Credit © Max S. Gerber

The Author’s Bookshelf: Aimee Bender

“First: these are books that blew me open in some way. They restructured the way I think about writing. They reinvented the wheel and then the cart. They rode in on horseback. They played with form and fire.

Second, they are making emotional leaps through some unexpected movement, often through a chord or choice of structure/plot progression that seems so unexpected and then packs a wallop. They’re voicey, or mythic. Attention to language is key and the words go somewhere surprising — sometimes magical, sometimes absolutely real. Nick Flynn once said he liked novels and stories and films that operated like a poem, which was one of those lightbulb moments for me; a lot of these books do just that—they contain gaps and suggestion and spaciousness and sidle into depth. Some of them are actually books of poems.

Also, a lot of these books have, in some way, a little abstracted element to them and for whatever reason, it seems that that’s where I soak up emotional territory most deeply. (This can show up as magic, or concept, or just a way of reframing a moment with that slight hint of a larger view.) I’ve been thinking recently about how we don’t know upfront what the nature of our own mind/thinking/brain is, and we have to discover it as we go along. And what books a person loves, really loves, really ingests whole, form a kind of reflecting pool of how that person takes in information and metabolizes it, and where emotion may sit, and how characters impact, and what kind of storytelling matters. I see it when I look at the other lists here—something of a processing system is revealed, one that goes beyond content.

And, what a thrill to have books that feel legendary to me, and often are legendary in general, at such a legend of a store.” ❧

Aimee Bender is the author of the novels The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and An Invisible Sign of My Own and the collections The Girl in the Flammable Skirt and Willful Creatures. Her work has been widely anthologized and has been translated into sixteen languages. She lives in Los Angeles.

Books By Aimee Bender View All

The Girl in the Flammable Skirt


(You Save $1.50)

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake


(You Save $7.95)

Willful Creatures: Stories

$7.00 - $13.45

(You Save $7.95)