Delaney's Favorite Read of 2019
Kate's Favorite Essay Collection of 2019
This collection of essays by New Yorker staff writer and cultural critic Jia Tolentino is, perhaps, one of the best contemporary essay collections I've ever read— and one I already feel sure I'll revisit continually. While these essays are wide-ranging in scope, each similarly seeks to examine the reverberations of modern-day life: the conveniences we rely upon, the technology we pour ourselves into, the cultural tropes we don like group-think masks. Reading this collection felt like watching Tolentino build a scaffolding for thoughts I didn't know I had, only to watch these same structures topple under the weight of her unflagging capacity for examining the boundaries of her own complicity. As Tolentino notes in the Introduction: "I wanted to see the way I would see in a mirror. It's possible I painted an elaborate mural instead." — Katie
Kate's Favorite Memoir of 2019
Molly’s Game was a thrilling recollection of one woman’s rise to the top of the largest poker game in the world. Molly Bloom exposes the glamour, glitz, and greed of the gambling scene from LA to NYC. With unforgettable characters and an unbelievably true story, Molly’s Game had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. A stunning, five-star memoir. —Kate
Katie's Favorite Non-Fiction Read of 2019
If you've read Her Body and Other Parties, you're already aware of Carmen Maria Machado's particular ability to turn the familiar inside out. In the Dream House is no exception: it is at once a memoir, a portrayal of an abusive relationship, and a recalibration of a literary canon founded upon silence, upon marginalization of stories of queerness and queer domestic abuse. Through a series of linked fragments, Machado builds a foundation, here, for a new archive—and she does so in prose that is characteristically dazzling, sharp, haunting. As she writes in the Prologue: "I speak into the silence. I toss the stone of my story into a vast crevice; measure the emptiness by its small sound." —Katie
Katie's Favorite Fiction Read of 2019
I do not know if it is possible to like Clarice Lispector, simply and without fear. But I do know that it is possible to read a single Lispector sentence and find yourself tangled up inside of it for what you know, immediately and inexplicably, will be the rest of your literate life. I could try to explain the way that Clarice reassembles familiar components of language to create something at once recognizable and arrestingly off-kilter, or the way that all of her characters seem poised on the precipice of becoming undone by the simple fact of their own existence, but I don't know that any of these descriptions come particularly close to capturing the way that it feels to read (and I could choose any sentence, here, any fragment my finger landed upon in these six-hundred-plus pages): "...And as if it were a butterfly, Ana caught the instant between her fingers before it was never hers again."
Katrina's Favorite Read of 2019
Mariel's Favorite Humor Memoir Read of 2019
Rikki's Favorite Fiction Read of 2019
These stories start in a familiar, concrete place and then snake imperceptibly into the fantastic. Were you the weird kid at your small high school? Have you ever watched a police standoff in your trailer park? Ever had a supernatural experience while on hallucinogens? This book is for you, and when you begin to read, you’ll feel like it was written JUST for you.
Mariel's Favorite Beach Read of 2019
Reading Crazy Rich Asians is like eating chocolate cake... it's intense, it's delicious, it's crazy rich.
Rikki's Favorite Non-Fiction Read of 2019
Probably the best history of punk music I've ever read, re-establishing the lost trail of women in punk that were so important to several different genres. Goldman has a unique ability to accurately and compellingly describe the sound of songs.
Melissa's Favorite Science Fiction Read of 2019
Melissa's Favorite Fantasy Read of 2019
Morgan's Favorite Non-Fiction Read of 2019
State is an excellent work of women's history, sports journalism, and personal memoir. By its end, you will be convinced that basketball is everything. For Melissa Isaacson and her fellow high school teammates in the 1970s, basketball means the difference between living as a hapless "tomboy" and someone strong: an Athlete. Isaacson will make you feel the power of this distinction. A love-letter to team sports, while about so much more than "just" sports, I cried about seventeen times.
Morgan's Favorite Fiction Read of 2019
Mitsuki Katsura is the self-proclaimed "offspring of a serial novel," and quite the fairy tale heroine for our day -- when money is more desired than Prince Charming. Inheritance from Mother is a measured and meditative study of the relationship between Mitsuki and her "outrageous" mother, Mitsuki and her "pampered" sister, Mitsuki and her "philandering" husband ... oh yes, and the relationship between Romance & Reality, East and West, the Old World and the New....
Well, gee. Who knew one woman's life could contain such incredible depth?
With its intricate plot, patient storytelling, and clever admixture of literary allusion, Inheritance from Mother, originally serialized in a Japanese newspaper in 2010, is a friggin masterpiece, and certainly up there with my favorite books of all time.
Parke's Favorite Non-Fiction Read of 2019
"These weren't my lungs, really, these weren't my ugly gasps. It was as though they were being expelled from me. Vomited up. Like I was simply a vessel for someone else's life.
I don't know how else to explain it."
In this slim collection of personal essays, an introspective analysis of a woman's life lived in a world shaped under the male gaze meets a breakdown of consciousness, conscience, illness, and power. Guided between topics by crushingly frank language bordering on sublime, Boutsikaris' lived experience overcomes the reader in a tidal wave.
Parke's Favorite Fiction Read of 2019
Machine, Susan Steinberg's first novel, is told from the point of view of an adolescent woman that witnesses the "accidental" death of a stranger while on vacation. The haunting survivor's guilt of this incident is suffused throughout the book. With most chapters taking the form of long sentence fragments and unconventional punctuation, Steinberg's singular voice leaves it to the reader to decipher the truth of the stranger's death. A novel unlike any other.