City Lit Books Will Reopen!


Date: May 5, 2021

Contacts: Stephanie Kitchen at

                   Teresa Kirschbraun at

We are thrilled to announce that City Lit Books will reopen under new ownership.  Stephanie Kitchen, a long-time Logan Square resident, will now be the driving force ensuring City Lit’s continued commitment to the surrounding community.    

Owning a bookstore has always been a dream for Stephanie; she took the Paz Owning a Bookstore course in 2020, right before the pandemic hit. The ability to achieve her bookstore dream in her neighborhood represented the perfect opportunity.  Teresa Kirschbraun, the bookstore’s founder, said “I am thrilled that Stephanie will be the new caretaker of City Lit!  She is so well-prepared and it’s great that she lives in the neighborhood.”  Teresa is gratified that the communities of readers that emerged since City Lit’s 2012 opening will still have a place to gather.  “I was overwhelmed by the responses I received when I announced the closing of City Lit back in the Fall of 2020.  People from around the country   - even from other countries - reached out to let me know how important City Lit had become for them.”

“If surviving the Covid pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that life is too short!” said Stephanie.  “As Teresa mentioned, owning a bookstore has always been my dream. When I first envisioned opening a bookstore and took the Paz training, I was inspired by how City Lit Books had impacted Logan Square and the greater Chicago community.  When Teresa announced her plans to close, I reached out to her to see if there was a way we could continue City Lit’s legacy. It all has unfolded quite serendipitously.

The pandemic has also taught me the importance of community - which is why I am so eager to reopen City Lit Books, to welcome the community back, and to continue to offer a place of wonder, connection, and discovery.  I am grateful and honored that Teresa has agreed to stay on for a few months to share her expertise to show me the ropes.”

For Stephanie, this is a return to the beginning. Throughout college and shortly after, Stephanie worked in new and used bookstores as a bookseller and bookbuyer. For the last 13 years, Stephanie worked as a librarian with the Chicago Public Library. 

Over the next few weeks Stephanie will work towards reopening the store, purchasing new inventory and refreshing the displays. City Lit Books will have a target reopening date of Saturday, June 19. Information will go live on the website as soon as possible for online orders and curbside pick-up. In the meantime, if customers are looking to help support City Lit Books’ reopening, they may place an online order through Bookshop at to have their items sent directly to their home. 

Teresa will work with Stephanie over the next few months to smooth the transition.  

We are both excited to open the doors and welcome everyone back!

A Message from Teresa

It is time for City Lit Books to close. City Lit Books will close on December 1st, 2020. Curbside pickup orders will stop on October 15th. Online orders can be placed through November 30.

Over eight years ago, the vision for City Lit Books was to provide a platform for facilitating conversations, supporting creativity, and collaborating to contribute to our community all within a setting of amazing books. To that end, we have hosted hundreds of author events, book clubs, Open Mics, and legendary Story Times. We have supported authors so local they walked to their book release events. We loved providing a space to host fundraisers and book drives for schools.

We have collaborated in dozens of off-site events all over the city in schools, churches, bars, temples, farmers markets, and libraries. We have donated hundreds of books to schools, shelters, and community organizations.

We’ve even had some celebrity: hosted rock stars, been featured on an episode of “Easy” on Netflix and were included in United Airlines Hemisphere’s article, “Three Perfect Days in Chicago”.

Most importantly, we have introduced thousands of books to our community that helped readers learn, laugh, cry, get inspired, be better citizens, plant more gardens, and, in general, experience joy.

Starting from an idea, the reality that emerged at City Lit exceeded all my expectations. However, our new “reality” these days means it is time to close.

I have chosen to operate this business through some pretty difficult times and barely breaking even because engaging with the community was so exciting and enjoyable every day. Now, in the time of the pandemic, we have been reduced to an order fulfillment business with precious little customer interaction. In spite of incredible community support, revenues have fallen dramatically. Supporting an order fulfillment center is simply not sustainable, financially or emotionally.

It is likely that there will be at least another nine months before we could get back to anything resembling business as usual, and I am unable to sustain the financial losses for that long.

City Lit will close on December 1. I am choosing to close in early December as I am very concerned about our ability to meet customer expectations during the holiday season this year due to staffing shortages, probable shipping delays, and possible book shortages from the publishers.

I am deeply grateful for the incredible support of so many who shared a passion for books and helped make City Lit become a destination and so much more than the original vision.


- Teresa Kirschbraun

City Lit turns 8

Dear Friend of City Lit Books,

City Lit opened eight years ago! When I opened the doors, the vision was clear and it remains the same. That is, to provide a welcoming space with a curated selection of books that that is also a platform for facilitating conversations, supporting creativity, and collaborating to contribute to our community.

Since opening, we have hosted hundreds of author events, book clubs, Story Times, and Open Mics. We've had the opportunity to partner with many community organizations and schools for fundraising, books drives, and author events. We've sold books in bars, churches, a Buddhist temple, farmers markets, and even a ribfest. We've even had some celebrity: hosted rock stars, been featured on an episode of "Easy" on Netflix and were included in United Airlines Hemisphere's article, "Three Perfect Days in Chicago".

But the most amazing thing happened when we had to close on March 15th due to the novel coronavirus. You kept coming! You purchased books and gift certificates on the website and over the phone. Many of you sent lovely messages of support. We are here today because of you. We are pleased that we have had our fifteen minutes of fame, but we are thrilled that we have been able to connect with you and become an important part of your community. We are committed to continuing putting books in as many hands as possible and to keeping the conversations going.

As for "the plague", this too shall pass. We are so looking forward to the day when we can open our doors in the traditional sense and engage directly with you, face to face. In the meantime, be healthy, be safe.

Thank you for your support and sharing our passion for the books!

Teresa and the incredible City Lit team

Women in Translation Month!

Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi translated from Arabic by Marilyn Booth

"A beautiful and often heart-breaking web of stories that runs across generations in a rapidly changing Oman, Celestial Bodies was the first book written by an Omani woman to be translated into English! It's a stunning and eye-opening intergenerational drama. 2019 Booker International Prize winner!" - Ben

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata translated from Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori

"Keiko doesn't know where she fits in... except when she's working at the convenience store. The store is her safe haven, in all its fluorescent lit, organized aisle glory. This book will make you laugh and then make you contemplate why you're laughing. This wacky juggernaut of a novel is the perfect read for anyone feeling trapped by late stage capitalism." - Clare

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi translated from French by Blake Ferris and Mattias Ripa

"This memoir effortlessly blends the history and politics of Iran during the Islamic Revolution with the innocence of childhood through a lovable and precocious girl. It is original and stylistic in a way that makes it wholly unforgettable. Based in Iran and translated from its original French, it is unique in its specificity while also being universal and accessible. A coming-of-age story following a young girl, we see the backdrop of war and revolution through her eyes, which provides it with humor, devastation, and humanity.  The wit, depth, and honesty of it allows us to see ourselves as someone we would believe we have nothing in common with. Truly a must-read that I can't recommend enough!" - Konner

Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich, translated from Russian by Keith Gessen

"I did not watch HBO's recent Chernobyl, in part because I read this book first. It's a series of raw, soul-wrenching interviews presented as first-person monologues that Alexievich conducted with ordinary people who were affected by the Chernobyl disaster, and HBO's show pulls from the book. Deeply intimate and personal, revealing the depths of our collective will to survive at all costs." - Sarah

Vernon Subutex by Virginie Despentes translated from French by Frank Wynne

"A crunchy, punchy, really good book. Written with a meandering perspective that confronts pretty much everything. The only constant is a man's pride-fueled spiral into homelessness." - Jordan

Belladonna by Daša Drndić translated from Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth

"A biting look at the inherited trauma of history, Belladonna weaves the tragedies of the Holocaust in Croatia with the fictional story of an aging professor and his obsession with his country's failings. It's a powerful reminder of the way that we all live among the monuments and ruins of our countries' histories, and of the importance of reckoning with our collective pasts." - Ben

This Woman's Work by Julie Delporte translated from French by Helge Dascher and Aleshia Jensen

"This graphic novel sheds light on unspoken moments of the female experience. The perfect combination of flashes of understanding and posing deeper questions. The art is tactile and personal. This book has quickly become one I revisit often." - Clare

Change Your Mind Book List


How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan: I was skeptical when I first heard about this book-- Michael Pollan writing about psychedelics? I thought a section that was included in a NYTimes pre-release was cringey. So, I set it aside for awhile and opted instead for the more radical books on psychedelics (like Tao Lin's Trip book about basically every drug they've ever taken). Any-who, finally got around to it and boy-o was I wrong. Pollan does a fantastic job combining history, journaling experience, and considering the future. I read How to Change Your Mind most nights before bed and Pollan's steady hand was meditative and consistently lulled me into expansive thought. Those nights reading translated into some great night's sleep and I've been trying to find something nearly as lovely ever since. Please please please read this. 

Parable (series) by Octavia Butler: Butler, an author deserving of any and all celebration, recognizes a god in change. I was converted.

Upgrade Soul by Ezra Clayton Daniels: Such a brilliant sci-fi graphic novel that examines what it means to be "better" and how that defines what's worse.

Emergent Strategy and Pleasure Activism by adrienne maree brown: An Octavia Butler scholar rethinks activism from many different perspectives of the natural world and pleasure. These are books to own and utilize often. These are revolutionary. 

Making Comics by Lynda Barry: Re-learn to let your hand speak! 

The Overstory by Richard Powers: I bet you've heard of this one-- and the change to how you see the trees around you is probably why.

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer: The world of botany as described and explored through Native American traditions. This is the real non-fiction book that The Overstory imagines. 

- Jordan

*artwork from Lynda Barry's Making Comics

Parable of the Sower Cover Image
ISBN: 9781538732182
Availability: Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grand Central Publishing - April 30th, 2019

Upgrade Soul Cover Image
ISBN: 9781549302923
Availability: Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Oni Press - September 18th, 2018

Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good Cover Image
By Adrienne Maree Brown (Editor)
ISBN: 9781849353267
Availability: Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: AK Press - March 19th, 2019

Making Comics Cover Image
ISBN: 9781770463691
Availability: Backordered - Currently Unavailable
Published: Drawn and Quarterly - November 5th, 2019

The Overstory: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393356687
Availability: Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - April 2nd, 2019

Braiding Sweetgrass Cover Image
ISBN: 9781571313560
Availability: Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Milkweed Editions - August 11th, 2015

Summer Book Club Picks!

Sabriel by Garth Nix

Since childhood, Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who refuse to stay dead. But now her father, the Abhorson, is missing, and Sabriel must cross into that world to find him. With Mogget, whose feline form hides a powerful, perhaps malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage, Sabriel travels deep into the Old Kingdom. There she confronts an evil that threatens much more than her life and comes face-to-face with her own hidden destiny. . .

Wednesday, July 22 at 6:30pm

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

The epic novel, an African Game of Thrones, from the Man Booker Prize-winning author of A Brief History of Seven Killings. In the stunning first novel in Marlon James's Dark Star trilogy, myth, fantasy, and history come together to explore what happens when a mercenary is hired to find a missing child.

Wednesday, August 26 at 6:30pm

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story. Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math. Roger and Dodger aren't exactly human, though they don't realise it. They aren't exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn't attained.

Wednesday, September 23rd at 6:30pm

On Beauty by Zadie Smith

Set on both sides of the Atlantic, Smith's third novel is a brilliant analysis of family life, the institution of marriage, intersections of the personal and the political, and an honest look at people's deceptions.

Wednesday, July 29 at 6:30pm

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

In an American suburb in the early 1980s, students at a highly competitive performing arts high school struggle and thrive in a rarified bubble, ambitiously pursuing music, movement, Shakespeare, and, particularly, their acting classes. When within this striving "Brotherhood of the Arts," two freshmen, David and Sarah, fall headlong into love, their passion does not go unnoticed--or untoyed with--by anyone, especially not by their charismatic acting teacher, Mr. Kingsley.

Wednesday, August 19 at 6:30pm

Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom

In eight highly praised treatises on beauty, media, money, and more, Tressie McMillan Cottom--award-winning professor and acclaimed author of Lower Ed--is unapologetically "thick" deemed "thick where I should have been thin, more where I should have been less," McMillan Cottom refuses to shy away from blending the personal with the political, from bringing her full self and voice to the fore of her analytical work. Thick transforms narrative moments into analyses of whiteness, black misogyny, and status-signaling as means of survival for black women.

Wednesday, September 16 at 6:30pm

Skip by Molly Mendoza

Gloopy is running toward adventure, and away from their home and friends who don't understand their creative talent. Bloom is desperately trying to return home to their lake, and avoid the terrible violence of the city. Instead, both Bloom and Gloopy find what they need in each other, and bravely return home to challenge their fears and create beauty in their own worlds.

Monday, July 6 at 6:30pm

Upgrade Soul by Ezra Claytan Daniels

In this innovative and exquisitely drawn sci-fi graphic novel, an aging couple grapples with what it means to be human. Molly, a brilliant geneticist, and Hank, a famous comics creator, celebrate their 40th anniversary in a most unusual way: undergoing an experimental operation to clone themselves. Under the eye of an unsavory scientist, the operation goes awry, leaving Hank and Molly mentally and physically weakened-and their clones as "mutant fetuses" who retain their sparkling intelligence but resemble fleshy potatoes.

Monday, August 3 at 6:30pm

Portrait of a Drunk by Olivier Schrauwen, Jérôme Mulot, and Florent Ruppert

Guy is no master mariner, with a clipped red (or black) beard. He's just an ordinary member of the crew — able enough, but also a lazy, cowardly liar, a drunkard, and a thief. His story is told in two allegorical parts: "The Blowout" and "The Hangover." Three contemporary comics titans, Belgian Olivier Schrauwen (Parallel Lives) and the French duo Ruppert and Mulot (The Perineum Technique) collaborate to bring you the best pictorial and narrative elements of the great tales of the sea — bright colors, grand battles, gallows humor — in this tour de force of black comedy.

Monday, September 7 at 6:30pm

Georges by Alexandre Dumas

Long out of print in America, Alexandre Dumas's most daring narrative is now available in this major new translation by Tina A. Kover. Filled with intrigue, romance, and deadly vengeance, Georges is the story of a wealthy mulatto boy who is driven from his island home by racist landowners. Returning to Mauritius as an accomplished young man, Georges pits his strength against a powerful plantation owner, leading a dramatic slave uprising and claiming the heart of a beautiful white woman. Georges stands apart as the only book by Dumas that explores the potent subject of race.

Monday, July 27 at 6:30pm

Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany

Babel-17, winner of the Nebula Award for best novel of the year, is a fascinating tale of a famous poet bent on deciphering a secret language that is the key to the enemy’s deadly force, a task that requires she travel with a splendidly improbable crew to the site of the next attack.

Monday, August 24 at 6:30pm

The Diart of Anais Nin by Anais Nin

This celebrated volume begins when Nin is about to publish her first book and ends when she leaves Paris for New York. Edited and with a Preface by Gunther Tuhlmann.

Monday, September 28 at 6:30pm

A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay about the Death of Walt Disney by Lucas Hnath

Lucas Hnath's darkly clever A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney centers on the reading, in a generic corporate conference room, of a stylized screenplay written by the great man himself, in the ultimate act of self-mythologizing. It's being read by the people it's about--Walt himself, his brother/henchman Roy, and Walt's resentful daughter and her ex-jock husband.It's about Walt's last days on earth. 

Tuesday, July 28 at 6:30pm

Indecent by Paula Vogel

When Sholem Asch wrote God of Vengeance in 1907, he didn't imagine the height of controversy the play would eventually reach. Performing at first in Yiddish and German, the play's subject matter wasn't deemed contentious until it was produced in English, when the American audiences were scandalized by the onstage depiction of an amorous affair between two women. Paula Vogel's newest work traces the trajectory of the show's success through its tour in Europe to its abrupt and explosive demise on Broadway in 1923--including the arrest of the entire production's cast and crew.

Tuesday, August 25 at 6:30pm

Mr. Burns and Other Plays by Anne Washburn

An ode to live theater and the resilience of The Simpsons, Anne Washburn's apocalyptic comedy Mr. Burns--"even better than its hype" (New York Post)--is an imaginative exploration of how the culture of one generation can evolve into the mythology of the next. Following an enthusiastic critical reception from New York critics for its world premiere, Mr. Burns will receive its London premiere in spring 2014. Also included in the collection are The SmallI Have Loved Strangers, and 10 Out of 12, all of which, together, develop a theme of destruction, from the personal to the city to civilization and, finally, to the destruction of form.

Tuesday, September 28 at 6:30pm

Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth

In the village of al-Awafi in Oman, we encounter three sisters: Mayya, who marries after a heartbreak; Asma, who marries from a sense of duty; and Khawla, who chooses to refuse all offers and await a reunion with the man she loves, who has emigrated to Canada. These three women and their families, their losses and loves, unspool ... against a backdrop of a rapidly changing Oman, a country evolving from a traditional, slave-owning society into its complex present.

Friday, July 17 at 6:30pm

Welcome to America by Linda Boström Knausgård, translated by Martin Aitken

A family on the brink of silence Ellen has stopped talking. She thinks she may have killed her dad. Her brother's barricaded himself in his room. Their mother, a successful actress, carries on as normal. We're a family of light! she insists. But darkness seeps in everywhere and in their separate worlds each of them longs for togetherness. Welcome to America is an exquisite portrait of a sensitive, strong-willed child and a young mind in the throes of trauma, a family on the brink of implosion, and the love that threatens to tear them apart. 

Friday, August 21 at 6:30pm

Dézafi by Frankétienne, translated by Asselin Charles

Dézafi is no ordinary zombie novel. In the hands of the great Haitian author known simply as Frankétienne, zombification takes on a symbolic dimension that stands as a potent commentary on a country haunted by a history of slavery. Now this dynamic new translation brings this touchstone in Haitian literature to English-language readers for the first time.

Friday, September 1 at 6:30pm

Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Two teens--Daniel, the son of Korean shopkeepers, and Natasha, whose family is here illegally from Jamaica--cross paths in New York City on an eventful day in their lives--Daniel is on his way to an interview with a Yale alum, Natasha is meeting with a lawyer to try and prevent her family's deportation to Jamaica--and fall in love.

Tuesday, July 7 at 6:30pm

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan. But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Tuesday, August 4 at 6:30pm

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson 

At the start of the Revolutionary War, Isabelis sold to a cruel loyalist family, even though she has been promised freedomby her former owner. Soon faced with the choice of working for or against theBritish, Isabel chooses to work with anyone who can help her.

Tuesday, September 1 at 6:30pm



John Warner's (The Biblioracle) book recommendations!

We loved hearing John Warner recommend books for us live on Zoom last week! 100 people attended, which means we hit capacity! To those of you who missed the event, you can rewatch the stream on youtube ( Here is a full list of his reccomendations!  

John Warner Recommendations

  1. Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet

  2. Bear Went Over the Mountain – William Kotzwinkle

  3. Tears of Autumn – Charles McCreery

  4. Mrs. Bridge – Evan S. Connell

  5. How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia – Moshin Amid

  6. Seven Storey Mountain – Thomas Merton

  7. Geek Love – Kathleen Dunn

  8. Lost Book of Adana Moreau

  9. Such a Fun Age – Kiley Reid

  10. Oreo – Fran Ross

  11. Working – Studs Terkel

  12. Love – Toni Morrison

  13. Dopesick – Beth Macy

  14. Lamb – Christopher Moore

  15. Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi

  16. How to Set a Fire and Why – Jesse Ball

  17. Chemistry – Weike Wang

  18. The Known World – Edward P. Jones

  19. Manual for Cleaning Women – Lucia Berlin

  20. Bad Blood – John Carreyou

  21. Thick – Tressie McMillan Cottom

  22. Skippy Dies – Paul Murray

  23. Possession – A.S. Byatt

  24. Intuitionist – Colson Whitehead

  25. Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall – Will Chancellor

  26. Case Histories – Kate Atkinson

Books to Help You Cry in the Pandemic

  1. Anything is Possible – Elizabeth Strout

  2. Explanation for Everything – Lauren Grodstein

  3. My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me – Jason Rosenthal

  4. Don’t Skip Out on Me – Wily Vlautin

  5. Father’s Story – Andre Dubus

  6. Telephone – Percival Everett

  7. All This Could Be Yours – Jami Attenberg


Books to Provide Diversions in the Pandemic

  1. Life among the Savages – Shirley Jackson

  2. Where’d You Go Bernadette – Maria Semple

  3. Fraud – David Rakoff

  4. Hyperbole and a Half – Allie Brosh

  5. Dog of the South – Charles Portis

Books by black authors other than James Baldwin, though all praise to the GOAT

A Different Drummer by William Melvin Kelley

Set in a mythical backwater Southern town, A Different Drummer is the extraordinary story of Tucker Caliban, a quiet, determined descendant of an African chief who for no apparent reason destroys his farm and heads for parts unknown--setting off a mass exodus of the state's entire Black population.

Negrophopbia by Darius James

Every racial stereotype is brought to life in this wry and raucous debut by James, a cutting-edge African American writer with an already established underground reputation. 

Solitudes Crowded with Loneliness by Bob Kaufman

Kaufman, one of fourteen children born in Louisiana to a German Jewish father and a Black Catholic mothers, ran away to sea when he was thirteen, circling the globe nine times in the next twenty years. In the 1950s, while working as a waiter at the Los Angeles Hilton, he met another erstwhile member of the Merchant Marine, Jack Kerouac, and soon thereafter both moved north to found, along with Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and others, the San Francisco literary "renaissance" of the time.

Triangulum by Masande Ntshanga

Triangulum is an ambitious, often philosophical and genre-bending novel that covers a period of over 40 years in South Africa's recent past and near future starting from the collapse of the apartheid homeland system in the early 1990s, to the economic corrosion of the 2010s, and on to the looming, large-scale ecological disasters of the 2040.

Bttm Fdrs by Ezra Claytan Daniels

Once a thriving working class neighborhood on Chicago’s south side, the “Bottomyards” is now the definition of urban blight. When an aspiring fashion designer named Darla and her image-obsessed friend, Cynthia, descend upon the neighborhood in search of cheap rent, they soon discover something far more seductive and sinister lurking behind the walls of their new home.


A Different Drummer Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385413909
Availability: Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Anchor - May 1st, 1990

Negrophobia: An Urban Parable Cover Image
By Darius James, Amy Abugo Ongiri (Introduction by), Darius James (Preface by)
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9781681373294
Published: NYRB Classics - February 19th, 2019

Solitudes Crowded with Loneliness Cover Image
ISBN: 9780811200769
Availability: Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions -

Triangulum Cover Image
ISBN: 9781937512774
Availability: Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Two Dollar Radio - May 14th, 2019

BTTM FDRS Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9781683962069
Published: Fantagraphics - June 25th, 2019

Poets Writing Prose

The main thing that draws me to a book is the quality of the prose. My favorite books are underlined and starred, so I can turn back to the best sentences. I crave lines that make you put down your book and pause, your mind bombarded with possibility. And no one is better at this than poets. So, in honor of National Poetry Month, I’ve selected some of my favorite poets... writing stuff other than poetry! Whether you’ve always wanted to get into poetry, or have always been intimidated by it, try out these novels, memoirs, and essay collections. Like what you’ve read? Chances are you’ll fall in love with their poetry collections too!

Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness by Jennifer Tseng – Some books are made for book lovers. Mayumi, a small-town librarian, loves the transcendent quality of books, and Tseng’s story of the narrator’s affair with a younger patron encapsulates this quality. Upon reading her prose, I’m transported to her secluded island and rich interior life. Beauty and pain are remarkably intertwined in this novel in a way only a poet could do!

What to read next: Red Flower, White Flower

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong – The imagery in this book has remained stuck in my head like a really good song. Written as a letter from son to immigrant mother, this book showcases how love destroys, heals, connects, and isolates us. Vuong’s writing is as personal as it is beautiful. Prepare to have passages hit you like a dry sob.

What to read next: Night Sky With Exit Wounds

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – If you were forced to read this book in high school, you owe it Sylvia to give it another try. This novel perfectly depicts the confusion of young adulthood and the entrapments of the mind. I was 16 years old when I first read this, and I still feel like I’m stuck in front of the fig tree with Esther, wondering when the last fruit will drop.

What to read next: Ariel

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood – A loud-mouthed, gun-carrying Catholic priest father, a midwestern coupon-cutting, platitude-bearing mother, and their daughter, the poet. Moving back into her parents’ rectory as an adult, Lockwood paints a riotous portrait of her family. These characters become as dear to you as the cast of your favorite sitcom. Her writing is playful and provocative. This memoir packs a punch, while keeping you laughing throughout.

What to read next: Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals

The Crying Book by Heather Christle – I’ve always championed that the quickest way to get to know someone is asking, When is the last time you cried? What starts out as an idea of mapping all the places Christle has cried, turns into a sweeping history of tears. The genre of this book is impossible to define, but that’s what makes it so absorbing. You’ll gently drift from philosophy to art to personal anecdote. This book washes over you.

What to read next: The Trees The Trees

They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib – Hanif is a rock star poet. Don’t think poets can be rock stars? Read They Can’t Kill Us. Abdurraqib has an unparalleled ability of contextualizing recent history, primarily through music. Sure, all millenials banged their heads to My Chemical Romance in the 00’s, but this book will have you relistening to the “Black Parade” and analyzing it as an anthem of societal grieving. I’m still taken aback by the insight in these essays.

What to read next: A Fortune for Your Disaster

- Clare

Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9781609452698
Published: Europa Editions - May 26th, 2015

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525562023
Availability: Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Press - June 4th, 2019

The Bell Jar Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060837020
Availability: Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Perennial Modern Classics - August 2nd, 2005

Priestdaddy: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399573262
Availability: Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - May 1st, 2018

The Crying Book Cover Image
ISBN: 9781948226448
Availability: Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Catapult - November 5th, 2019

They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us Cover Image
By Hanif Abdurraqib, Eve L. Ewing (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781937512651
Availability: Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Two Dollar Radio - November 7th, 2017

Sarah's List of Books that Give me Hope During Quarantine!

-Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown: This book is all about taking clues from nature to learn how to live and how to organize, and there's never been a better time to pause life-as-we-know-it and seek out the wisdom of the trees, flocks of animals, and oceans.

-A Paradise Built In Hell by Rebecca Solnit: This book examines the social impact and response of ordinary people during 5 major disasters around the world, coming to hopeful conclusions about what communities are capable of and showing us that people are prepared to help each other and show up when we need it. "Disaster sociology" is something I never anticipated being so grateful for.

-Mr Burns, A Post-Electric Play by Anne Washburn: With theaters closed across the world, what better time to pick up a play about a post-apocalyptic time when people long for the entertainment they can no longer access? Specifically, the characters in this play really miss The Simpsons, and go to extraordinary lengths to recreate TV episodes that remind them of their former normal lives. 

-White Noise by Don DeLillo: Is it an apocalyptic novel? Is it an absurd parody of modern life just close enough to reality to make your skin crawl? Surprise! Both. There was a deep creeping fear within me as I read this, but the end result was to make me recognize the parts of my life that I hardly noticed (going to the grocery store, taking photos of famous landmarks), and start to notice them.

-Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi: This is a cookbook. Everything in it has warm flavors, savory and deep and homestyle and everything I've been craving during this time. It's food that feels like it has been around for 10,000 years and will never go away. 


Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds Cover Image
ISBN: 9781849352604
Availability: Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: AK Press - April 18th, 2017

A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143118077
Availability: Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - August 31st, 2010

Staff Pick Badge
Mr. Burns and Other Plays Cover Image
ISBN: 9781559364812
Availability: Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Theatre Communications Group - March 14th, 2017

White Noise: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Cover Image
By Don DeLillo, Richard Powers (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780143105985
Availability: Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Classics - December 29th, 2009

Jerusalem: A Cookbook Cover Image
ISBN: 9781607743941
Availability: Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ten Speed Press - October 16th, 2012


Subscribe to RSS - blogs