PageTurners: Where There Is Strength There Is Joy

PageTurners: Where There Is Strength There Is Joy

The Gilded Ones; Between Two Kingdoms; Doppelgangbanger
The Gilded Ones; Between Two Kingdoms; Doppelgangbanger
Image: Penguin Random House, Penguin Random House, Haymarket
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Strength and joy go hand-in-hand, and this week’s literary releases beautifully celebrate both. In certain parts of the country, we’re knee-deep in snow and ice, and finding the strength to feel even the littlest joy is quite difficult. But we’ve almost hit the halfway point of February, the days are getting longer, and we can almost see warmer days ahead.

This week, Suleika Jaouad’s memoir Between Two Kingdoms gives readers an empathetic insight into one of the more challenging points in her life, while Cortney Lamar Charleston’s second collection of poetry, Doppelgangbanger, sheds light on the struggles of men embracing Black femininity, specifically on the South Side of Chicago. Terry Ellen Cross Davis pens a poetry collection about Black motherhood, a more perfect Union, and in time for Valentine’s Day, Roxane Gay is included among a selection of authors writing about desire in Kink.

Joy and strength always link back to one another—and with that in mind, here are 8 books that embody strength and joy from start to finish.

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2 / 10

42 Today: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy – Michael G. Long (Editor) (Nonfiction)

42 Today: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy – Michael G. Long (Editor) (Nonfiction)

42 Today: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy – Michael G. Long (Editor)
42 Today: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy – Michael G. Long (Editor)
Image: NYU Press

In 1947, Jackie Robinson was the first Black man to ever walk on a diamond to play professional baseball, making him a national sports and civil rights icon. But with the positive fame that came with his athleticism, there was still an overwhelming part of the country that despised him. 42 Today: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy features essays from distinguished sportswriters, cultural critics, and scholars as they unpack different perspectives and legacies behind one of the nation’s most athletically gifted and politically significant figures. Juxtaposing events in the sports world from the ‘40s to now, 42 Today recalls Robinson’s legacy and establishes how he paved a way for future civil rights activism, from Black Lives Matter to Colin Kaepernick.


February 9, 2021, NYU Press

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3 / 10

a more perfect Union – Terry Ellen Cross Davis (Poetry)

a more perfect Union – Terry Ellen Cross Davis (Poetry)

a more perfect Union – Terry Ellen Cross Davis
a more perfect Union – Terry Ellen Cross Davis
Image: Mad Creek

Centering around Black women’s pleasure–by extricating it from the commodification of white gaze–Terri Ellen Cross Davis reclaims the experience of life and Black motherhood in the sensual and bracing poems of a more perfect Union. Using groundbreaking emotional depth to uplift the ordinary moments of life and question the status quo, Cross Davis is ultimately able to create her own goddesses. Honoring grief, sexual awakening and the roles played in motherhood, these poems work tirelessly to forge a way through the complicated webs of hope.


February 10, 2021, Mad Creek

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4 / 10

Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir – Suleika Jaouad (Memoir)

Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir – Suleika Jaouad (Memoir)

Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir – Suleika Jaouad
Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir – Suleika Jaouad
Image: Random House

Suleika Jaouad had one goal: to move to Paris and become a war correspondent. Aged 23 and living in Paris at the time, Jaouad noticed a small itch here and there on her legs. Within weeks, it had spread everywhere, as if a million mosquitoes were living in her skin, and she was taking six-hour naps that only made her more tired. A leukemia diagnosis sent her hurtling from her dream life in Paris to a three-year stay on a cancer ward—three years of chemo, clinical trials, depression and writing for The New York Times. That’s all she was focused on. When she is finally released, Jaouad has to figure out what to do with all of the “surviving” she has promised herself. Written as her journey across the country, Between Two Kingdoms is a heartening story of survivorship and a fierce, tender, and inspiring exploration of what it means to begin again.

February 9, 2021, Random House

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5 / 10

Doppelgangbanger – Cortney Lamar Charleston (Poetry)

Doppelgangbanger – Cortney Lamar Charleston (Poetry)

Doppelgangbanger – Cortney Lamar Charleston
Doppelgangbanger – Cortney Lamar Charleston
Image: Haymarket

In his second poetry collection, Doppelgangbanger, Cortney Lamar Charleston explores the idea of Black femininity in America and its relationship to the Black community, family and love. Charleston grapples with navigating Chicago’s South Side and surrounding suburbs amid the narrative spun around self-destructive manhood. The playful language of the poems matches the energy of Charleston’s ‘90s golden age upbringing yet has a sense of shared vulnerability. Doppelgangbanger invites readers to intimately witness his journey through an adopted persona as it molds to an authentic self, defying the confines of tradition.

February 9, 2021, Haymarket Books

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6 / 10

It’s Not All Downhill From Here – Terry McMillan (Fiction)

It’s Not All Downhill From Here – Terry McMillan (Fiction)

It’s Not All Downhill From Here – Terry McMillan
It’s Not All Downhill From Here – Terry McMillan
Image: Penguin Random House

At sixty-eight years old, Loretha Curry’s life is full–but sometimes crowded with friends, a booming beauty-supply empire and a husband who continues to surprise her. She’s content with her life, and never one to think her best days are behind her, even with her family pushing their outdated ideas on what aging should look like.

When an unexpected loss tosses her world upside down, Loretha is forced to summon all of her strength, resourcefulness and determination if she is going to continue to pursue joy, help heal old wounds and new, and try to create new paths for herself and her loved ones.

February 9, 2021, Penguin Random House (Paperback Release)

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7 / 10

Kink – R.O. Kwon (Editor), Garth Greenwell (Editor) (Fiction)

Kink – R.O. Kwon (Editor), Garth Greenwell (Editor) (Fiction)

Kink – R.O. Kwon (Editor), Garth Greenwell (Editor)
Kink – R.O. Kwon (Editor), Garth Greenwell (Editor)
Image: Simon and Schuster

Kink is a dynamic anthology of literary short fiction lauded by writers such as Alexander Chee, Vanessa Clark, Melissa Febos, Kim Fu, Roxane Gay, Cara Hoffman, Zeyn Joukhadar, Chris Kraus, Carmen Maria and more. Edited by Garth Greenwell and R.O. Kwon, Kink delves into the world of love and desire across a literary spectrum, featuring stories set in private estates, therapists’ offices, sex clubs and more while exploring some “risque” topics as portrayed by some of today’s most riveting writers.


February 9, 2021, Simon and Schuster

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8 / 10

No Planet B: A Teen Vogue Guide to the Climate Crisis – Lucy Diavolo (editor) Lindsay Peoples Wagner (Foreword by) (Nonfiction)

No Planet B: A Teen Vogue Guide to the Climate Crisis – Lucy Diavolo (editor) Lindsay Peoples Wagner (Foreword by) (Nonfiction)

No Planet B: A Teen Vogue Guide to the Climate Crisis – Lucy Diavolo (editor) Lindsay Peoples Wagner (Foreword by)
No Planet B: A Teen Vogue Guide to the Climate Crisis – Lucy Diavolo (editor) Lindsay Peoples Wagner (Foreword by)
Image: Haymarket

No Planet B: A Teen Vogue Guide to the Climate Crisis is an urgent call for climate action through an intersectional lens–using critical feminist, Indigenous, antiracist and international voices. “I hope that this book embodies Teen Vogue’s motto of making young people feel seen and heard all over the world. I hope that it forces their parents, communities, loved ones, friends, and—most importantly—those in power to see that the health of our planet depends on how quickly and drastically we change our behaviors. I hope it forces them all to respond.” –From the foreword by former Teen Vogue editor-in-chief, Lindsay Peoples Wagner


February 9, 2021, Haymarket Books

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9 / 10

The Gilded Ones – Naima Forna (Young Adult)

The Gilded Ones – Naima Forna (Young Adult)

The Gilded Ones – Naima Forna
The Gilded Ones – Naima Forna
Image: Penguin Random House

Living in fear of what might be discovered during the ancient blood ceremony of her village, sixteen-year-old- Deka is in a constant state of fear and anticipation. Her unnatural intuition already makes her stand out from the other members, and she hopes her blood runs red like the rest. But it doesn’t. Deka’s blood, running gold in front of everyone, marks her “impurity,” and she knows that she is about to meet a fate worse than death.

A mysterious woman arrives after the ceremony and offers Deka the chance to leave the village and fight for the emperor in an army of girls like her called the Alaki. These nearly immortal girls possess rare gifts and the power to stop the emperor’s greatest threat. While the mission at the capital was supposed to be the hardest part, Deka realizes that the journey there will unveil things to be different than what they seem and test everything that she’s ever known–including herself.

February 9, 2021, Penguin Random House

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10 / 10

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