1. The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani While "thriller" isn't exactly my top genre, "stories about nannies" is up there. I think years in the role make it incredibly fascinating to read about. Anyway, this book is a sort of sophisticated Gone Girl. Silimani writes with a deep sense of nuance, suspending the reader for the whole book. It's short-ish, very engaging, and perhaps the perfect beach read? I know it's in the arduous process of becoming a film, which I'm very excited by. This podcast with the author is a great place to start before reading.
2. Dakota by Kathleen Norris This book was a recommendation from my beloved Aunt Shell, who seems to drop subtle recommendations at the exact moment I need them. Books with that feature place as a prominent character are my favorite. Growing up in Iowa, place influenced so much of my becoming. It's a theme I'll always look for in stories. Dakota asks questions about how geography shapes us, urges us, and becomes our own way of being. Norris walks the line between memoir and poetry beautifully. A stunning tribute to the place I was born, Dakota has become one of those benchmark books for me-the kind that marks a season of life from where it sits on the shelf.
3. Something Bright, Then Holes: Poems by Maggie Nelson If you know me, you know my obsession with Maggie Nelson is unhealthy. I've purchased nine copies of her book Bluets in the past year and a half. Yikes, I wish that was an exaggeration. There's always the fear that any other book by the author won't live up to one's first foray, but all that was cast aside in this book. Driven by an in-depth exploration of the Gowanus Canal, in classic Nelson style, this collection is about so much more than a murky body of water a mile from where I live in Park Slope. It's about life in the city, life in the world, and life as a person toeing the line between freedom and a longing to be known. Shocking, life-giving, and nearly perfect.
4. Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren This book was the inaugural pick of the book me and my mom just started. On non fiction, one fiction, and a massive reap conversation after they're both finished. The pressure was on to find the perfect first book for both of us, but Liturgy of the Ordinary came pretty close. Each chapter speaks to a different area of everyday life that's begging to be seen as redeemed, made new, and transformed.
5. When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams Ah the beauty of the staff picks section at Greenlight Bookstore. I picked up this little book on Memorial Day and tucked it under my stack of books to be read. The book hinges on a daughter's discovery of her deceased mother's journals. From there, it spreads into religion, feminism, nature, and the massive question of what having a voice means, in this life and the next. My obsession with journals and the truth they hold only expanded my love for this book.
6. White Tears: A Novel by Hari Kunzru This was the other half of June's book club pick. I had seen a few people reading it on the train and ordered it for us on a whim. Somewhere between Lincoln and the Bardo and my favorite Nat King Cole vinyl, this book exists. The story continually amplified, starting at a drifting pace and ending in full acceleration. The themes of voices, appropriation, and privilege are all pried open by the universal language of music. Haunting, in more ways than one, and poignant.
7. How Should A Person Be? by Sheila Heti Still trying to sort out a proper response to this book. Mostly it felt like a punch in the gut. Mostly I read it in turns with a gaping mouth and swelling eyes on the F train. And then downloaded every podcast with Sheila Heti I could get my hands on. To describe this book feels wrong; it's that odd. Of course, I mean odd in the most exciting, unprecedented way, but deeply odd, still. The book follows a recently divorced playwright as she asks massive questions about how to live and indulges in the tiny, everyday moments that shape life along the way.