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A Look Into the Hottest Books at the Book Festival That You Didn’t Have the Time or Money to Read


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Ah, the Iowa City Book Festival. For those not in the know, the festival is an annual gathering of authors in this cultured city of ours to honor their most recent works and definitely not a glorified marketing stunt. For years, this tradition has been celebrated by thousands of pretentious English majors that were bullied in high school, and this year looks as though it won’t be an exception. With thirty-three presenters and two full weeks of activities, there’s no shortage of things to do.


But wait! you might be saying, I’m already way too busy with college! How am I going to find enough time around studying and heavy drinking to read all of these authors’ books? That’s a reasonable concern, and one that you’re not alone in expressing. Luckily, we here at The Doily Allergen have meticulously sifted through all of this year’s presented novels so that we may provide accurate and thorough summaries that you can use to impress any author or hipster you come in contact with.


How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water by Angie Cruz


Acclaimed author Angie Cruz delivers her next novel, How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water, off the heels of her previous success, Dominicana. Her previous novels dealt with themes of feeling like one’s culture is being minimized and losing yourself in a big, unknown world, and her newest one is no different.


In How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water, our protagonist struggles with not being allowed to pursue her dreams of becoming an Olympic swimmer because she was born fifteen centimeters tall. No matter how impressive her technique and breath support may be, there’s just no feasible way for her to keep up with her full-grown opponents. Her coaches try to make accommodations for her by setting up miniature pools in buckets or storage containers, but it just doesn’t feel the same. The title refers to an especially harrowing scene where our heroine goes to take a break after swim practice, yet as she goes to take a refreshing sip of water, she falls into the cup and starts drowning! She tries to call out for someone to save her, yet her words only come out garbled. She realizes that her only chance of survival is to save herself, so she uses her expert swimming abilities to push her way to the top of the glass and escape the glass. After surviving that ordeal, she decides that she’s strong enough to do anything and signs up for her town’s local swimming competition. Against all odds, she wins the competition and uses her award money to open an organization in support of all the people like her that didn’t think they could live their dreams because they were born under a foot tall.


Land of Women by María Sánchez


In María Sánchez’s deeply moving story Land of Women, we follow a man who, after the death of his daughter, has lost contact with his wife and thrown himself into his work and his booze. One day, he hears word from his wife for the first time in years who tells him that she’s now living on a secluded island and that he should visit. He agrees, but as soon as he arrives, he finds that the island is populated entirely by women. The island’s women all take an eerie fascination with the man, and the strange occurrences only continue from there. He has numerous visions of his daughter being hit by a train and finds the burned remains of one of her dolls. The island’s children have strangely explicit schoolings and the bar wench seems to have some hidden violent tendencies. All of this comes to a head when the island holds its highly anticipated Harvest Fest. The man disguises himself in a bear costume so as not to arouse suspicion from the crowd, though he abandons the pretense once he discovers that a young girl will be sacrificed during the festivities. He runs over in his bear costume and punches the island’s leader, which leads to his costume being stripped and torture to be enacted upon him. A cage filled with bees is placed upon his head and he screams out, “Oh, no, not the bees! Anything but the bees! Ah! They’re in my eyes!” Then, he’s placed in a giant wicker man and burned to death.


This Story Will Change by Elizabeth Crane


Elizabeth Crane’s new novel This Story Will Change is an intricately experimental choose-your-own-adventure story that ensures no two readers will have the same experience. One reader is cited as having his version be about a man overcoming the loss of one of his limbs in a car accident. Another says that their version was about a walrus and a koala becoming best friends. One particularly avid fan read the novel several times and said that it went from being about a plumber in New York City to a lady that spends two hours trying to find her umbrella to an extensive guide on how to operate a forklift. No one’s sure how this novel was printed and whether or not it involved black magic in some way. If you happen to be there for the live Q&A with the author, make sure to ask neutral questions like “Which version is your favorite?” or “What was the most interesting part of your writing process?” because if you make the mistake of making stuff up and passing it off as the story that came with your copy, the publishers will be able to sniff out your lies and make sure that you never see the inside of Prairie Lights Bookstore again.


How to Make a Slave by Jerald Walker


I didn’t read this one. It sounded too sad.


Les Misérables by Victor Hugo


One of the special discussions at the festival will be a discussion of several literary classics, with Les Misérables as the main focal point. Despite the novel’s status as an all-time classic, it’s so long that no one has ever bothered to try reading it. However, as someone who served as a stagehand for my high school’s production of the musical during sophomore year, I can say with absolute certainty that the book is about some stuck-up bitch named Gina Finchman who only got the part of Cosette because her boyfriend was playing Valjean, and he only got the part because his dad is friends with the theater director. So, even though neither of them can stay on key to save their lives, they both get to live happily ever after and enjoy the praise that some people would love to have. Also, there’s something about bread in there.

Now that you’ve gotten the rundown on the festival’s hottest selection of books, you’re officially ready to hit the town and show off your fancy-dancy knowledge of words and such. Are there any books here that you’re especially interested in not reading? Which ones are you going to tell your friends to read so you can pass their opinions off as your own? Will you rent them off of Audible because you’re rich and think you’re better than me? Comment your answer down below! Just know that I will ignore it because I don’t know how to read.

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