pennyforapound asked: Hello! You've given me book recs for a friend before and they were wonderful! And now I'm coming to ask for some book recs for myself, I've got a 6+ hour flight coming up and a 4+ hour drive. I love fiction, strong heroines and stories featuring people of color. Big fan of Zadie Smith and Junot Diaz. I like funny, sharp dialogue and things filled with insight. Is that enough to go on?
Welcome back and thanks! Are you looking for audiobooks for the drive? If you are, I find that genre-y stuff (go for Gone Girl) and humor (The Middlesteins is funny and is narrated by Molly Ringwald! Humorous bios like Bossypants and such are great, and I enjoyed Mindy Kaling’s book on audio) works best if you don’t regularly listen to audio books (I don’t), pro tip.
Of course, the new Díaz and Smith, duh. Both great but I suspect you knew that. Diaz leads to Justin Torres, We the Animals, though it’s very short, but you might need something quick at some point in this journey. It’s so good, you should definitely get to it at some point.
Also, if I didn’t recommend it last time, Skippy Dies by Paul Murray I think would be perfect for almost everyone, but particularly you. And it’s good and long for your flight, bonus (where are you going?).
Open City, by Teju Cole, is a revelation, completely amazing, one of the best novels I read last year. It’s sneakily quiet, it’s mostly this guy walking around New York City (and Brussels) thinking, so there’s not a lot of dialogue really but it’s definitely sharp and insightful and it’s got some surprising gut-punch qualities (I love gut-punch books).
A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz, an Australian novelist, has a White Teeth quality to it in some ways. I adored it when I read it, and I happen to know it’s a favorite of Sarah McNally’s (of McNally Jackson Bookstore) as well. And it’s nice and long for your long flight.
Some of my favorite rad books by and about ladies, all story collections, last year were Blueprints for Building Better Girls by Elissa Schappelland Boys and Girls Like You and Me by Aryn Kyle. I also loved Claire Vaye Watkins’s debut collection, Battleborn.
Novelist and Vanity Fair “Hot Type” columnist Elissa Schappell managed to write “a difficult letter that I hadn’t wanted to write,” while tweeting up a storm. (“Amused by some of the serious method ‘stroking my imaginary goatee’ going on.”) Both have quickly mastered the distractedly condescending air of a writer at work. “I have no problem with it,” says Schappell, getting into character. “’What do you think you’re doing here, in this coffee shop, which is my home office?!’” (via The Indie Film With a 43-Author Cameo — Vulture)
Elissa Schappell 4ever.
"She’s the “Girls Gone Wild Girl”—a caricature, a type of girl everybody knew in college, and dismissed, most likely as being nothing more than a character, if you will. No one cares what a girl like Bender has to say—in fact when I heard her voice in my head, I wrote her off as a joke. Until I realized what a hypocrite I was being. […] I chose not to tell the end of the Bender’s story. I wanted her to disappear. Because that is what happens in the lives of girls like Belinda, they exist for us in a time and place in our past. Perhaps the vanishing is of their own making, they want to distance themselves from the person they once were, and that time in their life. Perhaps they simply moved on. I know what happened to her, but the reader doesn’t."
Blueprints for Building Better Girls is now in paperback. Read this whole interview, go buy it, read it. It’s great.
"There are conversations that you’ll have in a car you’d otherwise never have. If no one else could hear you, if you weren’t sitting so close, if the driver didn’t have to look at you, if there wasn’t always the possibility you could crash and die. Ray told me stuff I’d never tell anybody."