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Books and short stories from ASU alumni, students

What to read to celebrate National Book Month this October


Collage of book covers.
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October 17, 2023

This October during National Book Month, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University is taking the time to appreciate the joys of reading and writing.

We’ve curated a few books and collections of short stories written by alumni and students from The College’s Department of English and The Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing to add to your reading list. 

These books and short stories tell compelling narratives that highlight their lives and the lives of many others covering topics from battling zombies and solving crimes in a dystopian future to stories of identity and family.

Books

Book cover with illustration of a woman hitting a zombie with a cricket bat

“Eat Your Heart Out”
By Kelly deVos

This young adult thriller is a mix of the zombie movie “Shaun of the Dead” and the coming-of-age film “Dumplin"; “Eat Your Heart Out” is about a group of teens battling zombies.

DeVos, who received a bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing in 2016, blends humor, horror and science fiction in this epic fight for survival.

Main character Vivian Ellenshaw finds herself forced into a van and sent off to a fat camp in Flagstaff, Arizona, with her ex-best friend, a jock and the camp owner’s snobby son. From the moment she arrives at Camp Featherlite, she senses something is off. Soon after, the camp is overrun by ravenous zombies.

DeVos, a Gilbert, Arizona, native writes young adult fiction novels focusing on topics of body positivity. Her debut novel “Fat Girl On a Plane” was named one of Reader’s Digest Magazine's list of “50 Best Summer Reads of All Time.”

Book cover with illustration of character standing on futuristic screens in a futuristic city

“eJunky”
By Nicholas Tana

The sci-fi noir graphic novel “eJunky,” by Department of English alum Nicholas Tana, is set in a dystopian future where technology has reshaped society.

In the year 2055, Hector Holmes is a disgraced investigator who nearly overdosed on the alternative drug known as Torch. That’s when he is recruited and asked to help stop a terrorist group from distributing Torch to start a revolution.

Through the journey, Holmes and his partners scour the city, look for clues in black market-sold memories and rely on his mind in pursuit of the group.

Tana is a writer, producer, director and musician. He is the creator of the graphic novel “Hell’s Kitty,” which spawned a web series, a feature film in 2018 and an award-winning musical at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2019.

Book cover with illustrations of two people in a doorway in the sky above a bridge

“The Bridge”
By Bill Konigsberg

A young adult novel, “The Bridge," by ASU alum Bill Konigsberg, tells the story of two teenagers who meet at their lowest moments.

The two main characters, Aaron and Tillie, are strangers who are both having suicidal thoughts. Their paths cross when they simultaneously arrive at the George Washington Bridge, intending to jump. 

Aaron is described as “a gay misfit” struggling with depression and loneliness. Tillie isn’t sure what her problem is — only that she will never be good enough.

A former sportswriter and editor with The Associated Press and ESPN, Konigsberg is an award-winning author of six young adult books. His 2020 book, “The Music of What Happens,” received two starred reviews and has been optioned for a film.

Book cover with totem animals around edge

“Thinning Blood: A Memoir of Family, Myth and Identity”
By Leah Myers

A memoir from ASU creative writing alum Leah Myers, “Thinning Blood: A Memoir of Family, Myth and Identity” blends Native folklore and a search for identity.

Myers, one of the last members of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe in her family line, tells the story of her family history through the stories of four generations of women in her family — beginning with her great-grandmother, the last full-blooded Native American of their lineage.

Myers weaves in tribal folktales, the history of Native genocide and the larger story of how, as she puts it, her “culture is being bleached out.”

Through personal stories and experiences, she tells an honest story of heritage, family and sense of belonging.

Short stories

Book cover with illustrations of colorful leaves

“Aftermath: A Short Story”
By Frankie Concepcion

A master’s degree student in the Department of English creative writing program, Frankie Concepcion released her first fiction short story, “Aftermath: A Short Story,” in May 2023.

The story follows cousins Lena and Lily, who were inseparable as children. Together in their ancestral home in the Philippines, they created worlds full of magic and wonder. But when Lena returns home after years, she finds her cousin changed in unexpected ways. Suddenly what was supposed to be a beautiful reunion has become a matter of life and death.

This short story is rooted in Filipino myth and folklore, as the story asks us to reckon with the deep power and bond of girlhood. The story illuminates the ways we betray ourselves and others, hold our guilt and answer for our actions.

Book cover with illustration of a person sitting in a hollowed out tree

“Maybe This is What I Deserve”
By Tucker Leighty-Phillips

The “Maybe This Is What I Deserve” fiction stories are a series of mythologies: of childhood, of Appalachia, of seeing the world through the 3D glasses of poverty.

The stories “dip their toes between sentiment and realism" — from a whirlpool swallowing a boy in a family pool and a girl befriending the mice her mother can’t afford to eradicate, to a group of children forming a secret society in the walls of a fast-food play place.

Using the logic of childhood, ASU creative writing alum Leighty-Phillips builds a world of wonder and tells a story of working-class, rural living.

Book cover with illustration of florescent colored flowers

“The Last Catastrophe”
By Allegra Hyde

A collection of short stories published in 2023, “The Last Catastrophe” is a hopeful, speculative collection of stories about humanity grappling with a world transformed by climate change.

Nothing is as it seems in this universe, yet the challenges faced throughout the collection mirror those we face in our modern age. The 15 stories in this collection explore a myriad of potential futures through the concept of “global weirding” and planetary and social disruptions due to climate change.

Hyde graduated from ASU with a master’s degree in creative writing in 2015. Since then, she has published “The Last Catastrophe” and the novel “Eleuthiera,” which was named a “Best Book of 2022” by The New Yorker.

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