My love for Maggie Nelson's writing grows with every book, essay, and poem I read by her. Something Bright, Then Holes is a reissue of her 2007 poetry collection, and it is a keen and vivid book. It will probably not make you feel better during a dark time in your life or the world, but it might give a shape to some of the pain.
Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman is both poignant and unsettling. It’s an intimate glimpse into an ordinary life that, in the eyes of society, is still not ordinary enough. This tiny book packs within a Kafkaesque look on conformity, questions about how to live one’s life and what it means to be ‘normal’, all with a fiercely feminist voice and sharp insight. Murata’s novel is the perfect entry point into contemporary Japanese literature.
Alexander Chee’s essay collection is a gift. Some of these essays have been published before, but taken together they offer an incredibly honest inward look, not just into Chee's life, but frequently into my own. They hold up a mirror to my own worries and anger and fear, despite often describing a life not at all like mine. Encouraging readers to examine their own lives is one of the best gifts a writer can give, and I feel honored and lucky to have read this incredible collection.