Luke B Goebel$19.49
I'm engaged to this brilliant author, so this would be the book I'd probably strap across my heart. It might keep my heart intact somehow, although, ironically, it's a heartbreaking bakers dozen of linked short stories about a young seeker on the sprawl, reeling from a recent break up and the loss of his brother.
Jean Stein$20.00 $18.60
This is a portrait of a city I love as well as a self-portrait of a woman who changed my life profoundly, and who I miss every day. Through the oral history tradition she helped found with her groundbreaking book, “Edie,” Stein chronicled the histories of prominent Los Angeles families, including her own, through edited interviews with a huge cast of characters, a masterwork by the most intuitive conversationalist I ever knew.
Sarah Gerard$16.00 $14.88
This book wowed me and spoke to me so intimately, I knew I had to befriend Sarah Gerard, who is just as powerful, beautiful and bright as I imagined. It's a short road trip book about a starving maniac and her terrible boyfriend that seems to expand beyond the limits of the page and the entire universe. It still echoes in my mind.
Amie Barrodale$18.00 $16.74
This is my favorite collection of short stories, and every time I pick it up, it reminds me that there is a genius on Earth with heart and humor so evolved I have to wonder if she is from the future. This book breaks my brain open so it can grow. I'll be sitting there on my island, praying that someone will drop Barrodale's next book on my head from heaven.
Joanna Novak$24.99 $23.24
Reading this novel is like going back to a life I didn't have, but one that feels eerily familiar, as a teenager in high school. There's such a force in her writing, which is the force of Novak—she looks like a sweet person on the outside, which she is, but inside she is a tornado of passion and strength enough to crush the planet with her pinky finger.
Ben Ehrenreich$18.00 $16.74
If I ever need a reminder to be courageous and keep an open heart, Ehrenreich's nonfiction book about Palestine is plenty. I can't believe I know the man who wrote this book, that he's walking around among us. Living on the West Bank, Ben chronicled the true stories of everyday people with humility, tenderness and perfect storytelling. Like Patty Yumi Cottrell and Luke Goebel remind me, Ehrenreich proves that art is the ultimate panacea.
Daniel Saldaña París$16.95 $15.76
Daniel Saldaña París is the Mexican Philip Roth, dare I say, and his novel is both satirical and self-reflective, which is my favorite mode of literary expression. I met him a few years ago, and speaking with him about writing fiction was like talking to a long lost twin.
Clegg's memoir of hitting bottom made me so grateful, both for him, and for the possibility of recovery from addiction, which so many of us don't survive. It's a story of violent indulgence, the saving grace of his own wise spirit, as well as the transformative power of love from true friends.