High School (MCD, $27), perhaps unsurprisingly, is like one of Tegan and Sara’s songs in book form: intimate yet vivid, urgent and animated. Yet their memoir is not only about music, although it does culminate with the duo landing their first record deal, which would lead to nine full-length albums. The twins tell their stories of growing up in ‘90s Calgary in alternating chapters, narrating their teenage confl icts, coming out, fi nding allies, having unrequited crushes, and discovering music. The songwriters’ candid prose style perfectly evokes that time in life when everything was too much, when every moment seemed like a crisis, but also when one desperately needed to know that they were not alone. High School is a queer coming-out-of-age story, a messy journey of adolescence, and a book I wish my teenage self had read.
Fabulous mortician extraordinaire and founder of the Order of the Good Death Caitlin Doughty is back with another book, this one specifi cally designed to educate and create a more honest engagement with death. Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? (W.W. Norton, $25.95) includes answers to more than fifty questions posed to Doughty by her young fans. The kids are great at getting to the heart of any matter, even death, in the most straightforward fashion, hence their no-nonsense queries such as, “why do we turn colors when we die?” and “what happens when the cemetery is full?” Doughty is equally candid in her answers, bringing both her expertise and her engaging writing style to brief and fascinating chapters. The essays are accompanied by wonderfully macabre and quirky drawings by Dianné Ruz, making this book a great library addition for readers of any age.
Following his previous books, What If and Thing Explainer, Randall Munroe is back with How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems (Riverhead, $28). In this indispensable and, as always, lavishly illustrated—in his signature stick-figure style—volume, Munroe offers solutions to how to “dig a hole,” “play the piano,” “play tag,” and “power your house,”—among many other common conundrums and problems. Some of these are so commonplace they don’t seem to require a solution, but Munroe demonstrates that physical laws underlie even the most straightforward things we do. How To is part entertaining collection of scientific facts—such as how many piano keys you will need to add to your keyboard to be able to play music for dogs—to tongue-incheek, possibly dubious advice on how to move all your boxes to another house just by pushing them with a pickup truck. This volume might not be 100% useful, but it is 100% fascinating—and fun.