books i like

FICTION
How To Set A Fire And Why by Jesse Ball
Jillian by Halle Butler
Did You Ever Have A Family? by Bill Clegg
The Art of Losing by Rebecca Connell
Universal Harvester by John Darnielle
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers
Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall
My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
Joyland by Stephen King
Nobody is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey
Broken River by J. Robert Lennon
Treasure Island!!! by Sara Levine
Tender by Belinda McKeon
In Case of Emergency by Courtney Moreno
An Evening of Long Goodbyes by Paul Murray
Skippy Dies by Paul Murray
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
Grief Is The Thing With Feathers by Max Porter
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
Loner by Teddy Wayne

SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS
13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad
American Housewife by Helen Ellis
McSweeney's 45: Hitchcock and Bradbury Fistfight in Heaven
Always Happy Hour by Mary Miller

GRAPHIC NOVELS & GRAPHIC NON-FICTION
In a Daze Work by Siobhan Gallagher
Something New by Lucy Knisley
Deep Dark Fears by Fran Krause
Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli
Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke
Was She Pretty? by Leanne Shapton
Supermutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki
Sheets by Brenna Thummler

MIDDLE GRADE & YOUNG ADULT
Nest by Esther Ehrlich
the All The Wrong Questions series by Lemony Snicket

 

NONFICTION, MEMOIRS, & PERSONAL ESSAY COLLECTIONS

The Art of Waiting by Belle Boggs
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2010
I Remember by Joe Brainard
This is How by Augusten Burroughs
I'll Tell You In Person by Chloe Caldwell
Columbine by Dave Cullen
How to Fall in Love With Anyone by Mandy Len Catron
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Creamatory by Caitlin Doughty
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
Abandon Me by Melissa Febos
Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After by Heather Harpham
I Can't Believe It's Not Better by Monica Heisey
Tonight I'm Someone Else by Chelsea Hodson
The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
The Recovering by Leslie Jamison
Women in Clothes by Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton, and Sheila Heti
One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul
300 Arguments by Sarah Manguso
The Red Parts by Maggie Nelson
The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater by Alanna Okun
My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff
Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
My Heart is an Idiot by Davy Rothbart
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton
Land of Enchantment by Leigh Stein
Multiple Choice by Alejandro Zambra

BOOKS ABOUT WRITING & MAKING ART
Light the Dark: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, & the Artistic Process by Joe Fassler
Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon
Things Are What You Make of Them: Life Advice for Creatives by Adam J. Kurtz
Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott
Scratch: Writers, Money, & the Art of Making a Living ed. by Manjula Martin
The Autobiographer's Handbook: The 826 National Guide to Writing Your Memoir ed. by Jennifer Traig

COOKBOOKS
How To Cook Everything: The Basics by Mark Bittman
The Simple Art of Eating Well
Salt Fat Acid Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat

my approach to reading

One of the first books I remember finding on my own was David Lubar's Hidden Talents. I was 10 years old and I remember getting the book at a Scholastic book fair at school and being pretty enthralled with it. Most of the books I’d read up until that point where things either my friends or teachers recommended or were given to me as gifts. I remember selecting Hidden Talents entirely by myself, based on nothing. Learning to develop taste is really empowering. I remember thinking, I picked this out and I liked it and feeling excited by that.

For me, choosing books kind of feels like following bread crumbs. I follow trails to new favorite books from obvious places like the New York Times Book Review as well as other literary websites and podcasts. I'll read an essay or book I like and then I'll seek out interviews with the writer in hopes that they’ll mention their inspirations. I'll look at who published a book I enjoyed and see what else they've put out. Sometimes I even look at who a writer I admire's literary agent is and see who else they represent and take ideas from that. The acknowledgement page is one of my favorite parts of any book for this reason. I tend to read it first.

I’m a fan of taking an hour to just browse bookstores. I don't see anything wrong with judging a book by its cover--a lot of work goes into designing covers! I've found books I really, really loved simply because the way it looked spoke to me.

I very strongly believe that We Need Diverse Books and I strive to often pick up books written by authors of color, LGBTQ writers, and anyone who has been traditionally been excluded from the literary canon. The books I read are very skewed in the direction of being by female writers. As a librarian, I put books that represent diverse characters and experiences into my patrons’ hands whenever I have the opportunity and I include them on every library display.

I try to vary my reading by checking out new releases, classics I missed, older things I learn about years later, YA and children's books, plays, graphic novels (and graphic non-fiction), poetry, and weird experimental books. I like to read what small and indie presses are putting out as much as I like to keep up with the “big,” popular books of the moment.

I read a ton of memoirs, partially because I write in the genre. I really love peeking into other people's lives a bit. Seeing how people turn their experiences into art is really interesting and inspiring to me. I'm especially into small stories--books that feature big epic journeys are cool and all, but I definitely prefer to read about the quieter parts of the human experience.

Reading is one of the most real forms of magic that exists, and it’s something that has saved me again and again throughout my life. Books have constantly reminded me of the universality of stories: throughout my life I’ve known that anything I was feeling was felt by someone else at some point in history and they'd almost certainly written about it. Books have been wonderfully validating and helped me feel so much less alone (and like less of a big weirdo).

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I also like podcasts!

Cavern of Secrets (standout episode: #6: Jillian Tamaki)
FOUND (standout episode: # 3: Baby)
Homecoming
How To Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black (standout episode: #4: Bob Odenkirk)
Love Me (standout episode #7: Make Believe)
Mystery Show 
Reply All (standout episodes: #102 & 103: Long Distance Part 1 and 2)
The Sleeper Hit (standout episode: #24, the one where I am a guest!)
Terrible, Thanks For Asking (standout episode: Horrible and Wonderful and Figuring it Out)
WHY OH WHY (standout episode: #8: How Will I Know)

last update: 8/5/18 photos by Maria Alba