Recommendations 1/1/2021

A new year of reading.

New Years Day, particularly one falling on a Friday, like this year, is a fantastic day to read the day away, which is what I’ve been doing. I used the morning to finish Someone to Watch Over Me, the latest Spenser novel by Ace Atkins, who was handpicked by the estate of Robert B. Parker to continue the series after Parker’s passing. It was an excellent choice. The Spenser novels were among the first “adult” fiction I was allowed to read when I was maybe 12 or 13 years old. Someone to Watch Over Me is inspired by the Jeffrey Epstein/Ghislaine Maxwell crimes, though there’s twists and turns that take it into its own territory. Because I tend to view the world we live in as a chaotic place, often without sense, I find crime novels like the Spenser series a kind of balm as we know that by the end, some measure of order will be restored.

I hope the first day of your new year is off to a good start. Below, another set of recommendations, including one for a reader in Perth, Australia, where it’s already January 2nd as I write this.

If you’d like a custom book recommendation for yourself, the instructions for consideration are here.

Links to the recommended books take you to The Biblioracle Recommends bookshop at Bookshop.org. Affiliate income for purchases through the bookshop goes to Open Books in Chicago.

1. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
2. Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
3. The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
4. Solutions and other Problems by Allie Brosh
5. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik.

Suzanne R. - Perth, Australia

As we’re in the early days of this here newsletter, I am compelled to work in some of my perennial go-to recommendations when I find a good fit between reader and book. In this case, the proper book for Suzanne is A.S. Byatt’s Possession.

1. Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk
2. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
3. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
4. Binti: The Complete Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor
5. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

K. Hall - Grinnell, IA

Recent years have seen a resurgence in recognition of the unique literary contributions of Rachel Ingalls. Mrs. Caliban the story of an interspecies love affair is now deservedly recognized as a classic.

1. A Promised Land by Barack Obama
2. Poetics by Aristotle
3. A Private Cathedral by James Lee Burke
4. Towards a Poor Theatre by Jerzy Grotowski
5. I Am The Grand Canyon: A Story of the Havasupai People by Stephen Hirst

Dennis N. - Chicago, IL

An interesting mix, which can make for a difficult reading. I’m interested in the two books (Poetics and Towards a Poor Theater) pointing towards an interest in aesthetics and making art. My recommendation isn’t precisely focused on the same subject, but it’s a book that touches on other aspects of being interested in, and trying to live a creative life, The Gift: How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World by Lewis Hyde.

1. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney 
2. The Verso Book of Dissent edited by Andrew Hsaio and Audrea Lim 
3. Writing: Teachers and Children at Work by Donald Graves 
4. Winter Counts by David Henska Wanbli Weiden  
5. Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

Ephraim H. - Montclair, NJ

The third book on the list, a classic of writing instruction with a view that has been steadily moved away from (unfortunately) as standardized assessments have come to dominate education inspires this pick. It’s a great book for anyone interested in teaching and learning anything: Embarrassment: And the Emotional Underlife of Learning by Thomas Newkirk.