Lauren is an artist and writer from southern Michigan. She is trained as a printmaker and CNC laser operator; she reads poetry, kid's books, and science fiction. Please let her know if you come across a really great book about translation.
Brief, solid poems that stick to the bones. In the tradition of understated Slavic poetry—think Szymborska. Here's a poem to read to your fresh squeeze or at a wedding:
Why is the word yes so brief?
It should be
so that you could not decide in an instant to say it,
so that upon reflection you could stop
in the middle of saying it.
You know a book is good when you and your friend (who also loved it) argue about whether or not the ending was happy. This is my most-loaned and most-gifted book, and it's nearly perfect: gorgeously written, formally experimental, spooky, queer, built of stories within stories. The kind of book you finish and immediately want to re-read, to find all the little things you missed the first time. I recently had the occasion to ask Oyeyemi what she thinks, and she thinks the end is happy. I do too.
Baroque! Maximalist! Dizzyingly inventive worldbuilding! My favorite book of 2016! Would you like a jargon-y genderqueer metaphysical space opera with a chewy political intrigue center? Would you like it to be inspired both in content and in structure by Enlightenment-era philosophy? Me too! And here it is!
N.K. Jemisin is the greatest living fantasist and this is her first masterpiece. (I expect we'll be seeing more masterpieces from her quite soon.) In a geologically unstable fantasy world where the magic users—orogenes—influence seismic activity, one woman goes on something in between a grief journey and a revenge quest. It's full of brilliant, sly commentary on the history of American racism: slurs, forced assimilation, nonconsensual medical experimentation, slavery hidden in plain sight—but the real brilliance of the book is its prickly, struggling, powerful heroine, who makes the whole world come to life.
The Young Wizards series is the true heir to A Wrinkle In Time: the science is substantive, the magic zips and fizzes, and compassion is the heart of heroism. Children's fiction has a mandate to tell the stories of how we learn how to be people, and then, how we learn to be good people. This is the rare series that fulfills that mandate and then some. I reread it every year or two, partially for the adventures, partially for its incredible heart.
Elaine Scarry does for pain what Judith Butler did for gender. This book unravels pain, war, torture, and creativity in dense, brilliant prose. Great for fans of Maggie Nelson at her most theoretical.