I had the privilege of being raised by a mother who didn’t see literacy as just a way to get by, or as a stepping stone to academic and occupational success. Reading was (and still is) essential to her existence — similar to breathing air or drinking water. And it’s because of this literary dependency that books became naturally weaved into the story of my sister’s and my youth.
The novelty of reading never seemed to wear; it continued beyond the confines of elementary, middle, and high school and well past our times living at home. At twenty-four, I’m still sure to carve time out of my day to open up a book and escape for a little. And with the help of my literature-loving mother, I am at no shortage of having great things to read.
Here are my top reads for the first half of 2017:
- The Girls by Emma Cline — Okay yes, this is from last year. But it’s just SO. GOOD. I couldn’t not include it in this list. And with the recent rise in popularity of all things true crime, this novel is as relevant as ever. You’ll love it if you can’t stop Googling about the infamous Manson Family Murders (which, by the way, are being developed into a film by Quentin Tarantino), or if you were ever ravaged by adolescence and yearned for any experience that stopped you from feeling small and forgettable (I think we can all relate). Not to mention, it’s beautifully written.
- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid — It was named as one of Glamour Magazine’s Best Books to Read in 2017 and rightfully so. You’ll love it if you can’t get enough of Hollywood’s Golden Age and the glamour associated with it, or are inspired by a story of bad-ass females taking risks but no prisoners to get what they want. Jenkins Reid knows how to keep the pages turning.
- The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder — Ginder was apparently inspired to write this after attending a wedding where, on the ride home, he and a fellow attendee began to list off all the people they hated at the wedding. Frankly, this sounds more magnificent than malicious. This novel follows a less-than-perfect family as they deal with their seemingly lousy lives separate from one another, all leading up to the moment they briefly reunite for a ritzy wedding overseas in London. You’ll laugh. You’ll cringe. You won’t be able to put it down.
- All Grown Up by Jamie Attenberg — I’ll be honest . . . It took until a few days after closing the book to really appreciate what I had just read. It’s a little depressing and at some instances a little galling. But it painfully and accurately reflects what a lot of us go through as we grow up, and I’m sure many can relate to the imperfect life portrayed in the book. The protagonist is her own biggest enemy. But that doesn’t stop anyone around her from becoming some type of enemy too. If you aren’t exactly where you imagined you would be today, or if being single seems to be the only thing that people notice about you, this is your girl. Attenberg nails this irritable rage in an approachable and decently quick read.
There are quite a few more that are sitting new and unopened on my bookshelf, like The Idiot by Elif Batuman and The Fates and the Furies by Lauren Groff. And as 2017 saunters forward, hopefully a new slew of novels will make their debut. Until then, I’m sure mom will have a few more reading recommendations to send my way.