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A Cup of Rage
Raduan Nassar
Nasty, brutish, and short, i.e. perfect.— Recommended by Vanessa
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Brightfellow
A Novel
A humid, shining, feverish gem. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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The Sunken Cathedral
A Novel
Kate Walbert
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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A Body, Undone
Living On After Great Pain
Christina Crosby
A memoir of pain and loss that never dips into the well of trite sentimentality and also refuses to wallow in its own darkness. Crosby juggles gender, class, sexuality, psychoanalysis, and critical theory with ease. Read and be awed anew by the body and word.—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...
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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 Trouble with Being Born
E. M. Cioran
Crotchety old man snarks about the pointlessness of life. Wonderful. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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His Dark Materials
The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass
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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Dusk and Other Stories
James Salter
Do you remember those rock tumblers that would turn any old pebble into a shining jewel? These stories are just like those jewels: endlessly worked until no rough edges remain, buffed to an impenetrable, bright surface in which you can almost see yourself. Excellent.—Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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Bluets
Maggie Nelson
A perfect collection of fragments; a chronicle of an obsession that will obsess you, too. —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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The Wind's Twelve Quarters
Stories
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.
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Thirst for Love
A Novel
Yukio Mishima
Mishima's brilliant portrayal of poisonous family dynamics and irrational lust is like a claustrophobic trainwreck. Come for the fervor, stay for the prose. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books