Lindy West, celebrated author of the memoir and Hulu series Shrill, is known for her acerbic wit and keen appreciation of the (culturally) absurd, something on full display in her latest book, The Witches Are Coming. In it, she does a deep dive into how we got into the divisive mess we’re in right now, which requires taking a hard look at ourselves and confronting some painful, but necessary, truths.
When Ms. West needs a break from writing about politics (which is often!), she's not opposed to reading about it (or reading the complete opposite as a palate cleanser). Here are some recent favorites.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Since I started writing about politics full time (a terrible place to live!), I always, always, always have a fantasy novel queued up in my audiobooks app. I listen to snippets when I’m getting dressed or washing the dishes or driving, and I set the sleep timer for 15 minutes every night so I can fall asleep in a story, whether my husband likes it or not. Shadow and Bone—about a young woman who discovers remarkable powers in a world plagued by darkness—is a flawless escape: adventure, romance, a captivating magic system, and enough emotional complexity that it stays under your skin even when you’re back in the real world.
Believe Me: How Trusting Women Can Change the World by Jessica Valenti
Everything feels impossible until it happens. The #MeToo movement was revolutionary because it made real, in a sudden and irreversible way, a world that previously lived only in the minds of the most radical. In Believe Me, a roster of the most perceptive and fearless writers working today look at #MeToo and beyond: what could this world look like if we believed women the first time, if we didn’t punish women for speaking the truth, if we centered women in their own stories, if we allowed ourselves to imagine radical models of care and justice and then acted to make them real?
Wow, No Thank You.: Essays by Samantha Irby
Full disclosure: Samantha Irby is my real life actual friend, but that’s only because I was so rabidly obsessed with her perfect, brilliant, peerlessly funny writing that I flew to Chicago and forced her to love me, so I think that hardly counts as a traditional conflict of interest. I was a fan FIRST. This book doesn’t come out until March, but I was lucky enough to read an early manuscript, and it’s exactly the collection of new Samantha Irby essays you’ve been yearning for, the perfect spring promise to keep you trucking through the winter.
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Is this pretentious? I don’t care, whatever. I read Moby Dick in college and it dissolved my brain and re-grew me a new one, and I read it again this year and let me tell you it lives up to the hype! Is anything as gorgeous as Melville's prose? “For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half-known life”? Are you kidding me, Herman??????
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