Welcome to the Book Marks Questionnaire, where we ask authors questions about the books that have shaped them.
This week, we spoke to Minneapolis rapper, singer, essayist, and My Own Devices author, Dessa.
Book Marks: What is the first book you remember loving?
Dessa: Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
BM: Favorite re-read?
Dessa: Oh, man. I try not to re-read—too many good books still out there.
BM: What book do you think your book is most in conversation with?
Dessa: A road atlas, The DSM-5, and Romeo & Juliet
BM: A book that blew your mind?
Dessa: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
BM: Last book you read?
Dessa: The Best American Short Stories (’17 or ’18—they’ve blurred together)
BM: A book that made you cry?
Dessa: No Happy Endings by Nora McInerny
BM: What book from the past year would you like to give a shout-out to?
Dessa: You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld
BM: A book that actually made you laugh out loud?
Dessa: Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
BM: Favorite book to give as a gift?
Dessa: Mary Roach’s stuff is a great go-to for gifts. Bonk, Gulp, or Stiff, depending on the curiosities of the recipient.
BM: Classic book you hate?
Dessa: Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
BM: Classic book on your To Be Read pile?
Dessa: 1984 by George Orwell
BM: Favorite book you were assigned in high school?
Dessa: Beloved by Toni Morrison
BM: Book(s) you’re reading right now?
Dessa: The Sports Gene by David Epstein and Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
BM: Favorite children’s book?
Dessa: Go the Fuck to Sleep by Adam Mansbach looks like a pretty sweet addition to the cannon.
Dessa is a rapper, a singer, an essayist, and a proud member of the Doomtree hip-hop crew. She’s performed around the world at opera houses and rock clubs and while standing on barroom tables. She’s landed on the Billboard Top 200 Albums list as a solo artist (Parts of Speech, Chime), as a Doomtree member (All Hands), and as a contributor to The Hamilton Mixtape. As a writer, she’s contributed to the New York Times Magazine, Minnesota Public Radio, the Star Tribune (Minneapolis), Minneso
Dessa’s debut memoir-in-essays, My Own Devices: True Stories From the Road on Music, Science, and Senseless Love—which was named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2018—is available Aug 27 from Dutton.