Hello Mom and the two other dedicated readers of this corner of the internet where I write about the copious amount of books I read on the F train. Hope you’re well. I am starting my MFA this summer which means many, many books, but less time for these little lineups. Expect a bumper crop at the end of each term. Because sharing books is one of my favorite parts of the writing life. So read on! Email me with any suggestions. And mom, I’ll talk to you tomorrow morning on my walk.
1. Normal People: A Novel by Sally Rooney It’s hard to go anywhere, let alone scroll anywhere, without seeing this novel. And for a good reason! Sally Rooney is a genius. This book explores social classes and coming of age and all with the now iconic Rooney dialogue. It’s the safest recommendation for any fiction lover.
2. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett Speaking of masters of genres, enter Ann Patchett. I love her nonfiction writing, definitely more than her fiction, but that’s a hot take. This book is a blend of literature and memoir. It uniquely speaks to all the roles she plays in her life—daughter, friend, writer, wife. I loved reading about her relationship to her father, specifically.
3. L’Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making Paris my Home by David Lebovitz It feels like this book is a result of an algorithm of my ideal memoir. David Lebovitz is such a delight to read. His adventures as an expat are always charming, even in their darkest hour. I’ve never made a recipe of his, but plan to test one out at an upcoming dinner party.
4. Selected Poems by Mary Ruefle Mary Ruefle is a Bennington graduate and a total obsession of mine, as of late. I read My Private Property a few years ago, loved it, and seemed to have left it there. Her poetry has reinvigorated my adoration. I recently read her book of essays, too.
5. The Miracles by Amy Lemmon Professor Lemmon was one of my English professors at FIT (Go tigers.) She has been so generous and helpful in my journey to getting my MFA. I couldn’t wait to start her new book of poetry, so I ripped it out of its package and started it on the bus home from work. The book has a strong narrative flow to it, making it easy to lose oneself in. I found it to be brilliant and I feel lucky to count her as a mentor.
6. Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik Another memoir set in Paris. I won’t admit I have a problem, yet. This was an entirely different speed than the food memoirs I devour at lightning speed. I picked up the book at a church book sale with my mom in Park Slope and forgot about it for months. As soon as I started, I wondered what kept me from this book for so long. Gopnik is a nonfiction master. I especially loved the essay on the pool at the Rtiz. It was also interesting to read about life in Paris through the lens of parenthood. It gave a sort of a grounding effect.
7. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou The Elizabeth Holmes/Theranos pop culture moment underfoot is very much up my alley. I love a signature outfit (black turtleneck: check), some drama in the romance department (Hi, Sunny), and an iconic voice. I consumed most of the other media on the scandal before reading the book, but sort of wish I did it in reverse. The book is so well written, especially toward the end.
8. Bad Marie by Marcy Dermansky Nanny thrillers are a very specific genre, to begin with. Being a sitter myself, sometimes they can read a little too creepy, but when Ruby stuck this in my hands, I trusted her like I do with everything. And Ruby Smith is never wrong. I read the book in a fever dream of one night. It’s sexy and fast-paced and absolutely terrifying, but in a good way.