Feature

Megan Giddings' 6 favorite magical books

The novelist recommends works by Daisuke Igarashi, Octavia E. Butler, and more

Megan Giddings is a professor and novelist whose new book, The Women Could Fly, is set in a dystopia in which witches are real and single women are monitored by the government. Below, she recommends six books that weave magic into their narratives.

The Witch of Eye by Kathryn Nuernberger (2021)

A beautifully written blend of poetry, nonfiction, and research into what it means to be a person trying to do good — in this case, through herbalism and spells — and what happens when people treat that as a threat. Buy it here.

The Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings (2022)

Jennings' debut novel is filled with music, magic, and play. Reading it will immerse you in an alternate New Orleans filled with spellwork, and into the mind of a deeply empathetic writer who truly wants his readers to have a good time. Buy it here.

The Man Who Could Move Clouds by Ingrid Rojas Contreras (2022)

Beyond its extraordinary writing and deep, lovely explorations of family and connection, Contreras' memoir reminds readers that the world we live in can be profoundly irrational and mysterious. Buy it here.

Witches: The Complete Collection by Daisuke Igarashi (2022)

I read this manga late at night in a small cabin and was deeply, regularly unnerved. The artwork is beautiful, even when gross or violent events happen. It made me feel like a child again: too uncomfortable to fall asleep, so I had to stay up reading under the covers. Buy it here.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler (1993)

While this one is not as directly about magic as these other books, I found it impossible to write this list without including Parable of the Sower. Maybe that's because I'm hesitant to call empathy "magic" — even a version as extreme as the one demonstrated by the main character — because it feels like a skill more of us need to develop. But I think this novel's "magic" is about how hope and change and a desire to keep living can build communities. Buy it here.

The Black Maria by Aracelis Girmay (2016)

This poetry collection features spirits, or maybe they're angels, or maybe they're just flies. The dead speak. Girmay captures how literature, but especially poetry, can give a writer and their readers access to those that have passed. Beauty and longing can be spells we use on ourselves to get through the day. Buy it here.

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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