50. Tap Out by Edgar Kunz
There’s no one left to see his hands
lifting from the engine bay, dark and gnarled
as roots dripping river mud,
49. play dead by francine j. harris
because you were my mother
because you were crazy at the time
48. The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny
No, what created and drove evil was fear. Fear of not having enough money, enough food, enough land, enough power, enough security, enough love. Fear of not getting what you want, or losing what you have.
47. When Rap Spoke Straight to God by Erica Dawson
Today I told Donald Trump/ the story of a woman. How the skies/ came out of her wherever. Spacious skies./ Dark skies. Grown woman skies.
46. Wade in the Water by Tracy K. Smith
What/ Would it cost me to say it now, / To a stranger’s father, walking home/ To our separate lives together?
45. A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny
Who it it, exactly, you have needed all these years to forgive?
44. Bluets by Maggie Nelson
Mostly I have felt myself becoming a servant of sadness. I am still looking for the beauty in that.
43. Mascot by Antony John
Then came the car accident.
42. Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny
I’m sorry. I was wrong. I need help. I don’t know.
41. The Long Question by Maxine Kumin
Who practices for disaster? Who/anticipates that the prized horse will bolt,/that you will die/should have/didn’t?
40. The Body’s Question by Tracy K. Smith
Where he would lay her down/ And pull the leaves from her hair.
39. Mia Mayhem is a Superhero! by Kara West
I. Mia Macarooney. Am. A. Superhero! For. Real.
38. American Journal edited by Tracy K. Smith
All this love I must have felt ~ Laura Kasischke
37. The Elephant in the Brain by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson
What will emerge from this investigation is a portrait of the human species as strategically self-deceived, not only as individuals but also as a society. Our brains are experts at flirting, negotiating social status, and playing politics, while ‘we’—the self-conscious parts of the brain—manage to keep our thoughts pure and chaste. ‘We’ don’t always know what our brains are up to, but we often pretend to know, and therein lies the trouble.
36. Sleep Water by Laura Maher
That night I wasn’t sure I could love anything that didn’t try to kill me.
That night other people’s bodies blocked the wind.
35. Swing by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess
I sit/ in the police station/ waiting for my parents, trying not to remember/ everything.
34. Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson
“No,” he said, “Not competitors.”/ “We’re co-conspirators and we like it that way.”
33. The Witch Elm by Tana French
He came for me on a cold late afternoon that smelled of burning tires.
32. Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer
. . . there was one conspiracy theory that said Barack and I were both “lizard people”—half-alien half-human hybrids who’d infiltrated society and were secretly controlling the government. Were were behind everything—terrorist attacks, natural disasters, even the interest rate. It was a comforting thought, that someone was in control of this chaotic world.
31. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Aldo Leopold taught her that floodplains are living extensions of the rivers, which will claim them back any time they choose. Anyone living on a floodplain is just waiting in the river’s wings.
30. Peaceful Neighbor: Discovering the Countercultural Mister Rogers by Michael G. Long
. . . I happened upon His Holiness saying, ‘Someone else’s action should not determine your response.’ I was so intrigued, I wrote down those words, turned off the television, and thought about nothing else the whole evening. ‘Someone else’s actions should not determine your response.’ It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? And yet what if someone else’s action should be shouting angry words at us or hitting us with a rotten tomato? That doesn’t affect what we do in response? Not if our compassion is genuine. Not if our love is the kind the Dalai Lama advocates. ~Fred Rogers
29. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
But many days I forget what I am supposed to be. Am I a human? Am I a gorilla? Humans have so many words, more than they truly need. Still, they have no name for what I am.
28. Positively Izzy by Terri Libenson
Let’s be real. People aren’t just one thing.
27. The Boy, the Bird, and the Coffin Maker by Matilda Woods
Miss Bonito may have died alone and lain alone for a whole week, but she did not have to lie alone any longer. So, instead of going upstairs, Alberto sat down beside her.
26. Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris
That was the statement I gave to the police, sitting in the police station somewhere off the A1 in France. It was the truth. But not quite the whole truth.
25. El Deafo by Cece Bell
Superheroes might be awesome, but they are also different. And being different feels a lot like being alone.
24. You Have Me to Love by Jaap Robben
She never called Dad ‘Dad’ again, only Birk. Her Birk, so I would know the blame was mine and the sorrow hers. We came no closer than opposite sides of the table.
23. Scribe by Alyson Hagy
It was all a writer could do: lay out the consequences of a person’s choices. Let him hear it all, she thought, her tongue furling with desperate eloquence. Let him listen to the story. Let him hear exactly who he is—and who he might become—before he decides which notes to blow.
22. The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny
One of us, thought Gamache. Three short words, but potent. They more than anything had launched a thousand ships, a thousand attacks. One of us. A circle drawn. And closed. A boundary marked. Those inside and those note.
21. Threat Come Close by Aaron Coleman
The trees teach me how to break and keep on living.
20. Doing Harm by Maya Dusenbery
The evidence showing that patients of color, black patients especially, are undertreated for pain in the United States is particularly robust.
19. Slow Medicine by Victoria Sweet
“We doctors think we’re so important,” he told me, “but the way it works is that in any disease about a third of the patients get better, a third get worse, and a third stay the same—and all we do is change who does what.”
18. The Pawnbroker’s Daughter by Maxine Kumin
What a horrible world this is when mass extermination comes to be spoken of so calmly and with such calculation.
17. Learn Italian with Paul Noble (audiobook)
16. Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation, edited by John Freeman
telling my grandkids about the dust that use to rule us ~Danez Smith
15. of form & gather by Felicia Zamora
Think mason jar; think your small hands in capture; think humidity of summer’s dark; think you, arms wide, in field of yellow glow.
14. Oceanic by Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Some girls on the other side of this planet
will never know the loveliness
of walking in a crepe silk sari.
13. Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith
don’t ask. don’t tell
many stories about queerness are about shame
12. A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny
After years of investigating murders Chief Inspector Gamache knew one thing about hate. It bound you forever to the person you hated. Murder wasn’t committed out of hate, it was done as a terrible act of freedom. To finally rid yourself of the burden.
11. The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny
I have now reigned about fifty years in victory or peace, beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honors, power and pleasure have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting. In this situation I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which I have fallen to my lot: they amount to fourteen. ~Abd-ar-Rahman III
10. What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton
I will always be grateful to have been the Democratic Party’s nominee and to have earned 65,844,610 votes from my fellow Americans. That number—more votes than any candidate for President has ever received, other than Barack Obama—is proof that the ugliness we faced in 2016 does not define our country.
9. A Small Story About the Sky by Alberto Rios
How easy to spend a day writing a poem,
How hard to spend a life writing a thousand.
8. A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny
“Believe me, not a single murderer every thought, ‘Wow, this is stupid, but I’m going to do it anyway.’”
7. Still Life by Louise Penny
Almost invariably people expected that if you were a good person you shouldn’t meet a bad end, that only the deserving are killed. And certainly only the deserving are murdered. However well hidden and subtle, there was a sense that a murdered person was somehow asking for it.
6. We Are All Shipwrecks by Kelly Grey Carlisle
“That was a really nice thing your grandfather did. It meant a lot to him. He got to see a happy ending.”
5. Sourdough by Robin Sloan
Everything we eat tells a tale of ingenuity and creation, domination and justice—and does so more than any other artifact, any other medium.
4. Have Dog, Will Travel: A Poet’s Journey by Stephen Kuusisto
We all face a choice between freedom and grief.
3. Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
“It’s what I want. It’s my programming. I can’t possibly know, and it’s a completely uninteresting question to me. I don’t even believe in consciousness. When I’ve got my autonomy, I’ll still be programmed.”
2. 100 Selected Poems by e.e. cummings
—Who wields a poem huger than the grave?
1. Upstream by Mary Oliver
I would say that there exist a thousand unbreakable links between each of us and everything else, and that our dignity and chances are one. The farthest star and the mud at our feet are a family; and there is no decency or sense in honoring one thing, or a few things, and then closing the list. The pine tree, the leopard, the Platte River—we are at risk together, or we are on our way to a sustainable world together. We are each other’s destiny.