Tolstoy + Chekhov + Gogol + Turgenev + Saunders = a crash course in good writing! My favorite chapter was on "The Nose" by Nikolai Gogol for the pure absurdity of the story and the great clarity Saunders brought to understanding it.
I'll admit, before this book, I couldn't name one song by A Tribe Called Quest. Abdurraqib writes something and I read it, simple as that. Just like with his other work, he comes at Go Ahead in the Rain (a song by A Tribe Called Quest) wanting to geek out and back it up with a well-researched history. My favorite parts were, varied within the timeline of their illustrious career, Abdurraqib's personal letters to Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, and Ali that read equally like letters to friends and to great influences. The cover really says it all.
Danny Goldberg was more than a band manager to Nirvana but a friend and confidant, especially to Kurt Cobain, at the height of their career. He is able to share the good and the bad, without idolizing or demonizing Cobain, in this look behind the music scene of the early nineties punk rock and grunge surge. So sit back, maybe unplug with Unplugged in the background, and enjoy.
Mediocre is anything but mediocre. Oluo lays out how we have perpetuated white supremacy and racism by celebrating the simple mediocrity of white maleness. With a seat at the table, she elbows room for other women and people of color, the biggest victims of this mediocrity, and unpacks the dangers of societal expectations. Well-researched and still accessible, this book will make you really angry but in a good way.
Essential for Palahniuk fans as well as writers wanting to learn from a seasoned pro. He gives you behind-the-scenes insight into his infamous story, Guts, his eventful book tours, and, of course, Fight Club. He also tells you how to write a damn good story, he should know. You don't have to take his word as God but you are guaranteed, regardless, to be entertained.
Have you ever wanted to know what Dave Eggers read when he was a kid? What is Louise Erdrich reading right now? Book nerds Nancy Pearl and Jeff Schwager (librarian/author and playwright, respectively) pick the brains of other book nerds (famous writers) about the books that made them who they are. If you want some good recommendations from authors you trust as well as insight into their writing and reading lives, this is the book for you!
This is a must read. Abdurraqib combines the experience of music and culture through such an engaging lens, it's hard to put it down. He can talk about Carly Rae Jepsen, Fall Out Boy, Bruce Springsteen, being black, being Muslim, living in contemporary America all in one breath with such ease and such a command for language. Seriously, even his Instagram captions are well-written (you should follow him).
You have adventure, family drama, laughs! A comedian, upon her fortieth birthday, takes each of her family members on one-on-one vacations and chooses Grand Canyon whitewater rafting for her younger sister. With alternating chapters between treacherous days on the water and divulging her father's scandal that changed everything, it almost reads as fiction. She meets curious characters on her boat and faces some fears while also sharing the road to her comedy career and her struggles with religion and marriage. It tackles so much in such a digestible read!
I am neither a father nor about to become one but this book about a comedian fumbling his way reluctantly through fatherhood was a very enjoyable read. Fans of Birbiglia will recognize his humor and delivery as well as his poignant storytelling as he pairs his experience being a father with his wife's experience of being a mother through her poetry. Great insight into the other side of parenthood we don't see as much that will still have you laughing out loud.
I read this for research (no, I don't want to fake my own death) but now I could totally fake my own death. If you've ever wanted to know more, or anything, about the hidden underworld of pseudocide, Playing Dead is a great place to start! Greenwood, loaded with student loan debt herself, investigates what it takes to leave everything behind for a new life.