Winter Reading List
I've been fighting the temptation to crack open Eve Babitz's collection of L.A.-centric vignettes in favor of finishing the books I've been juggling since December, but it hasn't been easy. My love of Joan Didion instilled in me a fascination with 1960s & 70s L.A., and Babitz's stories offer an enticing glimpse into the dark glamour of this era in Hollywood. I can't wait to devour these stories of "movie stars distraught over their success and socialites on three-day drug binges holed up in the Chateau Marmont" on my southern hemisphere beach trip next month.
The Sellout, which was my book club's January selection, is a profound work of satire, in which a young resident of a forgotten agrarian community within Los Angeles County, sets out to resegregate his neighborhood in an attempt to literally get his town back on the map. The novel has racked up a slew of honors, and understandably so. Not only is this story thought-provoking, conceptually challenging, and sharply funny, Beatty's masterful use of language is, in itself, something to behold.
This tiny volume, adapted from Adichie's 2013 TED talk, is a thoughtful, straightforward essay on what feminism means and how it plays out in our daily lives. In contrast to the elevated, academic tone we often associate with writing in the realm of gender theory, We Should All Be Feminists uses simple language and familiar, relatable scenarios from Adichie's own life to explore social and cultural norms that have stalled gender equality. In a piece that can be read in under half an hour, Adichie presents ways that we can work to secure women's rights today and raise our children to build a society where men and women are truly equal.
"Learn more/anything about wine" is a perpetual goal of mine, so when I received this book as a gift last year, I studied it like my life depended on it. Using simple infographics and illustrations, this guide makes a subject that many find prohibitively complex (and even snobbish) into something completely accessible. Plus, spending a few hours pouring over colorful flavor wheels and and pairing charts--with a glass or two of wine, of course--sounds like a perfect weekend activity, don't you think?
Family dynamics has always been one of my favorite literary topics and Ann Patchett's latest novel is one of the best explorations of the subject I've read in a while. The book opens at a Southern California baptism party--which takes a fateful turn when one guest shows up with a bottle of gin--and from this encounter unfolds a story of love and heartbreak, loyalty and betrayal, and all the things that make our family narratives so complicated, yet so precious.
J.D. Vance's memoir detailing his family's history in Appalachian Kentucky and Ohio is at the top of my reading list. Beginning in a deeply impoverished Rust Belt community and moving, both geographically and socioeconomically, through the worlds of the white working class and middle class, Vance's examination of social, regional, and class struggle in America feels especially relevant in today's political climate.