Thanks for the Memories

  • What: Warlight
  • Who: Michael Ondaatje
  • Pages: 285, hard cover
  • Genre: Historical fiction
  • Published: 2018
  • The lit: 1463390917-2400px1463390917-2400px1463390917-2400px of 5 flames

Everybody loves a good plot twist, myself included. In my review of Rich People Problems, in fact, I praised author Kevin Kwan for his ability to keep you guessing with one curveball after the next, which ensured the book was never dull (among other wonderful qualities). In retrospect, clues had been leading up to these revelations since book one, and nothing felt out of place.

I can’t quite say the same thing about Michael Ondaatje’s 2018 hit, Warlight. What saddens me about this conclusion is that I loved this book up to the ending. Ondaatje’s writing is beautiful and poetic, and it evokes the exact sadness and curiosity the characters feel. Ondaatje paints a mystery yearning to be told. But when he finally reveals the secrets, he does so with a twist too far out of left field that leaves you with a bad impression. Warlight, though exquisite, couldn’t quite close the deal, which is why I can’t quite give it more than three flames.

Warlight

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Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

  • What: Forest Dark
  • Who: Nicole Krauss
  • Pages: 290, hard cover
  • Genre: Contemporary fiction
  • Published: 2017
  • The lit: 1463390917-2400px1463390917-2400px of 5 flames

Sometimes flipping the last page of a book leaves us absolutely befuddled.

“What exactly happened here in these few hundred pages to which I devoted significant time, energy, and brain power?”

Fortunately, only a few books spur this thought. Nicole Krauss’ 2017 hit was one of them. For a novel that garnered much attention and praise and made many best-of lists, I was ready to be blown away. Forest Dark, however, left me lost and grasping for more clarity and purpose … not unlike the main characters.

Forest Dark

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Can’t Stop Won’t Stop

Every so often I come across a book that I just can.not.put.down.

Kevin Kwan had already given me one of those masterpieces in the first book of his showstopping series, Crazy Rich Asians. After feeling slightly disappointed with the sequel, Kwan lifted me back up in a triumph that completely took over one weekend.

You’re batting .667, Kwan, which is not too shabby.

Rich People Problems is a culmination of everything great about its predecessors: crazy characters, hilarious encounters, jaw-dropping money, exquisite details, twisting plots, and did I say jaw-dropping money? It’s almost as if Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend were the opening acts for this grand finale that possesses all the signs of a classic.

Rich People Problems

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Go Your Own Way

  • What: The Wife
  • Who: Meg Wolitzer
  • Pages: 219, soft cover
  • Genre: Contemporary fiction
  • Published: 2003
  • The lit: 1463390917-2400px1463390917-2400px1463390917-2400px1463390917-2400px of 5 flames

You’d think it would be hard to find humor in a 50-year relationship coming to a close. Meg Wolitzer makes it look easy though. As someone who is known for having little emotion, I fully appreciate that skill and enjoy seeing it at work. The ability to laugh at a divorce and the messed-up flaws of a relationship that’s become way too comfortable is not only refreshing, but it’s a necessary change in literature. That’s why you need to read The Wife.

Giggles aside, Wolitzer’s 2003 novel further demonstrates an interesting conundrum and one that so many couples are familiar with: Leaving is never easy when being together is all you’ve ever known. She flawlessly presents this internal struggle in a witty drama, which details the unpleasant feelings that can develop after being with someone for half of a century. It’s the perfect combination of humor and reality, and literature could certainly use more of it.

*PSA: No disrespect to Glenn Close because I have not seen the 2017 movie adaptation of The Wife, but do not skip the book for the movie. Writing like this needs to be experienced on its own, away from the dramatics and artistry of the silver screen.*

The Wife

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Gettin’ Lit

If you live in New York and have never visited the New York Public Library‘s main branch at Bryant Park, shame on you. If you’re a non-New Yorker, add it to your future bucket list. I don’t need to justify this.

With that said, I could never say no to a literary Halloween party at this gorgeous library. I owe a big thanks to my friend Hilary for inviting me to the most lit party of the year (yes, the puns were used): The Library After Hour’s Halloween Masquerade on Oct. 26.

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Storied: My Cooled Desire

  • What: Fahrenheit 451
  • Who: Ray Bradbury
  • Pages: 158, soft cover
  • Genres: Classic literature and science fiction
  • Published: 1953
  • The lit: 1463390917-2400px1463390917-2400px of 5 flames

You know that feeling when one of your favorite singers comes out with an album that you so desperately want to love, but you’re just like … no … ? You keep listening in the hope that it’ll spark some kind of desire, make the head bop just a smidgen to the left, but after five tries, still … no … ? That’s how I felt about Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods (I fought with myself over it!), and that same feeling emerged with Fahrenheit 451.

I’ve been immensely disappointed in myself for never reading it in my 26 years. It’s not just a classic, but it says so much about literature and society. I had convinced myself (and the world had convinced me) that I would fall in love with this remarkable book when I finally got around to it.

Until I didn’t fall in love. I fooled myself into thinking my enjoyment would commence once I started understanding it a bit more. The truth is it took far too long to really be “in the know,” and even after that happened, I realized this book did very little for me. Bradbury’s classic sci-fi novel earned an extra flame for its message, but ooh ooh I was not on fire with this one.

Fahrenheit 451

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Author Q&A: Stephanie Dray

My Dear Hamilton was no joke. This beautiful and insightful novel about one of the most influential men in American history — from his wife’s perspective — ranks in the top three of books I’ve read this year, mainly because of the emotions it dug out of me.

“I actually think my body and mind morphed into Eliza Hamilton’s,” I wrote in my review.

Such an impactful book had me dying to know the authors who brought this creation to life. Thankfully Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie provided us with details about their writing process in the back of their book, including all of the research that went into writing this masterpiece. Plus, their love for Fraunces Tavern instilled an instant connection. (Stephanie and Laura, let’s get a drink sometime!)

I was lucky enough to learn more about these inspiring women after exchanging a few emails with Dray. Check out our conversation below.

Stephanie Dray

Courtesy of Stephanie Dray.

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