It’s been a long few months. I’ve been in a whirlwind of apartment hunting (nothing yet) and enjoying New York as much possible before it’s time to leave. I have of course, found plenty of time to read though. I managed to reach and surpass my 52 book goal for 2019. I’m thinking of upping it, but I’m also enjoying not feeling like I need to always be reading. Library due dates stress me out enough as is.
And now, it’s officially fall, and more importantly, cozy season. It’s time to wrap myself in soft wool and fleece, light so many Honeycrisp Apple candles it’s a fire hazard, and inhale as many books as humanly possible.
If you love family dramas, especially if you have a sister: The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
This book weaves the stories of three generations of a family living in the Chicago suburbs. It jumps back and forth between the story of the parents meeting and having each daughter, the daughters’ present lives, all in varying states of disarray and crisis, and the illegitimate son of one of the sisters. Each character’s story weaves into the larger fabric of the book effortlessly, illustrating the ways – both beautiful and frustrating – our families impact how we interact with the world. Lombardo also does a great job depicting sisterhood, and that no matter how close a person is to her parents, friends, or romantic partner, she will always be closest to her sister. This has also been picked up by HBO for a series produced by Amy Adams and Laura Dern. *chef’s kiss*
If you want to re-think everything in culture and life: Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino
There was a lot of hype for this book, and I had a lot of hype for this book. I was prepared to be let down, but Trick Mirror exceeded my expectations. Beginning with an essay on how the Internet makes everything about the self, and then venturing into doing ecstasy, defining scams, and – my personal favorite – girls in books, Jia is funny, perceptive, and shockingly self-aware. This book made me re-think my reliance on shipments from Amazon Prime, turn off notifications for all my social media apps, and want to re-read every book I loved in my youth.
I often take notes on my phone when I read an especially poignant line in a book. Reading Trick Mirror, I essentially transcribed the whole thing. It’s so thoughtful and I am obsessed with it. I borrowed it from the library for my initial read, but I plan to purchase a copy to re-read in the near future.
After I read this, I went back through Jia’s New Yorker archive, and was pleased to find that several features that I already read and loved were written by Jia. These features — Edith Wharton, Asking Celebrities to Kill You, Shen Yun, Profile of Outdoor Voices Founder Ty Haney, Ottessa Moshfegh, Skin Care, Julien Baker, and this scathing review of Ivanka Trump’s book – are all things I generally now consider required reading.
So much of my understanding of culture had already come from Jia, and with Trick Mirror, she has altered and profoundly influenced my understanding of society as well. I will read and buy anything Jia suggests.
If you somehow missed this book when it came out 15 years ago, and love Gossip Girl and The Clique: Prep by Curtis Sittenfield
I had read some of Sittenfield’s books already, and also separately had Prep on my to-read list for years, but until recently, did not put two and two together that they were related.
On its face, Prep is just as trivial as Gossip Girl or The Clique, but as you read more, it becomes apparent that this book is also a comment on wealth, education, and social class. And while it is, in some ways a delicious and trivial story of a Midwestern girl going to an east-coast boarding school, some parts hit a little too close to home.
I did not go to boarding school and I am not technically from the Midwest, but I was raised in a pretty idyllic and squarely middle-class suburb in western New York, and encountered true wealth and elitism for the first time in at my private college in New York City, where it gave me an absolute culture shock. A lot of what the main character in the book encounters in her boarding school are things I related to deeply. It was almost comforting to learn that my experience, despite feeling isolating at the time, is nearly universal.
The book is delightful in its descriptions of New England boarding school life, and often as funny as it is heartbreaking. When I read this book, several folks recalled reading and loving it when it first came out, but I think at the time I was too young to understand and appreciate its wit. I’m glad I read it at this point in my life, and would highly recommend if you too managed to miss its initial splash.
This book is also sentimental to me because it was #52 out of #52 in my reading challenge!
If you love memoirs/novels like Cherry or A Million Little Pieces: Juliet the Maniac Juliet Escoria
Endorsed by Nico Walker, author of Cherry, Juliet the Maniac is a work of autobiographical fiction that draws on the author’s own experience with mental illness and addiction. Like many other books in the same genre, Escoria has edited and embellished her story a bit, but it remains a raw, compelling, and self-aware book. I think I read it in less than two days.
Looking forward, I’m almost finished reading Misery by Stephen King (my first King novel, actually). I’m eager to finish so I can watch the film adaptation with Kathy Bates, icon. I’m also listening to A Simple Favor, which I picked because I heard the movie described on a podcast I love AND CANNOT REMEMBER NOW. So if you by any chance know what culture pod discussed it, please let me know.
I also have American Predator, which is supposed to be the chilling and true story of a serial killer. I’m hoping it is as disturbing and good as I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, which chills me to this day. Finally, my hold for Whisper Network is FINALLY up, so I can catch up to the rest of my book club, hopefully before I see them all at the end of the month.