SUGGESTED READING FOR ONE BOOK, EVERYONE READS 2023
Have you already read and enjoyed Now Is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson? Here are some great reads with similar themes.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
"On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won’t protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts." Find copies of Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow here.
The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield
"Welcome to Quinn, Montana, population: 956. A town where nearly all of the volunteer firemen are named Jim, where The Dirty Shame—the only bar in town—refuses to serve mixed drinks (too much work), where the locals hate the newcomers (then again, they hate the locals, too), and where the town softball team has never even come close to having a winning season. Until now. Rachel Flood has snuck back into town after leaving behind a trail of chaos nine years prior. She’s here to make amends, but nobody wants to hear it, especially her mother, Laverna. But with the help of a local boy named Jake and a little soul-searching, she just might make things right." Find copies of The Flood Girls here.
The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker
"She was the first person to see me as I had always wanted to be seen. It was enough to indebt me to her forever. In the male-dominated field of animation, Mel Vaught and Sharon Kisses are a dynamic duo, the friction of their differences driving them: Sharon, quietly ambitious but self-doubting; Mel, brash and unapologetic, always the life of the party. Best friends and artistic partners since the first week of college, where they bonded over their working-class roots and obvious talent, they spent their 20s ensconced in a gritty Brooklyn studio. Working, drinking, laughing. Drawing: Mel, to understand her tumultuous past, and Sharon, to lose herself altogether. Now, after a decade of striving, the two are finally celebrating the release of their first full-length feature, which transforms Mel's difficult childhood into a provocative and visually daring work of art. The toast of the indie film scene, they stand at the cusp of making it big. But with their success come doubt and destruction, cracks in their relationship threatening the delicate balance of their partnership. Sharon begins to feel expendable, suspecting that the ever-more raucous Mel is the real artist. During a trip to Sharon's home state of Kentucky, the only other partner she has ever truly known - her troubled, charismatic childhood best friend, Teddy - reenters her life, and long-buried resentments rise to the surface, hastening a reckoning no one sees coming." Find copies of The Animators here.
The Falconer by Dana Czapnik
"New York, 1993. Street-smart seventeen-year-old Lucy Adler is often the only girl on the public basketball courts. Lucy’s inner life is a contradiction. She’s by turns quixotic and cynical, insecure and self-possessed, and, despite herself, is in unrequited love with her best friend and pickup teammate, Percy, the rebellious son of a prominent New York family. As Lucy begins to question accepted notions of success, bristling against her own hunger for male approval, she is drawn into the world of a pair of provocative feminist artists living in what remains of New York’s bohemia." Find copies of The Falconer here.
How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball
"Lucia’s father is dead, her mother is in a mental hospital, and she’s living in a garage-turned-bedroom with her aunt. And now she’s been kicked out of school—again. Making her way through the world with only a book, a zippo lighter, a pocketful of stolen licorice, a biting wit, and the striking intelligence that she tries to hide, Lucia spends her days riding the bus to visit her mother and following the only rule that makes any sense to her: Don’t do things you aren’t proud of. But when she discovers that her new school has a secret Arson Club, she’s willing to do anything to be a part of it, and her life is suddenly lit up. As Lucia’s fascination with the Arson Club grows, her story becomes one of misguided friendship and, ultimately, destruction." Find copies of How to Set a Fire and Why here.
The Collective by Don Lee
"A sparkling bildungsroman about friendship and betrayal, art and race. In 1988, Eric Cho, an aspiring writer, arrives at Macalester College. On his first day he meets a beautiful fledgling painter, Jessica Tsai, and another would-be novelist, the larger-than-life Joshua Yoon. Brilliant, bawdy, generous, and manipulative, Joshua alters the course of their lives, rallying them together when they face an adolescent act of racism. As adults in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the three friends reunite as the 3AC, the Asian American Artists Collective - together negotiating the demands of art, love, commerce, and idealism until another racially tinged controversy hits the headlines, this time with far greater consequences. Long after the 3AC has disbanded, Eric reflects on these events as he tries to make sense of Joshua’s recent suicide. With wit, humor, and compassion, The Collective explores the dream of becoming an artist, and questions whether the reality is worth the sacrifice." Find copies of The Collective here.
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
"Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, rookie NYPD cops, are neighbors in the suburbs. What happens behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne, sets the stage for the explosive events to come. In Mary Beth Keane's extraordinary novel, a lifelong friendship and love blossoms between Kate Gleeson and Peter Stanhope, born six months apart. One shocking night their loyalties are divided, and their bond will be tested again and again over the next thirty years. Heartbreaking and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes is a gorgeous and generous portrait of the daily intimacies of marriage and the power of forgiveness." Find copies of Ask Again, Yes here.
The Old Place by Bobby Finger
"Billington, Texas, is a place where nothing changes. Well, almost nothing. For the first time in nearly four decades, Mary Alice Roth is not getting ready for the first day of school at Billington High. A few months into her retirement—or, district mandated exile as she calls it—Mary Alice does not know how to fill her days. The annual picnic is coming up, but that isn’t nearly enough since the menu never changes and she had the roles mentally assigned weeks ago. At least there’s Ellie, who stops by each morning for coffee and whose reemergence in Mary Alice’s life is the one thing soothing the sting of retirement. Mary Alice and Ellie were a pair since the day Ellie moved in next door. That they both were single mothers—Mary Alice widowed, Ellie divorced—with sons the same age was a pleasant coincidence, but they were forever linked when they lost the boys, one right after the other. Years later, the two are working their way back to a comfortable friendship. But when Mary Alice’s sister arrives on her doorstep with a staggering piece of news, it jeopardizes the careful shell she’s built around her life. The whole of her friendship with Ellie is put at risk, the fabric of a place as steadfast as Billington is questioned, and the unflappable, knotty fixture that is Mary Alice Roth might have to change after all." Find copies of The Old Place here.
Street Craft: Yarnbombing, Guerilla Gardening, Light Tagging, Lace Graffiti and More by Riikka Kuittinen
"In the past decade, street art has transformed from a practice carried out by anonymous creators, seen by some as vandalism, into a commercial enterprise and a respectable part of the international art market. One of the richest movements in street art has been the development of an alternative, crafts-based, three-dimensional movement, broadly identified as Street Craft. This new generation of artists is creating uncommissioned, site-specific works employing a range of art and craft techniques, including weaving, crocheting, sculpting, painting, gardening, light installation, and more." Find copies of Street Craft here.
What Are You Looking At?: The Surprising, Shocking, and Sometimes Strange Story of 150 Years of Modern Art by Will Gompertz
"What is modern art? Who started it? Why do we either love it or loathe it? And why is it such big money? Join BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz on a dazzling tour that will change the way you look at modern art forever. From Monet's water lilies to Van Gogh's sunflowers, from Warhol's soup cans to Hirst's pickled shark, hear the stories behind the masterpieces, meet the artists as they really were, and discover the real point of modern art." Find copies of What Are You Looking At? here.
The Nineties by Chuck Klosterman
"It was long ago, but not as long as it seems: The Berlin Wall fell and the Twin Towers collapsed. In between, one presidential election was allegedly decided by Ross Perot while another was plausibly decided by Ralph Nader. In the beginning, almost every name and address was listed in a phone book, and everyone answered their landlines because you didn’t know who it was. By the end, exposing someone’s address was an act of emotional violence, and nobody picked up their new cell phone if they didn’t know who it was. The 90s brought about a revolution in the human condition we’re still groping to understand. Happily, Chuck Klosterman is more than up to the job. Beyond epiphenomena like "Cop Killer" and Titanic and Zima, there were wholesale shifts in how society was perceived: the rise of the internet, pre-9/11 politics, and the paradoxical belief that nothing was more humiliating than trying too hard. Pop culture accelerated without the aid of a machine that remembered everything, generating an odd comfort in never being certain about anything. On a 90’s Thursday night, more people watched any random episode of Seinfeld than the finale of Game of Thrones. But nobody thought that was important; if you missed it, you simply missed it. It was the last era that held to the idea of a true, hegemonic mainstream before it all began to fracture, whether you found a home in it or defined yourself against it." Find copies of The Nineties here.
Image Duplicator: Roy Lichtenstein and the Emergence of Pop Art by Michael Lobel
"Roy Lichtenstein's distinctive paintings of the early 1960s are synonymous with the Pop art movement. These bold, oversized images inspired by newspaper advertisements and comic book scenes have been taken as reflecting the artist's fascination with the links between art and popular culture. In this highly readable and original book, Michael Lobel challenges this circumscribed view of Lichtenstein's work, offering a set of compelling new interpretations that reveal the artist's confrontation with a far wider range of issues. Lichtenstein's art is fundamentally engaged with a set of concerns central to art making in the postwar period: the relation between vision and technology, the possibility of articulating artistic identity, and the effect of mechanical reproduction on the work of art. Lichtenstein's project, Lobel argues, is structured by the tension between painting understood as a fully expressive, humanistic gesture and, conversely, as the product of a purely mechanical act. This handsomely illustrated book makes available for the first time an array of archival materials about Lichtenstein and his work, including photographs of the artist and many newly discovered sources for his imagery in the comics and advertisements of the early 1960s. It also provides new information on the context of the artist's Pop paintings in relation to contemporary developments in advertising culture, mechanical reproduction, and visual technologies. Examining the artist's work from fresh perspectives, the author not only offers a comprehensive analysis of Lichtenstein's early Pop paintings but also provides new insight into the issues that shaped the Pop art movement, artistic practices in the 1960s, and the historical relation between modern art and popular culture." Find copies of Image Duplicator here.
Art Is Life: Icons and Iconoclasts, Visionaries and Vigilantes, and Flashes of Hope in the Night by Jerry Saltz
"Jerry Saltz is one of our most-watched writers about art and artists and a passionate champion of the importance of art in our shared cultural life. Since the 1990s he has been an indispensable cultural voice: Witty and provocative, he has attracted contemporary listeners to fine art as few critics have. An early champion of forgotten and overlooked women artists, he has also celebrated the pioneering work of African American, LGBTQ+, and other long-marginalized creators. Sotheby's Institute of Art has called him, simply, “the art critic”. Now, in Art Is Life, Jerry Saltz draws on two decades of work to offer a real-time survey of contemporary art as a barometer of our times. Chronicling a period punctuated by dramatic turning points—from the cultural reset of 9/11 to the rolling social crises of today—Saltz traces how visionary artists have both documented and challenged the culture." Find copies of Art is Life here.
All synopses provided by the publishers. Click here for more books by Kevin Wilson!