16 Books To Help You Unwind During The Holidays

Enjoy offline time with one of these smart reads.

Illustration Emily Keegin
December 26, 2016
16 Books To Help You Unwind During The Holidays

Whether you're headed to the beach for the holidays, trying to maximize your time away from the office with offline activities, or holing up to ride out the rest of 2016, why not have a good read handy? Below is a selection of The FADER's favorite books, magazines, and zines that we came across this year.




SEASON is a zine made by and about women fans of fashion and soccer. London resident Felicia Pennant told The FADER in November about how her zine is far from niche: "I think football touches everyone; it’s universal, it breaks through gender, race, sexuality. The Premier League stat is that one in four people that attend matches is a woman. There’s more visibility in terms of pundits, but not in the culture." Buy it here.

2. The Red Parts, Maggie Nelson

Fiction, Pages: 224, Published: March 2007.

In 2004, Nelson was on the verge of publishing Jane: A Murder, a book of poetry about the murder of her aunt. The murder case was seemingly closed in 1970 with a conviction, but then, DNA evidence implicated a different suspect, forcing Nelson and her family to reopen the wounds of their own trauma, that goes far beyond the case. Buy it here.

3. What Belongs to You: A Novel, Garth Greenwell

Fiction, Pages: 197, Published: January 2016.

A teacher working overseas in Bulgaria becomes obsessed with a male prostitute in this bleak and powerful debut novel. “Absolutely I am a gay writer," Greenwell affirmed in an interview with The Guardian. "And not only that, I want to tell gay stories about gay communities for gay readers, because I think that this incredible progress that queer people have made in things such as marriage equality have come at the cost of a mainstreaming narrative that has homogenized queer lives in a way that has sacrificed far too much and, tragically, has further marginalized the most vulnerable members of the queer community.” Buy it here.

4. Relationship, Zackary Drucker & Rhys Ernst

Photos/Non-fiction, Pages: 160, Published: June 2016.

Perhaps one of the most inspiring love stories you'll encounter, Relationship covers six years in the everyday life of a couple transitioning to opposite sexes. Letters, video stills, and many more pieces form the revolutionary mosaic of Drucker and Ernst's life together. Pieces in this book appeared at the 2014 Whitney Biennial. Buy it here.

5. The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen

Fiction, Pages: 384, Published: April 2015.

This riveting spy-thriller follows a half-French, half-Vietnamese undercover communist agent across the world after the fall of Saigon. Torn between different worlds, the unnamed protagonist's very survival hinges on how successfully he navigates his identity, an allegory for the modern world that, troublingly, gets more and more apt with each passing election. Buy it here.

6. Shoe Dog, Phil Knight

Nonfiction, Pages: 400, Published: 2016.

Learn how the founder of Nike brought the brand from the trunk of his car to the feet of people around the world. Buy it here.

7. Stories Of Your Life And Others, Ted Chiang

Fiction, Pages: 304, Published: 2002.

Arrival, arguably 2016's most surprising sci-fi film success, is based on a short story found in this collection by Ted Chiang. With each tale, Chiang introduces different worlds containing stories that question the structures that bind our reality together. Buy it here.

8. Assata: An Autobiography, Assata Shakur

Non-fiction, Pages: 320, Published: 1987.

In 1973, the FBI continued its mission of destroying black activist groups and targeted Assata Shakur, a member of the Black Panther Party. Their campaign ended in 1977 when she was convicted in the first degree murder of a state trooper in what is now widely regarded as a sham trial. Shakur escaped prison in 1984 and fled to Cuba. Every bit as vital today as when it was initially published, Shakur's memoir is more than a galvanizing tale of black activism: it is a document that shows the lengths the United States will go to quash dissent, and how a single person's bravery can stymie these efforts. Buy it here.

9. The Jesus and Mary Chain's Psychocandy (33 1/3), Paula Mejia

Non-fiction, Pages: 136, Published: 2016.

One of the latest additions to the 33 1/3 series of pocket-sized music criticism is about legendary Scottish alt-rock band, The Jesus And Mary Chain. Written by FADER contributor Paula Mejia, who turned her college thesis into a book proposal, this title is all about deconstructing the seemingly dissonant ideas of 'psycho' and 'candy.' Buy it here.

10. Aperture Magazine's "Vision & Justice" Issue

Magazine, Pages: 152, Published: Summer 2016

Boutique photography magazine Aperture dedicated its summer 2016 issue to the black image in America. This issue is edited by art historian and author Sarah Lewis, and contains pieces with Henry Louis Gates, Ava DuVernay, and dream hampton, as well as many more powerful artists, activists, and scholars to learn from. The photos are a dream. Buy it here.

11. Double Teenage, Joni Murphy

Fiction, Pages: 197, Published: 2016.

Celine and Julie are two girls whose blossoming friendship takes them across Canada and the United States, exploring their roles as women in society in ways that are anything but straightforward. It's also one of The Globe & Mail's Best Books of the Year. Buy it here.

12. Frank Ocean's Boys Don't Cry

Magazine, Pages: 368, Published: 2016

The long-promised accompaniment to Frank Ocean's second album Blond is a massive collection of engaging — and at times bewildering — art. It's 368 pages of contributions from artists like Tom Sachs, Kanye West, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Nabil. Buy it here.

13. Startup: A Novel, Doree Shafrir

Fiction, Pages: 304, Published: 2017.

Okay, so this novel about a tech bro on the cusp of a big payday and an ambitious young reporter looking for a scoop, won't be available until April. But The FADER office received an early copy and we loved it so much it's worth pre-ordering in anticipation. For now catch up on Doree Shafrir's reporting on tech and culture at Buzzfeed.

14. Widow Basquiat, Jennifer Clement

Fiction, Pages: 144, Published: 2000

Jean-Michel Basquiat's career trajectory has been well-documented, but less is known about the art legend's muse and lover, Suzanne Mallouk. Clement fashions her own version of their relationship using interviews and quotes from Mallouk as source material. It's a revealing, if untraditional, insight into an overlooked chapter of history, something Basquiat himself never shied away from with his work. Buy it here.

15. Women Poets of Japan translated by Kenneth Rexroth and Ikuko Atsumi

Poetry, Pages: 192, Published: 1977.

A classic collection that sheds light on nearly 1400 years of women poets from the Japanese region, featuring a variety of styles. Buy it here.

16. Discordia, Moises Saman

Photos, Pages: 127, Published: 2016.

The Arab Spring is not merely history: it's ongoing, constantly reeling and readjusting. Moises Saman lived in the Middle East as a photojournalist between 2011 and 2014, capturing images of various uprisings. "Over these years, the many revolutions overlapped and in my mind became one blur, one story in itself," he says "In order to tell this story the way I experienced it, I felt the need to transcend a linear journalistic language, and instead create a new narrative that combined the multitude of voices, emotions, and the lasting uncertainty I felt.” Buy it here.

16 Books To Help You Unwind During The Holidays