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SUGGESTED READING LIST – WEEK 7

We missed a week, and we’re sorry. But we’re back at it again! Enjoy a book of essays that will change your way of thinking, a haunting novel exploring the afterlife, and an obvious must-read from an obviously iconic writer.

we tell ourselves storiesWe Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live: Collected Essays
Joan Didion (2006)
This collection includes Didion’s groundbreaking Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968) and The White Album (1979), which helped describe and define a generation. No one writes a sentence like Didion. Her voice is singular, ironic, iconic, smart, authoritative, and funny. Reading her take on 1968-era Haight-Ashbury will make you rethink everything you ever thought you knew about the American 60s.

Recommended by Katie Hae Leo – Associate Editor

 

 

 

The Ghost BrideThe Ghost Bride
Yangsze Choo
This is one of my all-time favorite stories. It follows Li Lan, a young woman from a respectable Chinese family in 1890’s Malaya, as she journeys through the afterlife. It’s an amazing novel.

Recommended by Nikita Boyer – Associate Editor

 

 

 

 

breakfast of championsBreakfast of Champions
Kurt Vonnegut
A favorite novel by Vonnegut is hard to choose, but when pressed, Breakfast of Champions is always the one I come back to. This novel, in my opinion, is the perfect representation of everything that made Vonnegut great–it is darkly humorous, fast-paced, absurd, illuminating in its exploration of the human condition, all while experimenting with and often exploding literary conventions.

Recommended by Jared Duran – Editor

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Keep the Heart of Literature Beating

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SUGGESTED READING LIST – WEEK 6

53410Blow-Up and Other Stories
Julio Cortazar
One of my favorite writers, Julio Cortazar’s stories present you with impossible things – the narrator becoming an axolotl, or a man vomiting rabbits – and makes them real and extraordinary. “Continuity of Parks” is one of my favorite stories and it’s only three pages long. This whole collection is outstanding.

Recommended by Dan Schwartz – Managing Editor

 

 

 

 

collected storiesCollected Stories
Lydia Davis (2009)
Davis’ work contains the DNA of prose poetry, flash memoir, and flash fiction — and it doesn’t just cross genres, it transcends them. Best of all, every time I read her I find myself compelled and inspired to write.

Recommended by Rosemarie Dombrowski – Editor

 

 

 

 

 

17235026The Girl with All the Gifts
M.R. Carey
Although the genre is trendy and can be trite, zombie apocalyptic novels can be good too. Here, a fungus is the zombifying culprit, though the standard features of genre are present: secret government labs, zombies who don’t act like zombies, ambushes of the undead, broken down cars and tense nights hiding in abandoned buildings. However, none of the people here are simply zombie fodder. Like Justin Cronin’s The Passage, this book’s tension is genuine because each character is thoroughly fleshed out and sympathetic. Also, no spoilers here, but the ending is the best combination of surprising yet inevitable.

Recommended by Mark Broeske – Associate Editor

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SUGGESTED READING LIST – WEEK 5

The FacadesThe Facades
Eric Lundgren

Lundgren’s first novel The Facades came out in Fall of 2013, and swiftly earned his writing comparisons to Franz Kafka, David Lynch, and Haruki Murakami. The Facades tells the tale of one man’s quest for his missing wife within the ghostly framework of the once-thriving Midwestern city of Trude. Through the eyes of Lundgren’s hapless legal clerk Sven Norberg, readers explore the post-modernist back alleys and crumbling buildings of Trude, and encounter with him the shifty and subversive characters tied to his wife’s disappearance. His search becomes a dark but quirky mystery, and expertly balances elements of dystopia and Americana. The Facades is a quick but fulfilling read.

Recommended by Mackenzie Brennan – Associate Editor

 

 

 

Life on the MississippiLife on the Mississippi
Mark Twain

If you like comprehensive books, this is one of them. Twain’s instantly recognizable voice with its undertone of amusement. Facts, experiences, history, tales, sights and sounds, how to steer a riverboat in two feet of water at night when you can’t see where you’re going – what more could you want?

Recommended by Charles Brownson – Associate Editor

 

 

 

the city in whichThe City in Which I Love You
Li-Young Lee

A lyric remembrance of the poet’s father and their family’s exile and migration to the United States. The work displays both a command of language and an emotional amplitude not often sustained through an entire collection. I return decade after decade to a particular poem in the book, “Arise, Go Down,” in which the father’s rose garden embodies all the beauty and thorniness of the human experience. Lee’s work deserves a revisit, not only for its craft, but also for its lens on the immigrant experience in our increasingly mosaic culture.

Recommended by Elyse Arring – Editor

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SUGGESTED READING LIST – WEEK 4

You like reading? We do too!

cover_bad_feministBad Feminist
Roxane Gaye (2014)

Gaye’s writing is intelligent, funny, and sharp. These essays are filled with wry observations written in accessible and smart prose. Contemporary thinkers like Gaye have their finger on the pulse of current feminist ideas and how they intersect with race, literature, popular culture, and myriad other dynamics. It’s a pleasure to read.

Recommended by Katie Hae Leo – Associate Editor

 

 

 

leaves of grassLeaves of Grass
Walt Whitman (1855)

First, “Song of Myself” is the undisputed gateway to the 20th C American lyric, but more importantly, Whitman articulates a spiritual philosophy that is anti-institutional and a social vision that calls for the communal celebration of equality (and homosexual expressions of love, if one is so inclined). If only the poets (of this variety) had replaced the priests and politicians like he predicted, maybe America would be a better place.

Recommended by Rosemarie Dombrowski – Editor

 

 

 

getting evenGetting Even
Woody Allen (1855)

Woody Allen’s prose is often, and I think unfairly, overlooked. This is one of those go-to books for when I need a really good laugh–I’m talking the snorting, clutching your sides, gasping for breath variety. In my opinion, this collection and two others (Without Feathers and Side Effects) are argument enough for Allen’s inclusion in the pantheon of Great American Humorists such as James Thurber and S.J. Perelman.

Recommended by Jared Duran – Editor