All (abridged) summaries taken from Good Reads. Notes are my own.
#1: Little Weirds by Jenny Slate
Notes: - I have read "Little Weirds" twice now and absolutely love it. In terms of form, Slate redefines what it means to write short stories, and creative nonfiction short stories at that. "Little Weirds" is made up of dozens of vignettes about vulnerability, heartbreak, love, wildness, and beauty. Her nuanced way of viewing herself and the world around her is inspiring and I'd recommend this book to anyone.
Personal Rating: 10/10
#2: You'll Grow Out Of It by Jessi Klein
Summary: In YOU'LL GROW OUT OF IT, Klein offers - through an incisive collection of real-life stories - a relentlessly funny yet poignant take on a variety of topics she has experienced along her strange journey to womanhood and beyond.
Notes: - “When you encounter a man wearing loafers with no socks, run,” (68). - “We were falling into the exciting tingle of fake intimacy through email, where a few personal overshares, blended with a sprinkling of coy, overly specific compliments, mimic the sensation of falling in love (when in fact usually you are only falling in love with yourself and your ability to write a really top-notch flirty email),” (70). - “... I had been cuckolded. (I know this is not technically the definition of the word cuckolded but it’s a fun word and it somehow feels right in this context),” (75).
Personal Rating: 7/10
#3: Normal People by Sally Rooney
Summary: Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a story that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the complex entanglements of family and friendship.
Notes: - “If he silently decides not to say something when they’re talking, Marianne will ask “what?” within one or two seconds. This “what?” question seems to him to contain so much: not just the forensic attentiveness to his silences that allows her to ask in the first place, but a desire for total communication, a sense that anything unsaid is an unwelcome interruption between them,” (26). - “...the same imagination he uses as a reader is necessary to understand real people also, and to be intimate with them,” (72). - “Time consists of physics, money is just a social construct,” (112).
Personal Rating: 9/10
#4: Too Much and Not the Mood by Durga Chew-Bose
Summary: Too Much and Not the Mood is a beautiful and surprising exploration of what it means to be a first-generation, creative young woman working today.
Notes: - “Those guys who, of course, don’t exist...These tiny people turned me onto ingenuity...They were, for example, the characters in Mary Norton’s The Borrowers; a series of books I don’t remember reading but on whose illustrated covers I imparted my own stories...The Borrowers were, I made myself believe, living among us: snatching up my spare buttons and refashioning them as tabletops or winter sleds...They repurposed our excess was the point,” (14-15). Reading this, I was astonished at how an experience I thought was unique to me (as I've imagined this exact same thing) might be more universal/shared. I had this same realization later when I read the line, “...imagine furniture mounted on ceilings...” (176). - Semaphore, anthropomorphic, acquisitive, alcove, moonbeams (I always record words I like) - Thinking of things the way they were is another way of writing: “Thinking about someone I was in love with—how he’d peel an orange and hand me a slice...” (19). - “...questions that can only occur in cars,” (25). - “A vacant stare does not mean vacancy. It’s the inverse of invitation, and yet,” (26). - “...make stuff instead of make sense...” (61). - “She always feels like...she’s meant to be going to a museum, so sometimes she does. Like she’s meant to be ordering a pastry. So, often, she does,” (148).
Personal Rating: 8/10
#5: A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
Summary: A Field Guide to Getting Lost draws on emblematic moments and relationships in Solnit's own life to explore the issues of wandering, being lost, and the uses of the unknown. The result is a distinctive, stimulating, and poignant voyage of discovery.
Notes: - verisimilitude - “It is certain that species are vanishing without ever having been known to science. To think about this is to imagine the space inside our heads expanding but the places outside shrinking, as though we were literally devouring them,” (187).
Personal Rating: 7/10
#6: Create Dangerously: The Power and Responsibility of the Artist by Albert Camus
Summary: In 1957, Nobel Prize-winning philosopher Albert Camus gave a speech entitled "Create Dangerously," effectively a call to arms for artists, in particular those who came from an immigrant background, like he did. Camus understood the necessity of those making art as a part of civil society. A bold cry for artistic freedom and responsibility, his words today remain as timely as ever. In this new translation, Camus's message, available as a stand-alone little book for the first time, will resonate with a new generation of writers and artists.
Notes: - “This ideal of global communication is, in fact, the ideal of every great artist,” (20). - “...the suppression of creative freedom is not, perhaps, the right way to overcome servitude, and until we can speak for all, it is stupid to take away the power to at least speak for some,” (27). Personal Rating: 8/10
#7: The Romance of the Forest by Ann Radcliffe
Summary: Set in a Roman Catholic Europe of violent passions and extreme oppression, the novel follows the fate of its heroine Adeline, who is mysteriously placed under the protection of a family fleeing Paris for debt. They take refuge in a ruined abbey in south-eastern France, where sinister relics of the past - a skeleton, a manuscript, and a rusty dagger - are discovered in concealed rooms. Adeline finds herself at the mercy of the abbey's proprietor, a libidinous Marquis whose attentions finally force her to contemplate escape to distant regions. Rich in allusions to aesthetic theory and to travel literature, The Romance of the Forest is also concerned with current philosophical debate and examines systems of thought central to the intellectual life of late eighteenth-century Europe.
Personal Rating: 5.5/10
#8: Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney
Summary: A sharply intelligent novel about two college students and the strange, unexpected connection they forge with a married couple.
Notes: - sanguine, verdant
Personal Rating: 8.5/10
#9: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
This is a book I've continued to revisit since I first read it in fourth grade. I doubt a summary is necessary but I'll leave my notes and personal rating below (:
Notes: - “You won’t make yourself a bit realer by crying,” Tweedledee remarked: “there’s nothing to cry about,” (176).- “”Consider what a great girl you are. Consider what a long way you’ve come today. Consider what o’clock it is. Consider anything, only don’t cry!”” (185). Personal Rating: 10/10 (obviously!!)