Stephanie Burt is a talented poet who is really, really good at talking about poems, as she does in this friendly, informative guide to the pleasure of reading and interacting with individual poems, and by extension with “poetry.” With chapters like “Feelings,” “Wisdom,” and “Community,” this book provides a fresh approach that will inform those newer to poetry and will delight everyone. Recommended by Marianne T
This is a wonderful introduction to and a beautiful distillation of the work of Nobel Prize–winning poet Pablo Neruda. His poems express such loving, honest, awestruck attention to the world with dizzying beauty and powerful clarity of vision. This book spans forty years of Neruda's career and features translations by multiple scholars and poets, which provides a really interesting sense of his poetics. I love that this edition includes the... (read more)Recommended by Claire A.
This book will break your heart and then put it back together again.Recommended by Milo D.
If you liked the TV show Lost, you might like this book. It features a host of interconnected characters, not always honorable, but definitely entertaining. Recommended by Maya M.
Writing a book is difficult enough, but imagine trying to write it in a language that is not your own. This is the challenge Jhumpa Lahiri embarked upon in the fascinating memoir In Other Words. She is forthright and honest in recounting her struggles and vividly describes how it feels to be immersed and overwhelmed in another language. The result is a thoughtful examination of the creative process and the role that language plays in all... (read more)Recommended by Shawn D.
One of the great poets of the latter half of the 20th century, Celan was a Romanian Jew who survived the Holocaust. His poetry is a difficult and harrowing attempt to reckon with the lived experience of genocide. In a sense, many of his poems can be read as attempts to give voice to the bodiless dead: language itself is compressed and fragmented into gnostic observations, neologisms, and an intensely tragic personal symbolism, all of which seem... (read more)Recommended by Noah L.
Chicano/Apache poet Jimmy Santiago Baca served six years in federal prison (where he learned to read and write) before eventually winning the International Poetry Slam championship. He has since gone on to compose poems, short stories, novels, essays, and a screenplay. Selected Poems (a bilingual edition featuring poems translated into Spanish alongside their original English) is an absolutely devastating collection. Drawn from seven... (read more)Recommended by Jeremy G.
This language kit is the newest essential for any Game of Thrones enthusiast. If you've ever heard a friend or loved one proclaiming "my sun and stars" or "moon of my life," then this is exactly the holiday gift item they need. Hajas!Recommended by Aubrey W.
Raymond Queneau's brilliant 1947 classic could have just as easily been titled Achievements of Ingenuity. Written more than a decade before he would cofound the "Workshop of Potential Literature" (Oulipo), Exercises in Style is one of the preeminent examples (and executions) of constrained writing. Beginning with a short account of an entirely inconsequential event, Queneau tells the same episode 99 times, but each... (read more)Recommended by Jeremy G.
Ebullient to those already under the Oulipian spell and likely befuddling to those ingenuity intolerant, Daniel Levin Becker's Many Subtle Channels is a fascinating, engaging, and well-researched account of Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle (translating loosely as the "workshop for potential literature"), a collective of mostly French writers and mathematicians that employ(ed) a range... (read more)Recommended by Jeremy G.