With so many books, it can be hard to choose a good once. Thankfully Powell’s Books, an Oregon-based book chain, asked some celebrated authors for their suggestions.
Here are 15 book recommendations from some brilliant minds.
15. Think Like a Rocket Scientist: Simple Strategies You Can Use to Make Giant Leaps in Work and Life
Chris Guillebeau, author of The Money Tree suggests reading Ozan Varol’s Think Like a Rocket Scientist: Simple Strategies You Can Use to Make Giant Leaps in Work and Life. Here’s why:
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to think like one.
In this new book, Ozan Varol provides a toolkit for making better decisions (and ‘giant leaps’!) even in the midst of a turbulent environment.
After reading it, you might be inspired to take your own moonshot.”
14. Rum Punch
Dreams of El Dorado author H.W. Brands recommends reading Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard. Brands says about the book,
“Escapist crime fiction, at a time when we can all use an escape.
Set in Palm Beach and populated by memorable characters who do outrageous but not unbelievable things.
The bonus is that it contains some of the best writing in recent American fiction, illustrating Leonard’s cardinal rule: ‘If it sounds like writing, rewrite it.'”
13. The House of Madame M
Allison Farell recommends that readers devour Clotilde Perrin’s The House of Madame M.
“My favorite picture books are often delightfully offbeat and this book definitely fits the bill!
The House of Madame M is big, creepy, creative, and outrageously beautiful. An immersive, lift-the-flaps experience.”
12. Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice
Emerson Whitney wants us to read Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. The book has an important message, according to Whitney.
“A celebration of the disability justice community’s wisdom, centering BIPOC folks, this book engages structures for mutual aid and tools for resilience that (as Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha says in the book) temporarily-abled folks can learn from.
This text seems particularly important to read and share at this moment!”
11. The Sundial
Author of Lovecraft Country Matt Ruff thinks we should read The Sundial by Shirley Jackson.
“In this gleefully misanthropic black comedy, the wealthy, awful Hallorans take shelter on their family estate to escape the coming apocalypse, and turn on one another as they wait for the world to end.
An old favorite that seems especially timely right now. The Penguin Classics edition includes a foreword by The Ballad of Black Tom author Victor LaValle.”
10. Daisy Jones & The Six
The Glass Hotel author Emily St. John vouches for Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
There are some reasons why:
“I’m reading this book right now and I love it. It’s a novel that takes the form of an oral history of a singer and a band in 1960s/1970s Los Angeles.
I don’t know if I love this book because of the sense of a lost world — because March 1 of this year kind of seems like a lost world now, doesn’t it? — or because it’s beautifully executed and the writing is fantastic, but either way I recommend it.”
9. Home Time
Adam Rex, who authored Why? has great things to say about Home Time by Campbell Whyte.
“A very beautiful and strange comic from Australia full of adventure and eerie mystery.”
Author of Your Nose! Sara Boynton spoke highly of Middlemarch by George Eliot.
“Gently subtitled ‘A Study of Provincial Life,’ Middlemarch is the perfect novel: searingly intelligent, beautifully written, clear-eyed, and compassionate, with vividly imagined, vividly rendered characters navigating (and being swamped by) the crosscurrents of their particular natures and place and times.
An excellent, blessedly long book to get immersed in, and be both saddened and lifted by.”
7. Things in Jars
Erik Larson suggests reading Things in Jars by Jess Kidd.
“Things in Jars is about a female detective, Bridie Devine, based in 19th-century London, who sets out to solve a very odd sort of kidnapping.
There is of course much more to it.
The plot is compelling in itself, but what is mesmerizing is Ms. Kidd’s prose, which transports you back to 1863 and keeps you there, as each fresh phrase sets your mind alight.”
6. Song of Solomon
Hidden Valley Road author Robert Kolker suggested Toni Morrisson’s beloved Song of Solomon.
“Nineteen-year-old me wasn’t mature enough to appreciate Toni Morrison, but three decades later I gave Song of Solomon a try, at the suggestion of my 16-year-old daughter. I absolutely loved it.
Aside from her broad and deep discussion of names and naming, and how we try to control our own destinies, Morrison has painted an amazing portrait of an entire discordant family.
And the style and events are so freewheeling, yet so controlled, you feel like you’re in good hands all the way through. Read in the time of COVID, this book was immersive, distracting, and life-affirming.”
5. The Mountains Sing
International best-selling author Julia Álvarez highly recommends Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s The Mountains Sing.
“I understand that this is Quế Mai’s first novel in English, a moving saga of Vietnam during the troubled history of the 20th century, pre- and post-Vietnam War.
What I love is that it is narrated from a female point of view: an elder grandmother who lived, suffered, endured the troubles and her young granddaughter who inherits the stories and the casualties and aftereffects of traumatic times both in her family and in her nation’s history.”
4. The Night Watchman
Colum McCann recommends reading The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich.
“Louise Erdrich has lit up the American literary landscape for over two decades.
She is a flare of light — solar and electric both. Her sentences are beautiful, her characters are ordinary and extraordinary at the same time, her plots are sublime, and she makes time tick inside time.”
Author of Chosen Ones, Veronica Roth recommends that we read C.A. Higgins’ Lightless.
“Two suspected terrorists are captured aboard a state-of-the-art military spaceship.
What follows is a tense, tightly written extended interrogation that takes place as the spaceship starts to go haywire, something that could be disastrous for everyone inside.”
2. Inside Out
Celebrity memoirs don’t always get a lot of praise, but Emily Gould really thinks we should read Demi Moore’s Inside Out.
“An incredibly diverting, expertly well-done celebrity memoir that could serve as a template for all celebrity memoirs with its perfect balance of juicy gossip and earnest self-examination.
Her ghostwriter Ariel Levy deserves some sort of special National Book Award.
I picked it up on a whim and before I knew it I was all the way to the Emilio Estevez era.
Most importantly, I did not think about coronavirus/my current life circumstances ONE SINGLE TIME while reading it.”
1. We Had No Rules
Subduction author Kristen Millares Young suggests Corinne Manning’s We Had No Rules.
“In this lyric short story collection, queer is a verb put to good use.
Full of blunder and ache, ball sacks and ice cream, and cosplay gone awry, We Had No Rules is a testament to Arsenal Pulp Press.”
These suggestions prove that when we’re at a loss over what to read, we should probably ask our favorite authors for advice!
What books will be you be reading in the days to come? Care to suggest one in the comments?
Let’s read together!