Hello Unabridged Bookstore Friends!
We've had so many requests for more reading recommendations while we shelter in place, we decided to start a more regular update for new reviews, new books, and more! Remember that our website is always open and we are still sending out books each day. Gift cards are available, too, and can be used to purchase books online. Visit our website here to order books or to send a gift card!

Scroll down for some Unabridged history, some reviews for books we've been reading, and some great stuff we found on the internet!
With the extra time spent at home, our resident grassroots historian and longtime bookseller Owen has been organizing his archive of gay Chicago memorabilia, and blessing us with several glimpses of the bookshop in days gone by... take a look below!
"In 1990 I was very excited when activist/singer Michael Callen (1955-1993), had a book event at Unabridged Books for Surviving AIDS , which profiled the beliefs of longtime survivors of the disease. Michael’s main message, “You cannot give up hope. Believing that I could survive was probably the precondition necessary for my actual survival.” Other than hope, he said biggest tools for survival were knowledge, grit, and humor. He knew what he was talking about. Michael had been diagnosed with GRID (what AIDS was called at the time) in 1982, years before even AZT was made available. 
Michael was a founding member of the gay men’s a capella group, the Flirtations. He was also a songwriter (his most famous tune being Love Don’t Need a Reason ) and when circumstances called, he became a media spokespeople of the epidemic. He was profiled, interviewed, and quoted. He was a pioneering activist, in 1983 he co-wrote the booklet How To Have Sex in an Epidemic: One Approach , which earned him the title the Father of Safer Sex. In 1985 he founded the People with AIDS Coalition. In the coming years he also developed the Community Research Initiative, helped form an AIDS hotline, appeared in the films Philadelphia and Zero Patience , recorded more music, etc. The man seemed tireless.

When he was at Unabridged, after the event he signed stock (that’s what he’s doing in the picture), and as he did we chatted. I said something along the lines of, “You inspired a lot of people tonight.” He replied that, “I do whatever I can.” I think that was another key in Michael’s long-term survival. Michael Callen GAVE. His mission was bigger than his personal suffering. Simply put, he was a hero.

In the final days of 1993, Michael Callen, warrior and one of the most inspiring and powerful voices in the early days of the epidemic, was silenced. He died of AIDS at age 38."

For more history of Unabridged, the Belmont Rocks, and LGBTQ Chicago – follow Owen here.
April is National Poetry Month!
It's a great time check out some new poetry collections, like these new releases! And follow us on Twitter where Ruben is featuring a book of poetry each day this month!

Some of our recent favorites, now available in paperback!
by Daniel Kehlmann

Set in Bavaria and Germany at the time of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648,) in a world where truth doesn’t matter but torture does (sound familiar?), and in the German fabulist tradition that stretches back to the Brothers Grimm, Daniel Kehlmann has created the legendary prankster figure of Tyll Ulenspiegel, famous throughout the realm, a vagabond performer and jester who, in a world devastated by endless wars, pestilence and violence (“the senseless brutality of history—sound familiar?), is determined never to die. The book is layered and structured in a fascinating way, juggling rollicking episodes in Tyll’s life with fraudulent Jesuit scholars and the real exiled King Frederick (the “Winter King”) and Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia, and despite the grimness of some of the stories, the novel’s tone remains light and slyly funny, weaving a spellbinding fable of alchemy and magic, superstitions and evil spells, heresy and the quest for knowledge where science overcomes superstition (the twisted logic of the head Jesuit of why dragons must truly exist is quite funny!) Brilliant and imaginative, an enchanting, picaresque tale of magic realism and adventure, a magnificent story of one man’s transcendence over war and backward superstitions. Shortlisted for the Booker International Prize, this is classic storytelling at its best! Ed loved and highly recommends!

I've Been Wrong Before
by Evan James

Reading this deft and engaging collection of essays is like spending a night drinking with your charming and witty best friend, as he recounts past stories of humdrum jobs, relationships and longing, wanderlust, drag shows and bathhouses, in a never-ending pursuit to find oneself in this messy, complicated world. Spanning the globe, James explores both the mundane and the significant in ways that are often funny, frequently insightful, and always entertaining. James manages to expose the ephemerality of life in truly evocative ways, letting the reader frolic in his mind for a dazzling and moving experience. Shane recommends!

by Emerson Whitney

Vignettes of memories, reflections on gender, and literary and academic critiques make up this evocative personal examination that is both the exploration of familial history and the story of a body. Whitney perfectly captures the complexities and nuances of their selfhood in language that is intimate, candid, beautiful. This is not a typical coming-of-age memoir, it is an interrogation of nature vs. nurture, of mothers and womanhood, of gender and bodies, written with transformative insightfulness and searing emotional power. Shane loves!

More With Less
by Jodi Moreno

I’ve found myself reaching for Jodi Moreno’s plant-forward, pescatarian cookbook More with Less frequently over the past few weeks. Versatile and forgiving recipes encourage a creative approach to cooking, and each recipe has the option of being dairy-, gluten-, and soy-free. Moreno’s elegant ingredient combinations and approachable techniques are elevated by a comprehensive chapter of homemade sauces, dressings, & condiments. Some of my favorite recipes have been the comforting miso oats with scallions + sesame oil and her perfectly decadent chocolate + tahini + sweet potato mousse. Kate highly recommends!

We miss making recommendations in person and we know you miss browsing our shelves, so we're putting together bundles of books for you to browse online! Click below to shop these collections, and keep an eye out for new suggestions each week!
Inside the Frame
“...The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another,
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.”

--Liesl Mueller, “Monet Refuses the Operation”
All Natural
“--O remember
In your narrowing dark hours
That more things move
Than blood in the heart.”

-- Louise Bogan, “Night”
Book of the Month:
Hurricane Season
by Fernanda Melchor

A murder mystery set in the horror and squalor of La Matosa, Mexico, a brutal portrait of small-town claustrophobia, machismo and misogyny where a woman known as the Witch has been murdered. What follows is a series of conflicting accounts that depict the wicked events leading up to the witch’s brutal death, and the homophobia, violence, desperation and despair that pervade the town. In 8 chapters (each of which is unencumbered by paragraph breaks) Fernanda Melchor unleashes a torrent of words upon each page, exploding into a ferocious story about the “full, brutal force of male vice,” and the ways women bear the most unforgiving burdens of exploitation and abuse. Melchor says she “was in a dark place” when she wrote her novel, but Hurricane Season shows that from dark places can come great literature, and from coarse language dealing with all things profane Melchor somehow weaves a work of high art. An intense reading experience: I was blown away by the book’s power. Ed loved and highly recommends! Truly an exciting new voice in world lit!

The witch is dead. Told from the perspective of different townspeople, the disquieting Hurricane Season  is a maelstrom of frenzy and fury revolving around the murder of a "witch" in an isolated Mexican town. With lurid and uncompromising language that grabs the reader by the throat, Melchor reveals the backstory of the witch and her role in the village, as scapegoat, as a keeper of the villager's secrets, as a person whom others fear, hate, need. Weaving its own bewitching mythology, Hurricane Season  is rife with superstition and destructive small-town gossip, but simultaneously grounded in institutionalized corruption, suffocating masculinity, and misogyny. This is a wildly inventive and hypnotic tale, dripping with poetic poison and vitriol, an unsparing and brutal book that will cast its wicked spell on you. Shane loves!

Remember that there is no membership or sign up required to attend our meetings - just pick up your copy of the book in the shop, and come ready for friendly discussion! While the shop is closed, check in with book club hosts about joining our book discussions via Zoom!
Latinx Book Club
The House of Impossible Beauties
by Joseph Cassara

04/13/20 at 7:00pm
Fiction Book Club
The Museum of Unconditional Surrender
by Dubravka Ugrešić

04/14/20 at 7:00pm
Queer Book Club
by Danez Smith

04/28/20 at 7:00pm
Virtual Storytimes for Kids!
From Dav Pilkey to Dolly Parton, some of our favorite children’s book authors are hosting virtual storytimes across the internet. Check out this comprehensive guide from Time Out  for more information.

LitHub Quarantine Recommendations!

Over the last few weeks, people all over the world have submitted requests and suggestions for books to read during quarantine, and LitHub has collected some here! Take a look at all these books!
They Were Warriors

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the National AIDS Action for Healthcare, one of the largest AIDS demonstrations ever, organized by the Chicago chapter of ACT UP.

Chicago based author of The Great Believers , Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award nominee, and friend of Unabridged Bookstore, Rebecca Makkai spoke to those who were there.

Another great way to support indie bookstores, sign up at Libro.fm! Check out this list of featured audiobooks, and Libro.fm will give 100% of the sale to support Unabridged!