We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Need some last minute holiday gift ideas? Local authors have you covered! You can’t go wrong with a good book, and D.C.-area writers have put out some stellar novels, poetry and essay collections, and nonfiction works this year! Here are 10 literary present ideas for everyone on your list.
One Night GoneIf you’re looking for a fast, well-paced read that keeps you on the edge of your seat, Tara Laskowski’s One Night Gone is a thriller that combines expert storytelling with a creepy, cold-case mystery. When 40-year-old Allison escapes to Opal Beach to contemplate her disintegrating life, she finds herself exploring the circumstances of a teen girl’s disappearance decades earlier. Laskowski’s debut novel is alarming and incredibly fun.
Mother May I?: A Post-Floydian FollyAn eagerly-awaited sequel to Sarah Boxer’s graphic novel In the Floyd Archives, Mother May I? is a hilarious and smart adult dive into psychotherapy via adorable animal main characters. Their psychoanalyst has abandoned them and they now must find a way to cope, but it’s hard. Where In the Floyd Archives showed Boxer lovingly spoofing Freud, now we see her satirically explore child psychoanalysts Melanie Klein and DW Winnicott. Boxer is a brilliant writer, known for her work in The Atlantic and The New York Times, and here, she charms us with witty, often cutting humor that is deeply thoughtful.
Coconut Curls y Café con LecheThis beautiful collection of love and light is Tatiana Figueroa Ramirez’s first full length book of poetry. It’s the perfect stocking stuffer, a window into her world, with intertwining Spanish and English that highlights the intersections of her life, relationships, family, and culture. Ramirez uses language so musically that it sometimes feels as if she’s singing to you. Her voice rings powerful, telling her truth, teaching you lessons, and celebrating her beloved Puerto Rico.
A Particular Kind of Black ManTope Folarin’s mesmerizing new novel reads, at times, like a memoir. We watch the main character, Tunde, explore his own identity—as a young man growing up as an outsider in Utah, the son of Nigerian parents—and then begin to question the very memories he thought made up that identity. It’s a complicated, but compelling journey through the eyes of a character striving to find a place to land. Folarin skillfully explores the nuances related to family relationships and expectations, and his words stay with us long after reading the last page.
Woman 99Greer Macallister’s Woman 99 is a fascinating, suspenseful story that explores society’s views on both women and mental illness, within the detailed backdrop of late 19th century society. When Charlotte fakes a mental breakdown in order to rescue her institutionalized sister, she discovers a world that is very different than she’s ever known. The story’s message rings true today, with a timelessness that adds to the tension as we read.
My Persian Paradox: Memories of an Iranian GirlIn My Persian Paradox, Shabnam Curtis shares the story of her youth and family in Iran amid the drastic changes that accompanied the Islamic Revolution in 1978 and ’79. This memoir is both anguished and hopeful, a refreshingly authentic and intimate retelling of events and experiences many of us have only heard about from a distance. Curtis draws readers in with her story, including humorous anecdotes and aching losses, speaking about what truly connects us as people.
The Kinship of SecretsThe Kinship of Secrets is award-winning author Eugenia Kim’s second novel, a story about love and the unknown, inspired by Kim’s own family’s experiences. Kim introduces us to a family separated during the Korean War, alternating the voices of two sisters that live very different lives—one in America with her parents and the other left behind in Korea with extended family. As the girls grow up in such contrasting worlds, each struggles to maintain connection and a sense of identity.
Famous in CedarvilleA small-town mystery with a great twist, Famous in Cedarville is Erica Wright’s newest whodunit. Wright’s fans will wonder how this compares to her Kat Stone mysteries, and they won’t be disappointed: Her pacing and suspense-building is top notch and her deep-dive into Hollywood’s underbelly is expertly-done. For those of us who’ve also read her poetry, it’s no surprise to find a lyrical quality here that we normally wouldn’t find in the genre.
The Enchanted HourMeghan Cox Gurdon is well-known for her children’s book reviews for the Wall Street Journal. In her first book, The Enchanted Hour, she makes the case for reading those books out loud to our kids. Gurdon examines the research on why reading is important and breaks it down into an enjoyable, highly-readable exploration of children’s literature. She offers tips, recommendations, and a passionate belief in the role that reading plays in developing both life skills and a deep attachment to others.
Us Against Alzheimer’s: Stories of Family, Love, and FaithThis breath-taking anthology of stories from writers who have personally been impacted by Alzheimer’s was edited by best-selling local author Marita Golden, and features many D.C.-area writers. The work represents families from all backgrounds, all over the world, and is heartbreaking and hopeful, angry and loving. Us Against Alzheimer’s includes both essays and fiction, from caregivers and those who have Alzheimer’s.
To Do This Week is your twice-weekly email roundup of arts and cultural events. It’s the perfect way to know what’s going on, and subscribing is a great way to support us.