2018 is off to an incredible start for me – I’ve found my way through many incredible books and am sharing my favorites (so far) with you here!
The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
The Female Persuasion opens at a nondescript college in New England and follows the life of Greer, a freshman who is just getting her feet under her. In her first few months of school, Greer earns the attention of a campus visitor: the famous feminist Faith Frank, which will alter the trajectory of Greer’s life. Reading this book was a form of therapy for me. Wolitzer is a master of putting on the page those things that you feel but have never tried to put into words. She reflects yourself back at you. Wolitzer’s writing is flowing, intellectual and timely. Read this book.
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
The Immortalists is a brilliant blend of historical fiction and contemporary fiction. It’s 1969 in a dingy apartment building in New York’s Lower East Side, and four siblings visit a woman with an unbelievable skill: she is able to tell them all the date on which they will die. The book is then divided into four parts, each centering on a different sibling.
This book is thrilling and heart-wrenching. This story was satisfying. It made me smile, it made me cry. It asked big questions about what fate controls and what we control without positing answers. Benjamin does not assume to know any more than anyone else; she just puts our superstitious beliefs under the spotlight. This book is simply my kind of story.
Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday
Asymmetry is a collection of three somewhat unrelated novellas, though they are tied together with similar themes, giving a sense of cohesion that seems novel-esque. The way Halliday weaves these stories together illustrates how similar we all are, despite what a first impression might tell you. This book will make you chuckle and it will force you to think. It’ll tug at your preconceived notions of the Middle East, at what the word “tomorrow” means in different contexts, at what forms love can take. It is thoughtfully constructed and artfully written. I would highly recommend Asymmetry.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
In The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, the celebrated and aging actress Evelyn Hugo comes forward, finally ready to tell her complete story. She summons a young reporter named Monique to her NYC apartment to record it, marriage by marriage by marriage.
Plain and simple: this is a great book. Pick this up if you are looking for a love story that will inspire and empower you.
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
In these haunting short stories, Machado brings gothic literature into the 21st century. Prepare to cast aside any notions you have about the line between fantasy and reality because this book blurs them all. Somewhat science fiction, somewhat comedy, somewhat horror, all extremely powerful. Few days have gone by since I finished this collection that I do not think about these stories.
The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Emily Wilson
This is the first major translation of this epic poem by a woman, and it is entirely worth rereading. Wilson’s translation is incredibly readable – her verse and word choice give the poem a casual feel, as its history of oral tradition would recommend. Wilson is not sympathetic to Odysseus just because he is a “hero;” she absolutely throws that word under intense scrutiny. This is not just The Odyssey you read in high school.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
I am not sure why it took me so long to pick up this classic, but I am so glad that I finally did. Plath’s semi-autobiographical novel about a young girl suffering from depression is powerful and still rings true over fifty years after the book’s original publication. If you too have not yet read this, I would highly recommend it. But beware, if you are reading in a public place, you might find yourself crying (as I did on a New York City subway).
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
This is an incredible story of the power of love against all odds. I knew nothing about the plot going in, and I would highly recommend you go in blind as well. In order to stick with that edict, I won’t say much more. But this book touched my heart and I hope it touches yours too.
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
In the world of Red Clocks, in vitro fertilization has been banned and abortion is (once again) illegal in the United States. The world of this story is brilliantly illustrated and so terrifying to me – it is unfortunately far too easy to imagine. This is a book that affected me physically because it is so grounded in the experience of inhabiting a body that is sometimes defined solely by its ability to bear children. I found myself laughing out loud and squirming in discomfort.
Zumas is an incredible writer. This may be the first book I’ve ever read with four alternating perspectives where I was equally interested in each perspective. Once I had adjusted to her unique style of prose, I couldn’t put this book down.