The YourShelf Community - Guest Curator #8 (August 2019)
This month, our ever-stunning community of kind and thoughtful book-lovers became our latest Guest Curator, voting to recommend a book of essays: Jia Tolentino's Trick Mirror, subtitled 'Reflections on Self-Delusion', is the book of essays for our time and for our community. Questions of identity are asked and sometimes answered, always through the lens of modernity: social media, our current political moment, and the world of culture we are all entrenched in. Jia Tolentino writes about this all with acerbic wit and meticulous excellence. I hope you enjoy this book – after all, we chose it together!
Sarah Davis-Goff - Guest Curator #7 (July 2019)
Our wonderful friend Sarah Davis-Goff, publisher at Tramp Press and author of Last Ones Left Alive, has kindly recommended Sue Rainsford's Follow Me To Ground. Sarah gave us the following recommendation: 'It’s a voice which attracts me most to work and this is doubly true for Follow Me To Ground: Sue Rainsford creates one that can be read as both Irish and Southern Gothic. There’s a moral ambiguity, frank female agency and a suspicion of community, elements which all remind me of the work of Shirley Jackson. Sue Rainsford’s debut is so smart and exciting, and I’m so delighted that YourShelf is sharing it with you all.'
Lisa Hanawalt - Guest Curator #6 (June 2019)
Lisa Hanawalt, author/illustrator of Coyote Doggirl, creator of Tuca and Bertie, and production designer for BoJack Horseman, has recommended a brilliant comic compendium, Jillian Tamaki's SuperMutant Magic Academy. Lisa had this to say about her choice: 'After years of enjoying it, I truly believe Tamaki's collection of comics about paranormal students has something for everyone. I’d choose it to lure someone into reading indie comics for the first time but also recommend it to a seasoned artist. It has just as much appeal for teens as it does for crusty adults like me. I can grab it off the shelf at any time and cackle anew at the dry, deep observations about human nature and life in this universe!'
Florence Welch - Guest Curator #5 (May 2019)
The inimitable Florence Welch, author of Useless Magic, genuine musical icon of Florence and the Machine fame, and long-time friend of YourShelf has kindly guest curated an unbelievable book of poetry, Aja Monet's My Mother Was A Freedom Fighter. In Florence's own words: 'Aja Monet’s work is the poetry of both protest and ancient ritual. She mixes the magical and the heartbreakingly real with ease, so you feel like you are holding not just poems, but intergenerational talismans, pulled from the heart of her. Poems that bring forth not just her own wisdom, rage and clarity, but that of all the women who came before her, and all the women still to come.'
Lauren Groff - Guest Curator #4 (April 2019)
Lauren Groff, author of a number of books including short-story collection Florida and the incredible novel Fates and Furies, recommended This Little Art by Kate Briggs: 'I have been thinking, many weeks after having finished it, of Kate Briggs's truly lovely This Little Art, a book-length essay on translation that's as wry and thoughtful and probing as any book I've read in the past year. My favourite works are those in which one feels the writer wrestling with genre even as she is writing; Kate Briggs does this with her own kind of magic, never failing to write beguilingly and intelligently and passionately about the little art of translation, which in the end shows itself to be not so little, at all.'
Hannah Sullivan - Guest Curator #3 (March 2019)
TS Eliot Prize winning poet Hannah Sullivan proved to be one of the most exciting things to happen to poetry in 2018 (and, indeed, in any year in recent memory). Hannah was delighted to guest curate Ottessa Moshfegh's brilliant mind-bender of a novel, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, about which Hannah had much to say: 'Patrick Bateman’s solution to the slick surfaces of late 20c Manhattan was homicide. The rich, beautiful, fucked-up narrator of My Year of Rest and Relaxation – an equally stylish and shocking novel – chooses hibernation. Her world shrinks to the couch in her apartment (rent already paid), where she washes down a wild variety of prescription drugs, both real and invented, with bodega coffee while watching the same movies over and over. Her muscles waste, she is spiteful to her only friend. Eventually she falls asleep for weeks at a time. Ottessa Moshfegh tells us all of this in fizzy, sly, cool-girl prose that’s anything but somnolent. In fact, I was left thinking that this novel about downtown Manhattan in 2001 was also an unusually alert and careful piece of political thinking about Trump’s America.'
Daisy Johnson - Guest Curator #2 (February 2019)
As the youngest ever author to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for her 2018 novel Everything Under, Daisy Johnson was one to watch even before that, with her debut short story collection Fen. Daisy Johnson opted to recommend a collection of poetry, in the form of Fiona Benson's incendiary Vertigo & Ghost: 'I do not read as much poetry as I would like to but reading Vertigo & Ghost last year reminded me of why I should. These are such anguished poems, filled with rage and joy and beauty. They really blew me away and I feel as if I carried them around with me for days after, returning to them over and over again.'
Emilie Pine - Guest Curator #1 (January 2019)
Academic, essayist, and author of YourShelf Book of the Year 2018 Notes To Self, Emilie Pine was our first ever Guest Curator, and selected Lavinia Greenlaw's memoir, The Importance of Music to Girls. Emilie had this to say: 'Reading Lavinia Greenlaw's memoir last year, I was struck not only by the poetry of her prose, but her attention to jewel-like details. Her book shows just how beautiful the quotidian can be. As I read the book, I have to admit that I felt envious of how well Greenlaw writes, but perhaps most valuably reading her work, in which she is so distinctively herself, made me think about how to write as myself. It also made me dig out favourite but forgotten albums and listen to them all over again, remembering the emotions all over again. We live our lives through many forms of art; the soundtracks we choose are so important.'