Copies of Emily Austin's new novel, Interesting Facts About Space, are up for giveaway for the 49thShelf community throughout the month of Februrary.
“Quirky” is a useful word. It’s more polite than the terms, “strange” or “peculiar.” Despite having a similar definition, it sounds less offensive than the words “oddball,” or “bizarre.” To be quirky implies a possible charm, or distinctiveness, but at the end of the day—it’s really just a friendlier synonym for the word, “weird.”
I love weird books. Sorry, I mean—I love quirky books. When I spot the word quirky on a book jacket, or in a book review, I am immediately sold. Quirky characters often have offbeat, interesting perspectives. I find stories brandished with that adjective tend to be memorable, refreshing, and unique.
If you are also drawn to quirky characters and stories, I recommend the following.
What Remains of Elsie Jane, by Chelsea Wakelyn
This is a heartbreaking and darkly funny story about a woman unravelling after her partner Sam dies. As she grieves, she becomes obsessed with a local murder mystery, suffers through a series of terrible internet dates, and solicits a space-time wizard via Craigslist—hoping to forge a path through the cosmos back to Sam. Elsie is a quirky narrator; she has a distinct, unique voice, and her story is devastating, beautiful, and strange.
Never Been Better, by Leanne Toshiko Simpson
This book is about Dee, who is distraught by the fact that her best friend Matt is marrying their friend Misa. Dee, Matt, and Misa met in the psych ward, but that’s a secret. This book follows Dee as she travels to Misa and Matt’s wedding in Turks and Caicos. There she debates confessing her love to Matt. This is a punchy, touching, and quirky book about mental illness and friendship.
A Complicated Kindness, by Miriam Toews
This is a coming-of-age story that follows a witty teenager named Nomi Nickel. Nomi grows up in a strict Mennonite community in Manitoba. The story explores how her family is impacted by fundamentalist Christianity. It is a tragic and hilarious book about identity and rebellion. Nomi is unique, memorable, and (you guessed it) quirky.
The Fake, by Zoe Whittall
This novel is about a pathological liar and con artist named Cammie. The story follows her relationship with Shelby, a woman who is grieving the death of her wife, and Gibson, a recently divorced man. This book explores the motives and pathologies of a liar, and it features characters who are quirky and memorable.
Monoceros, by Suzette Mayr
This is a book that revolves around the aftermath of the suicide of a high school student named Patrick. The story is told through the perspectives of different characters, including Patrick's classmates and family members. It’s about bullying, identity, discrimination, and connection. It is devastatingly and comically quirky.
Interesting Facts About Space, by Emily Austin:
I find unconventional characters so interesting I made one up myself. Her name is Enid. She is a space and true crime obsessed lesbian with an irrational fear of bald men, who believes someone is following her. You can read about her and all her quirks in my new novel Interesting Facts About Space.
About the book: A fast-paced, hilarious, and ultimately hopeful novel for anyone who has ever worried they might be a terrible person—from the bestselling author of Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead.
Enid is obsessed with space. She can tell you all about black holes and their ability to spaghettify you without batting an eye in fear. Her one major phobia? Bald men. But she tries to keep that one under wraps. When she’s not listening to her favorite true crime podcasts on a loop, she’s serially dating a rotation of women from dating apps. At the same time, she’s trying to forge a new relationship with her estranged half-sisters after the death of her absent father. When she unwittingly plunges into her first serious romantic entanglement, Enid starts to believe that someone is following her.
As her paranoia spirals out of control, Enid must contend with her mounting suspicion that something is seriously wrong with her. Because at the end of the day there’s only one person she can’t outrun—herself.
Brimming with quirky humor, charm, and heart, Interesting Facts about Space effortlessly shows us the power of revealing our secret shames, the most beautifully human parts of us all.
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