A Brilliant Novel in the Works by Yuvi Zalkow is a must for all writers, whether or not you have it all together (all lies). This was such a raw and honest portrayal of the writing life, of marriage, of friendship, of the big questions we ask. And funny too. I'm still not sure how the author managed to pull it off but given that his strength lies in the short story, I should probably be taking notes because it's my strength too. I fell in love with every character Yuvi introduced, starting with his wife, her brother, his girlfriend and kid, his parents, and even the Palestinian subplot. No villains. This unconventional and episodic book reminded me of Daniel Nayeri's Everything Sad is Untrue. Both beautiful.
Coincidentally, I also got to read this interesting paper "Sankofa": How Indigenous Traditions Can Inform Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in Ghana by Adelaide Edinam Nyanyo. I enjoyed it because this is what it takes to make our communities and nations thrive. There's great wisdom in all cultures and before we adopt foreign ideas, investigate whether they're good for your own community. And look who wrote the first paper!
Beautiful Yetta: the Yiddish Chicken by Daniel and Jill Pinkwater was such a fun book because Yetta, who's only ever known the countryside, escapes from the crate destined for the butcher shop and has quite a few adventures in Brooklyn. Daniel Pinkwater is a great storyteller (I used to listen to him many years ago on NPR). This one is based on a true story and that makes it all the better. Also, multilingual. At the back is the Hebrew alphabet (aleph-bet). Once upon a time, in my childhood, I learned rudimentary Arabic from our Muslim neighbors and I found it fascinating.
I didn't know Ann Patchett wrote picture books but she has two delightful ones, Lambslide and Escape Goat, both based on wordplay and the same family (the little girl could be the young Ann), both illustrated beautifully by Robin Priess Glasser (of the Fancy Nancy books). Escape Goat has an electronic reader in the book itself, the first I've seen. Pity the poor children whose parents would rather not read to them.