Dear Readers,

Sunday night brought the glitz and glam of the Emmys live to living rooms across the nation. It was a generally upbeat ceremony filled with emotional speeches and lots of (well-justified) love for Ted Lasso, among others. It also featured some writers whose books are on our shelves (the massively multi-talented Michaela Coel, for one).

In the literary world, awards season has also arrived. I always feel both validated and somewhat devastated by the choices, mourning for those omitted from the race while cheering the picks that receive well-deserved recognition. The award lists also serve to uncover some widely divergent opinions about the year's most celebrated works (see the sparring NY Times coverage of Bewilderment). Read on for some reflections on this year's picks in our Friday Five.

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Be well,

Friday Five
As noted above, awards season brings with it a mix of emotions that makes me question all sorts of things: Why haven't I read all these titles? Why haven't I even HEARD of some of these titles?? Should I play catch up so I can make my own pre-award predictions??? Should I simply leave it to the professionals???? Of course, the lists also offer up a road map to help navigate the stacks of books that threaten to take over every surface in my home. Today we'll have a look at four on my TBR list and one that I think you should probably go ahead and pre-order because once it wins the Kirkus (bold! I know!) it will fly off the shelf.

Kicking things off, The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois, currently nominated for the National Book Award, Fiction, and the Kirkus Prize. Let's get this out of the way: it is long. 816 pages long. I picked it up more than once when it arrived at the store and sheepishly, after feeling satisfied that I'd fulfilled my upper body strength workout for the day, placed it gently back on the shelf. But let me tell you something: I'm back into long these days, fantasizing it might serve as curative counter to all the social swiping. Besides — who can resist checking out a hefty tome by an author who the year before was longlisted for the National Book Award in Poetry?

The Ground Breaking: An American City and Its Search for Justice (National Book Award Nonfiction) is a historian's earnest quest to better understand the Tulsa Massacre; what kept it hidden from the history books for so long and what forces combined to bring it to the forefront of public consciousness. My interest in this historical horror was peaked by an episode of The Daily and the PBS documentary released by Emmy-winning director Jonathan Silvers on the 100 year anniversary of this tragic event. While reading this one, I urge you to pick up the Young People's Literature (National Book Award and Kirkus) nominee, Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre to read with the young ones in your life.

As I've openly disclosed in the past, I am a sucker for all things published by Europa so The Promise (Booker Prize Shortlist) is already in my house, natch. Nestled in among aspirational stacks of what I want to read, this novel takes place over four decades. The narrative follows a family saga surging around the bequeathment of belongings with the complex history of South Africa as the backdrop. I loved this interview with author Damon Galgut who notes with a dash of despair that "prize lists are problematic in all sorts of ways."

Next up, a book I admittedly had not heard of until it wound up on the National Book Award Nonfiction Longlist. Tastes Like War is a food memoir of sorts written by Professor Grace M. Cho, the product of a marriage between a white American merchant marine and a Korean bar hostess. Cho's mother experienced the onset of schizophrenia when Cho was a teen. In an effort to connect with her mother going forward, Cho delved into the culinary past learning to cook dishes from her parents' respective childhoods.

Full disclosure, I loved this last pick so much I'm planning to buy it and have on hand for sharing. It's a brilliant collection of short stories and the title track is a novella that will leave you breathless with a near future vision that terrifyingly doesn't feel so far fetched. My Monticello would make an excellent book club pick and has (as announced yesterday!) been optioned by Netflix.
New on the Shelf
Picture Book Spotlight
Amanda Gorman
Loren Long
From the youngest presidential inaugural poet in US history comes a gorgeously illustrated, melodious anthem that serves as a call to action to all, young and old. Everyone has something to give and anything is possible when everyone works together. An instant classic and treasure for all.
Padma Lakshmi
Juana Martinez-Neal
Top Chef host and talented culinary whiz in her own right, Padma Lakshmi brings to us the story of Neela and the many generations of women who came before. My daughters loved reading about the different dishes Neela makes with her Amma, and exclaimed with great joy over the tasty treats and warm connections between the characters. Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator Juana Martinez Neel brings this vibrant story to life.
A silly story about dragons and why they are, indeed, the worst (or are they??). This book is the perfect read-aloud when you need a little lift at the end of the day. By the author and illustrator of Unicorns Are the Worst, this will have you and your little ones giggling all the way through.
Traci N. Todd
Christian Robinson
Anything Christian Robinson touches is a success in my book; this particular volume is a big hit with the young singer in my house. Young Nina Simone uses her talent and voice to push for freedom for all no matter their skin color, economic status, or belief system. A beautiful book with a profoundly important message; great for enticing independent readers to snuggle up and learn about a transformational figure in history.
New on the Shelf: Fiction
New on the Shelf: Nonfiction + Memoir
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