There are books that I recommend to everyone, books that I want everyone in the world to read and love, and I am always interested when people tell me their always-recommends. So I was excited at the recent open thread up at Captain Awkward looking at exactly that; and super disappointed that it was super dudely and super white. I know that’s inevitable, in its way and in the nature of our internet and our (western) society, but still, disappointment. So I made my own open thread.
What are the books that you always recommend to people, that you always want people to love, that you shove at people and wave your hands about and reread constantly? Only rule: the author cannot be a cis white dude. Trans white dude, fine. Cis asian dude, fine. Ladies, all fine. Author doesn’t conform to your gender binary? All good.
Here, I’ll start.
The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon: the only book I took with me in hardcopy when I moved to Beijing; a book I’ve filled with annotations and which was one of the most formative books on my writing style; a book that filled me with joy the first time I ever read it. I give it as presents and I talk about it a lot, but I never lend out my copy because it says a lot about me. TOO MUCH.
Growing Up Asian in Australia (ed Alice Pung): I wish this book had come to me when I was younger, but even as an adult it resonates and is an amazing reflection on the Asian-Australian experience that should be vital reading for all Australians.
Heartsick for Country (ed Sally Morgan, Tjalaminu Mia & Blaze Kwaymullina): another must read for all Australians. I cry every time I read this book, this reflection on being Indigenous Australian and the connection between Indigenous Australians and their countries, and that feeling of heartsickness at damage to the land, at history, at racism and at everything else. ALL THE CRIES. ALL THE RECOMMENDS. This book always reinflames my desire to be the best Australian I can be, prioritising Indigenous Australians and the land and just adflkadf.
Okay, go. Your turn.