‘It’s a way to keep momentum going forward for me, to imagine a time past the virus’

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Photo: Kathrin Ziegler/Getty Images

Katka Lapelosová has a new pandemic-era hobby: booking vacations that she doesn’t know when she’ll be able to take.

“I’m moving to Belgrade, Serbia, in a few weeks, and I keep planning trips based on proximity to Europe, Asia, and Africa, even though no one is allowed to go to any of those places, really,” she says. “Most hotels also don’t require payment upfront — you can pay when you arrive — so it has been fun to shop around and book places ‘just in case’ and get good deals.” …


Each week, I’ll catalog the biggest and most exciting adult and YA fiction — and the occasional nonfiction — coming out that Tuesday.

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THE DIVINES, Ellie Eaton. Decades after the elite boarding school she attended closed following scandal, a woman returns to uncover secrets at the center of the school’s demise. Bookshop.

BEFORE SHE DISAPPEARED, Lisa Gardner. A private detective and recovering alcoholic begins an obsessive search for a missing Haitian teenager. Bookshop.


Stevie and Kat just want to have a fun night in NYC. But as any New Yorker knows, it’s never that simple in the city that never sleeps.

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Despite being polar opposites, theater kids Kat and Stevie are best friends. When they sneak out of their suburban homes for a night in NYC, they’re expecting a thrilling adventure: eating at one of the city’s hottest restaurants, seeing a play, and generally enjoying a sense of freedom that isn’t often available to teens in the suburbs.

Except that’s not exactly what happens. As soon as they arrive, things start to go wrong. Their phones break, there’s family drama, and there’s a Pomeranian who’s making things very difficult. Over the course of the night, Kat and Stevie will crash parties, deliver dry cleaning, deal with unhelpful cab drivers, and confront what they want from their friendship — and their futures. …


Why digital pets are sparking joy right now

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Photo: Xavier ROSSI/Getty Images

My Tamagotchi, which I’ve named Tamagotchi III, chirps beside me as I doomscroll. I detach my eyes from Twitter and attend to Tamagotchi’s needs: He is hungry but refuses the apple pie I offer him, opting instead for a bottle of milk.

He’s my third Tamagotchi hatchling; the first, Tamagotchi I, died — I forgot about him for a day, so he starved. The second, Tamagotchi II, grew fat and happy and returned to his home planet. Now I nurture Tamagotchi III all day every day so that he will hopefully do the same, making way for Tamagotchi IV.

Though my mother says I had a Tamagotchi when I was a kid — which she claims was “so annoying” — I don’t remember it at all. Therefore, I consider this Tamagotchi device, which has birthed the above three hatchlings so far, my first. The product, a Hello Kitty Tamagotchi that launched in December 2020, is the latest in the device’s parent company Bandai’s yearlong attempt to reintroduce Tamagotchi to a younger American audience 25 years after its initial 1996 launch. …


Or to be more precise, volumetric Princess Leia images

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Illustration: Janet Mac

You’re sitting at your dining room table, drinking wine and chatting with your closest friends and family. Music plays gently from the stereo, and the room has a happy, congenial energy. But there’s only one actual glass of wine on the table, one small plate of charcuterie, one silverware setting.

You’re the only person physically sitting in your dining room. Everyone else gathered around it is a hologram, and though they can see you and you can see them and you can talk to each other as if you’re physically together, you’re not. You can’t touch them; if you do, their image will refract and distort. But emotionally, it feels like you’re together. …


Each week, I’ll catalog the biggest and most exciting adult and YA fiction — and the occasional nonfiction — coming out that Tuesday.

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DETRANSITION, BABY, Torrey Peters. When a trans woman’s partner detransitions, she finds her family forever changed. “Smart, funny, and bighearted,” writes Kirkus in a starred review. Read an excerpt on Esquire. Bookshop.

WHAT COULD BE SAVED, Liese O’Halloran Schwarz. When she receives a mysterious call from a man claiming to be her long-lost brother, a woman flies to Bangkok to uncover her family’s secrets when they lived in Thailand in the 1970s. Bookshop.


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Color Print of a Copperplate Picture of a Toy Shop, 1860. Utagawa (Gountei) Sadahide. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

2020 was ripe with horrible lessons, a real year of realizing things, but one of my most annoying and rather late realizations was finally understanding that products suck.

Stuff is bad. The stuff on the shelf, bad. The stuff on my Pinterest board, awful. The shit in my Target cart, abominations. Why do I need to buy a whole new food processor when only the top is broken? Why is all my new Abercrombie loungewear already fraying after less than a year of ownership? (To be fair, I live in my sweatpants now, but come on!)

Still, there are a few purchases I made in 2020 that I don’t regret with the whole of my being. As I spent much of the past year completely disassociated, below are the purchases significant enough that I actually remembered them. …


Or, how to find the humor in the midst of heartbreak.

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In Over Coffee, writer, reader, and haphazard reviewer Angela Lashbrook chats with authors about their recent books, and quizzes them on their hot breakfast takes.

I feel blessed to have tapped out of 2020 in a state of joy, but I owe it to Julia Claiborne Johnson’s delightful, warm, and most importantly, funny novel Better Luck Next Time. Perhaps a novel about divorce — for that’s where the “better luck next time idea” comes in — ought not to be so amusing, but it’s a testament to Johnson’s lively wit and sparkling sense of humor that she wrote about what is theoretically a dismal topic and revealed it to be, in fact, an opportunity to find absurdity, joy, and, yes, love. …


Each week, I’ll catalog the biggest and most exciting adult and YA fiction — and the occasional nonfiction — coming out that Tuesday.

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BLACK BUCK, Mateo Askaripour. An unambitious 22-year-old gets a job doing sales at a buzzy new tech startup, where he finds himself transformed into a ruthless and determined ladder climber. “An intellectual and captivating work of satire,” writes Bookpage in a starred review. Bookshop.

NORA, Nuala O’Connor. A reimagining of the life of Nora Joseph Barnacle, James Joyce’s lifelong lover. “A moving examination of an unforgettable family,” writes Publisher’s Weekly. Bookshop.

THE LIFE I’M IN, Sharon G. Flake. In this companion novel to the beloved The Skin I’m In, a young girl is lured into a life of human trafficking.


‘Now there’s just no point’

A Goodreads page.
A Goodreads page.
Image: Book Glutton/Flickr

Last week, some Goodreads users received a disappointing message: The popular book tracking website is disabling access to its API for users who haven’t used the product in more than 30 days. The company says it “plans to retire these tools” altogether and that, as of December 8, it will no longer issue new keys. It’s unclear when or if Goodreads will close off its API to active users.

About

Angela Lashbrook

I’m a columnist for OneZero, where I write about the intersection of health & tech. Also seen at Elemental, The Atlantic, VICE, and Vox. Brooklyn, NY.

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