Bluets by Maggie Nelson

This book was so compelling I threw out my whole newsletter so I could write about it instead (& it will be waiting for you in your inbox tomorrow morning.) it’s poetry & memoir & philosophy all in one, all about the color blue, and about a lot more than that.

“Sometimes I worry that if I am not moved by a blue thing, I may be completely despaired, or dead. At times I fake my enthusiasm. At others, I feel I am incapable of communicating the depth of it.”
Rating: 10/10

I’ll Tell You In Person by Chloe Caldwell

Started reading this at 8 last night and came up for air, disoriented, 5 hours later. It’s a series of personal essays that make you wonder why you ever denounced the person essay. Maybe Chloe’s the only one who should really be writing them. She talks about friendships & small mistakes & big mistakes & the general chaos of being in your 20s.

It’s been a while since I read something and had to sit there for a few minutes and just feel it, but her essay The Music & The Boys was Striking. Anyways, I liked this book, can you tell?
Rating: 9/10

Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag

Read this whole book last night to procrastinate reading for book club (lol) & I LOVED it. The New York Times wrote a great piece on it last year that is worth the read, but basically, it’s redefined what The Great Indian Novel means, and it’s one of the first books in its language (bhasha) to be translated into English. It’s written very tightly, the story of an entire family in just 117 pages. And it is captivating.

“Language communicates in terms of what is already known; it chokes up when asked to deal with entirely unprecedented.”

Rating: 10/10

Look Alive Out There by Sloane Crosley

I know I’ve already talked a little on here about the ways I Was Told There’d Be Cake (Crosley’s first book) changed my life, but it really did. I read the whole thing in an afternoon, looking up and around after each one, shocked that you could write like this and actually publish it. Was Sloane Crosley pulling the wool over our collective eyes? Alas, she wasn’t. She’d just served to crack the door a little wider to a genre that is now fully saturated, the humorous and relatable, poignant but winking, personal essay.

I liked these. A few of them were really incredible, and one I got halfway through and skipped to the end. This collection is written more confidently, less set-ups for jokes, more authentic story-telling.

“Anything for a change of scenery, anything for no distractions. Anything for the ideal conditions. We become increasingly particular about our conditions until part of us can’t help but think of all the work we’d get done if only we were buried alive.”

Rating: 8/10

Heating & Cooling by Beth Ann Fennelly

The best books, to me, are genre-benders. Too autobiographical to be considered straight fiction, too poetic to be completely factual. Pushing into essay, memoir, and poetry all at once. On those counts, this book is pretty much perfect. It’s charming and funny but barbed, likely to get caught in your brain for the foreseeable future. I very much recommend.

Rating: 10/10

Back Talk by Danielle Lazarin

Short stories about women they don’t hate themselves. It’s sort of reminiscent of Barbara the Slut, if you’ve read that, but I think she does an even better job creating redeemable characters and situations almost instantly. Very fun to read.

“The way the women are together is its own foreign country; they move around each other like extensions of a single body, their voices and laughter entangled.”

Rating: 8/10