Books

This list is more for me than anyone else. I read a lot but have a horrible memory, so I wanted to keep track of what I’ve read throughout the year, with the most recent at the top (except graphic novels/comics – grouped at the bottom). If it’s something I would recommend, I’ll bold it. Let me know if you have any trouble getting a hold of a copy of something here you’re wanting to read, as nearly everything I read is a physical book I’ve bought, and I tend to keep any book I don’t hate.

2021

  • Ada Palmer, Too Like the Lightning (I decided to re-read this series from the beginning to get ready for the 4th book to come out, this fall. I was unsure about it the first time around, but am enjoying the heck out of it this time.
  • David Duchovny, Miss Subways (Yes, that David Duchovny. I never watched a single second of The X-Files until a couple months ago, and now we’ve worked our way to exactly halfway through its 11-season run. I already adored Gillian Anderson but didn’t expect to absolutely love this show. Duchovny is pretty cool too, so I had to check out this novel of his in particular [he’s written a few already], described as some sort of Twin Peaks meets American Gods meets a love letter to NYC. It was quite charming, not unlike Fox Mulder, and it made me miss NYC once again.)
  • Lisa Robertson, The Baudelaire Fractal (I feel a certain kinship with this author, like this is the book I would write if I wrote a book. Not the sort of book, but the book [well, with my personal details inserted]. To the extent that when the narrator describes lying alone on a bed in a hotel room, I became that narrator, describing a different but yet very similar hotel room I once occupied in another life, ruminating on the same thoughts. She also mentioned Limi Feu, a name I haven’t heard since that previous life.)
  • Christie Golden, Star Wars: Dark Disciple (Goodness gracious, this book, created from unmade Clone Wars episodes, is fantastic. And, never thought I’d say this, but Asajj Ventress is my new favourite Star Wars character [after Leia and Ahsoka].)
  • Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination
  • John Jackson Miller, Star Wars: A New Dawn (Hera Syndulla + Kanan Harris/Caleb Dume forever)
  • Carlos Labbé, Loquela
  • Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
  • Helen Oyeyemi, Gingerbread
  • Mieko Kawakami, Breasts and Eggs
  • David Bowie and Enda Walsh, Lazarus: The Complete Book and Lyrics (Read this through a second time since I was finally able to see a recording of the play, streaming [until Jan. 10] for the 5th anniversary of Bowie leaving us. I thought seeing the play would make it all make sense since I had plenty of logistical questions after reading the script the first time. However, the play is simply a bit of a mess, both via the script and live show. That said, the visuals are quite stunning, the music is obviously great, and the performances by Michael C. Hall and Sophia Anne Caruso alone made it worth the 2 hours. And then with rereading the script directly after, the book’s intro, written by Walsh, makes the nonsensical parts of the mess a tiny bit more…sensical, or it at least stops me from needing to figure out what was going on.)
  • Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
  • Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, Ascender (2019-present), issues #11-17
  • Robert Kirkman and Lorenzo De Felici, Oblivion Song (2018-present), issues #25-32

2020

2019

  • Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (A heartbreaking book/letter about life, death, beauty, love, language, and how they’re all the same thing [I think].)
  • Vivek Shraya, She of the Mountains (Ahhhhh, read this now.)
  • Olga Tokarczuk, Flights (I’m not sure I’d call this a novel rather than a collection of short stories [some really really short, some novella-length] with a shared theme. Whatever it is though, it’s fascinating.)
  • Cristina Rivera Garza, The Taiga Syndrome
  • Eric Idle, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography (Another “read” via audiobook, we had actually started this before Mr. Idle’s Python colleague’s book, but at some point we kind of got bored of the post-Python parts that had a lot of dropped names that we weren’t familiar with [or cared not for] anyway. But once we finished Mr. Palin’s book and still had another hour left in our drive to the mountains, we put this back on and were delighted that the subject had returned back to familiar ground, with the Python reunion in 2014, and a devastatingly funny/sad tribute to the great Robin Williams. A must read [or better yet, listen, as Mr. Idle reads the book] for any Python fan. #MontyPythonForever)
  • Michael Palin, Erebus: One Ship, Two Epic Voyages, and the Greatest Naval Mystery of All Time (I meant to buy a physical copy of this, but I’m quite glad I “read” this via audiobook, as it’s read by the lovely Mr. Palin himself, and it was a great companion while driving down to catch a ferry [especially one that I knew would not have the same tragic end as the Erebus] in unknown-to-me mountain territory. For some reason I’ve been fascinated for quite some time by stories of searching for the Northwest Passage, so it was a no-brainer to check out the results of this self-imposed investigation by the funniest traveler alive. What I didn’t expect is that I found the story of the first expedition to the Antarctic the most riveting part of the book, perhaps because [spoiler alert] I knew that everyone wasn’t going to die on that expedition. At any rate, it was a timely read as photos from the dives down to the sites of the sunken Erebus and its companion, Terror, are just starting to be released to the public.)
  • Jordy Rosenberg, Confessions of the Fox: A Novel (Holy moly. This is the raciest yet most informative yet most page-turn-y book I have ever read. I had never heard of the folk heroes whose stories are reimagined in this novel, and I recognize that it was not really written for me as a cisgendered person, but I think everyone should read this, study it, and follow up its extensive bibliography. It’s absolutely incredible. Thank you to whoever recommended it on Twitter, back when I actually checked Twitter.)
  • Cixin Liu, The Three-Body Problem
  • Sigrún Pálsdóttir, History. A Mess.
  • Sophokles, Antigone, translated by Anne Carson (This is the version of the play that was directed by Ivan van Hove and discussed in Will Aitken’s Antigone Undone, which I read last year. An absolutely beautiful translation of an essential piece of ancient literature.)
  • Marcia Douglas, Notes from a Writer’s Book of Cures and Spells (This author blows my mind. I was holding onto this one for quite a while, not wanting to finish all her novels [3] too quickly, but I couldn’t wait any longer. It was marvelous.)
  • Carlos Labbé, Navidad & Matanza
  • Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth (Thanks to Lauren [a.k.a. mydearthing] for recommending this one. It was utterly delightful.)
  • Rodrigo Fresán, The Invented Part (This is part one of a trilogy. I really have no idea where the other two books could possibly go after the weird and wonderful ride this one took me on. It was so captivating that I wasn’t even that upset about all the typos [Mr. Fresán, please let me know if you are looking for a proofreader…].)
  • Anne Carson, Norma Jeane Baker of Troy: a version of Euripides’ Helen (So yes, a play from the indomitable Anne Carson, merging the story of Helen of Troy with Marilyn Munroe. And a cloud. And some Greek lessons. Yep.)
  • Carlos Labbé, Spiritual Choreographies (This is one of the most bizarrely written books I’ve ever read. I’m going to have to reread it at least once. And get his other books.)
  • Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha (I always passed this one by even though I’m a huge Hesse fan, but it’s all about timing.)
  • Alan Watts, Still the Mind: An Introduction to Meditation (For the 3rd weekend in a row, I’ve read a whole Alan Watts book, front to back. They’re small, but still – I haven’t read fiction for 2 weeks. That’s very very odd for me. But I needed these books.)
  • Alan W. Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety (Good grief, I so needed to find this guy in this very moment of my life. Again, thank you YOB.)
  • Alan W. Watts, The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are (This will likely be one of the most important books I will ever read. Will need to process it for a while. Thank you, YOB.)
  • Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, Call Me Zebra (How I keep randomly finding books that pertain to me in the exact instant that I end up reading them is beyond me. The main character of this novel is unlike any other I’ve ever encountered and somehow I can completely relate, and there are YOBisms throughout. I kept folding corners of pages so I can return to particular passages. Amazing.)
  • Denis Johnson, The Name of the World (This is the very first Denis Johnson book I’ve read that has a question mark for me. Perhaps I’m not in the right place for it or just not the right person for it in general. That said, there is one particular scene in it that will stick in my mind for a long time.)
  • Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings (This is the third book in my random Bob Marley kick, started off last year by Marcia Douglas’ novel. Utterly fascinating. Looking forward to reading James’ newest next.)
  • Renee Gladman, Houses of Ravicka (This is the fourth [and last, I think] book in Gladman’s series of books about an imaginary city-state where the language, social interactions, air, houses, and streets are fascinatingly strange. Now that I’m in the market for a house of my own, this book made me wonder if I’ll end up buying a house that is invisible, and whether I’ll notice its invisibility right away or not…)
  • Alyssa Herrman, YOB: The Raw Within (This is a coffee table photography book with a few quotes and descriptions sprinkled throughout, the type of book I rarely buy, but it’s about my [new] favorite band ever [YOB] and one of my favorite albums ever [Our Raw Heart] and one of my favorite human beings ever [Mike Scheidt], as gushed about in a previous post. If you know of YOB, you know about this book. If you don’t know about YOB, look them up, then get this book. And all of their albums.)
  • Denis Johnson, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden (Oof, this book. Johnson was one of the greatest writers we had, and this is the last book from him. Tears were shed.)
  • John Darnielle, Master of Reality (33 1/3 series)
  • Sergio Chejfec, Baroni: A Journey (For some reason, getting through this was one of the most painful reading experiences of recent memory. It’s so strange since I absolutely loved the first book I read of Chejfec’s [My Two Worlds], which had the same translator [Margaret Carson]. On one hand I feel like the reading experience was the deliberate result of the author’s meandering writing style/purpose. However, my therapist actually told me to stop reading this book after I told her how much grief it was causing me, with her also commenting that my resolve to get through it just for the sake of getting through it mirrored my approach to things in my life that weren’t healthy/useful/wanted and yet kept around because I didn’t feel I was allowed to change the situation. Well. Anyway, book finished, against my therapist’s orders. Sigh.)
  • Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh (editors), David Bowie Is (I bought this as a consolation prize for not being able to go see the David Bowie Is exhibit in NYC. If the book is a good representation of the exhibit in its original form [i.e., when it first ran in London, while Bowie had not yet returned to the stars], the book is a pretty good stand-in from my perspective – I’m more of a post-Ziggy era fan, and the book/exhibit seemed to focus on the Ziggy and earlier stuff. Also, there are quite a few interesting essays among the photos, so it’s more than just an exhibit catalogue. My favorite bits, naturally, are the close ups of the McQueen costumes. However, I believe the exhibit for NYC was updated to include the Blackstar/life without Bowie era, so, well, consolation not completely successful.)
  • Darren Aronofsky and Kent Williams, The Fountain: A Graphic Novel (My second time reading this, but something that I should read once a year. The graphic novel version of one of my favorite movies ever made. Absolutely gorgeous.)
  • Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, Ascender (2019-present), issues #1-5 (Sequel to the Descender series that ended last year.)
  • Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, Monstress (2015-present), issues #19-24 (Favorite comic ever.)
  • Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, Pearl (2018-2019), issues #6-12
  • Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack, Cover (2018-2019), issues #4-6
  • Robert Kirkman and Lorenzo De Felici, Oblivion Song (2018-present), issues #9-18
  • Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead (2003-2019 – R.I.P.!!!), issues #187-193

2018

  • Roger Steffens, So Much Things to Say: The Oral History of Bob Marley
  • Dave Eggers, How We Are Hungry
  • Sjón, Codex 1962: A Trilogy
  • Renee Gladman, Calamities
  • Dubravka Ugresic, Fox
  • Maggie Rowe, Sin Bravely: A Memoir of Spiritual Disobedience
  • Melanie Rickey, Inferno: Alexander McQueen (A brief behind-the-scenes look at McQueen’s often overlooked “Dante” A/W 1996/7 collection, which really cemented what the McQueen aesthetic was. Highly recommend reading Peter Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor first to get a better sense of the described atmosphere of the show.)
  • Tanya Tagaq, Split Tooth
  • Renee Gladman, Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge (#3 in Gladman’s Ravicka series)
  • Renee Gladman, The Ravickians (#2 in Gladman’s Ravicka series)
  • Can Xue, Frontier (If you ever wondered what reading a dream would be like, this book is for you. Absolutely mind-blowing with every turn of the page.)
  • Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (As with Eddie Izzard’s autobiography, though normally I don’t include books I’ve “read” via audiobook, I did also buy a physical copy of this book, so, yeah. Due to availability, I “read” this before the first Dirk Gently book [Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency], but since I had seen the Netflix series, there was no confusion at all jumping into the second book, other than being surprised at the differences in the physical description of the book vs. Netflix Dirk.)
  • Marcia Douglas, Madam Fate
  • Macedonio Fernández, The Museum of Eterna’s Novel (This is one of the most difficult books I’ve ever read [and I quite often felt like I was being punked by the author, a feeling I’m quite certain I was meant to feel], but I had to finish it such it had such genius ideas and quotes in it. I wrote down at least 4 quotes to use in the manuscript I’m working on, and was inspired to write a few chapters just because of it. I’m glad I persevered until the end, as I think the last line will be the ending quote for my manuscript…If you’re interested in metafiction and influential Latin American/Argentine literature, do attempt this.)
  • Theresa Rebeck, Seminar: A Comedy
  • Will Aitken, Antigone Undone: Juliette Binoche, Anne Carson, Ivo van Hove, and the Art of Resistance (This book was a complete surprise, basically jumping out at me when scanning the shelves at my local bookstore for Tibullus and Anne Carson. The book has three modes: 1) a personal account of the rather traumatic effects that watching Anne Carson’s translation of Sophocles’ Antigone on stage over and over and over has on the author; 2) interviews with Binoche, who plays the lead character, Carson, whose translation the play is based on, Robert Currie, Carson’s husband, and van Hove, the director of the play [who also directed Bowie’s Lazarus]; and 3) a discussion of five others who have grappled with this intense play [Hegel, Kierkegaard, Virginia Woolf, Judith Butler, and Bonnie Honig], and how their lives informed their interpretations. While I’ll read anything to do with Anne Carson [the main reason why I picked this up], the personal account is what hit me the most, completely relatable in terms of how I felt walking out of the McQueen documentary. If you’re familiar with Sophocles’ play at all, this is a must read.)
  • Marcia Douglas, The Marvellous Equations of the Dread, a Novel in Bass Riddim (This is perhaps my favorite book ever. Read my thoughts here.)
  • Sergio Chejfec, My Two Worlds (Another from my first haul of Open Letter books, this is the first that I completely identify with, as a walker, as an avoider of people, and as someone who jumps from one thought to the next, finding associations between things without real associations. While set in Brazil, I can’t help but picture both Chejfec/the protagonist and myself wandering through Central Park. A pure delight.)
  • Antoine Volodine, Bardo or Not Bardo (I was reading this in tandem with another from my first haul of Open Letter books, this one winning the race since it’s rather light and funny, for something all about dead people. Can’t wait to read more from this author.)
  • Alejandro Zambra, The Private Lives of Trees (This is the first to arrive from my first wave of books from the Open Letter press. Coming in at 98 pages [though really 88], this is a gorgeous book you can read in one sitting. But, once the story grabs you [i.e., right away], you both want to and don’t want to get to the end. I’m just realizing that Zambra had come across my radar before when I took a look at his book Multiple Choice, and I’m sure to pick that up now.)
  • Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor (Read for Duncan Jones’ #BowieBookClub. Creepy af.)
  • Gwen Moffat, Space Below My Feet (When my man was recovering from surgery last year and he was searching for anything at all to watch that he hadn’t already watched, we accidentally discovered a pretty cool feature on our PlayStation called Red Bull TV. We quickly found out that the best part of this whole ‘channel’ is a show called Reel Rock, which features a different mountain/rock climber or climbing team/project each episode. As the TV was on almost indefinitely for the patient, I largely ignored what was on, but was drawn into this one beautiful episode that featured a British female climber, Claire Carter, talk about one of her climbing/life heroes, Gwen Moffat. Having met a group of nomadic climbers who lived a lifestyle that intrigued her, Moffat deserted from the army in 1945 and became a nomadic climber herself, hitchhiking around from mountain range to mountain range, largely living outdoors or in barns along the way and taking odd jobs or selling her writing whenever she could just so she could climb [and mostly barefooted, at that], eventually becoming the best female climber in Britain and the first woman who was a certified mountain guide. Hearing about Moffat’s completely unconventional life and Carter’s own desire to live for the moment was captivating, and I couldn’t help but cry both times we watched the episode. It just switched on something in my brain, and I had to get this book [which took a bit of tracking down]. I have never done any mountain or rock climbing and have zero plans to, but this memoir was still absolutely fascinating, if not life-changing.)
  • Rodrigo Fresán, The Bottom of the Sky (Though I was quick to judge after the first couple pages, thinking this novel wouldn’t be for me, this book then just as quickly changed my mind and firmly held my attention for the remainder, and I was racing to the end to figure out just what the huck was happening. Without saying too much, it’s basically an homage to sci-fi novels, while perhaps [but is it?] also being a sci-fi novel itself. There are so many references and little details scattered throughout that, as soon as I finished it, I knew I would soon be reading it again to find what I missed. I can’t wait to get my hands on any English translation I can of this brilliant writer’s work.)
  • Renee Gladman, Event Factory (Ah, I don’t even know what to say about this book. It’s a wonderfully weird and delightful mix of Kafka-esque-ness and Nick Cave-ish writing, with a nice heaping scoop of linguistic/anthropological…something. This is the first of four books set in the mysterious yellow city of Ravicka, and I’m excited to read the rest. And anything the Dorothy publishing project has put out, really [see the blurb on the Leonora Carrington book I read last year].)
  • Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, Obsidio – The Illuminae Files_03
  • Eddie Izzard, Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens (Normally I don’t include books I’ve “read” via audiobook, but I did also buy a physical copy of this book, so, yeah. If you’re a fan of her stand-up [and I’m assuming anyone planning on reading this is], I would highly recommend listening to it over reading it anyway, seeing as Eddie reads it herself and embellishes the already humorous bits, via lots of extra/extended footnotes and asides. Eddie Izzard is definitely one of my favorite humans [anyone notice the Eddie quote in this blog’s footer?], so I obviously highly recommend this.)
  • Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, Gemina – The Illuminae Files_02
  • Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, Illuminae – The Illuminae Files_01 (This book was recommended by a bookstore employee who knew nothing of the book, other than the fact that it physically looked somewhat similar to the word art and such encountered in a Mark Z. Danielewski book, and I needed something weird to read, stat. She nailed it.)
  • Halldór Laxness, World Light (This is probably my least favorite of the 5 Laxness books I’ve read so far, but I’m always sad to not have a Laxness book on the go. Though my aim is to read all of the Laxness books that are available in English, this one was on my list after reading the description of Kjartan Sveinsson’s gorgeous opera Der Klang Der Offenbarung Des Göttlichen, which features lyrics taken from the book and translated into German.)
  • Nick Cave, And the Ass Saw the Angel (Though I already had 4 other books on the go, I couldn’t resist starting this once I got my used copy [a reissue by Henry Rollins’ press, 2.13.61] from Powell’s. And once I started, I found it hard to put down, and was thinking about Euchrid, the main character, while I wasn’t reading it. A book hasn’t done that for quite some time, and yet I’m simultaneously sad and relieved to be done it, as it’s a completely engrossing read but also a constant, almost draining struggle between absolutely despising Euchrid and feeling the utmost sympathy for him. Definitely recommend for those up to the challenge.)
  • Sophokles, Antigonick, translated by Anne Carson
  • Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
  • Anne Carson, Float (Carson’s writing is magical and unexplainable, always making me want to write something bizarre and wonderful. And though this technically took me about a year to read, the structure of this ‘book’ – a series of completely separate booklets of various unnumbered lengths in a slipcover meant to be read in any order – means that it can be left and returned to at any point. And indeed, after a long break after my first sitting, I reread what had been and remains my favorite booklet of the bunch, “Wildly Constant”, set in Stykkishólmur, the cute Icelandic town where we took a ferry to the Westfjords after first driving to the end of a road to look at the closed Vatnasafn, or ‘Library of Water’. This poem was commissioned in 2009 by the Vatnasafn’s ‘librarian’, Roni Horn, for a performance accompanied by music by Kjartan Sveinsson [once of Sigur Rós] and Ólöf Arnalds. What I didn’t know before logging this book is that Carson did a residency at Vatnasafn [in 2008], during which she composed the poem “Cage a Swallow Can’t You But You Can’t Swallow a Cage”, which Sveinsson responded to with the musical piece of the same name that I have listened to countless times, performed in NY at that White Light Festival that I will always regret missing. Everything for me lately seems to always return to NY and Iceland…)
  • Denis Johnson, The Laughing Monsters
  • Mark Z. Danielewski, The Fifty Year Sword
  • James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (Read for Duncan Jones’ #BowieBookClub.)
  • Ada Palmer, The Will to Battle
  • Michael Chabon, Mysteries of Pittsburgh
  • Reinhard Kleist, Nick Cave: Mercy on me (If you’re a Nick Cave fan, this is an absolute must. Kleist magically weaves a biography on Cave [circa teenage years and The Boys Next Door up to the Bad Seeds’ Push the Sky Away] with characters from Cave’s lyrics, leaving you wondering what is fact and what is fiction, not unlike the film 20,000 Days on Earth. Absolutely brilliant, and definitely one of my favorite graphic novels ever. Kleist also wrote a Johnny Cash graphic novel, which is now on my list…)
  • Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack, Cover (2018-present), issues #1-3
  • Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, Pearl (2018-present), issues #1-5
  • Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, Monstress (2015-present), issues #13-18 (As stated below, this will likely be my favorite comic ever. It’s like Jessica Jones mixed with Sandman, and art that calls to mind Alexander McQueen. Gorgeous.)
  • Robert Kirkman and Lorenzo De Felici, Oblivion Song (2018-present), issues #1-8
  • Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead (2003-present), issues #1-186
  • Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, Descender (2015-2018), issues #1-32 (Love love love this series. Sad it was fairly short, but excited that it will continue next year in Ascender.)
  • Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin, Muntsa Vicente, Barrier (2016, re-released 2018), issues #1-5 (I honestly just picked this up because the landscape format looked really cool, but this comic is so relevant with Drumpf’s wall and hatemongering towards immigrants, hence why this 5-part is being re-released in print after being online since 2015. Aside from the format, what this comic does that I haven’t seen elsewhere [besides The Familiar] is that half the text is in Spanish without any translation, the point being to both convey the confusion, fear, and urgency associated with immigrants trying to illegally cross the border, as well as to force the reader to try and at least pick out words in an attempt to understand someone different [and yet not that different] from yourself.)
  • Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, Jessica Jones (2016-2018), issues #15-18 (R.I.P. to this brilliant series. Someone else will continue to be writing Jessica comics, but without the creator of the character who got me interested in comics, I’m not sure I’ll keep reading. All the best at DC, Mr. Bendis!)
  • Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez, The Defenders (2017-2018), issues #8-10

2017

  • Ada Palmer, Seven Surrenders (Still not sure what I think about this series, but I will continue to read them…)
  • Sjón, The Whispering Muse (Well, this book was completely delightful, mixing Greek and Latin mythology with Icelandic/Scandinavian tales, starring a ridiculous main character who is fun to dislike. So my uncertainty about Sjón’s The Blue Fox [see below] isn’t due to his writing, but rather specific to the events of that book, not unlike how I wasn’t sure I liked Jeremy Irons as an actor after The Lion King until I saw Kingdom of Heaven and realized I conflated character and plot with the skill of the person. I have weird hang-ups, what can I say.)
  • Leonora Carrington, The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington (I had never heard of Leonora Carrington before seeing this collection of short stories recommended by my favorite bookstore, the Strand, I think in a list of must-read female authors. I’m typically not a fan of short stories in general, I think because I love being immersed in a single story for hours/days/months at a time, a story that I can’t wait to get back to once I do all my normal daytime adult things, and short stories are typically one-shot, wham bam thank you ma’am deals. But I had a gift card and felt like I should try something I normally wouldn’t spend my book dollars on, so I got this. And, my goodness, this is a clear winner of book of the year for me, and will quite likely remain my favorite short story collection of all time. As a surrealist painter, it makes sense that her writing is also surreal, and every single story in this collection is a complete delight, and a complete surprise. I will be getting everything I can get my hands on from her next year, no gift card necessary.)
  • Carrie Fisher, The Princess Diarist
  • Mark Z. Danielewski, The Familiar, Vol. 5 – Redwood (If you haven’t yet heard of this literary experiment, it’s not too late to join the ride. This is only #5 of 20-some planned volumes in a serial novel centered around a girl and her mysterious pet cat that are somehow connected with people from all over the world. While each book is over 800 pages, each is more like 200ish of actual text, the rest consisting of word art, illustrations, and perfectly designed space that suck you into the book’s wide-reaching world.)
  • Nick Cave, The Sick Bag Song (Easily one of my favorite books ever, this part tour diary/part bizarro epic poem makes me feel the teensiest bit better that I inexplicably missed seeing Nick Cave perform in my own city during the tour that is documented, particularly because the chapter on my city is clearly the best one in the whole 117-page book.)
  • John Green, Turtles All the Way Down
  • Denis Johnson, Already Dead: A Californian Gothic (This is unlike any of Denis Johnson’s other works, with very strong Hermann Hesse tones, perfect for reading around Halloween.)
  • Denis Johnson, Angels (R.I.P., one of the greatest modern writers)
  • Sjón, The Blue Fox (I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this book. It starts off like a screenplay for a Björk music video, which makes sense since the author writes lyrics for Björk, but then it gets like super dark. Which I’m totally fine with [e.g., my new favorite comic, Monstress], but maybe not when it has to do with one of the most magical creatures I’ve ever come across, the blue morph Arctic fox. I’ll reserve judgment until I read another Sjón book…)
  • Ada Palmer, Too Like the Lightning (I’m also not entirely sure how I feel about this book. I got a copy after reading that the writer had a similar style as Neal Stephenson, but with the ability to actually end a book well.
    And I can totally see that, but this is the first in a series [trilogy, I think?], so the end is still far off. I’m fascinated by the world that’s been built in the first book and do have some trust in the author since she’s a professor of history, but I’m a bit on edge about where the story is going to end up, based on the themes. Again, I’ll reserve judgment until I read the 2nd in the series…)
  • Oddný Eir, Land of Love and Ruins
  • Mayte Garcia, The Most Beautiful: My Life With Prince
  • Karl Ove Knausgaard, Some Rain Must Fall (My Struggle: 5) (Basically a maximalistic autobiography with possibly no/many embellished details and zero plot, this series is unlike any I’ve ever read before. Having randomly picked up the first in the series in my local bookstore, I’ve been tearing through each volume as soon as an English translation comes out. However, 5 books into this extremely voyeuristic series of 6 ‘novels’, I cycle between completely understanding the author and thinking what a pretentious git he [or at least his 20-something self] is. And perhaps exactly that is the appeal. The non-linear timeline from book to book is rather ingenious too, as I have no clue how the series will end, whether it’ll be a portrait of him as no longer a young man, or whether it’ll end Benjamin Button style.)
  • Mark Yarm, Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge (I started this book 2 years ago after I had suddenly discovered so-called ‘grunge’ music…yes, I know I was late to the game, but I had led a very sheltered life until university and am still discovering what should’ve been the music of my childhood…Really only knowing Pearl Jam, Temple of the Dog, Alice in Chains, and then Mad Season, I quickly got distracted looking up bands I wasn’t yet familiar with, like Green River. The day of Chris Cornell’s death, I picked this up again and finally finished it, discovering a whole plethora of new-to-me bands and albums in the process. Even without being from Seattle or even aware of the scene when it was happening, this book has affected me quite a bit, and I can’t help but feel retroactively connected to it all somehow, having just discovered these albums and listening to them non-stop and then reading about the environment that produced them and the too-often tragic ends of the bands. If you have any interest in the Seattle scene at the time, this is a must, with the warning that it’s, obviously, quite intense and hard to read at some times, particularly with Chris Cornell now gone as well.)
  • Mark Z. Danielewski, The Familiar, Vol. 4 – Hades
  • Leonard Cohen, The Favourite Game (I’ve been trying to familiarize myself with so-called great Canadian literature, but so far I’m just not getting it. Last year I tried and rather disliked Nicole Brossard’s Mauve Desert, though, granted, much of it was read in waiting rooms while my man was broken and Iceland was pushed 3 months further. I at least thought I’d do better with a novel from a songwriter, but Mr. Cohen was not the answer. Not sure what to try next from my own country, aside from the Anne Carson [Float] I have on the go…)
  • Halldór Laxness, Wayward Heroes
  • Neil Gaiman, Norse Mythology
  • John Darnielle, Universal Harvester (This is the 2nd most terrifying book I’ve ever read [the 1st being Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves], but the terror largely comes from how the book is crafted rather than what happens, a feat that requires perfect execution and literary command. I highly recommend this book…if you’re willing to be unsettled.)
  • Terry Jones, Douglas Adams’ Starship Titanic (Basically Monty Python does Hitchhiker’s Guide – totally delightful.)
  • Carrie Fisher, Postcards from the Edge (I don’t know why I didn’t find this book sooner – Carrie Fisher is a brilliant novelist.)
  • Carrie Fisher, Shockaholic
  • Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking (A must before reading Shockaholic.)
  • Walter Tevis, The Man Who Fell to Earth
  • Italo Calvino, If on a winter’s night a traveler (This is one of my favorite books ever.)
  • Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening and Volume 2: The Blood (I picked up the first volume randomly at my local comic book store, basically because of the art and Neil Gaiman’s recommendation on the cover. And after blowing through the collection of the first 6 issues in a couple hours, I think this will be my favorite comic ever. It’s like Jessica Jones mixed with Sandman, and art that calls to mind Alexander McQueen. Gorgeous.)
  • Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez, The Defenders (2017-present), issues #1-7 (This new series gives more Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, so it’s an obvious must for me. I have no current opinion on Iron Fist or Daredevil though, so this is their chance to convince me…)
  • Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, Jessica Jones (2016-present), issues #1-14
  • Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, Jessica Jones: Avenger (A must if you’ve read the Jessica Jones: Alias and Jessica Jones: The Pulse issues/collections and want to move onto the new Jessica Jones series.)