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.
I’ve never been one to hide my feelings toward chick lit. The last class of my advanced writing capstone during college focused on book recommendations, and of course, most of mine were in the often condemned category. I felt no shame, and my professor backed me up by saying her tenured, English professor father was also fond of the genre. And the Hinnants know their stuff.
So it’s baffling to me that literary critics can shun such great writing, yet I’ll be reading it until my eyes go bad. Sometimes such a gift is dropped into your lap that provides pleasure without a drop of guilt, and this is what Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney delivered in The Nest.
Sweeney’s debut novel has all of the juice that we crave from classic chick lit: the gossip, the hot-mess characters, the love connections, the DRAMA. But there’s something about her elegant writing that keeps any stigma at bay. It’s simply just a beautiful read with a clever storyline.
I can’t exactly describe when it happened, but at some point in the past 12 months, books sort of became my life blood. I’ve loved reading as long as I can remember. There was the first story, Dick and Jane, that I read in preschool, and I firmly remember my mom telling my kindergarten teacher that I’d already finished multiple books halfway through the school year. My teacher was ecstatic upon hearing this news, and even though I was proud of the triumph they exuded, I didn’t think it was all that exciting. Reading was a part of my life. It was that simple.
Dick and Jane–my first book!
Next came Little Golden Books, which I devoured, and then I had my “Ah ha!” moment with Harry Potter. (I don’t think I need to explain this. I mean, I was the kid who played Harry Potter at recess and fought with her brother about who got to read the newest book first and what the reading increments were.)
From there I discovered the 50 state books that my elementary school library owned. Around this same time I also read nearly every Bailey School Kids book (any and all fans HAVE to check out this list), and all of this resulted in me completing more book reports than any other child in Mrs. Wrigley’s third grade class. Children’s fiction shortly gave way to my Nicholas Sparks phase. This preceded an intense fascination with chick lit, which still exists by the way, and Emily Giffin, my favorite author. And during my college days, I discovered my love for historical fiction, still my favorite genre.