New Faculty Spotlight: By the Book with Sarah Gerard

Editor's note: Sarah Gerard recently joined Lighthouse to teach fiction and nonfiction (welcome, Sarah!). Keep an eye out for her upcoming classes. In the meantime, she generously put together a list of some of her more recent, memorable reads below.

My reading and writing practices are very intertwined, and since the beginning of the COVID epidemic, have found myself reading a lot more for pleasure. I'm also a film lover, and have been watching a lot of documentaries recently. There's a recent favorite here.

  • The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante — The story of a woman's descent into madness when her husband abandons her with two young children, this book was a touchstone for True Loveits simultaneous emotional relatability and absurdity, its brazen irrationality, and its insistence on narrating female pain. Also, its dark humor.
  • My Dark Places by James Ellroy — A book about Ellroy's mother's 1958 unsolved murder, his attempt to solve it working with a retired LAPD detective, and how it shaped his life. Part investigative journalism, part memoir, and written in a singular voice—his style is concise and matter-of-fact, peppered with slang, and grit. I couldn't put it down.
  • An Archipelago in a Landlocked Country by Elisa Taber — This book is releasing this month, and I've just had the pleasure of reading an advanced copy. Taber's multi-genre work is an absolutely new form: a memoir of returning to the Mennonite colony in Paraguay where she was conceived, a short story collection of mythology from the neighboring Indigenous settlement; and a mythological novella of the life of a Mennonite woman. Her language is dense and kaleidoscopic. Gorgeous.
  • A Fish Growing Lungs by Alysia Li Ying Sawchyn — Released in June, this small, polished gem of a book is a formally experimental, unsparing, rigorous, and refreshing look at identity formation, illness, addiction, and the gray spaces where we find both discomfort and truth. 
  • My Octopus Teacher, dir. James Reed and Pippa Erlich — After suffering a traumatic loss, a filmmaker forms a fascinating connection (romance? obsession?) with a non-human animal in the kelp forest of South Africa. The tenderest story I've consumed in a long time—and a true one. It brought me to tears.