Lighthouse Reads: January Edition

Editor's Note: We'll periodically bring Lookout readers a round-up of books recommended by Lighthouse staff.

I enjoyed Sara Schaefer’s Grand not only because of my deathly fear of white water rafting; the weaving of Schaefer’s rafting trip through the Grand Canyon intertwined with the story of her unusual childhood made me laugh out loud over and over, but the story also tracks a life of overcoming shame and anxiety.—Kim O'Connor, Young Writers Program Co-Director

I’ve just started Overstory by Richard Powers, and am mesmerized by the scope and ambition of the writing. I don’t quite know how he’s going to weave all the disparate narratives—nine of them!—together, but I can tell that Powers is up for the task. Plus, what a lovely evocation of trees, history, and nature.—Mike Henry, Executive Director

Daniel Saldaña París’ second novel, Ramifications, translated from Spanish by Christina MacSweeney, continues his inventive, offbeat, often funny storytelling. But this story of a young boy’s life that goes off-track when his mother leaves him and sister and father is deeply touching and sad. Corrosive masculinity, loneliness, obsession; they’re all treated with París’ signature empathy and humor. There’s a pretty surprising twist at the end too.—Torin Jensen, Program and Content Coordinator

Finna is a sharp, funny, insightful work, a love letter to Chicago, an exploration of the contributions and erasure of Black voices in our history, a full-on celebration of Blackness. A must read by Nate Marshall.—Manuel Aragon, Community Engagement Manager

As a person who doesn’t always connect to short stories, Jenny Zhang’s Sour Heart really blew me away. Everything connected, everything purposeful. And wow, her sentences! This book really shows how syntax can make a voice happen. The very last section takes the book in a speculative direction. I’d call it one of the best books of short stories I’ve ever read.—Genna Kohlhardt, Assistant Director of Adult Programs