Feature

Jonny Sun recommends 6 emotionally powerful books

The writer recommends works by Hanif Abdurraqib, Paige Lewis, and more

Twitter humorist, illustrator, and TV writer Jonny Sun is the author of the 2017 best-seller everyone's a aliebn when ur a aliebn too. His new book, Goodbye, Again, is an illustrated collection of first-person essays.

The Book of Delights by Ross Gay (2019).

Gay's collection of 102 short, lyrical essays, begun in mid-2016 and written chronologically over the course of a tragic year in America, focuses on the careful observation of ordinary delights. The writing is precise and personal, grounded in thoughtful joy. The result is a quiet masterpiece.

100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write by Sarah Ruhl (2014).

Ostensibly a collection of theses, stories, and essays on theater, Ruhl's book feels instead like the playwright's meditation on and celebration of all of life. Her writing here is deeply personal, sharply argued but also playful. The book becomes a portrait of the artist herself.

They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib (2017).

I am always so moved by Abdurraqib's lyrical writing, which to me seems to occupy a genre of celebratory elegy that only he is capable of inhabiting. He weaves cultural criticism and personal memoir in such a beautiful way, making the two modes feel inevitably and inextricably bound.

Ongoingness: The End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso (2015).

This is my favorite Sarah Manguso book. She does this magical thing where every piece circles the piece that came before it, until you feel as though you are thinking the way she does, and until the book reveals the complex questions at its heart without ever truly asking them outright, which makes them more piercing.

Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory by Raphael Bob-Waksberg (2019).

This collection of short stories about love, from the creator of BoJack Horseman, is both surreal and joyful. No matter how absurd the scenario, each story makes an argument about why we love — or perhaps why we can't ever escape love. You'll feel like you are in on all the fun Bob-Waksberg is having.

Space Struck by Paige Lewis (2019).

This poetry collection awakened emotions in me that I did not know existed, or that I could feel, or that one could ever put words to. Every line is playful, honest, brutal, complex, confounding, and tender.

This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.

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