Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Best Books of 2024...So Far

Here's a weird coincidence -- or maybe it's not a coincidence at all. Three of my five favorite books of 2024 so far are by writers who started out in publishing as poets -- Kaveh Akbar, Ananda Lima, and Hanif Abdurraqib. I'd never been one to reach much poetry, but in the first half of 2024, I read more than I'd ever read before (including poetry by Jericho Brown's The Tradition, my colleague at StoryStudio Czaerra Galicinao Ucol's Pisces Urges, and Mary Oliver's Devotions). Maybe that reading influenced my "regular" reading and it's why I gravitated toward this books by poets. Or maybe it's just a coincidence. Doesn't matter. These five books, my five favorites of the year so far, are phenomenal. 

Martyr!, by Kaveh Akbar -- One of the first books I read in 2024, it's still near the top of my list. I think about this book ALL THE TIME. Immense. 

Perris, California, by Rachel Stark -- Here's the most underrated book of 2024 so far, in my view. A publisher's rep sent me an ARC of this book because he thought I'd like it. And of course he was right. Side note: Publisher's sales reps are the hardest working, most underappreciated people in publishing. I'm so glad he put this book on my radar. It's a truly accomplished debut. 

Blue Ruin, by Hari Kunzru -- The third of a thematic trilogy, this book cemented Hari Kunzru as one of my absolute favorite writers and an immediate must-read from now on whenever he publishes.

Craft: Stories I Wrote for the Devil, by Ananda Lima -- Still completely in awe of this book. It's an amazing feat of, yes, CRAFT.

There's Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension, by Hanif Abdurraqib -- I'll follow Abdurraqib WHEREVER his mind wanders, but especially when his mind is wandering about basketball -- and social justice and his own life and about a million other things as well.

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