Welcome back, y’all! We’re up to twenty of these already! Thanks for sticking around!

We have some non-fiction this time around. I feel like non-fiction is one of my weakest genres to recommend in, or maybe I just don’t get an opportunity to recommend them a lot of the time. There’s also some fantasy fiction recs mixed in.

Have you recommended any books lately? Or perhaps you picked up a book based on a recent rec? Let me know in the comments!

  • The Great Beanie Baby Bubble

    The Great Beanie Baby Bubble by Zac Bissonnette

    I’ve been on a documentary kick and this is tied into a recommendation I got to watch the Beanie Baby documentary on HBO called Beanie Mania. I grew up during the Beanie Baby crazy and had a few of my own. I even remember going with a friend and her mother to a Beanie Baby expo.

    In the annals of consumer crazes, nothing compares to Beanie Babies. With no advertising or big-box distribution, creator Ty Warner – an eccentric college dropout – become a billionaire in just three years. And it was all thanks to collectors. The end of the craze was just as swift and extremely devastating, with “rare” Beanie Babies deemed worthless as soon as they’d be considered priceless. Bissonnette draws on hundreds of interviews (including a visit to a man who lives with his 40,000 Ty products and an in-prison interview with a guy who killed a coworker over a Beanie Baby debt) for the first book on the most craze of the extraordinary 1990s.

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  • The Harp of Kings

    The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier

    I gave this rec to a personal friend of mind who really wants to dive into fantasy and sci-fi right now. She asked for some immersive world building to get lost in.

    A young woman is both a bard–and a warrior–in this thrilling historical fantasy from the author of the Sevenwaters novels.

    Eighteen-year-old Liobhan is a powerful singer and an expert whistle player. Her brother has a voice to melt the hardest heart, and a rare talent on the harp. But Liobhan’s burning ambition is to join the elite warrior band on Swan Island. She and her brother train there to compete for places, and find themselves joining a mission while still candidates. Their unusual blend of skills makes them ideal for this particular job, which requires going undercover as traveling minstrels. For Swan Island trains both warriors and spies.

    Their mission: to find and retrieve a precious harp, an ancient symbol of kingship, which has gone mysteriously missing. If the instrument is not played at the upcoming coronation, the candidate will not be accepted and the people could revolt. Faced with plotting courtiers and tight-lipped druids, an insightful storyteller, and a boorish Crown Prince, Liobhan soon realizes an Otherworld power may be meddling in the affairs of the kingdom. When ambition with conscience, Liobhan must make a bold decision and is faced with a heartbreaking choice. . .

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  • How to Be Eaten

    How to Be Eaten by Maria Adelmann

    I’m obsessed with this concept and I recently hosted a virtual event with Maria and fairy tale academic Kate Bernheimer. This re-imagines popular fairy tale characters as they meet in a trauma support group.

    A darkly funny and provocative debut novel that reimagines classic fairy tale characters as modern women in a PTSD support group

    In present-day New York City, Ruby (Little Red Riding Hood), Gretel, Bernice (Bluebeard’s widow), Marlena (the miller’s daughter from Rumplestiltskin), and Ashlee (the winner of a Love Island-esque dating show, a new kind of fairy tale heroine) all meet in a basement support group to process their traumas.

    Though they start out wary of one another, judging each other’s stories, gradually these women begin to realize that they may have more in common than they supposed…What brought them here? What will they reveal? And is it too late for them to rescue each other?

    Dark, edgy, and wickedly funny, this debut for readers of Carmen Maria Machado, Kristen Arnett, and Kelly Link takes our coziest, most beloved childhood stories, exposes them as anti-feminist nightmares, and transforms them into a new kind of myth for grown-up women.

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  • Otherlands

    Otherlands by Thomas Halliday

    I love non-fiction that is partitioned in a way. Like each chapter is a different subject, because it helps be digest these topics a little easier! Otherlands looks at extinct ecosystems and each chapter is a place.

    “A kaleidoscopic and evocative journey into deep time” (Andrea Wulf, author of The Invention of Nature), from the Ice Age to the first appearance of microbial life 550 million years ago, by a brilliant young paleobiologist

    “This is as close to time travel as you are likely to get.”—Bill McKibben, author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?

    The past is past, but it does leave clues, and Thomas Halliday has used cutting-edge science to decipher them more completely than ever before. In Otherlands, Halliday makes sixteen fossil sites burst to life on the page.

    This book is an exploration of the Earth as it used to exist, the changes that have occurred during its history, and the ways that life has found to adapt―or not. It takes us from the savannahs of Pliocene Kenya to watch a python chase a group of australopithecines into an acacia tree; to a cliff overlooking the salt pans of the empty basin of what will be the Mediterranean Sea just as water from the Miocene Atlantic Ocean spills in; into the tropical forests of Eocene Antarctica; and under the shallow pools of Ediacaran Australia, where we glimpse the first microbial life.

    Otherlands also offers us a vast perspective on the current state of the planet. The thought that something as vast as the Great Barrier Reef, for example, with all its vibrant diversity, might one day soon be gone sounds improbable. But the fossil record shows us that this sort of wholesale change is not only possible but has repeatedly happened throughout Earth history.

    Even as he operates on this broad canvas, Halliday brings us up close to the intricate relationships that defined these lost worlds. In novelistic prose that belies the breadth of his research, he illustrates how ecosystems are formed; how species die out and are replaced; and how species migrate, adapt, and cooperate. It is a breathtaking achievement: a surprisingly emotional narrative about the persistence of life, the fragility of seemingly permanent ecosystems, and the scope of deep time, all of which have something to tell us about our current crisis.

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