The best books for building community

Jeremy Sorese Author Of The Short While
By Jeremy Sorese

Who am I?

With my first book Curveball and now my second The Short While, I’ve attempted at telling stories about the various connections between people and how happenstance really does shape more than we can ever know. Both of my books are a little over 400 pages each, not because I don’t know how to edit but rather that only at that scale do I feel like I can adequately describe life as it has felt like for me. It’s what I love in the books listed below—that the way in which we find ourselves surrounded by the people we know never ceases to feel anything short of miraculous and absurd.

I wrote...

The Short While

By Jeremy Sorese,

Book cover of The Short While

What is my book about?

The Short While is a Queer Sci-Fi thriller about attempting to construct a life in the ruins of something larger than yourself. In the case of my book, it's a fallen totalitarian regime that once had the best of intentions. Written and drawn over the last five years, my second book has become a love letter to every attempt, made by myself or someone I love, to build a life with someone else, be it romantic or not. I’ve been referring to it as a story about a haunted house where the haunted house is America and the characters are all the eager young couple who bought something cursed sight unseen, and can’t move out now because they already made the down payment. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl

Why did I love this book?

In my opinion, the Gays have more fun and Lawlor’s book is proof of this. “Orlando” by way of every Queer political, social, and romantic arrangement you can imagine, Paul’s story is a buffet of attempts to define his/her/their life in a way that rings true. Even in the directionless moments of that journey, there is an electricity in seeing each day as an active choice to readjust who you want to be and how you want to live. In the end, Paul doesn’t provide a clear answer as to what that should look like but rather relishes in how that journey is ceaseless and what a blessing it is that we get to keep choosing.

By Andrea Lawlor,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl is quite simply one of the most exciting - and one of the most fun - novels of the decade.' Garth Greenwell

It's 1993 and Paul Polydoris tends bar at the only gay club in a university town thrumming with politics and partying. He studies queer theory, has a lesbian best friend, makes zines, and is a flaneur with a rich dating life. But Paul's also got a secret: he's a shapeshifter. Oscillating wildly from Riot Grrrl to leather cub, Women's Studies major to trade, Paul transforms his body at will in…

Book cover of Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet

Why did I love this book?

Both my first book Curveball and my new book touch on how losing access to information can only shrink someone’s ability to live their life effectively which, in an age where most of us have a near-constant Internet connection, can feel unimaginable, and yet, Broad Band proves that is more likely than we think. Evan’s book attempts to reframe the history of computing by recentering the often forgotten women at the center of that story, asking us to reimagine what our digital informational landscape could have looked like if care for everyone in our communities was more central to that story.

By Claire L. Evans,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Broad Band as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If you loved Hidden Figures or The Rise of the Rocket Girls, you'll love Claire Evans' breakthrough book on the women who brought you the internet--written out of history, until now.

"This is a radically important, timely work," says Miranda July, filmmaker and author of The First Bad Man. The history of technology you probably know is one of men and machines, garages and riches, alpha nerds and brogrammers--but from Ada Lovelace, who wrote the first computer program in the Victorian Age, to the cyberpunk Web designers of the 1990s, female visionaries have always been at the vanguard of technology…

Book cover of Boom Town: The Fantastical Saga of Oklahoma City, Its Chaotic Founding... Its Purloined Basketball Team, and the Dream of Becoming a World-class Metropolis

Why did I love this book?

Although I write Science Fiction and Anderson’s book is Non-Fiction, the way in which he writes about the history of Oklahoma City has stayed with me. An author may choose to write their story through the point of view of a single person but we, as individuals, are never isolated. Our lives are constantly bumping against the history of everyone and everything around us, all shaped by forces we are rarely ever fully aware of. You may get sent to Oklahoma City to write about their basketball team and end up writing a 400 something page book about the entire history of Oklahoma City because, inexplicably, talking about the basketball team only makes sense after you do.

By Sam Anderson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Boom Town as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A brilliant, kaleidoscopic narrative of Oklahoma City—a great American story of civics, basketball, and destiny, from award-winning journalist Sam Anderson

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • NPR • Chicago Tribune • San Francisco Chronicle • The Economist • Deadspin

Oklahoma City was born from chaos. It was founded in a bizarre but momentous “Land Run” in 1889, when thousands of people lined up along the borders of Oklahoma Territory and rushed in at noon to stake their claims. Since then, it has been a city torn between the wild…

Book cover of The World According to Garp

Why did I love this book?

I first read Garp in my early 20s, back when I was single, working at a grocery store in Chicago, pining for the love and companionship of someone I hopefully would one day meet. I reread it last year, now in my early 30s, in love with someone who I now share a home with in New York. Garp is a perfect example of what life, and stories about it, feel like to me—how our time on Earth is spent holding on to things we can only lose. In my 20s, Garp stirred up dreams of domestic artistic bliss but now, finally with someone to lose, Garp feels like a flashing sign to keep your hands inside the vehicle at all times, as our shared roller coaster dips into the dark ahead of us.

By John Irving,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The World According to Garp as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A masterpiece from one of the great contemporary American writers.

'A wonderful novel, full of energy and art, at once funny and heartbreaking...terrific' WASHINGTON POST

Anniversary edition with a new afterword from the author.

A worldwide bestseller since its publication, Irving's classic is filled with stories inside stories about the life and times of T. S. Garp, struggling writer and illegitimate son of Jenny Fields - an unlikely feminist heroine ahead of her time.

Beautifully written, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP is a powerfully compelling and compassionate coming-of-age novel that established John Irving as one of the most imaginative writers…

Tales of the City

By Armistead Maupin,

Book cover of Tales of the City

Why did I love this book?

What can be said about the Tales of the City books that hasn’t already been said? My love for the books has everything to do with Maupin himself—when he started the series as a correspondent at The Pacific Sun, he was newly out, a framed photograph of him shaking hands with Nixon in The White House hanging on his apartment wall. To me, the books were Maupin’s way of writing himself as a fallible gay man out into the complexities of the world, learning to be a more empathetic person one chapter at a time. Not every story finds its mark (what was with those cannibals in More Tales of The City) but on the whole, they’re extraordinary. 

By Armistead Maupin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Tales of the City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Now a Netflix series starring Elliot Page and Laura Linney . . .

'It's an odd thing, but anyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco.' Oscar Wilde

Mary Ann is twenty-five and arrives in San Francisco for an eight-day holiday.

But then her Mood Ring turns blue.

So obviously she decides to stay. It is the 1970s after all.

Fresh out of Cleveland, naive Mary Ann tumbles headlong into a brave new world of pot-growing landladies, cut throat debutantes, spaced-out neighbours and outrageous parties. Finding a…

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