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Love Me Back
A Novel
Merritt Tierce
This novel is not perfect, but it is one of the few contemporary works of fiction that have lodged in my brain and poked at my softer parts once finished. It's cold, bitter work to get through this, but Tierce is a writer I'll be watching. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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The Sunken Cathedral
A Novel
Prose that refracts, that conjures the twisting paths of memories, that engulfs and soothes. Sad, lovely, and difficult to put down.—Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books Also recommended by Paul, City Lights Books
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Leaving Orbit
Notes from the Last Days of American Space Flight
Margaret Lazarus Dean
Feeling torn between great science writing, a searching memoir, a critique of government, and some literary criticism? Fear not, they can all be had in one volume, and this is it. A surprisingly emotional take on the end of NASA's space shuttle program—but so much more. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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The Argonauts
Maggie Nelson
An intrepid voyage out to the frontiers of the latest thinking about love, language, and family. Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts is a genre-bending memoir, a work of "autotheory" offering fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity, and the limitations and possibilities of love and language. At its center is a romance: the story of...
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The End of a Diary
Sarah Manguso
A strange thing happened when I finished this book: I realized I could not really remember what words had been said, but instead the deep sensations I felt while reading. This is a hypnotic exploration of time and memory that evokes much but prescribes little (and that's a good thing). —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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White Girls
Hilton Als
It is, simply put, a privilege to spend time with a writer like Hilton Als. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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The Empathy Exams
Leslie Jamison
If you've got a glowing, tender heart and wonder how it's possible to feel so much, this is the book for you. Hypochondriacs are advised to skip essay #2.—Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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The Leopard
A Novel
Guiseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
Starts off like a pleasurable, tipsy picnic in the hot sun; like so many picnics, the mood sours into gorgeous despair. A novel to savor with wine in hand. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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His Dark Materials
Omnibus Edition
Philip Pullman
Has that quality shared by all great books, in that it reveals new things about itself and you with every re-read. As a bonus, it will also make you cry like a baby each time (or is that just me?) —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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The Wind's Twelve Quarters
Ursula K. Le Guin
Le Guin is a writer about whom enough good things cannot be said, and who has a broad enough body of work that there is something for everyone. I could have picked any number of her novels, but this collection is exceptional as both an introduction to many of her major themes and in sheer storytelling terms.