"I like books that can bring about new ways of thinking and being, and these normally end up being the ones that either don't fall into a certain genre or integrate many at once. Romantic and surrealist poetry have been main inspirations for me, but I think it's important to be as inclusive as possible. Mostly, I'm just looking for those sentences and lines that cause my spine to tingle and my ears to bloom."
Illuminations Cover Image
By Arthur Rimbaud, John Ashbery (Translator)
ISBN: 9780393341829
Availability: On Our Shelves Now - click to see which location!
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - October 29th, 2012

The first time I opened up Illuminations, it was like stepping into a world of magic. When Rimbaud says "I am from beyond the tomb," he really means it. Reading these poems is like hearing the music of somebody singing from an entirely different realm. Just as much as the many golden lines, I love the mythic tapestry of characters that populate each page: witches, mad scientists, demented children, the many guises of Rimbaud himself, the whole surrealist shebang. To me, this collection still embodies the potential of poetry, even though it has been almost a century and half since its publication.

Savage Dreams: A Journey Into the Hidden Wars of the American West Cover Image
ISBN: 9780520282285
Availability: On Our Shelves Now - click to see which location!
Published: University of California Press - June 6th, 2014

This book is almost like two or three books in one, and Solnit is probably the only that could pull off such a feat. A perfect blend of personal, historical, and critical narrative, Savage Dreams completely deconstructs the myths that have built the American West, focusing on two major locations: the Nevada Nuclear Test Site and Yosemite. How we can simultaneously view the West as both pristine and something to plunder to exploit? As it turns out, these two modes of viewing of the world have been built in concert with each other. Probably the most incisive and disconcerting (in a good way) part of the book is when Solnit questions our assumptions about the much revered National Parks system. Contrary to our belief that Yosemite was an Edenic paradise before white settlers arrived to admire its grandiose beauty, the Ahwahnechee had populated and changed the land for generations upon generations. This historical blindness has deeply affected how we view the land and ourselves. Ironically, our well-intentioned desire to protect certain regions has also increased our perception that we are separate from nature, which has all too often put an abscess in our collective imagination.

Three Novels: Molloy, Malone Dies, the Unnamable Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802144478
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grove Press - May 1st, 2009

If you think that Samuel Beckett is gloomy and depressing, I urge you to try to get through the first 20 pages of Molloy without getting cramps from laughter. I think there's a lot of glory in these three little novels, at the same time as they deal very much with doubt, the uses of language, and existential despair. Beckett himself said that these were his most important works, despite the fame of Waiting For Godot. In that case, you should read them.

The Book of Disquiet: The Complete Edition Cover Image
ISBN: 9780811226936
Availability: On Our Shelves Now - click to see which location!
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - August 29th, 2017

After Fernando Pessoa died, it was discovered that he had a lifetime's worth of writing in his files under the heteronym Bernardo Soares. The unpublished material just happened to be one of the greatest works of literature of the 20th century. Said to be Pessoa's character most like himself, Soares is a lowly bookkeeper who walks and thinks, sits in a cafe and thinks, sleeps and thinks . . . as you can see there's not much of a plot here, but that hardly matters. I could stay inside of Soares thoughts forever. Since the book is written an aphoristic and non-linear style, I've found that I can pick up and leave off wherever I see fit. I've also come to realize that the best books are the ones that were never meant to be finished.

Baltasar and Blimunda Cover Image
ISBN: 9780156005203
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Mariner Books - October 16th, 1998

During the Inquisition in 18th century Portugal, a working class man and woman get married and somehow start living with a heretic priest who is trying to build the first flying machine. What could go wrong? A ribald journey through the absurd excesses of religion and colonialism, as well as an exploration of love and hope.