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.
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.
“The Creator made Italy by designs from Michelangelo.” Mark Twain knew what he was talking about.
Italy has been my dream destination for as long as I can remember, but the fantasy really took off when I completed an A-Z project on the country in sixth grade. I owe Mrs. Holdinghausen, a geography bawse, so much.
So you can understand my awe and shock when my boyfriend surprised me on our two-year anniversary with a trip to Italy. He told me this was my dream and gave me free rein to plan whatever I wanted. (He probably regretted this after walking over 60 miles in seven days.)
After six months of planning, though I tried to keep some spontaneity, we took off from Newark with my heart racing on Feb. 6. It was finally happening: I was going to Italy.
View from Piazzale Michelangelo
The Futures made all of the lists last year. Readers (including myself) were falling for the story of Evan and Julia, who move to New York City at 22 only to find they don’t have the answers to being adults amidst the Financial Crisis and that they don’t know how to make it work together.
The author of The Futures, Anna Pitoniak, is an editor at Random House where she has worked since graduating from Yale with an English degree in 2008. She began writing her debut novel a few years after graduation, and it was released in January 2017. Although it’s still a challenge to balance being an editor and writer, Pitoniak uses this to her advantage. “[Writing and editing] feed into each other,” she said. “Being an editor has definitely made me a better writer. And I think having written my own book and having it published probably makes me a more empathetic editor in certain ways because I can relate to a lot of things my writers are going through.”
After soaring into the lit scene in 2017, Pitoniak was kind enough to chat with me about the challenges of writing her first novel, one of my favorite TV shows, and about this beautiful yet stressful place we both love: New York City.
Nobody can argue that many aspects of 2017 were piles of flaming garbage. That doesn’t mean literature failed us though. I read 24 books* this year. While there’s never enough time for all the wonderful writing in the world and while I wish I had read more, I am more than satisfied with the books I chose this year. Therefore, to the Big Little Literature library: You got ranked.
*This number does not count Zadie Smith’s Swing Time and Aravind Adiga’s Selection Day, which I just could not finish.
Indeed, it’s the most wonderful time of year. And for two solid reasons: Christmas presents in the shape of books and cold and cozy days meant for cuddling up with your favorite read. So if you have a bibliophile in need of some holiday magic, here are my picks for the best gifts, Big Little Lit style:
Etsy is full of creative and thoughtful gifts, and its Book Club MVP section is no joke. It clearly knows that there’s nothing like the smell of books to get a book lover’s imagination running wild. Choose between a classic bookstore with Earthy tones, Divination classroom or Christmas in the Great Hall for the HP fanatics, or even old books to set the perfect reading mood.
Libraries are the ultimate encyclopedia. They contain all the information there is to learn. They provide us with literature to bolster our creativity and resources and services to make our everyday lives just a little bit easier. They were the world wide web before it became cool.
On Nov. 7, my home of New Jersey had the chance to further support its libraries. The 2017 election contained a ballot initiative for the state to issue $125 million in general obligation bonds. Revenue from this issuance would be used exclusively for libraries to help expand and modernize libraries. Thankfully, the initiative passed. This can only help our communities because the benefits of a library are endless. The limit simply does not exist.
My Jersey City library branch