pennyforapound asked: Hello! You've given me book recs for a friend before and they were wonderful! And now I'm coming to ask for some book recs for myself, I've got a 6+ hour flight coming up and a 4+ hour drive. I love fiction, strong heroines and stories featuring people of color. Big fan of Zadie Smith and Junot Diaz. I like funny, sharp dialogue and things filled with insight. Is that enough to go on?
Welcome back and thanks! Are you looking for audiobooks for the drive? If you are, I find that genre-y stuff (go for Gone Girl) and humor (The Middlesteins is funny and is narrated by Molly Ringwald! Humorous bios like Bossypants and such are great, and I enjoyed Mindy Kaling’s book on audio) works best if you don’t regularly listen to audio books (I don’t), pro tip.
Of course, the new Díaz and Smith, duh. Both great but I suspect you knew that. Diaz leads to Justin Torres, We the Animals, though it’s very short, but you might need something quick at some point in this journey. It’s so good, you should definitely get to it at some point.
Also, if I didn’t recommend it last time, Skippy Dies by Paul Murray I think would be perfect for almost everyone, but particularly you. And it’s good and long for your flight, bonus (where are you going?).
Open City, by Teju Cole, is a revelation, completely amazing, one of the best novels I read last year. It’s sneakily quiet, it’s mostly this guy walking around New York City (and Brussels) thinking, so there’s not a lot of dialogue really but it’s definitely sharp and insightful and it’s got some surprising gut-punch qualities (I love gut-punch books).
A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz, an Australian novelist, has a White Teeth quality to it in some ways. I adored it when I read it, and I happen to know it’s a favorite of Sarah McNally’s (of McNally Jackson Bookstore) as well. And it’s nice and long for your long flight.
Some of my favorite rad books by and about ladies, all story collections, last year were Blueprints for Building Better Girls by Elissa Schappelland Boys and Girls Like You and Me by Aryn Kyle. I also loved Claire Vaye Watkins’s debut collection, Battleborn.
Anonymous asked: I'm looking for sort of quirky coming of age books similar to The Catcher in the Rye, The Perks of Being a Wallflower etc. Any ideas? Thanks so much!!
Oh! I can do this one!
John Brandon’s Citrus County, at once a coming-of-age story, a crime thriller, and a romance set in swampy central Florida. I loved it.
Paul Murray’s Skippy Dies, set at a Dublin prep school, is one of the most unsentimental yet moving stories of adolescence I’ve ever read. It’s somehow about teenagers, time travel, drugs, love, donuts, and more all at once. Wonderful.
Aryn Kyle’s The God of Animals, set on a ranch in rural Colorado (“rural Colorado” is kind of redundant I guess). The preteen narrator is that perfect about of recognizably twisted sort of gal you can’t help but love and fear. And yes there’s a horse on the cover and horses in the book, but it’s not a horse book like The Saddle Club or anything, and I speak with authority as a former horse-girl. It’s so good, Aryn Kyle is massively talented. You should also pick up her story collection, Boys and Girls Like You and Me.
Justin Torre’s We the Animals is completely breath-taking. About a trio of brothers and their parents growing up and having food fights and doing boy things and wrestling and struggling and the voice is fierce and full and it’s lovely and terrifying at the same time. Its impact far, far outweighs its slim spine width.
I love ALL of these books. Read them all. Anyone else have suggestions? This is such a good category.
ADDENDUM: John Wray’s Lowboy, heartbreaking and so good.
UPDATES FROM READERS:
Black Swan Green by David Mitchell is great as well.
These are my favorite types of books and I strongly suggest All About Lulu: A Novel by Jonathan Evison & Grab On to Me Tightly as if I Knew the Way: A Novel by Bryan Charles
Anything by John Green
Joe Meno’s Hairstyles of the Damned? A little older and different, but Alex Garland’s The Beach?
“I try to work this into most conversations, but it can be awkward. Like someone will ask, ‘Do you want anything from the fridge?’ And I’ll respond, ‘I was voted fourth most sexiest man of 2011, after Thom Yorke.’ See what I mean? Awkward.” —Justin Torres, in response to his MFA (Most Foxy Author) honor from Salon.
I mean DAMN.
"For all that growing up queer in a hetero-normative and often homophobic world can suck, it can endow you with some remarkable characteristics. One of those is a questioning, critical attitude toward social and cultural norms. It takes a huge imaginative leap in the absence of any representation of queer lives, and queer happiness, to conceive of a happy life for yourself. But as a queer kid, you grow up with the expectation and indoctrination of heterosexuality, you really “know what its about” and then you give it up when you’re ready. This allows for a unique vantage point that is both inside and outside — the sense of moving through several worlds, and the resulting dislocation. It gives the ability to look at folks and see them in a way they don’t see themselves."
Stuff We like
“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.”
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