If you’re yearning for some great reads (and the chance to amaze all your friends with how cultured you are), poetry books always seem to be wrapped in the prettiest of covers. Whether you need something relatable or something you can learn from, these works will fill that void, and they happen to look great on top of that.
Here’s a list of the poetry (and prose) books you should be stacking next to your textbooks this year. Feel free to display them proudly in your dorm.
1. “The Beautiful Chaos of Growing Up” by Ari Satok
First up is probably the cutest. As the title suggests, Ari Satok’s second book, “The Beautiful Chaos of Growing Up,” is all about the transition into adulthood. It begins as an unnamed narrator moves out of their parents’ home and into a college dorm. We then watch as this nameless protagonist makes choices, with the outcomes laid out for us like a choose-your-own-adventure book.
Eventually, the book leads the reader to the understanding that there isn’t a right way to live your life and there’s no real way to control where you will land, but the bubbly rhyme scheme and cartoons doodled every few pages remind us that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Growing up might be chaotic, but it’s also beautiful.
2. “Gmorning, Gnight!” by Lin-Manuel Miranda
You probably know about Lin-Manuel Miranda, writer and former star of the award-winning musical “Hamilton,” but what you might not know is that long before the show’s success, the Puerto Rican playwright would post little messages almost every morning and every evening on Twitter. Now, he has collected the best of these into a poetry book, meant to inspire, amuse, spark joy and otherwise make readers feel like someone is there for them in their daily lives.
I wish you all your best daydreams, all night
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) July 9, 2019
The book itself is ingeniously crafted, with a morning message on one page and one night message on the page opposite; with illustrations by Jonny Sun that fit each set perfectly and tie it all together, the result is a beautiful, continuous read that you just can’t put down. As Miranda himself puts it, “You can read this whenever you want to. It will be here. Gmorning, Gnight.”
3. “The Sun and Her Flowers” by Rupi Kaur
Rupi Kaur, author of the underappreciated “Milk and Honey,” has not been taken as seriously as she should be, usually because of her young age or because she utilizes Instagram-style text and punctuation; the wordsmith has been the victim of relentless jokes and even a full-blown book of memes that mock her work.
However, Kaur doesn’t let this stop her, and in her highly-anticipated sophomore book, the Canadian poet continues to grapple with love, life and the struggles and advantages that come with being a woman of color. In “The Sun and Her Flowers,” she focuses more on the good, describing the magical healing process of leaving something negative behind and growing into who you were meant to be.
The simple illustrations (drawn by Kaur herself) give the book an untouched, unfiltered vibe. The power of “The Sun and Her Flowers” is that it can captivate any audience, regardless of how they might label themselves.
4. “Still Here” by Rowan Blanchard
Young Rowan Blanchard’s first published work, “Still Here,” is a perfect encapsulation of all the thoughts of a teenager in the late 2010s. The actress put together all of her childhood work, photocopied it and bound it together, all just after her 16th birthday. You can see the handwriting, the highlighting and even the little bandaids that tape down the Polaroid pictures, which gives “Still Here” a truly unique, handmade feel that sets it apart from other poetry books.
With the help of some of her friends and fellow artists, including Rupi Kaur, the Los Angeles native describes, from different perspectives, what life is like growing up in the current political climate. Declaring in big, bold letters, “I am not too young to know a lie,” Blanchard perfectly embodies the experience of being an adolescent in this day and age.
5. “Note to Self” by Connor Franta
Part memoir, part poetry, YouTuber Connor Franta takes on himself in his second book, “Note to Self.” While his debut work was a narration of his life, Franta describes this new turn as “a scrapbook of [his] mind.” It is, to put it simply, a beautiful mess. Some pages are filled with essays and long stories, while others hold just a few sparse words, flung here and there; in between are photographs taken from the internet personality’s many adventures.
The only thing that connects these experiences is Franta himself, and his life as a young, gay man. There are moments that will make you want to cry, that will make you want to jump for joy, that will make you think, “I don’t know why, but I understand this more than anything else in the world.” But more than anything else, there’s moments that will make you want to follow Franta on Instagram.
6. “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein
A serious blast from the past, many will remember this amazing not-so-little book of poems from their childhood. Shel Silverstein, the author of “The Giving Tree” and other famous children’s books, put together this collection of some of his best poems back in 1974. Beloved by many generations, “Where the Sidewalk Ends” has become famous for its kid-friendly material with dark, comedic undertones.
Always a playful spirit, Silverstein was known for siding with the child’s sense of imagination rather than parental logic; for example, when he writes about “googies” coming for little kids, he implies that they’re tricking the children into ending their naughty ways, only to reveal at the end that the “googies” only take the good ones. “Where the Sidewalk Ends” is a hilarious, nostalgic read that will make a great addition to your collection of poetry books.
No matter who you are or what you look for in your poetry, there has to be at least one book from this list that sparks your interest. Each one tells a story vastly different from the others in its own unique, brilliant way. There’s only one thing that connects all of them — they’re totally postable.