1. Sinners Welcome by Mary Karr When an author writes both poetry and nonfiction, I usually find myself prone to pick up her nonfiction first. I find it colors the writer’s poetry brillianty, in most cases, providing backstory and context to prop the more creative work against. After finishing Sinners Welcome in one weekend, part of me wished it was the first Karr I’d read. Her latest collection of poems, Tropic of Squalor, is a more focused, humorous feeling than this earlier work, but both read true to her iconic voice. She’s one of my top memoirists and now, favorite poets.
2. The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr I swear, I’ll take a beat after this Mary Karr binge, although I think I might only have one unread book of hers left. Generally, reading the same author over and over can feel redundant for me, but I’ve been honestly addicted to Mary Karr’s work. This is my favorite of her nonfiction, plus her most popular. Becoming numb to her brutal honesty and backcountry brilliance was a fear of mine, but from chapter one, this book convinced me otherwise. It’s so easy to get drawn into, so natural to empathise with, and so impossible to forget.
3. Sympathy by Olivia Sudjic Another repeat offender, a book recommendation from The High Low, landed on my bedside table about a month ago. Reading about the internet has been a trend in my recent novel choices. It used to annoy me and send me back to Brontë or Babitz. But it’s a character in modern life, so I decided to embrace it, gingerly. This novel was a great place to start-part unwinding thriller, other part family drama. It unfolded the way the thrills of the internet often do-in a mundane, pedestrian manner. It explored the blurred line of online and offline personality with the true expertise of a young female author who could write about such a space from honest experience, without judgement or speculation. Dark, twisting, and set in New York, this book was the perfect start to my winter tendency of door stop novels.
4. He Held Radical Light: The Art of Faith, the Faith of Art by Christian Wiman In the same vein of my unending love for Karr is my love for Christian Wiman. Both have informed so much of my spiritual understanding, giving names to impossible truths I held for years. And both write exceptional nonfiction on top of nonfiction. The latest from Christian Wiman reads like a well tended journal, a love letter to his favorite art form: poetry.
5. 10:04: A Novel by Ben Lerner A rec from Ruby, I picked up this book on a recent trip to DC. Reading it right before Sympathy made for a lot of modern fiction in a row, but felt like a sort of continuation. The story is narrated by an author with a new book deal and a host of massive questions about life, legacy, and the potential of love to change it all. It’s set in the erriest of dystopias, in near future Brooklyn. The warm temperatures and long walks moves the book through the familiar borough. Hilarious, disturbingly real, and unsettling, this book willingly dives into the conflict of considering a future when what’s to come looks unbearable.