1. Hard Child by Natalie Shapero After listening to this podcast, I immediately drove to Beaverdale Books in search of poetry by a living author, specifically a woman poet. I was not disappointed by the selections Hunter had for me. Branching out in poetry can be tricky with powerhouses like Keats and Frost dominating what we know of the genre. Hard Child was honest and messy in a way I'd never experienced poetry. I think I'll send copies to my friends who graduated this year as a reminder that life is messy and somehow art, as well.
2. Quiet by Susan Cain I think I might be the last person ever to read this book, but here I am singing its praises anyway. I'm an introvert (INFJ-please reveal your Myers-Briggs type, thank you) and many of my closest friends are as well. Reading this book helped deepen my understanding of what it has meant to be an introvert historically and its modern implementations, too. Understanding people better is at the heart of a lot of my nonfiction reading, but this time it was refreshing to belong to the people group I was learning about. It's a dense read, maybe not for your beach bag, but really important and illuminating nonetheless.
3. Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman Consider this the ultimate book on books. If you are a reader or know a reader with a birthday coming up, this is the safest bet. Ruby sent me this book and I had it finished in an afternoon. The essays are fun, fast, and feel comforting. Anne Fadiman is a skilled writer, but also a skilled reader, making her stories relatable. The books we read become the history of our lives.
4. Marlena by Julie Buntin Debut novels are kind of my latest obsession. There's something really exciting about diving into a book knowing nothing about the author. Of course, it doesn't always pan out beautifully, but with Marlena it really did. The novel moves with the narrator between her current life in New York and her childhood in Michigan. It's a picture of friendship, specifically female friendship, and the way it shapes us, changes us, and sometimes, haunts us.
5. Counting Descent by Clint Smith This was my other recommendation from my Beaverdale Books run. Smith wrecks what is expected from poetry in terms of lineage, race, pop culture, and family. Reading his work felt like a candid conversation, one intentionally crafted, but still completely forthright. Like Marlena, the focus is on those formative events that engrave themselves on our being; and asking if they can be un-engraved.