• On Writing

    Stephen King

    Image of On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft

    It’s been a while since I read a book focused on writing. Many writing books are useful for thinking about creativity in general or for applying to any type of writing, but this one is geared toward fiction…

  • You Are Here

    Katharine Harmon

    Image of You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination

    A curated exploration of “Personal Geographies And Other Maps of the Imagination,” I appropriately read and browsed through this while visiting a city that I used to live in, wandering old neighborhoods, piecing together streets, and layering new experiences over the mental cartographies. There are a few essays and textual maps in this book, but most of it is visuals.

  • Grace

    Grace Coddington

    Image of Grace: A Memoir

    As someone who first learned of Grace Coddington from her feisty presence in The September Issue, I felt appropriately chided by the introduction where Coddington declares it “the movie that is the only reason anyone has ever heard of me.” That claim is mostly untrue in terms of the fashion world, but then the average person who saw that documentary is unaware of who edits the spreads in fashion magazines.

  • Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

    Jeanette Winterson

    Image of Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

    I loved Winterson’s first, semi-autobiographical novel Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit when I first read it as a teenager. Her slightly fictionalized Jeanette struggles through her religious upbringing with her crazy adoptive mother and a difficult coming-out experience.

  • The Long Goodbye

    Meghan O’Rourke

    Image of The Long Goodbye: A memoir

    When I read the excerpt from this book in The New Yorker a couple years ago, I wasn’t particularly drawn to read the whole thing. But a copy showed up in a giveaway pile at work, and I wound up turning to it between library holds. I thought I’d put it aside when something else came along but instead wound up determined to finish, staying up late to get to the end.

  • Storming the Gates of Paradise

    Rebecca Solnit

    Image of Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics

    I started reading Storming the Gates of Paradise early last year, but since it’s not a light read, the library wound up wanting it back before I could finish. Only thanks to having added it as my “currently reading” book on Goodreads was my memory jogged enough times to get another copy and finally read the rest.

  • The Englishman who Posted Himself and Other Curious Objects

    John Tingey

    Image of The Englishman who Posted Himself and Other Curious Objects

    In many ways W. Reginald Bray could be considered a mail art pioneer, as he sent a bevy of interesting items through the post including, as the title reveals, himself — twice! He also posted his dog and various objects with addresses and stamps applied directly to them, as when he traveled to Ireland and dug up a turnip and etched his address into it (the turnip itself didn’t survive to be documented). His experiments seem more inquisitive of the abilities of the Royal Mail than artistic though.

  • Smoking Typewriters

    John McMillian

    Image of Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America

    For the past couple years, I’ve been pretty focused on fiction, so I determinedly picked this history of the 1960s underground press off my to-read list in an attempt to seek a bit of balance, plus the alternative media angle still had my curiosity piqued two years after I first flagged it for later reading.

  • Wild

    Cheryl Strayed

    Image of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

    Like many people, I first came across Cheryl Strayed through her column Dear Sugar on the Rumpus, though her identity was still a secret at that point. Sugar’s advice is so unsparingly raw, honest, and compassionate — I think I read all the entries the first time I came across one of them.

  • Giving up the Ghost

    Eric Nuzum

    Image of Giving Up the Ghost: A Story About Friendship, 80s Rock, a Lost Scrap of Paper, and What It Means to Be Haunted

    The story behind this book is a bit more interesting that its execution. In his adolescence, Eric Nuzum was haunted by a recurring dream of a girl in a blue dress screaming at him in gibberish, which lead him to numb himself with various substances and fear what may be lurking behind closed doors. Another girl, Laura, in his waking life was crucial in him managing to overcome this downward spiral. But she died tragically, leaving him with a slightly more tangible ghost to contend with.