I went through my bookshelves, my Kobo account, and my Influence Journal to collect my top reads from this year and all-time.
Note: this is not a complete list of books I recommend for writers. That's a vertical spiral of emergence, and I hope it goes on forever!
Fun fact: new releases get about 4 months to do well on the shelves before they're returned to the publisher to be replaced by new titles. Because writers are the ones creating culture through story, we need to read outside the margins of mainstream market economy.
When we override the "new and shiny is better!" mindset we can discern what's actually interesting and worth reading, regardless of the pub date. We discover books we missed, books that didn't interest us before now, and books that have been on our to-read list for a long time. So you'll see both new releases and backlisted titles here.
Ready to meet some of my favourite authors, stylists, thinkers, and artists?
Here are some highlights...
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders was particularly inspiring — a story that integrates technology and nature in a way I haven’t seen before. She started writing these as short stories and then those became chapters in the novel, so this is an interesting read for craft and plot construction.
Trickster Drift is book 2 of Eden Robinson’s Trickster Trilogy. It’s only listed in audio format on Bookshop.org, and you’ll notice it is currently backordered. I’m putting it here to represent the whole trilogy! The first book, Son of a Trickster, is one of my favourites of all time (I featured it for a whole month in one of our Centered book clubs), and you can still get it at Indigo, download it as an ebook, and find it used on Amazon, I checked. It’s worth the hunt.
The Very Nice Box by Laura Blackett and Eve Gleichman was recommended by Seth Godin, and it’s simply delightful. Also, this is a book co-written by two people! I’m so curious how they did it, with such a unified narrative voice. The writing is exceptionally clean, minimal, and well-designed.
Cultish by Amanda Montell was a gift from my friend Theresa Reed. A book that researches cults of personality and influence, with a focus on linguistics and cultural studies. Delicious. I’ve given it to countless friends since reading it.
No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood is a phenomenon. I love it when poets decide to write novels, because they just do whatever they want with form and content, like they’re artists or something. This book is a startling reflection, like looking into a mirror in a waking dream.
I impulsively bought Happy Go Lucky by David Sedaris at Shoppers Drug Mart when I was on a bandaids and toothpaste errand — the cover stopped me in my tracks. The image makes me laugh out loud every time I see it, and that signature quality of horrific-funny is in every essay. True joy.
Speaking of laughing while reading, if you haven’t given yourself the gift of reading Motherless Brooklyn yet, let this be your day. There’s nothing like it. Lethem’s use of language, dialogue and subtext is a craft win. A perennial favourite.
The newest release on the list: The Mother Act by Heidi Reimer is available for preorder (it comes out in the spring). I highly recommend you get one for yourself and a friend, right now. You will want to read and debrief about it together! Especially recommended for anyone who has a mother. Or is a mother. Or is a daughter. Or has a daughter.
Photo credit (top):
I have a new online bookstore! No more Amazon links, yay!
When you shop for books online using bookshop.org, you can pick your local bookstore to stay local. They ship your order to you — and they share profits directly with your local independent bookstore and community.
I also get a small credit for selling the books I recommend, so if you order through my shelves, thank you.
Logistics are centralized in the USA and the UK so far. So until they get a Canadian option set up, I'll be shopping at my local indie.
Canadians: here are our independent bookstores, listed by province and territory. Create your shopping list ahead of time and connect to one of the humans who work there.