Ten Summer Books for the Radical Reader

Summer is in high swing and it’s an excellent time to seek shelter with a pile of good books. Whether you’re looking for poetry, fiction, essays, or a graphic novel—check out these recent publications from Creative Capital writers that are perfect to add to your bookshelf.

Book cover. Wintermoot by Nathan Shafer
Nathan Shafer’s Creative Capital Project, incorporates social practice, augmented reality, graphic novels, and digital humanities to form a series of interconnected epic tales of supernatural people from all over Alaska, spanning several generations. As both a mobile app and augmented graphic novel set in an alternate history Alaska, the work tells the stories of characters created in collaboration with other Alaskans, bringing together over 30 languages and cultures.


Book cover. Cuba: An American History by Ada Ferrer
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History, this important and moving chronicle demands a new reckoning with both Cuba’s past and its relationship with the United States. Spanning more than five centuries, Cuba: An American History provides a front-row seat as we witness the evolution of the modern nation, with its dramatic record of conquest and colonization, of slavery and freedom, of independence and revolutions made and unmade.


Book cover. White Magic by Elissa Washuta
Elissa Washuta’s Creative Capital Project, White Magic, is a personal essay collection about heartbreak, sexual violation, and the artist’s process of becoming a powerful witch. Surrounded by cheap facsimiles of Native spiritual tools and occult trends, she learns to embrace the spirit powers and desperation witchery of her dispossessed and discarded Cowlitz, Cascade, and Appalachian ancestors.


Book cover. Self-Portrait with Ghost by Meng Jin
Written during the turbulent years of the Trump administration and the first year of the pandemic, these ten thematically-linked short stories explore intimacy and isolation, coming-of-age and coming to terms with the repercussions of past mistakes, fraying relationships and surprising moments of connection. Moving between San Francisco and China, and from unsparing realism to genre-bending delight, Self-Portrait with Ghost considers what it means to live in an age of heightened self-consciousness, seemingly endless access to knowledge, and little actual power. 


Book cover. On Freedom by Maggie Nelson
Maggie Nelson’s latest book explores how we might think, experience, or talk about freedom in ways responsive to the conditions of our day. She draws on a vast range of material, from critical theory to pop culture to the intimacies and plain exchanges of daily life. 


Book cover. Autoportrait by Jesse Ball
Jesse Ball has produced fourteen acclaimed works of deeply empathetic absurdism in poetry and fiction, but Autoportrait is his first memoir. A work of unflinching honesty, Autoportrait is a hypnotic reflection, loss, and everyday joy, inspired by the memoir Édouard Levé put to paper shortly before his death. One of TIME’s “27 Books to Read this Summer.”


Book cover. Art in Time by Cole Swensen
In these twenty lyric essays, Cole Swensen addresses a range of artists, from Agnes Varda to Robert Smithson to David Hockney, whose works recognize nature, not as the “other,” not as something out there, but as an intimate and active engagement.


Book cover. Wayward by Dana Spiotta
A New York Times “Notable Book of the Year,” Dana Spiotta’s stunning novel is about aging, about the female body, and about female complexity in contemporary America. Probing and provocative, brainy and sensual, it is a testament to our weird times, to reforms and resistance and utopian wishes, and to the beauty of ruins.


Book cover. The Trees by Percival Everett
This page-turner that opens with a series of brutal murders in the rural town of Money, Mississippi. When a pair of detectives from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation arrive, they meet expected resistance from the local sheriff, his deputy, the coroner, and a string of racist white townsfolk. The murders present a puzzle, for at each crime scene there is a second dead body: that of a man who resembles Emmett Till. The book is longlisted for a 2022 Booker Prize—the first chapter is up on their website.


Book cover. Messiahs by Marc Anthony Richardson
A fiercely ecstatic tale of betrayal and self-sacrifice, Messiahs centers on two nameless lovers, a woman of east Asian descent and a former state prisoner, a Black man who volunteered incarceration on behalf of his falsely convicted nephew, yet was “exonerated” after more than two years on death row.