“I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library,” Jane Austen once said. And while we acknowledge that our Netflix queue is now of nearly equal priority, there is still truth to this statement. Books remain the best (and most affordable) places within which to escape, and for this reason, they are of the utmost importance to us, especially in times when our news feeds would have us believe the sky is falling. Here, nine of our favorite books released this year, all of which provide a nice relief from whatever is weighing you down.
A Few Of Our Favorite Reads So Far This Year
South and West: From a Notebook by Joan Didion
If someone's offering us a glimpse into the notebooks of one of our favorite authors, we're going to take them up on it. This journal covers a road trip Didion took with her husband in 1970 as well as fascinating notes on writing assignments involving topics such as the Patty Hearst trial.
Meet Me In The Bathroom by Lizzie Goodman
Rock journalist Lizzie Goodman records an oral history of the Strokes-led New York City music scene from 2001 to 2011 in this intimate portrait of what she calls the rebirth of rock and roll.
The Rules Do Not Apply: A Memoir by Ariel Levy
Ariel Levy is a writer for The New Yorker who tells of her experiences as a woman who thought she had it all, until everything was taken from her in a traumatic fashion. It's a must-read for any woman living her life on the edge.
We Are Never Meeting In Real Life by Samantha Irby
Samantha Irby is a woman after our own heart—a lovable curmudgeon with the sharpest of wits. If you're not familiar with her work and aren't sure you're ready to commit to the book yet, check out her blog Bitches Gotta Eat or her first book of essays, Meaty, which Jessi Klein (Inside Amy Schumer) and Abbi Jacobson (Broad City) are currently adapting for TV.
Marlena: A Novel by Julie Buntin
Pretty much everyone agrees that this is a stunning debut for author Julie Buntin. New York Times reviewer Deborah Shapiro commented, "This generous, sensitive novel of true feeling is at its most moving when it sweeps you up without too much explication, becoming both a painful exorcism and a devoted memorial to friends and selves who are gone." That should give you a sense of what you're getting into with this heartbreaking BFF drama.
The Answers: A Novel by Catherine Lacey
The NYT describes The Answers as being "about the neurobiology of love." The book centers around a young woman, hired to the be the "emotional girlfriend" in a stranger's harem experiment, who believes love “warps a person from the inside, changes all the locks and loses all the keys.”
Priestdaddy: A Memoir by Patricia Lockwood
This is the story of author Patricia Lockwood's father, who decides to becomes a priest after watching The Exorcist from aboard a nuclear submarine while serving in the Navy. This is the same man who later tells her, when she has her first poem published in The New Yorker, that this achievement was “part of The New Yorker’s mission to abolish age-of-consent laws," so, as you can imagine, this father-and-daughter duo could not exactly be described as "two peas in a pod."
Here, what happens when an ordinary couple decides to try out an open marriage. (Spoiler alert: Sh*t gets messy!)
A Separation by Katie Kitamura
In this mystery novel, a woman goes to Greece to track down her estranged husband, who's gone missing. It's anything but airport fluff, however, as evidenced by this arresting sentence, "Wife and husband and marriage are only words that conceal much more unstable realities, more turbulent than perhaps can be contained in a handful of syllables, or any amount of writing."