1. Hollywood’s Eve: Eve Babitz and The Secret History of L.A. by Lili Anolik Given to me by my beloved friend, Danielle, this book was the book I never knew I needed. While biographies can feel stuffy or hard to get through for me, classically, this was such a different story. Sometimes books like this, especially set to the tune of Hollywood in its heyday, can feel like a long list of B list celebrities doing “crazy” stuff. The book was carried effortlessly by the author’s personal relationship to Eve herself. There was so much I didn’t know about the crowd Eve Babitz ran in as young as her time at Hollywood High. Reading about her through the eyes of her younger sister was particularly fascinating. I think Black Swans is certainly coming up on my to be read list.
2. Joy Enough by Sarah McColl I was lucky enough to attend Sarah’s book talk in Dumbo a few weeks ago. Her interview with Melissa Clark was lovely. I couldn’t wait to get home and start her book. The book is a stunning tribute to the author’s mother. It’s a recounting of loss—both of her mother’s death and the falling apart of her own marriage. It feels optimistic in the way memoirs on grief so commonly don’t. I can’t wait to read whatever Sarah McColl writes next. This book is such a gift.
3. The Two Kinds of Decay by Sarah Manguso I’m on a Sarah Manguso bender. Her book Ongoingness: The End of a Diary was the first of her books that I read. I adored it, but forgot about it until a recent reading of 300 Arguments. And now, I’m quite a fan. This memoir was incredibly interesting to read as it documents her health complications during college. What is already a fascinating stage of life is made more complex by an unexpected illness. She writes about her time in the hospital and out in a way that is often lost when medical jargon comes into play. I finished it in an afternoon, reading to order the rest of her body of work immediately.
4. The Chronology of Water: A Memoir by Lidia Yuknavitch Another recommendation from my writing class, this book finally arrived from whatever used book warehouse I ordered it from weeks ago. In the middle of reading, I texted a photo of the cover to two of my good friends with just the text, “urgent!” It’s not for the faint of heart, considering its an extremely visceral recounting of a colorful life. Also, it’s really not a PG-13 book, either. But caveats aside, it’s my favorite memoir I’ve read so far this year. Yuknavitch recounts life as a competitive swimmer, speaking honestly of her desires and the ways she left that life behind.
5. The Houseguest by Amparo Dávila Short stories were a first for me in 2018. My goal, this year, is to read way more. It’ll be hard to live up to this near perfect collection. The Houseguest reads like modern Poe—creepy, eerie, and totally captivating. The stories are deeply psychological and rely on the author’s expert ability to build an shatter worlds in just a few pages. I had to stop reading the book at night because of my inability to fall asleep after. I opted for strictly subway reading, instead. But don’t let that deter reading! It’s creepy in the best way.
6. How to Leave: Quitting the City and Coping with a New Reality by Erin Clune Reading about those who come home to the Midwest is certainly a niche genre choice. It used to be hard to read without carrying my own reasons and justifications to the text. But now I just enjoy lamenting about craziness of living in a city like New York with someone who was raised in a totally different place. This book is a breeze and very humorous. Plus, such a good cover.