Yes, Shirley Jackson of “The Lottery” fame, the story everyone reads in 7th grade English class.

I’d never heard of this book, but when it arrived for me under the tree last Christmas, I knew immediately that it was obsession-worthy. That title! A protagonist nicknamed Merricat!

It is weird yet straightforward, the language is simple yet evocative. The descriptions of baked goods and little rituals alone make it memorable. Like “The Lottery,” the book deals in small town intolerance, tragic figures and all-around twistedness. I will not spoil the story for you, as the introduction and back cover of the admittedly beautiful edition I read did (whatever you do, don’t read that Jonathon Lethem essay until you’re done with the novel). But, please read this book. Preferably on an eerily gothic afternoon with strong winds whirring outside and tea in your cup.

Then, let me know if it would be weird to name my first child after Merricat.