Book buying is like grocery shopping. Sometimes you just know you need something without checking if it’s part of your list. Paw paw—delicious, ignore the price. Butter chicken—it’s the only thing I can use without getting sick of it after a few days. Apple juice—pretty sure I already have this, but better to have two than have none.
Returning to books now: book buying can go a few different ways. Sometimes you walk in just to scope the new books and see what’s selling. Sometimes you walk in with a mission to buy every book recommended to you over the last two years. Sometimes you walk in just to browse and end up seeing a new book by one of your ‘auto-buy’ authors. Once that happens, it’s game time: ignore your draining bank account and go go go to the counter.
I tend to read pretty sporadically, especially in the last few years where I’ve tried to read more classics than persistently whatever’s been thrown all over social media (but I do both either way). But there are a few authors I just can’t walk past.
Here’s some of the authors filling up my bookshelves:
I went to a writers festival in Perth a few years ago and, before even having read any of his books, witnessed Benjamin Law tell a crowd of mostly over 50s, posh white people a very sexually graphic joke that unfortunately I can’t remember now (maybe something about oral?). Whatever it was, I remember inwardly cackling and then going straight to picking up his book of the time Gaysia (a non-fic that travelled to different parts of Asia and explored what it meant to be gay in each one). It was hilarious, unyielding, thoughtful and an immersive read. Since then, I’ve grabbed all the work I could.
I recommend Gaysia and The Family Law
Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
She’s one of the most best-selling fantasy authors in the world. She makes pretty words with pretty characters. Hers are some of the few fantasy books I could ever get into without feeling overwhelmed with world-building information. I picked one of her first books City of Bones up when I was 13 and I’ve been reading ever since. Her setting creation is enviable. I recommend the series The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments
Books about the enduring bookseller himself. Shaun Bythell has the “I am the manager” approach down perfect. Yes please, these are the books I need. He takes away the glamour of bookselling (yet somehow still makes it glamorous anyway) and tells it as it is. Just a guy burdened by his own intellect. And books. Take my money.
I recommend The Diary of a Bookseller and Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops
Bret Easton Ellis
Black Comedy, Satire
Because I’m a creep. He looks into the absolute extremes of human nature, carries it on to the far side of reality, and then everything gets more and more messed up until you’re literally staring at the book like D:. Capitalist messed-up-ness. His American Psycho is the book everyone points at and says “look! This one’s glad-wrapped!”
I recommend American Psycho and Glamorama
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Literary Fiction, Autobiography
I first picked up her book A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions and loved it. Just unapologetically female and powerfully worded. From there, on my hunt for her other short feminist read We Should All Be Feminists, I picked up books of hers like Americanah and Purple Hibiscus and fell in love all over again. It’s hard to say why I like her books so much, but her writing is absolutely beautiful.
I recommend Americanah and We Should All Be Feminists
Break your heart with some beautiful writing that has you hooked on the strength of family and friendship in times of extreme crisis and war. By the end of The Kite Runner I was a puddle of emotional mud.
I recommend The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns