Spring is here! Let us embrace a wardrobe of light jackets, an abundance of pollen and — most exciting of all — a fresh crop of printed words. Here are seven big spring books (all authored by women) that I can’t put down…
Look Alive Out There by Sloane Crosley
There are few things I love more than a funny essay collection. Mainly, because laughing is a good, enjoyable thing to do. Secondly, essays are the perfect bite-sized literary morsels to read during short bursts of time. You can read one between subway stops, before bed, while you’re waiting for the clothes to finish up in the dryer… And few people do funny essays better than Sloane Crosley. Whether she’s climbing an active volcano, dealing with a noisy neighbor, crashing a shiva or playing herself on Gossip Girl (as one does), her book is consistently entertaining, even if you occasionally wonder how one human can possibly wander into such situations. Highly recommended.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
The instant New York Times bestseller (and Oprah’s Book Club pick) tells the story of newlyweds Celestial and Roy. Early in their marriage, Roy is wrongly convicted of rape and sentenced to twelve years in prison, and much of the story is told through the letters the couple writes to one another during and after his incarceration. The overarching story, however, is universal: the unraveling of a marriage and family, the question of life with or without children, the passage of time, and the often unfair nature of the world. It is at once an intimate, complicated, haunting, beautiful, utterly worthwhile read.
Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao
“This is the best book I’ve read in a long time,” my best friend texted one night. (She edits books for a living, so when she likes something, I pay attention.) An hour later she texted again, “Maybe the best book I’ve read, ever.” Later that night, yet another text popped up. “I can’t stop reading, you have to borrow it as soon as I’m done.” The novel follows Poornima and Savitha, two best friends growing up in rural India who encounter unspeakable misogyny in a myriad of ways. If that sounds heavy, you aren’t wrong. So what, I asked said friend, did she love so much about it? “Every page served as a reminder of what a gift our friends are, and all the ways a deep love between female friends can sustain us during the most difficult times.” Sounds good to me.
The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
This novel, which you may or may not have seen plastered all over the planet, has been hailed by everyone from The New York Times to Vogue to People, who called it “equal parts cotton candy and red meat, in the best way.” For what it’s worth, I enjoy neither cotton candy nor red meat, but I do enjoy smart prose and I definitely enjoy Meg Wolitzer. Her latest offering, about a college student’s relationship with a Gloria Steinem-esque feminist icon who becomes her friend and mentor, is especially timely. A thoroughly enjoyable book.
A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out by Sally Franson
Full disclosure: Sally Franson and I lived on the same hall freshman year of college. It was our relationship that first made me pick up this hot pink book, but it was the wit and hilarity contained within that kept me wildly flipping pages and ultimately recommending it to anyone who will listen. If you’re in the mood for something light yet smart (and, let’s be honest, who isn’t?) you’ll devour this novel about a book-loving advertising executive confronted with the eternal question: Which is more important — success… or your soul?
You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld
From the beloved author of American Wife, Eligible and Prep, comes this collection of ten short stories exploring relationships, class and gender roles. Whether her characters are thinking of a random person they slept with (or wish they had), about the mean girl who tormented them in high school, or one of many other questionable decisions they’ve made over the course of their lives, Sittenfeld will have you laughing, wincing and nodding along with understanding.
Circe by Madeline Miller
This bold reimagining of clasic mythology shot to #1 on the New York Times bestseller list the moment it was released. Here, Circe — best known as the malevolent witch from The Odyssey, infamous for turning sailors into swine — is re-cast as a feminist goddess. If the mere mention of classic mythology makes you want to take a nap, you are not alone. Historical fiction is typically not my jam, but this book is phenomenal, not to mention empowering. Throughout the ages, the heroic stories have been so traditionally male. “All these stories are composed by men, largely starring men, and I really wanted a female perspective,” Miller explains in the Times review. And she delivers.
Have you read anything recently that you just can’t put down? Anything you’re excited to pick up? Please share in the comments…
(Top photo by Caroline Donofrio for Cup of Jo.)