A lot of people ask me what books to buy for friends and loved ones, and so I’ve compiled this handy-dandy list of book recommendations in three categories (YA, poetry and fiction). Feel free to share your own recommendations.
~~~ 1) YOUNG ADULT: El Deafo, by Cece Bell. This is a graphic novel. The author is deaf and tells the semi-autobiographical story of a deaf kid in grade school. It was sweet and funny and all, but more than that, I felt that I came to understand, the tiniest bit, what her world was like as a deaf child, and how annoying well-meaning but clueless friends can be. (other recs: The Book Thief, The War That Saved My Life, Roller Girl (also a graphic novel), and The Whys and Wherefores of Littabell Lee, an old book from the 70s that I rediscovered and loved this year)
~~~ 2) FICTION: I’m tied between Olive Kitteridge by Eliz. Strout and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Olive Kitteridge is a collection of connected short stories. If you want to write short stories, you should read this. If you like crabby, broken-hearted, middle-aged protagonists, read this. In All the Light We Cannot See, well, be ready for something different. It is about WW2 and is sometimes horrifying, but there’s great beauty too, and a young blind protagonist I will never forget. And the chapters are incredibly short … like a page or two tops. For some reason, this is a selling point for me. (other recs: The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt and Byrd by Kim Church)
~~~ 3) POETRY: I haven’t read a lot of poetry, but my sister gave me Mary Oliver’s book The Leaf and the Cloud, and I was transported. Her work relies a lot on the imagery of nature, which I love. And while it’s accessible, it’s also suitably complex so that it won’t bore more sophisticated readers.