They were watching, out there past men’s knowing, where stars are drowning and whales ferry their vast souls through the black and seamless sea. –Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Blood Meridian might be my favorite book of all time. It is beautiful and horrific. It reads like poetry, lines to be read and reread over and over. I try and read it once a year. I love books where the story unfolds along a physical journey and I owe that to Blood Meridian.
Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk
My favorite of Chuck Palahniuk’s work. Dark and hilarious. Forcing you to sympathize with the last member of a religious death cult is true Chuck Palahniuk.
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
This is essential for aspiring artists. I treat it as a manual for creativity and smashing artistic block. It is all about embracing the inevitability of influence. You don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself.
Grandpa’s Ghost Stories by Jim Flora
This picture book from the 70’s has probably influenced me more than any other book. The story of a grandpa telling his grandson spooky stories in the midst of a thunderstorm. The illustrations are whimsical and creepy and have influenced my artistic style to this day. Just shy of terrifying, I loved each story. The author and illustrator Jim Flora also illustrated numerous jazz and classical records in the 40s and 50s.
Preacher by Garth Ennis
The story of a preacher traveling America in search of God. Part fantasy, part horror, part comedy perfectly blended. Stephen King said Preacher influenced The Dark Tower. And might I say has the best antagonist in all of comic book history.
The Giver – Lois Lowry
This was the first dystopian fiction I read and it made me fall for the genre. The idea that one person holds all memories and passes them along spoke to me at a young age. As a society we easily forget the past to make the present easier.
1984 – George Orwell
My 5th grade teacher gave me Animal Farm and that made me a fan of George Orwell. 1984 was the next book I read and it solidified my fandom of dystopian fiction. Big brother is watching. 1984 is now more relevant than ever.
Truly amazing, what people can get used to, as long as there are a few compensations.
–Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
Handmaids Tale – Margaret Atwood
A pivotal work of feminist dystopian fiction. Many of the laws and ideals of the books main antagonist, the Gilead?, echo a little too close in recent years.
Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel
This book hits close to home for our world at the moment. Station Eleven takes place in the Great Lakes region and follows a group of survivors after a swine flu outbreak.
An Unkindness of Ghosts – Rivers Solomon
“I am a boy and a girl and a witch all wrapped into one very strange, flimsy, indecisive body. Do you think my body couldn’t decide what it wanted to be?”
This debut is a fantastically written dystopian sci-fi. Aster is a complex and beautiful character on a ship with the last of humanity trying to find their way to a new land.
Sandra Law is our sales rep from Stuart Abraham and Associates, a big knocker operation that represents a gazillion publishers. Larry Law (Sandra’s husband) is mogul of the Great Lakes Independent Bookseller’s Association, an advocate for small-time booksellers like us. Just after the birth of their first daughter, Larry was recuperating from a Covid-19 infection. They are the sweetest couple in the book world.