7 Books to Prepare for the 2017 Inauguration

I'm still with her.

Like most rough + slightly unfathomable things in my life, I have turned to books to search for words that can better articulate how I'm feelin' when I'm feelin' blue. If I kept a journal, the day the world found out that Hillary Clinton would not be our President, would be littered with weird experiences that solidified why I love living in NYC; you could feel everyone uniting in shock (even on the cold Subways) and the city was dark. 

Alas, if you are looking to crush through a few reads to get you through until Friday when someone else is sworn into the White House, or some reads to get you through the next four years, here are a few that I highly recommend.


1. Hillybilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Let's start here. The NY Times reviewed this as 'how to understand Trump's Nation,' and while that's a bold statement, if you truly are having a rough time walking in the shoes of others, this is a fantastic memoir/social study of poverty in white America. Vance retells his upbringing in the Appalachian Mountains through a fairly dysfunctional family, while articulating both the good + bad sides of the great debate on lower middle class + their struggle to make it in America. 

2. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee 

Not because Obama mentioned Atticus Finch in his farewell speech + not because it's the grown-up story of Scout + not because 50+ years later, To Kill a Mockingbird still highlights most of our countries social flaws, but because I think it's a really important book. Scout idolized her father, leaves for a bigger life, + comes home to realize that the ideologies + roots to where you were raised are completely complex. I identified with Scout on almost every single page of this book + if you come from Republican roots + have silently sat around a room with people you love in shock, while wholeheartedly disagreeing with their social or politic beliefs, and have been so confused how you departed from the same outlook, then yeah, read this. 

3. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cherly Strayed 

This book has nothing to do with politics and for that alone, I suggest it. It's a unique + beautiful 'advice column' that you can identify with each person, on each page. It's a good reminder that we are all aren't so different and that compassion + empathy can go pretty far. 

4. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates 

Required reading. I highlighted over 20 passages of this book + should probably go back for a re-read to appreciate it once more. I will never know what is like to be raised in America without the privilege of being white, but Between the World and Me shocked, embarrassed, and schooled me on the world outside my own. (Coates narrates the audiobook and has a fantastic voice. Maybe start there.)


“You must resist the common urge toward the comforting narrative of divine law, toward fairy tales that imply some irrepressible justice. The enslaved were not bricks in your road, and their lives were not chapters in your redemptive history. They were people turned to fuel for the American machine. Enslavement was not destined to end, and it is wrong to claim our present circumstance—no matter how improved—as the redemption for the lives of people who never asked for the posthumous, untouchable glory of dying for their children. Our triumphs can never compensate for this.” 
― Ta-Nehisi CoatesBetween the World and Me


5. What is the What by Dave Eggers

I have posted about this book many times, but its critical in understanding just how privileged America is. It whipped me out of most of my trivial + petty complaints while reading it, but also challenged how proud we are in stating that America is the 'land of the free.' It is a simply beautiful book. 

6. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

This book shed light on American immigration and the struggle to just simply survive, in a way that I hadn't read yet. I have written about it on this blog before + it was a top rated 2016 book, but it has impeccable timing + is definitely worth the read. The juxtaposition of my own 'struggle' of NYC living compared to this incredibly hardworking + optimistic family was a refreshing wake up call of privilege, and ironically, it was the book I was reading when Trump won America. 

7. The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood

Because this is a disturbing dystopian fiction that I fear will become our fate, it was almost too difficult to swallow. How far off from our future is it? 


I would like to note however, that if we differ or disagree, what has lead you to your beliefs has validity if you have arrived at them on your own. The above books really spoke to me when I felt lost in trying to articulate my frustration with not being able to communicate with those that are on the opposite side of opinions, or simply being able to explain my own thoughts/feelings. And that's the point of reading, right?  ;)

A Year in Review of Reading in 2016

The past 365 days have been flooded with fantastic reads + an even longer list than the previous years of finished books. I love sharing my admiration for reads + sharing/suggestions with friends almost as much as I love rushing through these books! Some major bookish milestones this year range from sticking to a fantastic bookclub with my work buddies (discovered new favorite reads!) + spending 6 solo days in Copenhagen reading + wandering bookstores. Almost every Saturday morning of the year I spent reading + drinking coffee in bed, wrapping up the book of the week to properly launch the weekend, and despite 2016's waves of highs + lows, reading (as always) has been the one constant saving grace that I am so thankful for! All ten of the below are absolute must-reads to anyones list, as it's a range of topic, style, publication year, and more! I seriously could not get enough of all ten. 


 

** Add me on Goodreads to see all my current reads or follow my reading life along on Instagram.  Leave a comment with your favorite reads of 2016 too- my list is never long enough! 

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

If you visit any bookish corner of the internet, Sweetbitter has likely been slapping you across the face all year with an impossible mission to avoid seeing its striking cover around every turn, and for good reason.The story follows a hungry Manhattan dreamer in her first year living in the city while working (and getting wrapped up in) a trendy restaurant near Union Square.  It's witty, unique, and a truly satisfying portrayal of NYC livin' in your 20s. The narrative weaves around complex relationships that are all too familiar, sprinkled with food + wine tellings that made it stand alone. 


“It’s an epidemic with women your age. A gross disparity between the way that they speak and the quality of thoughts that they’re having about the world. They are taught to express themselves in slang, in clichés, sarcasm—all of which is weak language. The superficiality of the language colors the experiences, rendering them disposable instead of assimilated. And then to top it all, you call yourselves ‘girls.’ ” 
― Stephanie Danler, Sweetbitter


I have been on a huge audiobook kick lately (HI AUDIBLE!) and am buzzing through fantastic reads with even better narrators, such as this one. If you are looking to start with audiobooks, or have been listening to non-fiction and want to plunge over, this is a fantastic start. Read by Alex McKenna with a beautiful raspy voice, it totally brought the story to life and I could not stop listening/put it down. There are about 10 characters in the book around 2-3 locations, so it's not difficult to follow and the alternate character voices aren't annoying, which typically turns people off to books-by-tape. 


Below are 5 of my favorite audiobooks this year I cannot get enough of + highly suggest, in order, from top to bottom (after Sweetbitter), in which I first suggest listening to a sampling to see if you can spend 8-10 with the voice, which is crucial: 

1. All of the Harry Potter books, obviously (fantastic for every single moment in life, but escpecially calming and comforting.) 

2. Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman (OMG, read by Reese Witherspoon, insanely fantastic. Do not listen to what ANYONE says about this book, just read it yourself.) 

3. A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold, read by the author (This is incredibly heavy but so beautiful and fascinating. The mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine shooters, writes a heartbreaking narrative that actually covers so many topics.) 

4. Yes Please by Amy Poehler, read by the author (so good, so funny, so sweet, and has great guest appearances by all your favorites) 

5. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (unexpectedly sweet, a perfect winter listen when cooking all your comfort foods, not that it has anything to do with cooking, but its a great pair)


**Note: since my review on Sweetbitter was captured via audiobook, the 4 photos posted are from instagrams I love: @cassij_, @lastnightsreading, @thenextdoorgirl @smdanler. Instagram is my favorite source for all bookish reviews + discoveries! Thanks for sharing!

Behold the Silent Vegetarian; My Last 10 Reads

This is my second 'catch-up' post of 2016, as I type with my head held low, but since my last post I have consumed 10 (for the most part) fantastic reads that I want to bust through all at once. What a beautiful problem to have; reading too quickly for my hobby-blog to maintain. If you are a GoodReads-Annual-Goal-Obsessor like me, you will know the stress of the final 8 weeks of any year you are trying to reach your reading goal (I am currently on 42/50!) and the ambition of your New Years dreams start dwindling down to reality. Alas, the last 10 reads (in order of date read, not favorite) of 2016 + quick thoughts on each. 


No 1. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Giaman

This was technically mostly on audiobook (is this the right platform to debate if that counts as reading or not?) but was super quick, entertaining, and a sweet story. It's narrated by Mr. Gaiman himself- fortunately he has a fantastic voice. The tale follows a young boy growing up with a wild imagination who encounters a neighborhood girl who doesn't age, adventure awaits. 

No 2. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

There is a mass amount of hype around this book right now, and considering it just won the National Book Award for Fiction, I am going to shy away from oversharing my opinion and review of it. I enjoyed it, but wasn't moved + touched as much as apparently the rest of every single person who has read it was. The characters were beautifully developed and the plot moved in a fascinating way, but I didn't miss it when I was done. (Sorry! Trust me, I feel terrible for not loving it more, but it skipped over me.) 

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No. 3 The Silent Wife by A. S. A. Harrison

Doy! I read this in 48 hours and while I don't think I would gift it to anyone with a large stamp that says READ THIS!!!!- I still really enjoyed it. A great murder mystery with deception and secrets always drags me in. It was to the point, entertaining, and a generally great October read. If you are riding the train of 'The Next Gone Girl!' you actually will like this one. 

No. 4 The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

I read (audiobook, again) this with my work (FRIENDS, REALLY) bookclub and it was fantastic. Amy is hilarious, her memoirs are so raw + ridiculous, and I genuinly really enjoyed it. She narrates the audiobook and I highly suggest it. **Side note** The week after I finished it, I saw her perform at Madison Square Garden and it was the perfect bookish/comedy timing and moment. 

No. 5 Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling

OMG everyone that is hating on this- please stop. It took three hours to consume, it pulled in all Hogwarts narration into an odd screenplay with a twist on characters, and it is such a treat to have more about the wizarding world grace our presence. I loved it. But I WILL say that I was annoyed with it being so beefy from a physical standpoint- to carry around a screenplay that could have been 50 pages paperback but was instead 200+ hardback was unnecessary, but obviously would gladly throw some dollars at J.K. Rowling.

No. 6 The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson

I had never even heard of this book (and actually, a few months later + I still haven't met anyone else who has read it yet, either) but got it on Kindle on a whim and am glad I did. It is a fantastic and creepy thriller with some Stockholm Syndrome shit with complex villain action going on. I couldn't put it down and it was unlike most of its kind. If you are looking to be creeped out to the point of not having nightmares but are slightly uncomfortable, this is for you! 

No. 7 All the Missing Girls by Miranda Megan

This is also part of 'The Next Gone Girl!' phenomenon and unfortunately, fell short for me. A murder 20+ years ago is told backwards in present day, which was interesting and unique, but seemed fairly obvious to me and was lacking build-up. Harsh, I know, but probably the roughest to get through on this list. 

No. 8 A Wide Window by Lemony Snicket

I am not going to defend myself here, but let me say one thing: Lemony Snicket is one of the wittiest authors around and this is my attempt at screaming it from the mountain top. Netflix is making an original series based on this series, Series of Unfortunate Events, releasing in February of 2017 + I gotta get through em' all before then. 3/12 down, can't wait for the rest! I love following these three siblings through ridiculous scenarios. and I just heard that Tim Curry narrates the audiobooks- DREAMY! 

No. 9 Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

This was one of my Book of the Month picks that I dove into a few months late (my TBR is piling up more now than ever!) and I will forever remember it because it was the book I was reading during the election and it happens to also be based around immigrants living in NYC, right before Obama was first elected. It's a fantastic read; well developed, unique, interesting, and has wonderfully complex characters. Feeling blue after the election? This is a great pick-me-up. 

No. 10 The Vegetarian by Han Kang

I picked this one up about a year ago right when it came out, with strong intent of reading it right away, so when I finally got to it a solid 12 months later- I was stoked that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I could not put it down and finished it before the second day closed, taking longer Subway routes to get more reading time. It was unconventional and a bit haunting- which has been difficult to describe when I keep trying to pass it on as a suggestion to others, but it was fantastic! The story follows a woman who starts having haunting dreams about meat and quickly becomes a vegetarian, then her life starts to get even more odd. 


I wont let my last 10 books of the year pile up, but I got goals to finish! If you are on GoodReads, let's be friends! 

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

I average about one-of-every-six books as an 'ultimate favorite', so it gets harder as the year presses on to determine my top ten, but I can speak early in confidence that All The Ugly and Wonderful Things is one of my favorites of 2016. Its eerie, completely unique, and hauntingly fascinating. It has been difficult to explain to others as it crosses between a few genres but doesn't necessarily stand along in any as it follows a mystery and very unorthodox relationship that sounds icky but is painted so obviously it feels normal or ordinary. 

From GoodreadsAs the daughter of a meth dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. Struggling to raise her little brother, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible "adult" around. She finds peace in the starry Kansas night sky above the fields behind her house. One night everything changes when she witnesses one of her father's thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold, wreck his motorcycle. What follows is a powerful and shocking love story between two unlikely people that asks tough questions, reminding us of all the ugly and wonderful things that life has to offer. 

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It took me a solid 36 hours to read this (forced to work and sleep, what a shame) and I truly rushed home to gulp it up when I wasn't reading it (or didn't mind taking the subway so I could get more reading in). Instantly after, I stalked the author and every review I could find on it and was shocked it isn't more well know (similar to The Truth of the Harry Quebert Affair- hi!) but I feel it will gain fall traction as its a perfect seasonal read. Thank you BOTM club for picking this or I would have never discovered it, worth every penny! 

100% book hangover. Stop reading about it, and just read it. Trust me.

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

The most recent novel by the beloved Jeffrey Eugenides (author of Middlesex + Virgin Suicides) (recent meaning, 2011- come on Eugenides!) has been sitting on my shelf for a few years, and I finally took it down from its dusty place holder back in September. It follows three post-college-grads through a triangle relationship and perfectly articulates that sticky feeling that is forever looming- 'what am I doing with my life?' with dashes of unrequited love (my favorite!), neurotic family members (another favorite!) and beautiful metaphors on depression and love/admiration.


From goodreads.comIt’s the early 1980s. In American colleges, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels. As Madeleine studies the age-old motivations of the human heart, real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes. Leonard Bankhead - charismatic loner and college Darwinist - suddenly turns up in a seminar, and soon Madeleine finds herself in a highly charged erotic and intellectual relationship with him. At the same time, her old friend Mitchell Grammaticus - who’s been reading Christian mysticism and generally acting strange - resurfaces, obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is destined to be his mate.

Over the next year, as the members of the triangle in this spellbinding novel graduate from college and enter the real world, events force them to reevaluate everything they have learned. Leonard and Madeleine move to a biology laboratory on Cape Cod, but can’t escape the secret responsible for Leonard’s seemingly inexhaustible energy and plunging moods. And Mitchell, traveling around the world to get Madeleine out of his mind, finds himself face-to-face with ultimate questions about the meaning of life, the existence of God, and the true nature of love.

Are the great love stories of the nineteenth century dead? Or can there be a new story, written for today and alive to the realities of feminism, sexual freedom, prenups, and divorce? With devastating wit and an abiding understanding of and affection for his characters, Jeffrey Eugenides revives the motivating energies of the novel, while creating a story so contemporary and fresh that it reads like the intimate journal of our own lives.


“Depression is like a bruise that never goes away. A bruise in your mind. You just got to be careful not to touch it where it hurts. It's always there, though.” 
― Jeffrey EugenidesThe Marriage Plot


Despite popular opinion (based on 4/5 people that I know who have read The Marriage Plot), I actually really enjoyed it. My favorite types of books mirror this style; alternate perspectives of the same relationship(s). My main debate is that if you head into this expecting it to be Middlesex, you will be surely disappointed, but you are missing out if that is what stops you from swallowing it up. This story totally stands alone + probably would have been more well-known if Eugenides wrote it under a pen name. If you loved Fates and Furies (LIKE ME!), then pick up this book next. It takes a bit to get into, buts really good. 

Side note: this book takes the cake for best international cover editions. Google it!  

The Girls by Emma Cline

The Girls was truly the Summer Buzz Book, so I was pretty stoked when it was my book club's August pick. The main indicator in how much I love a book is how quickly I gulp it up, and this one went pretty high on the charts- a whopping 36 hours from start to finish- so it earned stamp of approval. Its witty + quick, covers a different perspective from a fascinating crime, and was relatable enough to keep me speeding through it. 

From goodreads.com: Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.


“That was part of being a girl--you were resigned to whatever feedback you'd get. If you got mad, you were crazy, and if you didn't react, you were a bitch. The only thing you could do was smile from the corner they'd backed you into. Implicate yourself in the joke even if the joke was always on you.” 
― Emma ClineThe Girls


I luhvvvvved this book and it articulated so many main points so perfectly; California living, teenage friendships, unrequited lovers too young, so on. I felt like I was reading Don Drapers daughter's journal of sorts- so many times I imagined the sets of Mad Men in the scenes, the characters moving through the Bay Area as if their families were at home in NYC (or LA!) on set for show about the men of advertising.

Growing up in California, the Manson Murders and stories have lived on through conversations of wonder and fascination (HI TRUE CRIME WEIRDNESS)!, so the perspective of the females of the cult instead of the Charles-like character was so smart and felt new. Add this to the top of your to-read lists, it's pretty great! 

The Summer Reading List, or Not

Summer has been an odd season for me this year, but possibly (most likely) due to the fact that I have been in a reading slump (but to be more specific, a post-A Little Life heartache) and have been struggling to fall hard for some fiction. I am a big believer in reading a book at the right time, which requires me to own too many unread books so that when its time to pick a new one, the options aren't limited. But for the past few months I couldn't get it right- which slowed down my interest + pacing and ultimately, made my love for reading feel like a chore. 

*Mic check- does this ever happen to anyone else? 

I trekked the same books that I just couldn't get through (ex: The Corrections- I promise one day I will make it back to you) across country and on sandy beaches, and although I was only 50 pages deep, it looked as though I had read a few of the titles over and over from their wear. I was scared I was losing my love for stories all together- when would I ever find a book to run home to again? 

With all the melancholy drama aside, I pulled a list of the 4 books I plowed through this summer that I actually recommend for different reasons, starting with the book that pulled me out of my dreadful reading slump.  This is not 'the ultimate summer book guide' because those lists are bologna (how can you state that if you haven't read EVERYTHING, ever, first?) but a list of books that I  liked this summer- and if the stars align, you'll pick one of em up and like it too. 

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Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

From goodreads.com“Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.” 

This was the book that actually broke my slump streak (woooo!) and came out of nowhere. I read early editions (ARCs) on netgalley.com sometimes, but the caveat is: to get access to better books, you typically have to read + review more books. So, when I finally finished Before The Fall, I turned to a book that was in my archive in an attempt to tackle it like a to-do list. Ironically, I also joined Book of the Month Club this summer, but because I was uninspired by a chunk of the reads, I skipped the August selection, only to realize that Dark Matter was one of the picks!   

Anyways, I really loved this book and I can't stop thinking about it. It dives into alternate realities and all the 'what ifs' of life, hovers between sci-fi and family fiction, and moves super fast. Its a fantastic summer (and fall! and all-the-time!) read, I swallowed it whole in less than a full two days. If you loved The Martian + Station Eleven, you would/most likely will love this! It just released within the last month, so I have a feeling it will haunt bookshelves for Fall. Hop on the cool train early, thank me later. 

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

From goodreads.comOn a foggy summer night, eleven people—ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter—depart Martha's Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs—the painter—and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul's family. 

It took me a solid two months to read this for some reason, and while I have seen the hype of it almost everywhere I turn, my opinions of it are somewhere in the middle. It was fun to read once I actually got into it (not that it takes a while, I think it was just me) and I loved the different perspectives of the narrators, but it didn't feel like a fast thriller to me, which is how it is often described. Plane crashes, mystery, death, money + inheritance, affairs, oh my! 

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

From goodreads.com: On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto "No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World." A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means. A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

I will make this easy: if you are a book lover, read this book. I read it in one night, it was so sweet and cute and simple and the perfect break between something heavy. I wish it was longer. 

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

From goodreads.comNora hasn't seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back. Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her? But something goes wrong. Very wrong.

I loooooove a good, trashy, quick thriller and am stoked that our bookstands are oversaturated with offering the 'next big thing.' Ruth Ware is hot on this scene, and while In a Dark, Dark Wood definitely isn't as smart as Gone Girl, it was still pretty entertaining and weird. I read it pretty quickly too; its easy to plow through, your mind can wander off for a few pages without missing much, but it still won't keep you up at night (but in the same turn, you'll probably forget about it shortly after you read it.) Worth your time if you like the cross between Gossip Girl and Law and Order. 

People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry

WOW this is such a haunting book, but made more terrifying knowing it's a true crime novel. People Who Eat Darkness was my bookclub's May pick (I am lagging on posting- yikes) and it had actually been sitting on my bookshelf for six months, waiting to be read! The best! I am not unique by hopping on the train of fascination around true crime addictions (who else watched Making A Murdered in one sitting?) but this is essentially the Tokyo version of that- on crack. I shlepped it around NYC for a few weeks hoping that someone on the subway would stop me and say 'OMG- YES' and then we would run and get ramen and compare it to Serial or The Jinx, but it sadly didn't happen- and thats okay. 

From Goodreads.com: An incisive and compelling account of the case of Lucie Blackman. Lucie Blackman - tall, blonde, and 21 years old - stepped out into the vastness of Tokyo in the summer of 2000, and disappeared forever. The following winter, her dismembered remains were found buried in a seaside cave. 

The seven months in between had seen a massive search for the missing girl, involving Japanese policemen, British private detectives, Australian dowsers and Lucie's desperate, but bitterly divided, parents. As the case unfolded, it drew the attention of prime ministers and sado-masochists, ambassadors and con-men, and reporters from across the world. Had Lucie been abducted by a religious cult, or snatched by human traffickers? Who was the mysterious man she had gone to meet? And what did her work, as a 'hostess' in the notorious Roppongi district of Tokyo, really involve?

I hated so much of the first two-hundred pages of the book, mainly because all the key players felt genuinely twisted and deceitful to me. It is often compared to the 'next In Cold Blood,' which is a long stretch, but the difference with most true crime novels compared to People Who Eat Darkness is that, generally speaking, the victim is typically portrayed as an angelic heroin left in the face of tragedy- but this story shone light on rather large flaws or hiccups- which was odd to read. Once I got over the part of comparing it to every other crime novel, I was pretty hooked. 

I ended up devouring the last 250 pages in a two-day sitting and thoroughly enjoyed it/highly recommend it to lovers of crime fiction/true crime enthusiast with excitement. It was fascinating and so well done, I left the book with such a new outlook on Tokyo (even if bias, but have such a different insight to the Japanese justice system) and crime writing in general. One of my favorite reads of 2016, highly suggest! 

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

DAMMIT, make it stop. I could write 10,000 words on how much this book went directly to the very fabric of my being, and still have another 100,000 words to keep going, but I will try to quickly condense it. If you have ever picked up a book, walked out of a theater, or heard a chilling line in a song and thought 'holy shit- someone finally explained all the deep crevices of complicated emotion that I thought I was isolated in' (dramatic much?) and are both parts in awe and terrified at how that can happen- then A Little Life is the largest form of that in the most unrelated but tragic and beautiful way possible. It echoes almost every type of relationship possible while depicting each scenario in such a unique and poignant way; college friendships, terrible lovers, caring parents, tragic parents, egotistical acquaintances, fate-feeling companions, the list goes on.   

From Goodreads.com: When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever. 


“Sometimes I felt that there was something physical connecting us, a long rope that stretched between Boston and Portland: when she tugged on her end, I felt it on mine. Wherever she went, wherever I went, there it would be, that shining twined string that stretched and pulled but never broke, our every movement reminding us of what we would never have again.” 
― Hanya Yanagihara



“Lately, he had been wondering if codependence was such a bad thing. He took pleasure in his friendships, and it didn’t hurt anyone, so who cared if it was codependent or not? And anyway, how was a friendship any more codependent than a relationship? Why was it admirable when you were twenty-seven but creepy when you were thirty-seven? Why wasn’t friendship as good as a relationship? Why wasn’t it even better? It was two people who remained together, day after day, bound not by sex or physical attraction or money or children or property, but only by the shared agreement to keep going, the mutual dedication to a union that could never be codified. Friendship was witnessing another’s slow drip of miseries, and long bouts of boredom, and occasional triumphs. It was feeling honored by the privilege of getting to be present for another person’s most dismal moments, and knowing that you could be dismal around him in return.” 
― Hanya Yanagihara


This was very easily the best book I have ever consumed and while I live in extremes of love and passion for many reads, A Little Life shames all the rest. No really, every single person should read this book- it's so perfectly constructed and I cannot believe it exists. It is the closest depiction of relationships and friends I have experienced, and a beautiful and harsh love letter to living in New York. With books of this size, you almost drown in the characters and typically- there are excerpts that you feel you could live without, but I never experienced the latter- only that I wanted it all to continue. 

Don't let the cover fool you (or do, because you will weep at some point) or the 600+ pages intimidate you (one should be so lucky they get to spend that much time with these characters) and dive in. I actually bought it hard covered and signed to start, then repurchased it via Kindle so I could take it with me on the go. It wasn't available in paperback in the winter when I got it- but it is now! On top of my (stronggggg) suggestion of reading it, I oddly suggest reading it via Kindle because its pretty beefy and I found that I gulped it up quicker when it was more transportable. Read it when you are looking for something beautiful to drown in and are wanting to take your time getting to know something- I can PROMISE that you will not regret it.