Reviewing my list of all-time favorite reads, I realized Italo Calvino's work popped up more often than any other writer. I think his style is best enjoyed when you enter into it knowing as little about the plot as possible, so here are some brief teasers:
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler
I am in absolute love. I mean...I have to buy my own copy of this and mark up all the pages and trace all the quotes and relive all the stories.
I can't adequately sum it up. Basically, you're the main character, you're experiencing reading, understanding what it means to share a book with another, using literature to make sense of the universe. Insane. I LOVE IT.
What if you have existed since the beginning of the universe? Technically, you have: the matter's always been around. Calvino's Cosmicomics is set up like a connected short-story collection and includes math formulas and atoms as the main characters. Weird? Yes. Brilliant? Also yes.
Another great collection of vignettes. One follows the route taken in a supermarket by a poor family, contrasted with that of a rich family. Each story is, again, connected, this time by the main character of Marcovaldo, and has Calvino's trademark surrealist style.
The Baron in the Trees
Ever want to shirk all responsibilities, climb up a tree and never come back down again? This book is for you. It's more grounded (ha) than his other works, but still a great read.
This collection reads like a companion piece to Cosmicomics. Time, space, and change are again central characters, acting as a foil against modern-day issues.