fiction. A story of friendship and community and finding reasons to give it another go when you've all but given up. - Becca
In a world full of manicured social media posts of seemingly perfect lives, I found WRITERS & LOVERS to be a welcomed reminder of the tragedy and torment mixed within the joy and wonder of finding one's self in the messy transition to 30-something adulthood. King's honest and tender depiction of what it is to fumble through life in the post-college, pre-"adulting" years is heartwrenching and heartwarming all in one quick and cathartic read. - Becca
No "review" would do this book justice. My advice? Open your mind and your heart to it, and let Adichie's Ifemelu do the rest. - Becca
Take one woman, slogging through a life that is perfectly "fine," add an IT guy, an elderly gentleman, a chance accident, and a cat of course, and suddenly you have an un-put-downable story of people's ability to find hope, friendship, and self-compassion in the fight for an existence that is more than just fine. - Becca
Told from the perspective of Lillian, the new nanny (with no prior experience) to two kids that spontaneously combust when agitated, "Nothing to See Here" is magic from the start. A somehow realistic and tender look at child-rearing, home-making, and acceptance, this story meant so much to me as a clueless and "I'm just going to wing it and hope for the best" mother of two young kids.
Just thinking about this book fosters a productive spark of anger that lights up my creativity. It contains elements of Heathers and The Craft which are then deeply cemented with found family and revenge. This queer coven of women see and accept one another in a way that everyone strives to be accepted: no hesitation, thorns and all. -Steph
Hop on the ferry and head to a small island in the cerulean sea where you'll find woods begging to be explored, an old building that might just be home, love that most certainly is, and a six-year-old boy who happens to be the antichrist--but we don't use that word in this family. Linus, our unlikely hero, believes strongly in following rules and regulations. This is especially true when it comes to his job as a caseworker for magical youth, until he is forced to question everything he knows when he arrives at Marsyas Island and meets six children who defy all expectations. This book is brimming with joy and tenderness as Linus learns to truly see and understand the people around him, and the love that blooms there is sure to warm you up from the inside out. Steph
This was the first book in a long while that I was thinking about constantly and couldn't wait to get back to reading. A fantasy adventure with pirates and mermaids and magic, wrapped around a multi-cultural LGBTQ+ love story, draped in themes of colonialism and classism, get ready to raise anchor and sail right in. - Steph
There is a lot of our own world to be found in Elatsoe's life, in-between teleporting with fairy circles and summoning the spirits of long dead animals and vampires, that is. Namely, when a Lipan Apache man is found dead in a mostly white and wealthy Texan town the police don't seem interested in investigating all the things that don't make sense. Ellie takes it upon herself to uncover what happened to her cousin and ensure his spirit finds rest, but this mystery leads far deeper than she could ever have expected. - Steph
Jam knows the monsters are gone, the angels of her parent's generation rooted them all out and changed the laws to prevent them from ever gaining power again. Happily ever after. Until a dark and twisted creature climbs out of her mother's painting and tells Jam that monsters still exist in Lucille and one of them is living in her best friend's home. It's easy to close your eyes and believe that once an evil is stopped the fight is over, if you can't see it is it even really happening? In this slim novel, Akwaeke Emezi's poetic prose peels away the veneer and dives straight to the heart, exposing what is hidden in every corner. - Steph
this was a touch pick, since I also adore Circe, but Song of Achilles is overwhelmingly brilliant. A love story, a war story, a story told from a new perspective - Patroclus's point of view is one that I have always wanted to hear and Madeline Miller doesn't just deliver it, she reinvents the myth around it. - Gracie
The retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice but set against a conversion therapy story in a present-day conservative Texas town. Such a riveting and devastating story that brings this myth into a whole new perspective. - Gracie
In a list of retold Greek myths you can't include this hysterical and brilliant middle grade series. While not a retelling of a particular myth, Rick Riordan breathes new life into the entire canon. This is one of my all-time favorite series. The bonus? He has even more series as well as an entire imprint dedicated to the reinvention of mythology systems so you will never get bored! - Gracie
A tri-narrative that deals with the strife at home following the Trojan War. I knew about Iphigenia's death preceding the Trojan War, but the fallout and effect it holds over the entire family is delved into with such drama and authenticity in this fantastic novel. - Gracie
While not technically a strict retelling, the twelve labors of Hercules are alluded to in the story of a wayward father and his curious daughter. This is a book that has genius craftsmanship behind it as well as being a thriller of a read. - Gracie
Rocked by the death of her older brother, Cady accepts her admission to Harvard University to try to determine what led to her brother's (a brilliant physics undergrad) apparent suicide. -Emily
This novel got tons of critical acclaim early this year, but I fear many missed it due to the pandemic. Hands down, it's one of the best books I read this year. Wallace, a young gay, black man from the south moves to the midwest for graduate school, a lifelong dream fulfilled. Except, when he gets there, nothing is how he hoped it would be. While yes, this is fiction, it gives a very in-depth look at microaggressions and systemic racism in graduate programs (and undergraduate programs and well, everywhere). It's heartbreaking and necessarily uncomfortable reading. -Emily
This book is a delicious modern day Gothic mystery about an elite college whose students may or may not be willingly participating in a mind-control experiment. Fascinating characters and if you like that feeling of eeriness and existential dread in your mysteries (it's fine in fiction, not so much during election season), give this book a try! - Emily
Structurally, one of the most interesting books of the aughts. Each chapter, named after a famous work of literature, mirrors the themes and/or plots of said work. A fun, psychological murder mystery set on a prep school campus. -Emily