Book Recommendations



Dear Life

by Alice Munro


Munro's stories work many magic tricks. She writes with an acute sense of place (small-town Canada) not often found in contemporary writing, and yet transcends location altogether. She has the ability to render ordinary lives in a manner that makes them extraordinarily compelling. For a literary collection to have a first printing of 100,000 speaks volumes.



Swim For The Little One First 

by Noy Holland


If you're lucky, you've read Holland's previous collections, The Spectacle of the Body and What Begins With Bird. Holland is one of the most powerful prose stylists working, and she's unusually wise to the sorrows and consolations of being alive.



The News From Spain:

Seven Variations on a Love Story 

by Joan Wickersham


The stories in this brilliantly constructed collection share the same title; they also share almost uncanny insights into the complications of love.  



What is Not Yours is Not Yours 

by Helen Oyeyemi

Crossing genres, countries, histories, and perhaps even realities, Oyeyemi's stories are at once realist and fantastical. Her remarkable mastery of voice and register allows her to inhabit disparate characters like well-worn clothes, every story creating a little world so convincing that you lose yourself for its duration, only to be cast into a new world with the next.



Fires of Our Choosing

by Eugene Cross


The darkly funny, razor-sharp stories in Cross's debut are hard to shake. These are beautiful, daring narratives, and they're also page-turners.



Lost in the City

by Edward P. Jones


Modeled on Joyce’s Dubliners, Jones’s debut collection features fourteen stories set in the African-American neighborhoods of Washington D.C. With God-like calm and intimacy, Jones captures the desperation, dignity, and mystery of his characters’ lives.



Man V. Nature

by Diane Cook


An incredibly well-curated and confident debut, Diane Cook's Man V. Nature mixes the anxieties of the modern age (climate change, inequality) with fairy tale and surrealist tropes (changelings, feral boys in forests) in ways that feel bracing and new. Nimble, funny, hypersexual, and dark, the wild is never far from the civilized here. Her jaundiced worldview isn't for everyone (hope is a diminishing resource in these stories) but those willing to plump beneath life's quotidian surfaces to find the weirdness just underneath will be amply rewarded.



Civilwarland in Bad Decline:

Stories and a Novella 

by George Saunders

It really takes skill to transform menial, degrading labor into hilariously funny, emotionally-engaging narratives, but Saunders does this with style. Part of what makes these stories so brilliant are the inventive ways Saunders tortures his protagonists, while retaining an indelible sense of compassion that the reader absorbs. Humanity's potential societal regression seems a little less miserable in his hands.




by Amelia Gray

Gutshot is a series of unsettling short stories connected by faint threads of violence, sickness, madness, and desire. Perhaps the most unsettling attribute of Gray’s writing is her deadpan presentation of what are quite often unspeakable acts, and while this unsettling detachment gnaws away as we read, we are unwilling to remove ourselves from our discomfort before reaching the disturbing climax. Totally gripping.



Public Library and Other Stories

by Ali Smith


We may be partial to this collection because in between the stories are anecdotes about the importance of libraries and books, but even if that weren't the case Smith's meditative, yet matter-of-fact style is winning.