1. Apron Anxiety by Alyssa Shelasky After reading A Little Life, Ruby supplied me with the perfect palate cleanser of a food memoir. Usually, I prefer an exotic change of scenery in my memoirs, but New York and D.C. as a backdrop felt just right in this fun, easy to read telling. It wasn't earth shattering, the recipes weren't worthy of texting my mom a picture of, but it was a good reminder that reading can be as fun as you want it to be.
2. Eve's Hollywood by Eve Babitz Sometimes when discussing my love of Joan Didion, I'm met with a sense of overwhelming intimidation. Where to start? WIll I enjoy it? I understand considering the few failed attempts I had when I started reading her. That's how I felt about Eve Babitz. I picked up this book at Three Lives and started it on the train home. It felt instantly like Joan's younger, looser sister and I was hooked. LA makes the perfect backdrop to this essay collection, perfectly tailoring to my love of place in story. If you too find Didion to be a bit intimidating, start with Babitz.
3. A Loving, Faithful Animal by Josephine Rowe Reading contemporary fiction is something I've been aching to do more regularly. I wish I was more up to date on what's new instead of working through what feels like stacks and stacks of classics (a good problem to have, I suppose.) I love the structure of many of the recent novels I've read-short, fragmented, but also unafraid to incorporate larger ideas. This book was haunting and a new take on family driven plots.
4. The Sacred Enneagram by Christopher Heuertz For the personality type obsessed, testing out a new framework can feel terrifying. What if this system doesn't have a place for me? What if it reveals a part of my personality I've been avoiding? The Enneagram is unlike lots of other frameworks in that it is rooted in ancient tradition (ennea=nine and gram=point in Greek.) The test highlights your negative tendencies alongside your positives. But it doesn't leave you there. The entire framework is interconnected, with room for growth and space for grace. I'm a four, "The Individualist" with lots to learn about my need to be different and personal significance. The Road Back to You is next on my list.
5. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara Walk into any coffee shop in Brooklyn, board any F train into Manhattan, or listen in on any dinner conversation and A Little Life is everywhere. I bought the book over a year ago, putting off reading it partly because of the hype and partly because of its intimidating size. Fast forward to an evening with my friend Caroline where she practically begged me to start it. From that night, the next two weeks were clouded with trying to find time to fit in a few pages. I carried it to my doctor's appointment and to a dinner I knew I would be early to. The book isn't for everyone. It's been deemed "dark, unsettling, tragic" as well as "intense and painful." And it's all true. The novel traces the lives of four college roommates as they grow up, apart, and together in New York. Prepare to end in a mass of tears.