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2023 Picks | Darcy Poletti

Darcy Poletti, Assistant Director

Book cover of "Demon Copperhead" by Barbara Kingsolver, featuring intricate title and nature-themed illustrations.

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

I’ve been a Barbara Kingsolver fan since I read Poisonwood Bible in a high school English class. But as soon as I was 10 minutes into this audiobook, I knew this would be on my top books of the year, heck the last few years. I highly recommend the audio on this one- the reader makes you feel like you are right there with him as he spins the yarn of his hardscrabble life. You’ve heard of the ” Great American Novel,” well I think this is a contender for the “Great Appalachian Novel,” full of sense of place, great and sharply drawn characters, and the heartbreak of the opioid crisis.


A book cover titled "A Constellation of Vital Phenomena" by Anthony Marra with trees in the background.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

I was looking for a paperback on my own bookshelves to take on a backpacking trip this summer, and I found a copy of this novel, which I had picked up from a neighborhood Little Free Library based on its cover art only. The novel tells the story of the unspeakable war tragedies that defined the lives of Chechens for years, yet the book still manages to have such a strong sense of transcendent humanity. Not an “easy” read, but this book is beautiful, heartbreaking, and stays with you!


A book cover titled "IF I SURVIVE YOU" by Jonathan Escoffery with a car and a streak of smoke on a colored background.

If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery

This collection of interrelated short stories (that read like a novel) weave together the story of a family of Jamaican-Americans living in Miami. The writing is humorous, sharp, and harrowing at once and the stories span the family’s homeland, the first generation immigrant experience, as well as the trials of second generation immigrants. I especially recommend the audiobook of this novel, as the reader moves in and out of Jamaican patois and his narration and accents deepen the experience of the story.


Two people hugging, one with a tattoo, and text "WET LEG" at the bottom.

Music: Wet Leg by Wet Leg

Early in 2023, this album became my snow shoveling soundtrack. I just love the catchy, sarcastic, girl power, post-punk vibes of this self titled album.


An illustration of a winged person riding a horse with the text "Nadie sabe lo que va a pasar mañana" and the names Bad Bunny & Benito.
A cartoon heart with arms and legs on a beach at sunset, with dolphins, palm trees, and flowers.

Music: Un Verano Sin Ti  and Nadie Sabe Lo Que Va a Pasar Mañana by Bad Bunny

It’s late fall of 2023, but I’m still listening to the 2022 summer album Un Verano Sin Ti by Bad Bunny. If you haven’t heard of the phenomenon that is the Puerto Rican reggaetón/Latin trap artist Bad Bunny, check out this album (we have it in the music section at PRL!), The album is full of tropical, party ready rhythms that are the perfect soundtrack for the beach or lifting the winter blues. But don’t be fooled, these tracks go deeper than just a good time- they also cover topics from femicide to political corruption.  I also recommend his newest album that just came out this fall, which harkens back to the darker sounds of his Latin Trap roots. Since the album came out, “Monaco” has been my song of the moment and his live performance on Saturday Night Live made me love it even more.


Four people sitting atop a red wall with "Reservation Dogs" graffiti.
Four women sitting together, one holding a bottle. Text: "GIRLS: The Complete First Season." It's a TV series promotional poster.

TV: Girls and Rez Dogs

This year I rewatched “Girls,” the HBO series by Lena Dunham that was like a whip smart, quirky millennial feminist version of Sex in the City- although I hate to pigeonhole it like that. I first watched it when it came out in 2012, I was recently out of college and the same age as the characters. I have to say I think I enjoyed it even more on the second watch. I also loved the final season of Rez Dogs (streaming on Hulu) that came out this year. This coming of age “comedy” tells the story of a group of Native Americans growing up on a reservation in Oklahoma. It’s quite the feat to be able to weave the story of generations of disenfranchisement, but also hope, community, and traditions into a “sitcom” but that’s just what creator Sterlin Harjo has done with this show.