- What: Still Me
- Who: Jojo Moyes
- Pages: 388
- Genre: Contemporary fiction; chick lit
- Published: 2018
- The lit: of 5 flames
If you’ve been following Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You series, by now you know the premise surrounds a brilliant and quirky young woman, Louisa, who is trying to maintain her spunky personality through love, loss, and unfathomable decisions. (PSA: If you haven’t read the series, I advise you start now.) Moyes’ threequel, Still Me, doesn’t wander far from this theme, but it does introduce a caveat with new complications. The book isn’t just about finding yourself or staying true to that person. It’s also about the unique challenges women face in this scenario. In the words of Ruth Dewitt Bukater, “Of course, it’s unfair. We’re women. Our choices are never easy.”
Quality is the most subjective characteristic when it comes to literature. Sure, every reader loves great symbolism, those masterpieces that speak to cultural moments, thorough and exact research about a time or place, those books that really hit home and move you. Sometimes, though, you need a break from the real world. You need something that will make you laugh or cry irrationally and believe that fairy tale love actually exists.
As someone who reads about overcollateralization, subordination, and tranching all day, while trying to parse legalese that makes you want to stab out your eyes, I know firsthand the importance of a feel-good and easy read. So it’s with great honor that I present to you my case for the novels that give you the best of feels (despite some of the harshest criticisms): chick lit.
The rumors, in this case, were true: Celeste Ng’s second novel was every bit the banger that critics claimed it to be.
Little Fires Everywhere lit up every best-of 2017 list, it became a New York Times best seller, every book club was reading it, and rightfully so. Therefore, I was very much looking forward to diving right in, and apparently so was everyone else in Jersey City because I had to wait two months before it was ready at my library.
There’s a reason the hype exists. Ng’s words flow effortlessly while telling a complex story that we know all too well and that shamefully intrigues us. The one where rumors and gossip spread so fast, like a fire that can’t be put out. They can’t be tamed, and neither could Ng’s book. It didn’t ignite several small flames as its name suggests though; its greatness was one giant wildfire.
I love books that challenge my opinions, what I think I know about the world and how I’d respond in certain situations (see The Patriots). Am I as forgiving as I think? Is my unconditional love really that unconditional, or can it be based on time and circumstance? Would I really stand up for what’s right in a very compromising situation? Point is: You never know unless you’re in someone else’s shoes. Outcomes are never accurately predicted.
Tayari Jones provides these existential questions in her 2018 smash, An American Marriage, which Oprah has promoted. You think you know what you’re getting when you read the book sleeve about a black man in the south being wrongly accused of a crime. The New York Times says it best. “An American Marriage tells us a story we think we know … But Jones’s story isn’t the one we are expecting.” It’s a story that had me asking “What would I do?” from start to finish and flipping furiously to learn what decisions the characters would make. And let’s be honest: If something is fine by Oprah, it’s fine be me too.
By: Nick Coffman
Jeff VanderMeer‘s novel Annihilation caught on the adapted screenplay train rather quickly. Just four years after being released to sci-fi lovers in hardback, the story is being shown on the silver screen, with Natalie Portman on board. The book is the first in the Southern Reach trilogy and tells the story of four women who set off to explore Area X, a remote area filled with mystery. As members of the twelfth expedition, Lena (Portman) and the others try to determine what has caused Area X to appear. Searching for answers, they are instead stricken with paranoia of what may lurk beyond each corner.
It’s only natural that movies and the books that they’re the based off will be compared to one another. Therefore, it’s time to go toe to toe with Annihilation: book versus movie.
Back in 1969, women were not running the world. Sorry, Bey. They weren’t running Newsweek either. In fact, they were so far removed from running the newsmagazine that these talented individuals were relegated — and forced to reside inevitably — in research … until they got pissed off and did something about it. The Good Girls Revolt gives us the account of how 46 women at Newsweek said enough is enough and set a huge precedent.
Sometimes the content speaks for itself, and obviously The Good Girls Revolt spoke to me on a professional and personal level. Lynn Povich is a storyteller though, and she made me feel like I was right there alongside these women as they fought for what they deserved. Combining her writing abilities with a story that needed to be told made for the most lit book I’ve read in a long time.
- What: Miss You
- Who: Kate Eberlen
- Pages: 433
- Genre: Chick lit; romance
- Published: 2016
- The lit: of 5 flames
Let’s get one thing straight: A happy ending isn’t always sunshine and daisies. Sometimes they don’t end up together; sometimes the person with the terminal disease doesn’t miraculously pull through; sometimes questions are left unanswered. For me, a happy ending doesn’t mean being overjoyed; it simply means it’s powerful. It proves that sometimes a story ends with a little roughness around the edges because not everything in life is so cut and dry, perfect and jubilant. As long as the storytelling ends on a solid note, I’m a content reader.
I’m not sure Miss You got that memo. Because I read this 2016 novel en route from Florence to Rome and then to New York, I had a lot of uninterrupted time to become acquainted with the characters, to really dive into their lives. I felt a connection, like I was walking through life with them. That says a lot about the writer, Kate Eberlen, and that’s also why the ending seemed to serve such an injustice to 400 pages of beautiful writing and character development. I’d spent 16 wonderful years with these characters before a too-perfect finish skewed my opinion of the book.