1. Upstream by Mary Oliver The latest collection of essays from Mary Oliver sits beautifully on a shelf next to her acclaimed poetry. Her reverence for nature and literature combine perfectly. Whether you've read Oliver or not, Upstream is a breath of fresh air, simply.
2. Grief Is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter I wrote about how I came to this book briefly on my Instagram. There are few books as hard to describe as this. Grief, that of a husband and of motherless children, is tackled head on. Similar to grief, the book moves through moments of deep, dark despair, and others of surprising humor. It's short enough to read in an afternoon, with staying power that lingers far after.
3. Ongoingness: The End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso This book was recommended to me on a recent trip to Beaverdale Books. I gushed about my love for Bluets and asked for something similar. Manguso, a talented writing professor, breaks down and examines the reasons why we keep diaries in her book. Part memoir, part poetry, this genre bending book is ideal for readers/writers.
4. The Mothers by Brit Bennett Yes, I'll gladly judge a book by its cover, especially The Mothers. And my judgment was not wrong. Bennett's debut novel dives into the topic of "living up to expectation in contemporary black America" recklessly and certainly. Even after closing the book, I couldn't stop thinking about the plot, how the relationships in the book affected it, and how together they held me in the most gripping way.
5. Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler If for some inexplicable reason, Sweetbitter slipped beneath the radar for you in 2016, you MUST pick it up now. The novel tells the coming-of-age story of a young, impressionable waitress in New York. It's sexy, captivating, and my favorite novel of late. Pick it up on a Friday afternoon and expect to have it finished by Sunday night. Stephanie Danler is a modern literary icon.