We’re asking members of our Writers Council to recommend six of their favorite reads. Whether new or old, best sellers or hidden gems, grand tomes or quick novellas—these books will definitely be worth your time! Next up is acclaimed novelist Richard Powers (and don’t forget to check out his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Overstory).
Casting Deep Shade
By C.D. Wright
Published by Copper Canyon Press
What happens when a great American poet becomes obsessed with a single kind of tree and spends years developing “beech consciousness?” A whole new way of attending and articulating the living world, combining history, autobiography, botany, myth and legend, linguistics, and so much more. This is Wright’s last book, completed just before her untimely death, and it moves the reader toward a luminous vision of the living Earth.
By Robert Macfarlane
Published by WW Norton
So much of the world we take for granted is underpinned by subterranean realities most of us never see or consider. Macfarlane travels down below the surface of the planet to deliver profound and fundamental truths. He writes with the wisdom and experience of our oldest sages, but he’s a young man filled with passion and intensity.2 .
City of Thieves
By David Benioff
Published by Penguin Publishing Group
Two young men are released from prison in a Leningrad under siege and are tasked with combing through the war-torn city to find… a dozen eggs. I don’t know how Benioff (the co-creator of the series Game of Thrones) summoned up the authority to create a story that reads like an eye-witness memoir, but the result is a dense, gripping, wholly immersive tale.
What We Owe
By Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
A dramatic monologue told by a woman who flees Revolutionary Iran for a life of exile in Sweden, but cannot escape the damage that the Revolution inflicts on her life and all her loved ones. A harrowing book, and this year’s winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.4 .
A Natural History of North American Trees
By Donald Culross Peattie
Published by Trinity University Press
For a taste of the old high-lyrical style of nature writing that disappeared around the middle of last century, dip at random into Peattie’s classic encyclopedia. He writes with clear-eyed beauty about all of the most important and intriguing species on our continent, and virtually every page has a sentence or two that will instruct and delight. Standout entries include those on Eastern white pine, redwood, beech, and aspen. “Where the deer bound, where the trout rise, where your horse stops to slather a drink from icy water while the sun is warm on the back of your neck, where every breath you draw is exhilaration — that is where the Aspens grow.”
James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon
By Julie Phillips
Published by Picador
A biography of one of our all-time greatest science fiction storytellers, whose life was every bit as extraordinary as the wildest stories. Alice Sheldon, an art critic, Army Air Force Intelligence Officer, and Ph.D. in Psychology, adopts a male persona and sets the science fiction world on fire. S/he passes for years, but tragedy ensues when her/his cover is blown. Read the remarkable life story, then Tiptree’s unforgettable stories, for a reminder of the ineluctable, irreducible strangeness of life.6 .