Brandon Taylor: TOP TEN BOOKS


Below are Brandon Taylor’s favorite books, available to purchase individually or as a set.


Poems 1962-2012

Louise Glück
Glück is my favorite poet, and for most of my life, her rhythms and austerity have governed the way my prose moves and sounds. I wouldn’t be a writer without her poems, which brim with wisdom and lucid brutality, and this book collects most of her work into one really elegant volume.
Add to cart

The Price of Salt

Patricia Highsmith
This novel is about a young person trying to figure out who they are and who they love, and it’s rendered with the same sensitive perception that Highsmith brings to every book. The writing alone is electric and beautiful, but the characters are utterly unforgettable.
Add to cart

Call Me by Your Name

Andre Aciman
I read this book as a lonely 18-year old far away from home for the first time, and it cracked my whole universe open. I hadn’t read a book about queer life and adolescence before, and this one was just perfect.
Add to cart

Blue Nights

Joan Didion
I loved Didion’s novels and of course had devoured The Year of Magical Thinking, but there’s something eerie and haunting about the lyrical fragments that cohere in Blue Nights around the loss of Didion’s daughter. This book’s language will stay with me forever, I think. It felt like the voice of grief itself speaking directly to me.
Add to cart


Alexander Chee
It’s not simply that this novel is brilliantly and ingeniously written. I loved this book for no small part because it perfectly captures the way one sometimes reinvents oneself in the wake of trauma. It’s just ghostly, this book. Ghostly and sublime.
Add to cart

Heavy: An American Memoir

Kiese Laymon
I give out copies of this book fairly often. I found that in reading it I came to understand a little bit better my own baggage and complicated Southern family. It’s just such a wise and generous work, and it proves that Kiese Laymon is one of our great masters.
Add to cart

The Street

Ann Petry
I was late to this novel, first published in 1946, but oh my goodness. I read it and felt immediately the narrowness and obsolescence of my own thinking about how to approach race in fiction. It’s a stunning novel about being black and alive in America, and everyone should read it at least once a year. It’s the most urgent novel about contemporary America I’ve ever read.
Add to cart

Varieties of Exile

Mavis Gallant
Mavis Gallant is story writer of the first order. In Varieties of Exile, she writes about people stuck in the great in-between of their lives. It’s a book of people displaced by the wake of World War II and living in the shadow of fascism.
Add to cart


Jane Austen
I love Persuasion because it is a novel about people who change their minds, and there’s nothing more human than someone changing their mind and realizing the consequences of their choices. It’s a novel about grown up people making grown up decisions, but also it’s a novel about grown ups being childish and petty and silly. It’s her best novel, I think.
Add to cart


Elizabeth Bishop
The first time I encountered Bishop’s great poem “One Art” was at the end of a so-so biopic about the poet. I immediately looked her up and fell in love. Her formalism, her humor, her penetrating acuity.
Add to cart