danez smith

Five Good Books

Friends, I feel it has been far too long since we last chatted about books - especially since I've read so many in the interim that have utterly blown me away (& so many I cannot wait to read soon, soon, soon). A few recent lovelies I've so adored dancing with...

01 / RUNNING IN THE FAMILY, Michael Ondaatje. An older book but one I reference too often not to mention, Running in the Family is at once grounded & magical, one of the best & truest portrayals of life in the tropics that I have ever read. I took my copy with me to the United States & I reread my favourite vignettes often when I yearn for the softness of monsoon rain, palm trees singing above, the swelling & lyrical fever-bright dream that only home could possibly hold.

02 / CODE NAME VERITY, Elizabeth Wein. This book tore me apart & glued me together, killed me & dreamed me back to life - it is funny & searing & melancholy & hopeful & terrifying & transcendent, & I was in tears many, many times over just how three dimensional, how utterly true this story was. The characters are flawed & struggling & so deeply, horrifyingly, beautifully real. And the friendship, oh - we make a sensational team indeed. I was reminded so much of my relationship with my own best friend, & that alone made me ache in the loveliest way. (One caveat, however: the first section's rather a bore. Sit through it anyway. I promise, I promise once the second section comes around you will understand why.)

03 / AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF RED, Anne Carson. I am cheating slightly on this one, as I have not in fact picked it up quite yet - but so many dear friends have recommended it that I know I must remedy that as soon as possible. I adore Carson's translations of Sappho & the (admittedly few) original pieces I have read from her, so I am truly looking forward to diving into this story of tenderness through torment, how love flourishes of & around every permutation of fate.

04 / ROOM, Emma Donoghue. I'd been wanting to read Room for many months before finally I impulse-bought it on my Kindle & read the whole thing in three breathless days. There is so much that has already been said about this book that I hesitate to add my small thoughts, but it is gripping & terrifying & made me tear up a great many times. A story of a mother & her son, a race for survival, the implications of living a world where nothing is quite the same as we remember.

05 / [INSERT]BOY, Danez Smith. You have likely seen me raving over this gorgeous, necessary book of poetry in recent months; [Insert]Boy is a creation that is at once extraordinary in its desire & aching in its fluidity, effortlessly spanning the boundaries between queerness & music & terror, the things we do to finally feel whole. I go back to it daily to pore over my favourite sections, to taste the ghost of its lines on my tongue, & it feels that every time I do I come away with something more soft & devastating than before. I could not recommend it enough.

p.s. what books have you been reaching for lately, & what do you think of them? let’s chat in the comments. i am always open to adding more books to my to-read list. xx