This short-story collection made a huge impression on me at university because of its fresh, strong, plain-talking voice. Keret writes hilariously and painfully about hapless nobodies, weirdos, murderers, depression, suicide, and PTSD from compulsory service in the Israel Defence Forces. Simple and heartbreaking.
Ursula K. Le Guin
Le Guin’s masterpiece is about a self-isolated utopian anarchist society on a moon called Anarres and a physicist, Shevek, who wants to make peace and exchange ideas with the capitalist nation of A-Io on a neighbouring planet. It deals beautifully in ambiguities, how language shapes thinking and culture, how capitalism relies on inequality and suffering in order to function, and how even the noblest ideals can calcify into dogma. It’s a book that reminds me that we made the unfair systems we live in and that there might be better options out there.
DYING: A MEMOIR
Cory Taylor died in 2016 from cancer but before she did, she wrote this brilliant, heartfelt, pragmatic, clear-eyed memoir about the end of life and the difficulty of talking about it. It’s part philosophy, part memoir, part interrogation into the medical and legal system’s brutal insistence on the undignified extension of life. What stays with me most is the raw, simple honesty of her sadness about her own death. It’s a book I return to when I can’t decide if I actually like being human.