OverBOOKed October 2019
Too busy to read? Studies show those who read live long and are smarter! Carve out some time in your busy schedule for some SHELFcare. We’ve curated a list for those who don’t have time to pick a book!
By Etaf Rum
If you’re in the mood for: Cultural examination, finding your distinct voice, female experience, family tragedy
Three generations of Palestinian-American women attempt to define their desires and ambitions within the context of their place as Arab, immigrant women. The tome alternates between Isra, whose journey begins in Palestine in 1990 when (at age 17) her family has her marry and immigrate to America, and her 18-year-old daughter Deya, in 2008 Brooklyn.
Rum’s take on female self-discovery is equal parts inspiring and heartbreaking. As the women search for their place (not only within their family and culture, but within themselves and their new country) the book teases out the same questions in the reader. You’ll cry and celebrate with these women, examining how your own family affects and defines you and how to embrace and refine those pillars in your own life. A Woman Is No Man is relatable because its players have a specific American experience with universal themes: the quest for self-knowledge, a place to belong and the pursuit of freedom. I recommend this book to anyone who longs to understand not only the experience of others, but also themselves.
If you’re in the mood for: relatable comedy, dry sense of humor, slice of life
His first collection in five years, Calypso is Sedaris’ most consistent collection of essays to date. Several essays star his family, for better or for worse. If you have a love/hate relationship with your family (or have a kooky distant cousin who brings drama to every family gathering) this collection is for you. Although the book carries an overall arch of dealing with the pitfalls of family dynamics and middle age, each essay is self-contained, making Calypso perfect for a long car ride, a laugh before bed or something to pick up while waiting at the dentist’s office. You’ll laugh and cry your way through Sedaris’ essays as he showcases his ability to make the mundane hysterically insane—and vice versa.
By Mary Karr
If you’re in the mood for: memoir, substance abuse and resurrection, rehabilitation
Famous memoirist Mary Karr’s Lit is a deep-dive down the hole of desire and despair that is alive in each human being. The memoir exposes the earnest needs of a brilliant woman (Karr) longing only love and security and how, even when those desires were fulfilled, the author couldn’t keep alcoholism at bay.
Because Karr can be crass and dark, this memoir is not for the faint of heart. She takes the reader to rock bottom with her, then poetically depicts how a spirit (and a life) can resurrect from the most destructive choices. Lit is a beacon of light for anyone who has a darkness they fear they can’t control and a victory lap who those who have bounced back after losing the battle with addiction.
By Lauren Groff
If you’re in the mood for: Marriage, art, a volatile and passionate love story
With the tone and feel of a true literary novel, Fates and Furies takes the perspective of both partners spanning a twenty-year marriage. Both creatives (but very different in temperament) Lotto and Mathilde seem to have everything: intelligence, wit, good looks and the attention of all their friends. Their differences, expectations and jealousy over creative endeavors erode the relationship as they move from lust to living. This stirring novel examines the recipe for love and marriage, and if it can include both truth and secrets. In fact, after reading it, I was so eager to hear other perspectives that last year I gave it as a holiday gift to every avid reader on my list!
If you’re in the mood for: Self-help, the human condition, comedy
When celebrated psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb experiences an unexpected break-up, she seeks some help of her own. One of the most celebrated non-fiction books of the year, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is a rare opportunity to be a fly on the wall inside the therapist’s office—not to mention the heads and hearts of both the therapist holding the clipboard and the patient on the couch. Rawley vulnerable, empathetic, funny and self-deprecating at times, this book is for anyone in therapy, anyone who is seeking therapy and anyone who isn’t but should be!