The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis

when people ask about my favorite book my first answer is usually the book I’m reading at that moment but my second answer is THIS. They’re short stories but also flash fiction but also mostly indescribable. Her voice is the voice you wish was inside your head.

“In fact, I liked teaching because I liked telling other people what to do. In those days it seemed clearer to me than it does now that if I did something a certain way, it had to be right for other people, too. I was so convinced of it that my students were convinced, too.”

Rating: 10/10 (I’ll post a less than 10/10 one next time promise)

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

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

Would you like your heart to be stepped upon? Would you like to laugh while it happens? Would you like to gain access to another world that will stay with you forever, but you’ll never be able to articulate to another human being? Welcome.

“But whatever, we descendants of the Girl Line may not have wealth and proper windows in our drafty homes but at least we have rage and we will build empires with that, gentlemen.”

“Dan wanted me to stay. I wanted Elf to stay. Everyone in the whole world was fighting with somebody to stay. When Richard Bach wrote “If you love someone, set them free” he can’t have been directing his advice at human beings.”

Rating: 10/10

Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist

I love Shauna, and, simultaneously, I acknowledge that everything she writes is basically the same thing. It’s always exactly what you need to hear, though, so we can’t fault her.

This is my favorite of her books, every chapter tells the story of a meal with the recipe at the end. She managed to teach me how to make salad dressing (and that it was even possible to make salad dressing) and how be less neurotic in a single swoop. Any time I host in any capacity I perform a Shauna Niequist Mental Wellness Check: am I letting the ‘performance’ cloud the event? Am I making food I can’t pronounce the name of? Have I yelled at Caleb simply for being a living being in my spotless home? She always lets me know when I’ve gone too far.

“I’m not talking about cooking as performance, or entertaining as a complicated choreography of competition and showing off. I’m talking about feeding someone with honesty and intimacy and love, about making your home a place where people are fiercely protected, even if just for a few hours, from the crush and cruelty of the day.”

 Rating: 8/10 (Actual sticky notes for actual meals I flip back to consistently)