Jamie Loftus recommends 6 works with creative conceits

The Emmy-nominated writer suggests stories by Lemony Snicket, Melissa Lozada-Oliva, and more

Jamie Loftus.
(Image credit: Courtesy Image)

Jamie Loftus is an Emmy-nominated writer and comedian and the creator and host of several acclaimed podcasts, including "My Year in Mensa" and "Aack Cast." Her first book, "Raw Dog," is a new cultural and culinary history of hot dogs.

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The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket (1999)

My favorite book ever. Lemony Snicket exploded my world as a kid. I'd never encountered unreliable narrators, or kids in a world where adults didn't care, who had nothing but each other and their passions to get through. How do you manage to get a third-grader excited about Isadora Duncan and Damocles? Unbeatable. Buy it here.

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A Right to Be Hostile by Aaron McGruder (2003)

This collection of original "Boondocks" comics aimed precise and hilarious rage at white liberal America in the late '90s and early 2000s. It's extra special reading "Boondocks" strip by strip, knowing Huey Freeman was demolishing the Bush administration every day, right beside another toothless "Family Circus." Buy it here.

Dreaming of You by Melissa Lozada-Oliva (2021)

This novel in verse is a modern ghost story in which singer Selena Quintanilla comes back to life, with Lozada-Oliva, the book's author, as her only guide. It's a partial answer to the question: How do you reconcile your connection to a celebrity whom the world won't let rest? Buy it here.

Carnival Strippers by Susan Meiselas (1976)

I once worked at a Sunset Strip bookstore where Ellen DeGeneres yelled at me, Keanu Reeves bought sudoku, and a fellow staffer introduced me to this book. It's all photos of strippers who performed in traveling carnivals in the 1970s, plus quotations from the subjects. They're funny and moving — all sexy, weirdo aliveness. Buy it here.

Escape From Incel Island by Margaret Killjoy (2023)

A recent favorite from an anarchist genius, this is the single most cathartic way to spend an afternoon. It's set in a future where men who feel entitled to women are sent by the government to a remote island — not as a punishment, but to get what they want. Killjoy's vengeful protagonists gave me a lot of new ideas about how to kill men. Which is saying a lot. Buy it here.

The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily by Dino Buzzati (1945)

I'll be honest: I read this because Lemony Snicket recommended it in an interview, when I was in middle school. This book is about a militia of Italian bears, which is a metaphor for something. But I'm there for bears with guns. Buy it here.

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