Powell's Books in Portland, one of the greatest bookstores in America, has closed its doors. It might not survive this. So I'm going to recommend books in their (still functioning) online store. Order if you can, or order from the local indie bookstore of your choice.
"Triangle: The Fire That Changed America". This is a history of the Triangle fire I read for my podcast, and a legit wonderful social history.
"At Swim-Two-Birds" by Flann O'Brien might be one of my favorite novels, a layered cake of narrative inquiry.
"Invisible Cities" by Italo Calvino is another all-time favorite, a glorious mandala explorint the varietiesand meanings of urban space

"Kitty Genovese: A True Account of a Public Murder and its Private Consequences" is another one I read for the podcast. The best source on this I found.

"Three Coffins" by John Dickson Carr (also published as "Hollow Man") one of the most intricate puzzle boxes of a mystery novel ever written. Nearly everything Carr wrote is a delight.

"The Futurological Congress" by Stanislaw Lem. Everything by Lem is worth reading and really I just picked this at random.

"Picnic at Hanging Rock" by Joan Lindsay. Strange, thoughtful an enigmatic tale of a disappearance with no answers and understated dread throughout. Brilliant in every way.

"Strangers on a Train" by Patricia Highsmith. Highsmith was a poet of guilt. Her "Ripley" novels are wonderful but this is her digging hard into the terror of a guilty conscience.
"60 Stories" by Donald Barthleme. This is an introduction to a strange, eclectic world of storytelling where narrative is fractured and reassembled into something worrisome and unfathomable

"The Sot-Weed Factor" by John Barth. Hilarious, disgusting, poignant, and endlessly overstuffed. A sardonic walk through the early history of America where identity is removed and replaced as easily as old clothes.

"The Box Man" by Kobo Abe. An eccentric novel of social isolation and manic self-reflection, brimming with odd, discomforting touches.

"We Have Always Lived in the Castle" by Shirley Jackson. The darkly funny, brilliantly crafted story of a tragic family told with the sparse, dark mysticism of a fairy tale.

"Francisco Goya: A Life" by Evan S. Connell. The Robert Hughes bio is better known and maybe better, but Connell writes with flare and humor. Like listening to your wittiest wine drunk friend dishing out court gossip.

"A Coffin for Dimitrios" by Eric Ambler. A smokey espionage tour through the political wreckage of Europe between the wars as an ordinary man follows an obsessive thread. A superb thriller.

"Sometimes a Great Notion" by Ken Kesey. A novel of epic scope and microscopic attention where you can breath the dank Northwestern air. The greatest novel of the Pacific Northwest.

"Grendel" by John Gardner. The first monster of the English language becomes the vessel through which the nature of time and identity are explored. Poignant, thoughtful and wickedly funny.

"A High Wind in Jamaica" by Richard Hughes. A somewhat dreamlike, darkly funny novel that touches like few other the amoral terrors of childhood.

"The Ballad of Typhoid Mary" by Jurg Federspiel. A timely novel that turns the story of the first known healthy disease carrier into wicked dark comedy.

"The Inspector Barlach Mysteries" by Friedrich Durrenmatt. A pair of short novels about an aging detective resolving the lingering crimes of his past. Uses the genre to explore dark and unsettling themes.

"Housekeeping" by Marilynne Robinson. A deliberately paced, unnervingly precise family drama that sees a hard world with utter clarity.

"Jurgen" by James Branch Cabell. A brazen, amorous fantasy that bumbles through history, myth, heaven and hell.

"The Manuscript Found at Saragossa" by Jan Potocki. Stories within stories like a vibrant Russian doll of narrative bliss. A polyphonic overload of fable, adventure and legend.
"Labyrinths" by Jorge Luis Borges. Borges' writing is like entering a private world built from the whole of literature. This is the best introduction to him, but there is not a word he wrote that isn't worth reading.

"Apocalypse Culture" edited by Adam Parfrey. An essential tour through what J.G. Ballard called "the terminal documents of the 20th century." A compelling (and sometimes scattered, sometimes infuriating) look at modern culture's outer bounds.

"Classic Indian Cooking" by Julie Sahni. Cookbooks don't tend to get recognized as literature, but some of the best of them are about understanding a culture through its food. This is an act of translation in a way, aiming for mutual understanding.

"The Collected Stories of Nikolia Gogol." Each story in this collection is like the perfection of a form you didn't realize existed. Kafka without misery, magic realism without preciousness, delirium with clarity.

"Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison. A book that is both universal in its exploration of alienation and also highly specific to the grinding depersonalization of the African-American experience. A work of existential horror tempered in a dry, sardonic wit.

"Act of Creation" by Arthur Koestler. Can you recommend half a book? The first half, where Koestler lays out a philosophical framework regarding human creativity is brilliant and thoughtful. The second, more scientific half weakens the whole.

"Pricksongs and Descants" by Robert Coover. These are stories of frustrated fantasies, erotic dreams that only leave you bitter, routines that are merely repeated disappointments. Fairy tales and fables seen through a modern neurotic lens.

"Turn Loose Our Death Ray's & Kill Them All: The Complete Works of Fletcher Hanks" Comic art like no other, so singularly insular in its design that it's like looking into someone's dreams. The writing corny, the art unsophisticated, the whole engrossing

"The Dwarf" by Par Lagerkvist. A darkly philosophical novel that takes Machiavelli and casts the ideas into bloody realities, exploring our sick fascination with violence as a means to all ends.

"Foucault's Pendulum" by Umberto Eco. A surprisingly relevant exploration of conspiracies, as well as the nature of conspiracy itself, as a group of bored intellectuals spin wild historical fables that lead to shocking realities.

"The Lathe of Heaven" by Ursula K Le Guin. Poetic and thoughtful science fiction that explores dreams, perception and wonders and dangers of imposing our reality on the world.

"Moravagine" by Blaise Cendrars. A crazed amoral romp through the dawn of the 20th century as the monsterous heir to a massive fortune tears a bloody path through the world in search of justification for his cruel whims. Dark and caustic fiction.

"The Invention of Morel" by Adolpho Bioy Casares. A short and thoughtful work full of mystery and grace about a man who washes ashore on a deserted island that seems haunted by a singular moment in the past.

"The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" by Marcella Hazan. One of the finest cookbooks ever written not because it has the best recipes (though they are splendid) but because it teaches you from the ground up, creates understanding before technique

"VALIS" by Philip K. Dick. Dick's novels range from clever hack work he did for money to unreadable blather that approaches outsider art. But that beautiful space in between includes this wonder, a novel that ponders how divinity and madness intertwine.

"Fatale" by Jean-Patrick Manchette. A short, bloody little crime novel that also acts as a satire of the total nihilism that is the end road of capitalism.

"Confessions of an English Opium Eater" by Thomas De Quincey. Much more than just an early drug memior, this is a thoughtful and piercing exploration of a man's subconscious mind, long before what that meant was understood.

"The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner" by James Hogg. A novel that is both gothic in its trappings and metafictional in design, it looks at a man who's faith justifies all manner of evil, led to his own damnation by his righteousness

"Poet in New York" by Federico Garcia Lorca. The poet's impressions of New York City while studying at Columbia in the late 1920s. At once insightful and impressionistic, it uses his surrealism to its best effect, finding profound truth in absurdity.

"The New York Trilogy" by Paul Auster. A collection of novellas that twist the conventions of detective fiction into deeper explorations of human psychology and the purpose of identity. Brilliant and just as readable as the genre it draws from.

"The Moviegoer" by Walker Percy. A Southern novel steeped in Catholic theology. A picaresque exploration of 1950s New Orleans where cinema replaces a man's lived experiences. A novel about loneliness and disconnection that is also a loving, thoughtful joy

"The Master and Margarita" by Mikhail Bulgakov. A strange, hilarious satire of the corruption of power as the Devil and his entourage bring forth glorious havoc on Moscow. Full of endless delights.

"Elmer Gantry" by Sinclair Lewis. One of the great chronicles of hypocrisy in America that describe the rise of modern evangelical Christianity through the story of a preacher's rise the heights of religious corruption

"Mythologies" by Roland Barthes. Rare that a work of semiotics can be praised as "readable" but Barthes' collection of essays present a critique that is both understandable and just as relevant as ever.

You can follow @PostCultRev.
Tip: mention @twtextapp on a Twitter thread with the keyword “unroll” to get a link to it.

Latest Threads Unrolled: