A MESSAGE FROM SAM, WHO WORKS FROM HOME FOR NOW: If anybody wants more information about these books, or more recommendations along these lines, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Two newly orphaned siblings struggle to survive in the waning days of the Gold Rush in the western United States. The duo must reckon with the ghosts of their family history and the cruel whims of a hostile wilderness as they search for a place to belong. By the final pages I was completely heartbound to these characters, thanks to the overflowing tenacity and humanity with which debut novelist C Pam Zhang has written them.
If you are anything like me, then you might have trouble expressing in plain language the existential anxiety/dread that fills you when you consider the looming global climate crisis. This is the story of a woman who, like all of us, must live and love and find purpose while coming to terms with the warming, dying world in which she lives. Told in fragments, it is a tale of love and perseverance.
The founding and subsequent sabotage of the Syrian National Congress is a majorly overlooked turning point in Middle Eastern history. In my opinion, this book is crucial to understanding the destructive approaches to foreign policy applied by European and American powers against Arabic countries throughout the 20th century. The narrative of a “war of civilizations” still props up endless war and the bloodstained profits that come with it. Correctives like Elizabeth Thompson’s are desperately needed.
One of my all-time favorite novels. Part crime saga, part ghost story; pulpy, profound, and so, so bad-ass.
One of my favorite novels of 2019. Lucy Ives plumbs philosophical questions of authenticity, creativity, and fellowship with equal amounts of profundity and irreverence. Anybody who has ever winced through a creative writing workshop will find much to laugh about.
An impassioned and thorough historical overview on the struggles for big-D Democracy throughout human civilization. Astra Taylor lays out the contradictions among our ideals of freedom that have nurtured, corrupted, and destroyed experiments with democratic government in many different contexts.
Here's an unresolved debate I have with myself: is Leslie Jamison an optimistic pessimist -- someone who acknowledges the worst but dares to hope for better -- or vice versa? She accomplishes great contemplative heft without her writing ever turning too dense. These essays will stay with you for a long, long time.
As anybody who has read They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Usknows, Hanif Abdurraqib excels at interweaving an artist's biography with the personal significance of their works in his own life. This book-length love letter to A Tribe Called Quest is a masterpiece.
A vision of a very, very near future where climate change has further destabilized society. A new wave of "green" profiteers seek to commodify the adaptive process, with chilling results.
A necessary book, full stop, for understanding the world we live in today. Have you found yourself wondering lately why our government's crisis response seems, ahem, misguided?
A truly exemplary source of pop culture history. TRYB has everything the hip-hop-obsessed could ask for: earnest analysis, an (over)abundance of contextual detail, and A+ illustrations by Arturo Torres. Looks great on your coffee table.
The developed world's wretched, self-interested response to the climate crisis should be taught in every history class until the end of time. If there is one book that everybody should read, it is this one.
Despite this book's universal acclaim as a work of 'satire', Paul Beatty has interestingly rebuked the term in all interviews. In any case, The Sellout is caustically funny and a hard shove into the closet where America keeps its skeletons. Worth the hype.
The continued adventures of a clinically depressed witch and her cat/sexual partner. Stoner comedy of the darkest variety, outstandingly vulgar and surprisingly touching. You can still find a lot of old Megg, Mogg & Owl web comics online, and they are all worth a read.
Wark argues that Marxism desperately needs to update its language and framework to accurately critique today's global economic system, which has evolved beyond capitalism entirely into something even more abstract and extractive.
An eyewitness' account of the decade Silicon Valley -- founded by idealists and overrun by capitalists --ballooned into a society-shaping force of surveillance and exploitation. Many of Anna Wiener's stories undercut the common perception that Big Tech is in any way a benevolent or altruistic influence in our lives.
At its best, Delillo's writing spins your brain dizzy before knocking you flat with a single breath of clarity. This book is operating at that best.
A census-taker in the final days of his life travels through a mysterious land with his son, who has Down's syndrome. This is a beautiful, tender, ruminative novel about family, loss, and responsibility.
Alternate title: "All the Ways You Can End Up Lonely and Sad"