If you choose books like I choose my wine, then you know that the cover (or label) can sometimes be an uneven predictor of what’s inside. So for this gift-giving season, I’m going to help you with a taste of what’s inside. Today’s Edition: Women Writers.
- Have You Met Nora? by Nicole Blades is intense and passionate and painful and fun. As with Blades’ earlier novel, The Thunder Beneath Us, friendships play an important role as do “meant to be” romantic partnerships. The layers revealed about the characters and the fluctuating sympathy Blades’ demands we have for various characters ensures readers relate to the events, even if reluctantly. Struggles with identity, race, emerging secrets, and anxiety about the future all play major roles in this novel. In brief, HAVE YOU MET NORA? is a high pressure version of reality. NB: Child sexual abuse plays a role in flashbacks.
- For someone who enjoyed The Talented Mr. Ripley, admires Keyser Söze, and rejects Disney endings because they betray the original folktale endings. This novel also works well for someone who rejects feel-good stories and likes mystery tinged with a penchant for horror.
- The Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson has been creating waves with its direct, readable, uncomplicated translation. Some reviewers have admitted that Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey is the first time they’ve enjoyed it! Even Wilson’s Translator’s Note has been posted to Poetry Daily. Wyatt Mason has a wonderful interview/profile of Emily Wilson in the NYT Magazine as well.
- For the person who didn’t read The Odyssey in high school out of laziness or boredom. Or for the person who loves all things Greek Myth but gets annoyed at glistering heroes who can do no wrong. As the first English translation of The Odyssey by a woman, the book is a milestone for a year in which we need positive milestones. In addition, this makes a great gift for someone who loves to have beautiful books; the cover is gorgeous.
- What Happened by Hillary Clinton shares Clinton’s view of the 2016 election cycle in a series of essays. The format of the book makes it easy to skip around to subjects of interest (Comey, sexism, election night), read sections bound by theme (Perseverance, Frustration), or devour it whole. There is also an audiobook, read by HRC. For supporters of Clinton, the book will affirm, comfort, and inspire. For those who consider her corrupt or the leader of Pizzagate, it will be fodder for eye-rolling and shrieking fits.
- For the person who still feels most comfortable in the fetal position, drinks tea from an #ImWithHer mug, or refuses to take down their Clinton/Kaine lawn sign. Also for the person who denies sexism was a factor in the 2016 election cycle and occasionally mutters Benghazi under their breath. I was also told that some enjoy the book as a teaching tool to learn more about a woman’s experience in politics and society. Bonus points if you have an extra signed copy to give as a gift.
- Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay is intense and painful and life-affirming. Gay invites us to confront intimate and often glossily summarized topics, helping us to face our own feelings of discomfort around body image and food issues, whether they are about ourselves or other people. Hunger acknowledges the everyday aggravations of being oversized and invisible in a world made for less than average sizes. NB: Gay’s memoir includes a remembrance of a violent sexual assault when she was 12.
- For the person who is a member of IDGAF Nation and wants a literary compatriot. For someone on a journey towards body acceptance, their own or others. For anyone who needs a kick in the butt regarding empathy, humanity, and appreciation of everyday frustrations. Basically, Hunger is for everyone.
Please support your local bookshops whenever you can!