Treat Yo’ Shelf: Books We’re Reading This March
If you’re anything like us, then your BTR (Books To Read) stack is probably reaching dangerous heights. We’re nothing if not wicked enablers, so here’s what the staff of Dear Darkling has their bookmarks in this month. Here’s hoping you find your new favorite page-turner.
We Were Witches
by Ariel Gore
“Wryly riffing on feminist literary tropes, We Were Witches documents the survival of a demonized single mother. She’s beset by custody disputes, homophobia, and America’s ever-present obsession with shaming strange women into passive citizenship. But even as the narrator struggles to graduate―often the triumphant climax of a dramatic plot―a question uncomfortably lingers. If you’re dealing with precarious parenthood, queer identity, and debt, what is the true narrative shape of your experience?” (Amazon)
Described as “must-own” and “OMG words fail, it was SO GOOD” by our senior editor Nicole Moore, We Were Witches is a gritty but hopeful tale of the power and magic of women.
Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World
by Sarah Prager, illustrated by Zoe More O’Ferrall
“World history has been made by countless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals—and you’ve never heard of many of them.
Queer author and activist Sarah Prager delves deep into the lives of 23 people who fought, created, and loved on their own terms. From high-profile figures like Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt to the trailblazing gender-ambiguous Queen of Sweden and a bisexual blues singer who didn’t make it into your history books, these astonishing true stories uncover a rich queer heritage that encompasses every culture, in every era.” (Amazon)
A great introduction to queerness throughout history, this quick read is littered with illustrations by Zoe More O’Ferrall, and would be an amazing gift for anyone interested in LGBTQIA+ culture. Buy it for your kids, buy it for your parents, buy it for yourself.
The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act
by Kieron Gillen
“Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critically thermonuclear floor-fillers Young Avengers and Phonogram reunite to start a new, ongoing, superhero fantasy with a beautiful, oversized issue. Welcome to The Wicked + The Divine, where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.” (Amazon)
With brilliantly diverse, compelling characters, beautiful artwork, and a plot built for fans of mythology, pop culture, or urban fantasy, The Wicked + The Divine is available in three volumes that gather together the original comics. Four words: Is that… David Bowie?
The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography, and the Man Who Captured Lincoln’s Ghost
by Peter Manseau
“In the early days of photography, in the death-strewn wake of the Civil War, one man seized America’s imagination. A “spirit photographer,” William Mumler took portrait photographs that featured the ghostly presence of a lost loved one alongside the living subject. Mumler was a sensation: The affluent and influential came calling, including Mary Todd Lincoln, who arrived at his studio in disguise amidst rumors of séances in the White House.”
Tying together threads of a nation’s collective grief, the beginnings of photographic technology, and the hopeful belief in an afterlife, Manseau presents a fascinating true story that asks, “What can we really prove?”
Alien: Out of the Shadows
by Tim Lebbon and Dirk Maggs
“As a child, Chris Hooper dreamed of monsters. But in deep space, he found only darkness and isolation. Then, on planet LV178, he and his fellow miners discovered a storm-scoured, sand-blasted hell – and trimonite, the hardest material known to man.
When a shuttle crashes into the mining ship Marion, the miners learn that there was more than trimonite deep in the caverns. There was evil, hibernating and waiting for suitable prey. Hoop and his associates uncover a nest of Xenomorphs, and hell takes on a new meaning. Quickly they discover that their only hope lies with the unlikeliest of saviors….
Ellen Ripley, the last human survivor of the salvage ship Nostromo.” (Audible)
Picking up the moment Alien ends, this audiobook-only Audible original story was described by one of our writers as, “This little baby is the best thing I stuck in my ear holes in 2017. Hands down.” With extraordinary attention to detail, a canon story (it’s based on a 2014 novel under the supervision of 20th Century Fox), and an effects-filled soundscape with narration by performers including Rutger Hauer, Alien: Out of the Shadows seems the perfect audiobook library addition for fans of the franchise.
The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women
by Kate Moore
“The incredible true story of the women who fought America’s Undark danger. The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War. Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive until they begin to fall mysteriously ill. But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women’s cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America’s early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights that will echo for centuries to come.” (Amazon)
If you’re looking for a lighthearted read, The Radium Girls is maybe not the book for you. Author Moore leads us through a dangerously familiar story on the dangers of big business ethics, and of the courage of the women who confronted them. Cheerful? Maybe not. Inspiring? Hell yes.
The Witch Boy
by Molly Knox Ostertag
“In thirteen-year-old Aster’s family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn’t shifted . . . and he’s still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be.” (Amazon)
A wonderfully illustrated graphic novel about magic, gender, and the risks we take when we stifle either, The Witch Boy is easily devoured in a single sitting. You’ll be left wanting more. We sure were.
Altered Curiosities: Assemblage Techniques and Projects
by Jane Ann Wynn
“Step inside Altered Curiosities, where a wisdom tooth gets its own shrine, a honeybee lights up the room and a taxidermy eye becomes the eye in the back of your head. As author Jane Wynn shares her unique approach to mixed-media art, you’ll learn to alter, age and transform odd objects into novel new works of your own creation.
Step-by-step instructions guide you in making delightfully different projects that go way beyond art for the wall—including jewelry, hair accessories, a keepsake box, a bird feeder and more—all accompanied by a story about the inspiration behind the project.” (Amazon)
A fantastic find for you DIY darklings, Altered Curiosities is chock-full of ideas, techniques, and projects for anyone who wants to build the bizarre. Finally, we’ve found something to do with all those human teeth we’ve been collecting!
Violence Girl: East L.A. Rage to Hollywood Stage, a Chicana Punk Story
by Alice Bag
“The proximity of the East L.A. barrio to Hollywood is as close as a short drive on the 101 freeway, but the cultural divide is enormous. Born to Mexican-born and American-naturalized parents, Alicia Armendariz migrated a few miles west to participate in the free-range birth of the 1970s punk movement. Alicia adopted the punk name Alice Bag, and became lead singer for The Bags, early punk visionaries who starred in Penelope Spheeris’ documentary The Decline of Western Civilization.
Here is a life of many crossed boundaries, from East L.A.’s musica ranchera to Hollywood’s punk rock; from a violent male-dominated family to female-dominated transgressive rock bands. Alice’s feminist sympathies can be understood by the name of her satiric all-girl early Goth band Castration Squad.” (Amazon)
This photo-soaked memoir pulls the reader through Alice Bag’s extraordinary life, and manages to be funny, political, and brutally honest. Our writer who recommended it commented, “As a weird little Mexican girl in Los Angeles who dived head first into the alternative scene when I was a teenager, it spoke volumes to me.” It’s critically acclaimed for a reason, folks.
Deep Dark Fears
by Fran Krause
“We all have strange, irrational fears—from seeing ghosts in the bedroom mirror to being sucked into a mall escalator or finding yourself miles below the ocean’s surface on the deck of a sunken ship. In Deep Dark Fears, animator, illustrator, and cartoonist Fran Krause brings these fears to life in 101 vividly illustrated comics inspired by his wildly popular web comic and based on real fears submitted by online readers. Deep Dark Fears reveals a primal part of our humanity and highlighting both our idiosyncrasies and our similarities.” (Amazon)
You’ve probably seen Krause’s comics online already– brief panels describing terrible, often irrational, sometimes impossible fears sent in by readers. The popularity of these pieces isn’t that they’re absurd, but rather that they’re achingly relatable. (Who isn’t afraid they’ll accidentally poke their brain while cleaning their ears?) Reading through the collection will have you shuddering and crowing “Oh god, me too!” in turns.
The Art of Horror: An Illustrated History
by Stephen Jones
“While acknowledging the beginnings of horror-related art in legends and folk tales, the focus of the book is on how the genre has presented itself to the world since the creations of Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley first became part of the public consciousness in the 19th century. It’s all here: from early engravings via dust jackets, book illustrations, pulp magazines, movie posters, comic books, and paintings to today’s artists working entirely in the digital realm. Editor Stephen Jones and his stellar team of contributors have sourced visuals from archives and private collections (including their own) worldwide, ensuring an unprecedented selection that is accessible to those discovering the genre, while also including many images that will be rare and unfamiliar to even the most committed fan.” (Amazon)
Horror fans! We’ve found the coffee table book for you. It’s big. It’s beautiful. It’s absolutely packed with art, some which has never been seen in print. It was fantastically researched, edited, and produced. There’s a foreword by Neil Gaiman. Add to cart.
Featured image by Salemburn.