One of the most invigorating benefits of reading is the feeling when you find a new author or subject. Sometimes you’ll stumble on him or her while browsing a bookstore or library, or perhaps Amazon will use an uncannily (and borderline unsettlingly) accurate algorithm to suggest something you’ll like.
The problem, though, is that it can be hard to find authors or subjects that are way outside your typical reading comfort zone. That happens rarely on websites, since their algorithms are meant to suggest things you will like by design, as opposed to things you may like. That’s why browsing through books in a physical store is always a better option, but even then there’s a problem – namely, with so many books out there, how do you know which ones are good?
Well, I’m here to help by suggesting six publishers whose books I guarantee will significantly widen your reading tastes and make you stronger reader. You may not like everything these publishers release, but if you want to avoid getting stuck reading the same kinds of stories by the same kinds of authors, you can do no better than check out books published by NYRB Classics, Verba Mundi, Archipelago Books, Pushkin Press, Other Press, and Dalkey Archive.
Each of these five publishers release books by authors from all around the world. Thanks to NYRB Classics, I know I love Austrian author Stefan Zweig. Thanks to Archipelago Books, I’m aware of Norweigan author Tarjai Vesaas – I’ve loved two out of the four books of his I’ve read and will likely write a review of one up here soon…maybe within the next day or two, in fact. I also encountered another great author, Friedrich Torberg, through Pushkin Press. His novel Young Gerber perfectly captures the anxiety a student can feel when they feel their life depends on getting good grades and the tragic results that anxiety can lead to. I’m newer to the books by Verba Mundi, but I can already tell I’m going to love them, like The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, which I’m planning to tackle in a few months.
I want to recommend Other Press and Dalkey Archive with one slight word of caution. In the case of Other Press, some of their books I’ve found to be very approachable, others…not so much. How difficult you find a book depends solely on how strong a reader you are, but I’d say it’s probably best to hold off on them until you’ve built yourself up a bit. The same goes for Dalkey Archive, only more so. Nearly every single one of the most challenging books I’ve ever read were published by them. And while they were immensely satisfying, they were almost all intense struggles, and I didn’t even begin reading these books until a few years ago.
I hope these five suggestions help because while anyone who’s read anything knows that reading is one of the best ways to expand yourself as a human being, it’s easy to stagnate unless you actively pursue challenging, unfamiliar, and sometimes just odd books.
So go read (insert book released by one of those publishers here). Now.