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My Friend Dahmer
Derf Backderf
Unlike many of the other cold-blooded, psychotic serial killers that we've seen throughout history, there's something remarkably "different" about Dahmer’s mind, his story, and his life. He had a considerably normal upbringing and, during his school...
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City
A Novel
Alessandro Baricco
An intellectually powerful and refreshing narrative seen through the eyes of a boy prodigy with a strong will and an overactive imagination. This book has many dimensions - it's both complex but child-like, metaphysical and intensely thought-provoking, romantic in its all of its subtleties. I fall in love with it every time I read it...
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Hyperbole and a Half
Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
Allie Brosh
READ ALL THE THINGS!!!!! —Recommended by Anah, City Lights Books. This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative— like maybe someone who isn't me wrote it...
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Eating Animals
Jonathan Safran Foer
Like many young Americans, Jonathan Safran Foer spent much of his teenage and college years oscillating between enthusiastic carnivore and occasional vegetarian. As he became a husband, and then a father, the moral dimensions of eating became...
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The Autistic Brain
Helping Different Kinds of Minds Succeed
Temple Grandin
—Recommended by Anah, City Lights Books Temple Grandin may be the most famous person with autism, a condition that affects 1 in 88 children. Since her birth in 1947, our understanding of it has undergone a great transformation, leading to more hope than ever...
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Wear Your Dreams
My Life in Tattoos
Ed Hardy
This is a fascinating look into the life of a legend – his beginnings, his rise to fame in the 60's and 70's, and beyond. Written in a stream of consciousness type of format, it’s easily digestible and provides valuable insight into the world of tattooing. If you’re a tattoo fanatic, this is a must-MUST-read. —Recommended by Anah, City Lights
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It Chooses You
Miranda July
July is an incredible artist. She's also a film director, actress and screenwriter (Me and You and Everyone We Know) and this book chronicles her strange yet endlessly intriguing creative process. She finds herself with writer's block during...
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The Trip to Echo Spring
On Writers and Drinking
Olivia Laing
Olivia Laing took an epic road trip across the states, to various spots that were previously associated with famous alcoholic writers, in an effort to understand all the ways that booze affected them - their lives, their loved ones, and ultimately, their writing. Laing is a fantastic writer, having successfully dissected a tragic illness that is..
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Where the Heart Beats
John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists
Kay Larson
In this stunning biography of John Cage, Larson investigates how Buddhist concepts shaped Cage's approach to art, and the influence it had on other artists of his era (ie. Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg, etc.). If you're a fan of Cage, you will...
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Lolita
Vladimir Nabokov
I've been a book lover all my life, but it wasn't until Lolita that I fully began to realize and appreciate the art of literature. Nabokov's style of writing will grip your heart mercilessly and refuse to let go - to the point where you'll empathize wholeheartedly with its twisted and tortured narrator. Forget the controversy that surrounds it...
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There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, and He Hanged Himself
Love Stories
Ludmilla Petrushevskaya
This woman's writing is fiercely raw and uninhibited, and I fell deeply in love with it as soon as I opened this book. Don't be fooled by the title. Sure, these fables are dark and gloomy. But they're also remarkably complex and mysterious...
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Hallucinations
Oliver Sacks
In another fascinating work, Sacks (The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat) unravels the mysteries of the mind in this neurological investigation of a mysterious, yet surprisingly common phenomenon. Using patient stories and personal anecdotes as his...
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The Book of Other People
Zadie Smith
If "hell is other people" (as Sartre once said), then this book affirms just the opposite. To raise money for 826 New York, Zadie Smith commissioned 22 of today's most provocative contemporary writers to "make somebody up." The result? A diverse collection of fantastic character sketches that both entertain and arouse the imagination.