The author and illustrator tells Document about the books that redeem and recharge him, from gripping personal memoirs about loss of faith to E. B. White's pink eye-induced personal reckoning.
Document’s contributors are compiling summer reading lists with a twist. We’re asking writers, authors, artists, scholars for their old favorites and anticipated releases. Illustrator Lord Birthday, a.k.a. Chad Murphy, gives us 7 ‘religious’ texts for the post-religious age by authors exploring guilt, transcendence, and the American spiritual void.
Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
This is the Great American Memoir. This is it. An outrageously funny and honest accounting of growing up in the (literal) shadow of The Church. I’ve never cried so much during a book – and never, in the same book, for such different reasons.
Bluets by Maggie Nelson
Incandescent prose with a structural flow unlike anything I’ve ever read. A book beyond genre that deals with deep topics playfully, offering revelatory insights on every page. I read this book on an airplane and I will never be the same.
“Dusk in Fierce Pajamas” by E.B.White
If you’re interested in humor writing and how it works, just read this piece and then stop and think about it for a week. An unrivaled masterclass in the art of subtle, almost imperceptible, satire. This essay is my light in the wilderness.
Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor
A darkly funny novel about the longing for transcendence, as viewed through the cosmically-weird cultural lens of the American South. I was born in Georgia, Christ-haunted since the crib, and this book redeemed me.
Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino
This book isn’t even out yet, so I haven’t read it, but I’m sure it’s a classic. A guaranteed feast of spiritual insights. Tolentino is a magician. We are not worthy of such alchemy!
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
What else can writing hope to do after this book? A genreless marvel that illuminates the entire arc of the human experience. Structurally inventive, thematically devastating, and aesthetically satisfying on a deeply spiritual level.
Fludd by Hilary Mantel
Never has a story about the loss of faith in God been so hilarious and disturbing at the same time. Impeccable writing, too–almost too good to be believed. This book came straight from heaven.
You can find Lord Birthday at his website and @lord_birthday on Instagram.