Reading List

One piece of actionable wisdom you hear as a copywriter is to write, write, write some more, and then write even more. The churn is life, so to speak. On the one hand, I very much agree. You need your 10,000 hours.

 

However, too much churn and you run out of oxygen to fuel your poetic fire. Your voice doesn’t exist in a vacuum – it owes its power to the many writers who mused and scribbled before you. Reading, reading, reading some more, and then reading even more is just as vital to honing the craft. 

 

I’d like to share some of the books that have shaped my voice and that I return to when the fire needs tending to. Let's chat about them. 

Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez

I'm only 15% through this book and I can't put it down. An embarrassingly excellent read all about how the world around us was designed for men, and why this needs to change. 

 

Never Let Me Go and The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro

Two of my favorite novels. Glacial and acidic explorations of memory. 

The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx & Crake, The Year of the Flood, and MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood

The subject of my master's thesis. Atwood's behind some of my favorite dystopias. 

 

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

An academic textbook presented in comic form (very meta). Contains my favorite definition of art. 

La Poeta en Nueva York (Poet in New York) by Federico García Lorca

I wrote my undergrad thesis on this one. Represents poetics at their most emotional and visceral. Imagine landing in New York City from Granada and not speaking nearly enough English. A must read (in Spanish).

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

A masterpiece. No one riffs on tragic topics like Beatty. Often very funny, but Beatty himself advises the reader to not get lost in the comedy. I love Chris Jackson's interview with the author in The Paris Review.

Teacher Man by Frank McCourt

Read this one in seven hours on a train from A Coruña to Madrid.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

I love final words in novels. This one has my favorite final words. 

Pastoralia by George Saunders

Haunting, worth several reads. 

Super Sad True Love Story and Lake Success by Gary Shteyngart

This is an author who truly understands the United States of America. Wicked funny and incisive. 

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Read this novel by candelight. Alone, and with a glass of cremánt. 

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

What more can I say? A masterpiece. The TV show is excellent, too. 

The Omnivore’s Dilemma and The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan

Both of these books had me reevaluate how I relate to the natural world (it's all the natural world).

The Sandman (from The Night Pieces) by ETA Hoffmann

A meditation on madness. Also, maybe one of the first literary instances of automatons. Please correct me on this.

My Squirrel Days by Ellie Kemper

Ellie Kemper is one of my favorite actors and a hugely witty writer. Want a heartfelt belly laugh? Download this on your reading device. 

Rossum’s Universal Robots by Karel Čapek

We wouldn't have the robots we know and love without this magnificent play. 

The Futurological Congress and Solaris by Stanislaw Lem

Mind-bending science fiction. Is anything real, and does this planet feel emotions?

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick

Similarly mind-bending science fiction. I look to Phil Dick for inspiration constantly. 

The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa

Chilling, quiet, thoughtful, and warm till the very end. 

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin 

Huxley and Orwell owe it all to Zamyatin. Maybe. 

Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov 

We're all standing in the shadow of Nabokov. 

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski 

Read this in a dingy room lit only by a single, flickering bulb. 

The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin

On my "one day I will reread and truly understand this one" list. 

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Legions of improvisers flock to Tina Fey for inspiration and wit. I'm definitely one of them.

Holding a Book

I read for pleasure and that is the moment I learn the most.

–Margaret Atwood