The most recommended avant garde books

Who picked these books? Meet our 20 experts.

20 authors created a book list connected to avant garde, and here are their favorite avant garde books.
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What type of avant garde book?

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Slumberland

By Paul Beatty,

Book cover of Slumberland

Loren Mayshark Author Of Inside the Chinese Wine Industry

From Loren's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Reader Comedian Student of history

Loren's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Loren love this book?

I have wanted to check out Beatty’s work for a long time. He is in a special class of prose authors who started writing poetry like the late great Denis Johnson.

This book is a dazzling display of Beatty’s phenomenal vocabulary and ability to use words in novel ways. What truly makes the book special is the expanse of what he covers in a book of just over 250 pages. Not only is it an education on music, but the book touches on numerous important themes.

Beatty brings a freshness to describing the city of Berlin, which feels both unique and accurate. Perhaps most pleasurable is Beatty’s quirky sense of humor, which he displays on nearly every page.

I cannot recall reading a book that made me laugh out loud as much as Slumberland. Now that I have read Beatty, I’m hooked, and I plan to read the remainder…

By Paul Beatty,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The hip break-out novel from 2016 Man Booker Prize winning author, Paul Beatty, about a disaffected Los Angeles DJ who travels to post-Wall Berlin in search of his transatlantic doppelganger.

Hailed by the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times as one of the best writers of his generation, Paul Beatty turns his creative eye to man's search for meaning and identity in an increasingly chaotic world.

After creating the perfect beat, DJ Darky goes in search of Charles Stone, a little know avant-garde jazzman, to play over his sonic masterpiece. His quest brings him to a recently unified…


The Rum Diary

By Hunter S. Thompson,

Book cover of The Rum Diary

Bruce Siwy Author Of Jailing the Johnstown Judge: Joe O'Kicki, the Mob and Corrupt Justice

From the list on for journalists by journalists.

Who am I?

Today's reporter inhabits an environment ranging from hostile to apathetic. Somewhere beyond the blistering criticism and rabid mistrust is the writer's haunting suspicion that today's revelatory art will line the reader's birdcage before his or her lunchtime McChicken. I get it. My entire professional career has been spent filing Right-to-Know and other public information requests, working the phones, chasing the perfect photo, and hammering at the keyboard in the hopes of something legible. On occasion I've mined something of both meaning and impact. That's what the writers I've featured have done as well as anyone I've ever read. May you find their journalism as inspiring as I do.

Bruce's book list on for journalists by journalists

Why did Bruce love this book?

Journalists: You had to know you weren't escaping this one without an obligatory ode to the godfather of Gonzo.

I picked this one over Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72 and other classic compendiums simply because it stands apart from most of his other work. The Rum Diary gives us the opportunity to see stretch Hunter stretch legs as a novelist.

Set in beautiful Puerto Rico, the story follows the exploits of a newspaper crew (who else) searching for lowbrow highs while grappling with the existential doom (what else) of a sometimes hopeless vocation.

Hunter rarely misses his targets, and this novel is no exception. I re-read it frequently in an attempt to absorb his perhaps primary lesson; that our writing can and should be everything but boring.

By Hunter S. Thompson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Rum Diary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

_________________ THE BOOK THAT INSPIRED THE MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING JOHNNY DEPP _________________ 'Remarkable - a genuine, 100% proof discovery of great literary importance' - Mail on Sunday 'Hilarious, utterly real and tragic ... A lithe, well-crafted gem of a novel which leaves the reader disturbed and grinning in a way that makes people sitting nearby change seats' - Scotland on Sunday 'Crackling, twisted, searing, paced to a deft prose rhythm ... a shot of Gonzo with a rum chaser' - San Francisco Chronicle _________________ The sultry classic of a journalist's sordid life in Puerto Rico Paul Kemp has moved…


Ghosts

By César Aira, Chris Andrews (translator),

Book cover of Ghosts

Kevin Brockmeier Author Of The Ghost Variations: One Hundred Stories

From the list on ghosts.

Who am I?

I’ve written and published one hundred very short ghost stories, plus a handful of longer ones, and have spent a lifetime reading and watching and thinking about stories of ghosts and the afterlife. My expertise, such as it is, involves ghosts as beings of narrative and metaphor. I’ve encountered great numbers of them on the page and on the screen—nowhere else—but I confess that I would love someday (though don’t expect) to encounter them in the flesh. My flesh, that is to say; their fleshlessness.

Kevin's book list on ghosts

Why did Kevin love this book?

Aira is one of the most interesting novelists alive today, a writer whose wit, energy, and unfailingly restless imagination ensure that his books never follow a straightforward path, and thus always surprise you. Ghosts, my favorite of those books, presents the story of a half-constructed luxury apartment complex, the ghosts who wander its beams and its floors, and the adolescent girl to whom they call. Recommended if you like your ghosts circumambulating and avant-garde.

By César Aira, Chris Andrews (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"On a building site of a new, luxury apartment building, visitors looked up at the strange, irregular form of the water tank that crowned the edifice, and the big parabolic dish that would supply television images to all the floors. On the edge of the dish, a sharp metallic edge on which no bird would have dared to perch, three completely naked men were sitting, with their faces turned up to the midday sun; no one saw them, of course." - from Ghosts

Ghosts is about a construction worker's family squatting on a building site. They all see large and…


The Exploits of Engelbrecht

By Maurice Richardson,

Book cover of The Exploits of Engelbrecht

Rhys Hughes Author Of My Rabbit's Shadow Looks Like a Hand

From the list on underrated offbeat humorous fantasy.

Who am I?

The world is a strange place and life can feel very weird at times, and I have long had the suspicion that a truly imaginative and inventive comedy has more to say about reality, albeit in an exaggerated and oblique way, than much serious gloomy work. Comedy has a wider range than people often think. It doesn’t have to be sweet, light, and uplifting all the time. It can be dark, unsettling and suspenseful, or profoundly philosophical. It can be political, mystical, paradoxical. There are humorous fantasy novels and short story collections that have been sadly neglected or unjustly forgotten, and I try to recommend those books to readers whenever I can.

Rhys' book list on underrated offbeat humorous fantasy

Why did Rhys love this book?

The stories that appear in this book were first published in Lilliput in the 1940s, a British monthly magazine. They relate the perilous, often diabolical activities of the Surrealist Sportsman’s Club, a society devoted to playing games that no one else would dream of attempting. Engelbrecht is a diminutive boxer who fights clocks, zombies, witches, and other assorted horrors and marvels, and he generally wins because of pluck combined with luck. Richardson’s prose style here is a blend of gothic horror, period science fiction, and the wisecracking of Damon Runyan, and the reader can expect no respite from the tumult of ideas, images, situations, jokes, and subversion of clichés.

By Maurice Richardson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Exploits of Engelbrecht as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Published for the first time in a low cost edition, Maurice Richardson's cult classic is one of the strangest works of fiction ever written. Fifteen stories that relate the activities of the Surrealist Sportsman's Club, a society with very dubious morals that spends the time it has left between the collapse of the moon and the end of the universe taking the concept of the 'game' to its logical limit.

A club can't operate without members, and those of the SSC are as strange and astonishing as some of the events they compete in. Most formidable of all, and more…


Book cover of Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black

Joseph Ridgwell Author Of Burrito Deluxe

From the list on road novels of all time.

Who am I?

I’ve been obsessed with travel and novels that feature travel in the narrative since my early teens. A near-death experience at the age of nineteen, forced me to confront my own limited life experiences and encouraged me to travel the globe and see some of the world we live in before it was too late, as there’s nothing worse than too late. Also growing up on an inner city council estate instilled a desire to escape the urban environment and international travel and travel writing satisfied those compelling urges.

Joseph's book list on road novels of all time

Why did Joseph love this book?

This is a collection of short stories by John Waters bit-part actress—Cookie Mueller. Most of the well-crafted stories in this cult classic are autobiographical, and most feature the author’s travels around America and Europe, and the rest of the world. Cookie has a unique literary voice, and reading her stories it’s like you are actually getting to know the author personally. Criminally out of print for many years, this excellent book was recently re-published in the UK by Canongate. Unfortunately, Cookie died at the tender age of 40, and so was unable to fulfill her undoubted potential. 

By Cookie Mueller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first collected edition of legendary writer, actress, and adventurer Cookie Mueller's stories, featuring the entire contents of her 1990 book Walking through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black, alongside more than two dozen others, some previously unpublished.

Legendary as an underground actress, female adventurer, and East Village raconteur, Cookie Mueller's first calling was to the written word: "I started writing when I was six and have never stopped completely," she once confessed. Muellerís 1990 Walking through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black, the first volume of the Semiotext(e) Native Agents series, was the largest collection of stories…


The Alphabet Man

By Richard Grossman,

Book cover of The Alphabet Man

David David Katzman Author Of A Greater Monster

From the list on shattering the conventions of what a novel can be.

Who am I?

As a writer, artist, and actor throughout my life, I’ve explored and enjoyed many artistic forms. While I appreciate books across many genres, I elevate to the highest level those works that manage to break conventional boundaries and create something original. In my own work, I have always challenged myself to create something unique with a medium that has never been done before. At the same time, I have sought to discover a process and resulting work that inspires readers’ own creativity and challenges them to expand their imagination. 

David's book list on shattering the conventions of what a novel can be

Why did David love this book?

Grossman achieves something remarkable in The Alphabet Man. The work manages to weave together visual, avant-garde graphic design, literary poetry, and a suspenseful thrilling plot. The book itself is gorgeous to look at it, and the text layout is designed as a work of art. Grossman seamlessly blends these disparate elements into a unified, unique creation that breaks the boundaries of what a novel can be. 

By Richard Grossman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Alphabet Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"America loves a murder, and I am a murderous American," observes Clyde Wayne Franklin, who is considered by many to be the foremost poet in America. No ordinary killer, he is equal parts writer, obsessive lover, alcoholic, moralist, ex-con, clown, and butcher. The Alphabet Man is the story of his ruthless search for carnal love and spiritual redemption as he moves through the underworld of Washington, D.C., a sadistic landscape peopled by drug dealers, prostitutes, and assassins-for-hire. Part thriller, part psychological and linguistic masterpiece, Grossman's explosive fiction convinces us that if there is a pure poetry in the modern world,…


Book cover of Experimental Cinema in the Digital Age

Nicky Hamlyn Author Of Film Art Phenomena

From the list on artists’ film and video.

Who am I?

I am an artist-filmmaker, writer, and Professor of Experimental Film at the University for the Creative Arts in Canterbury, Kent, UK. I have worked at the London Filmmakers’ Co-op and BBC TV. I have been making films since 1974 and teaching since 1988. I have published extensively on Artists’ Film / Experimental Cinema. I have edited and contributed chapters to numerous other books and journals, including Millennium Film Journal, MIRAJ, Film Quarterly, Sequence, and others. I have completed over 70 single screen works in 16mm and video, gallery film and video installations, and multi-projector film performances. These have been screened worldwide.

Nicky's book list on artists’ film and video

Why did Nicky love this book?

LeGrice was a founder of the London Filmmakers’ Co-op in 1968 and has worked ever since as a film and video maker, teacher, and writer. His book collects a large number of theoretical and critical essays on a range of topics, from film as material to the way films variously position the spectator as a consumer and/or self-conscious critic, to comparisons between film and digital media, in aesthetic, technological, and ecological terms. The essays are always approachable, even when he is discussing more abstract theoretical problems. Many examples are discussed.

By Malcolm Le Grice,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Experimental Cinema in the Digital Age as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Michael Le Grice, a pioneer of "structural film" in the 1970s and whose first video and computer works were exhibited in the late 1960s, provides a collection of his most notable essays. The essays shed light on the work of other artists and film-makers and documents a period, especially the 70s, when artists' film was at the centre of polemical debate about the nature of avant-garde and the future of radical or experimental film. The book contributes to the contemporary debates about film, video, art and new technology.


Book cover of Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author of Harriet the Spy

Melanie Rehak Author Of Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her

From the list on beloved children’s books.

Who am I?

I spent my childhood reading for pleasure, for escapism, for humor, for reassurance, for different views of the world, and even out of sheer boredom sometimes when there was nothing else to do. I have no doubt it’s what made me into a writer. In retrospect, it makes total sense that my first book was about the history and power of a children’s series. When I found myself immersed in not just my old Nancy Drews but the fascinating stories of the people and times that produced her, it was like being back in my childhood bedroom again, only this time with the experience to understand how what I read fit into the larger story of America, feminism, and literature. I hope the books I’ve recommended will inspire you to revisit your old favorites with a new eye.

Melanie's book list on beloved children’s books

Why did Melanie love this book?

As a native New Yorker and lifelong fan of Harriet the Spy (one among legions) reading the product of Leslie Brody’s detective work into the life of her creator is a special pleasure. Born in 1928, Fitzhugh was the product of a high society Memphis marriage that ended in scandal. She went on to live a vibrant, turbulent life in the queer artist and writers scene in New York. It makes total sense that someone who straddled so many different worlds had such a deep understanding of the multiple lives we all lead, and such a keen ability to perceive other people, all of which she poured into her characters. I also recommend her other incredible YA novel, Nobody’s Family Is Going to Change, which tackles race, children’s rights, and the profound beauty of tap dancing.

By Leslie Brody,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sometimes You Have to Lie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The protagonist and anti-heroine of Louise Fitzhugh's masterpiece Harriet the Spy, first published first in 1964, continues to mesmerize generation after generation of readers. Harriet is an erratic, unsentimental, and endearing prototype--someone very like the woman who dreamed her up, author and artist Louise Fitzhugh.

Born in 1928, Fitzhugh was raised in a wealthy home in segregated Memphis, and she escaped her cloistered world and made a beeline for New York as soon as she could. Her expanded milieu stretched from the lesbian bars of Greenwich Village to the dance clubs of Harlem, on to the resurgent artist studios of…


NDA

By Caitlin Forst,

Book cover of NDA: An Autofiction Anthology

Carol LaHines Author Of Distant Flickers: Stories of Identity & Loss

From the list on themed anthologies.

Who am I?

The anthology form unites diverse voices around a common theme—in the case of Distant Flickers, identity and loss. The stories in the anthology explore intense personal relationships—of mother and child, old lovers, etc. Some of the stories are in the moment and some recounted with the perspective of time, some are fable-like, some formal, and others more colloquial. Reading them the reader is struck by the variety of approaches a writer might take to a subject. The device of the contributor’s notes enables the reader to see the story behind the story and how life informs art—life furnishing the raw material or day residue of the story.  

Carol's book list on themed anthologies

Why did Carol love this book?

As a writer, I am always pondering the question of how our lives inform our work. As one of my fellow writers, Melissa Ostrom, put it, our experience is the rich compost from which we form our fictional narratives. To use a Freudian dream analogy, I like to think that our lives are the “day residue” of the work—elements from daily life show up in different contexts or transformed in some other way. The twentieth-first century has witnessed an explosion of so-called auto-fiction, fiction that more consciously underscores this process of transforming life into art—think of the work of Ben Lerner, Rachel Cusk, and Karl Ove Knausgard. This recently-released anthology, edited by Caitlin Forst, features work by established writers as well as new voices that interrogates the relationship between writer and text, between art and life.

By Caitlin Forst,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An exciting new anthology of autofiction featuring a wide range of today's best writers, both established and up-and-coming.

Collected autofictions from mainstays of literary, art, and internet avant-garde writing. The contributors in this anthology produce a contemporary, subversive primer of works engaging the relationship between the writer and the text.

Featuring:
Aiden Arata
Nathan Dragon
David Fishkind
Rindon Johnson
Aristilde Kirby
Tao Lin
Chris Molnar
Vi Khi Nao
Elle Nash
Gina Nutt
Brad Phillips
Sam Pink
Darina Sikmashvili
BR Yeager


Derek Jarman's Garden

By Derek Jarman, Howard Sooley (photographer),

Book cover of Derek Jarman's Garden

Marta McDowell Author Of Unearthing the Secret Garden: The Plants and Places That Inspired Frances Hodgson Burnett

From the list on the English love of gardening.

Who am I?

My husband sums up my biography as “I am, therefore I dig.” I live, garden, read and write in Chatham, New Jersey, and have had a long, open love affair with the gardening style “across the pond.” At the New York Botanical Garden I teach English garden history, and I’m a regular contributor to the British gardening journal, Hortus. In my writing, I follow the relationship between the pen and the trowel, that is authors and their gardens. I’ve written books about children’s authors Beatrix Potter and Frances Hodgson Burnett, and, as you might imagine, the research trips to the UK were a special bonus.

Marta's book list on the English love of gardening

Why did Marta love this book?

Derek Jarmon was a British avant-garde filmmaker, theater designer, and life-long gardener. In the last decade of his life, he built a new garden at a tiny house by the sea in Kent. Prospect Cottage sits on the shingle expanse overlooking the Dungeness Nuclear Power Station and the English Channel. It was an accidental garden, this arrangement of rocks and driftwood, flowers, and found objects. The book sings. Jarmon’s musings and poems wind through a small volume of 140 pages; there are 150 photographs. It is a book about why we garden, how to live, and how to die.

By Derek Jarman, Howard Sooley (photographer),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Derek Jarman's Garden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Paradise haunts gardens', writes Derek Jarman, 'and it haunts mine.' Jarman's public image is that of a film-maker of genius, whose work, dwelling on themes of sexuality and violence, became a byword for controversy. But the private man was the creator of his own garden-paradise in an environment that many might think was more of a hell than a heaven - in the flat, bleak, often desolate expanse of shingle that faces the Dungeness nuclear power station. Jarman, a passionate gardener from childhood, combined his painter's eye, his horticultural expertise and his ecological convictions to produce a landscape which combined…


XX

By Rian Hughes,

Book cover of XX

Jon Crabb Author Of Graven Images: The Art of the Woodcut

From the list on for any uber-hip, hard to impress bookworms.

Who am I?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with cultural curiosities, extraordinary eccentrics, secret societies, decadent dandies, rebels, devils, and anything weird and wonderful. I parlayed a love of Word and Image into a career in the arts and worked for places including Tate, Thames & Hudson and the British Library. But to be honest with you, that was just a ruse so I could spend more time delving through interesting books and prints. Some people see the world a little differently; I think we all benefit by spending a bit of time in the company of their art. "It's the Ones Who've Cracked That the Light Shines Through."

Jon's book list on for any uber-hip, hard to impress bookworms

Why did Jon love this book?

A hugely ambitious mix of text and graphic design, in which typography is used in bold and disarming ways. It is also a genuinely compelling sci-fi novel about very, very, big ideas. Filled with meta-narratives, in-jokes, artistic references, and mixed media, it’s an interesting alternative to that other oft-cited cult classic House of Leaves. As someone who has worked as both designer and editor, I was blown away by Hughes’s ability to combine a good story with such avant-garde design. The themes communicated will give you much to contemplate – or ramble on about to any friends you successfully corner. A staggering achievement destined to be a future cult classic.

By Rian Hughes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A boundary pushing, extremely inventive sci-? epic of ?rst contact by world-renowned graphic designer and comics creator Rian Hughes

When a signal of extraterrestrial origin is intercepted by one of Earth s most powerful radio satellites, people worldwide, including a small team of tech outsiders at a software engineering ?rm specializing in arti?cial intelligence, race to interpret the message carried by what could be the ?rst communication from an intergalactic civilization. Has humanity made ?rst contact? Is the signal itself an alien life-form? A threat? If so, how will the people of Earth respond?

Supplemented by redacted NASA reports, magazine…


Book cover of Cinema by Other Means

Nicky Hamlyn Author Of Film Art Phenomena

From the list on artists’ film and video.

Who am I?

I am an artist-filmmaker, writer, and Professor of Experimental Film at the University for the Creative Arts in Canterbury, Kent, UK. I have worked at the London Filmmakers’ Co-op and BBC TV. I have been making films since 1974 and teaching since 1988. I have published extensively on Artists’ Film / Experimental Cinema. I have edited and contributed chapters to numerous other books and journals, including Millennium Film Journal, MIRAJ, Film Quarterly, Sequence, and others. I have completed over 70 single screen works in 16mm and video, gallery film and video installations, and multi-projector film performances. These have been screened worldwide.

Nicky's book list on artists’ film and video

Why did Nicky love this book?

While written from a Yugoslav perspective, this book is a fascinating study of films made using unconventional methods, materials, and equipment, including ‘written films’: films that exist as texts and that would be impossible to make as films. Levi draws on the historical and the post-war avant-garde; Dada, Surrealism, Lettrisme, Structural-Materialist film, and other movements that constitute a material and ideological rejection of conventional cinema and the way it treats the medium as a mere means to an end. In these works, produced in Japan, Europe, and the USA, the technology is turned on itself, interrogated, and repurposed to anti-illusionistic ends.

By Pavle Levi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cinema by Other Means as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cinema by Other Means explores an extraordinary history, stretching from the 1910s to the present: it is a study of various avant-garde endeavors to practice the cinema by using the tools, the materials, the technology, and the techniques, which either modify or are entirely different from those associated with the standard film apparatus. Using examples from both the historical and the post-war avant-garde-Dada, Surrealism, Letterism,
"structural-materialist" film, and more-the book tells the tale of the multiple conditions of cinema; of a range of peculiar and imaginative ways in which filmmakers, artists, and writers have pondered and created, performed and transformed,…


Distant Early Warning

By Alex Kitnick,

Book cover of Distant Early Warning: Marshall McLuhan and the Transformation of the Avant-Garde

William J. Buxton Author Of Harold Innis on Peter Pond: Biography, Cultural Memory, and the Continental Fur Trade

From the list on Marshall McLuhan.

Who am I?

William J. Buxton is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies and Senior Fellow, Centre for Sensory Studies, at Concordia University Montreal, Qc, Canada. He is also professeur associé au Département d’information et de communication de l’Université Laval, Québec City, Québec, Canada. He has edited and co-edited five books related to the life and works of the Canadian political economist and media theorist, Harold Adams Innis.

William's book list on Marshall McLuhan

Why did William love this book?

This book explores McLuhan’s relationship with avant-garde art. While McLuhan’s engagement with artistic endeavours, has received some attention, Kitnick examines in detail not only how McLuhan’s work on art developed over an extended period, but how his views on artistic practice came to inform the work of others. He builds on McLuhan’s contention that art was not primarily a means of self-expression, but rather the basis for cultural exploration and environmental change. Drawing inspiration from figures such as James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, and Wyndham Lewis. McLuhan, according to Kitnick, saw members of the avant-garde as artists who work within conventional structures in order to disrupt them, thereby throwing them into relief. 

By Alex Kitnick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Distant Early Warning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) is best known as a media theorist-many consider him the founder of media studies-but he was also an important theorist of art. Though a near-household name for decades due to magazine interviews and TV specials, McLuhan remains an underappreciated yet fascinating figure in art history. His connections with the art of his own time were largely unexplored, until now. In Distant Early Warning, art historian Alex Kitnick delves into these rich connections and argues both that McLuhan was influenced by art and artists and, more surprisingly, that McLuhan's work directly influenced the art and artists of his…


White Jazz

By James Ellroy,

Book cover of White Jazz

Steven Powell Author Of Love Me Fierce In Danger: The Life of James Ellroy

From the list on the king of LA noir James Ellroy.

Who am I?

I have been fascinated by James Ellroy’s life and writing since I first discovered it as a lonely teenager on a rainswept family holiday. He went through dark times; the unsolved murder of his mother and his subsequent struggles with addiction. But how he overcame this to become one of America’s greatest writers is an inspiring story and has inspired me to get through my own personal turmoil. Indeed, many Ellroy readers will attest to how his life story and writing helped them overcome their struggles. Now as Ellroy’s biographer, I am continually drawn back to his work. Reading just a few pages allows me to contemplate what Ellroy calls ‘the Wonder’.

Steven's book list on the king of LA noir James Ellroy

Why did Steven love this book?

Ellroy at his most avant-garde. The plot is familiar territory for Ellroy fans; murder and political corruption in 1950s LA. But the experimental prose style, including the most pared-down clipped sentences, started to alienate some of his readers. Personally, I regard the book as Ellroy’s masterpiece and the experimentation is justified as it helps to deliver a lightning-fast pace.

By James Ellroy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The internationally acclaimed author of the L.A. Quartet and The Underworld USA Trilogy, James Ellroy, presents another literary noir masterpiece of historical paranoia.

Los Angeles, 1958. Killings, beatings, bribes, shakedowns--it's standard procedure for Lieutenant Dave Klein, LAPD. He's a slumlord, a bagman, an enforcer--a power in his own small corner of hell. Then the Feds announce a full-out investigation into local police corruption, and everything goes haywire.

Klein's been hung out as bait, "a bad cop to draw the heat," and the heat's coming from all sides: from local politicians, from LAPD brass, from racketeers and drug kingpins--all of them…


The Strays

By Emily Bitto,

Book cover of The Strays

Joanna Horton Author Of Between You and Me

From the list on complex female friendship.

Who am I?

I’m an Australian writer with a passion for literary fiction, especially novels centered on complex and multi-layered power dynamics. To me, relationships between women are particularly ripe for this kind of exploration – my own friendships with other women have been influential and formative, but not always easy! My interest in these darker and more complex dynamics of close friendship eventually led me to write my own novel on the topic. I’ve also published a range of essays, reviews, criticism, and creative nonfiction. 

Joanna's book list on complex female friendship

Why did Joanna love this book?

If you like lushly written literary fiction about art, desire, friendship, and ambition, you’ll love The Strays.

Lily and Eva meet as children, and Eva – the daughter of a famous modernist artist – soon draws solitary Lily into her avant-garde family life. As the years pass and the two begin to leave childhood behind, their relationship makes new demands of them both.

Although The Strays features a large cast of characters in its makeshift family of artists, the connection between Eva and Lily is the beating heart of the novel, and is by turns tender, destructive, and tragic. 

By Emily Bitto,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Disturbing and magical....with a grace and eloquence." - NPR Books

"Full of lush, mesmerizing detail and keen insight into the easy intimacy between young girls which disappears with adulthood." -- The New Yorker

"The Strays is a knowing novel, and beautifully done." -- Meg Wolitzer, New York Times bestselling author of The Interestings

For readers of Atonement, a hauntingly powerful story about the fierce friendship between three sisters and their friend as they grow up on the outskirts of their parents' wild and bohemian artistic lives.

On her first day at a new school, Lily befriends Eva and her sisters…


Black Popular Culture

By Michele Wallace,

Book cover of Black Popular Culture

Simone C. Drake Author Of Are You Entertained?: Black Popular Culture in the Twenty-First Century

From the list on Black popular culture.

Who am I?

I am a scholar of African Diaspora cultural studies, which means I spend a lot of time analyzing texts in various forms: books, art, film, music, and even laws and legal documents. The cultural texts I study were produced by people. I am passionate about Black popular culture, because it dismantles some of the enduring divisions between academic institutions and the people who live beyond their walls. It is a field of study that is always in flux, especially now with twenty-first-century advances that position popular culture as almost always at our fingertips.

Simone's book list on Black popular culture

Why did Simone love this book?

I am recommending this book, because it is the first edited volume, and, really, the first academic book to directly engage black popular culture as a field of study. It was avant-garde. It gave a name to cultural productions that, at that time, during my first semester of graduate school in 1997, I had no idea had a collective name. I love this book, because I encountered it simultaneously to learning concepts like “high” and “low” art. The book, in my opinion, made a compelling argument for why the popular, the folk, the vernacular, and so-called “low” art matters.

By Michele Wallace,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Popular Culture as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Village Voice Best Book "spirited debate among African American artists and cultural critics about issues from essentialism to sexuality"


Monster Loyalty

By Jackie Huba,

Book cover of Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga turns Followers into Fanatics

Robert Skrob Author Of Retention Point: The Single Biggest Secret to Membership and Subscription Growth for Associations, SAAS, Publishers, Digital Access, Subscription Boxes and all Membership and Subscription-Based Businesses

From the list on growing fans who become your best customers.

Who am I?

I am an expert in customer retention and membership growth with 30 years of experience working with businesses across more than 80 industries. As the President of Be Unleavable, Inc., I specialize in helping subscription companies grow their membership and create loyal, dedicated customer bases. I have authored several books on the subject, including the widely-acclaimed Retention Point, which teaches businesses how to foster a group of excited fans who become their best customers and recommend the business to others. My focus is helping businesses foster long-term relationships with their customers rather than having a series of “one-night stands.”

Robert's book list on growing fans who become your best customers

Why did Robert love this book?

This is a captivating read that delves into the world of creating a fan base for any business.

Using Lady Gaga as a fun and intriguing example, the book demonstrates how she cultivated a loyal following while many talented artists struggle to gain recognition. Huba's choice of subject matter not only adds an element of entertainment but also highlights the effectiveness of Gaga's strategy.

The book breaks down the process into easy-to-follow steps that anyone can implement within their own business. One key lesson from Monster Loyalty is to "Make Them Feel Like Rock Stars," emphasizing the importance of making your fans feel special by acknowledging their contributions, highlighting their input, and incorporating their submissions into your work.

What sets this book apart is the simple template it provides, making it straightforward to apply the principles in a business setting.

By Jackie Huba,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Famous for her avant-garde outfits, over-the-top performances, and addictive dance beats, Lady Gaga is one of the most successful pop musicians of all time. But behind her showmanship lies another achievement: her wildly successful strategy for attracting and keeping insanely loyal fans. She's one of the most popular social media voices in the world with more than 33 million Twitter followers and 55 million Facebook fans. And she got there by methodically building a grassroots base of what she calls her "Little Monsters" - passionate fans who look to her not just for music but also for joy, inspiration, and…


The Dinosaur Heresies

By Robert T. Bakker,

Book cover of The Dinosaur Heresies

Mord McGhee Author Of Murder Red Ink

From the list on which spark the dreamer.

Who am I?

As a decades-long collector of fossils & student of undiscovered and/or extinct creatures, I’ve gained traction in both fields on a professional level, which is what my spark ignited into. My choice for the final position could’ve been a tie between The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien, Roadmarks by Roger Zelazny, Farseer by Robert J. Sawyer, but since I could only choose 5 which sparked the dreamer.

Mord's book list on which spark the dreamer

Why did Mord love this book?

It is Bakker’s controversial rethinking of the lives and science behind earth’s prehistory. In his avant-garde ideas, Bakker proposes and answers questions of things like what these monsters are and how they defended themselves or hunted. He even spoke on how they might have reproduced.

It’s a book to create dreamers who can take the torch to shed new light on those questions we all share in common as members of humanity.

By Robert T. Bakker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dinosaur Heresies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For over a century, dinosaurs have been thought of as plodding, dim-witted giant lizards too awkward and ill-equipped to survive the ravages of environmental change. Bakker offers startling new evidence destined to forever alter the perception of the much-maligned monsters, depicting them as never before imagined: hot-blooded, amazingly agile, and surprisingly intelligent. Illustrations.


Book cover of The Marquis de Sade and the Avant-Garde

Nadia Choucha Author Of Surrealism and the Occult: Shamanism, Magic, Alchemy, and the Birth of an Artistic Movement

From Nadia's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Art historian Occult enthusiast Bibliophile Traveller

Nadia's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Nadia love this book?

I was engrossed while reading this meticulously researched book which explores the impact of the Marquis de Sade upon European art and culture.

In each chapter, the author examines a different aspect of the ‘Sadean imagination’ – a dark, cruel, and sexually explicit fantasy world – and analyses how Sade exerted such a powerful impact upon art, poetry, philosophy, politics, cinema, and theatre. The book explains why Sade functioned as a symbol of subversive inspiration to so many revolutionary thinkers and artists, with numerous examples of Sadean imagery.

The book is extensively illustrated with prints, drawings, paintings, and photographs and comes with a full scholarly apparatus of reference notes, bibliography, and index. This is an indispensable guide to anyone wishing to understand the nature of Sade’s cultural significance and influence.

By Alyce Mahon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Marquis de Sade and the Avant-Garde as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How the notorious author of The 120 Days of Sodom inspired the surrealists and other avant-garde artists, writers, and filmmakers

The writings of the Marquis de Sade (1740-1814) present a libertine philosophy of sexual excess and human suffering that refuses to make any concession to law, religion, or public decency. In this groundbreaking cultural history, Alyce Mahon traces how artists of the twentieth century turned to Sade to explore political, sexual, and psychological terror, adapting his imagery of the excessively sexual and terrorized body as a means of liberation from systems of power.

Mahon shows how avant-garde artists, writers, dramatists,…


She Said Destroy

By Nadia Bulkin,

Book cover of She Said Destroy

Andy Davidson Author Of The Hollow Kind

From the list on horror writers who aren’t Stephen King.

Who am I?

As a writer who grew up on a steady diet of horror—from Dean Koontz to Peter Straub to Stephen King—I never knew what amazing diversity there actually was in the genre, until I became a horror writer myself! In the last few years, I’ve met an incredible range of talented writers whose books are sometimes overshadowed on the horror shelves by a certain King, and I think it’s high time we all knew more about these hardworking, creative, and gifted authors. So if you read horror and are hungry for new books by writers whose work you may not know, here are five incredible voices to whisper tales of terror in your ear.

Andy's book list on horror writers who aren’t Stephen King

Why did Andy love this book?

She Said Destroy is a mind-bending, award-nominated collection of short stories that speak to the horrors of home, childhood, and family. It’s the kind of stuff I wish I could write! They’re fantastical, haunting, unabashedly political, and heartbreakingly beautiful. Bulkin’s among the vanguard of new and emerging voices in horror. In my favorite story from the bunch, a final girl tames a dragon!

By Nadia Bulkin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked She Said Destroy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A dictator craves love--and horrifying sacrifice--from his subjects; a mother raised in a decaying warren fights to reclaim her stolen daughter; a ghost haunts a luxury hotel in a bloodstained land; a new babysitter uncovers a family curse; a final girl confronts a broken-winged monster...

Word Horde presents the debut collection from critically-acclaimed Weird Fiction author Nadia Bulkin. Dreamlike, poignant, and unabashedly socio-political, She Said Destroy includes three stories nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award, four included in Year's Best anthologies, and one original tale.