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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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The Bell Jar
Sylvia Plath
A harrowing portrait of depression, fearlessly illustrated by one of the most talented and incredible minds in modern literature. If you have an interest in understanding mental illness and its effects on creativity, let this be your cornerstone. Utterly devastating, but in the most beautiful way possible. It's one of my all-time favorites.
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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...