I've read some fantastic books recently, but there's one I keep coming back to.
The protagonist, a mother, is concerned that her child isn't home for dinner. She tries to remain calm, and before panicking, searches various places around her home. Eventually, she finds her baby (he was in a basket!) and along the way learns a few things about herself...like that there's a hippo in her piano.
I've read Where's Spot more times than I can count.
But unexpectedly, between board books with talking animals, I've been able to continue reading grown-up people books. When D was first born, I read when I needed to distract myself from any number of aches and pains, or when I needed to stay awake. I read when I had been feeding her for 75% of the day and just couldn't stare at her teeny lips and count her teeny toes any longer. And when I went back to work, I read while pumping to forget the fact that I was pumping because pumping is kind of the worst.
Here's what I loved the most:
I read this last January and knew immediately that it would be hard to top. I'm so intrigued by post-apocalyptic stories—especially when the cause is a public health outbreak—but I especially enjoy reading about what happens while the world is crumbling down. This book switches between before, during, and after a flu outbreak and so many of the images still haunt me. A plane, presumably full of infected people, lands in an airport and NO ONE EVER EMERGES. The main character was checking social media in his high rise apartment while the world ended! THAT COULD BE US, YOU GUYS. He looked out the window and saw the highway completely full of cars. I can no longer go to an airport or be stuck in traffic without thinking of this book.
But here's one good thing that stuck with me: what doesn't change between the old world and new world is the human tendency to understand our world through art—love that.
Before he was making all of your favorite movies and TV shows, Judd Apatow was a kid who loved comedy. In high school, he cold called up and coming comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno (heard of them?) and asked to interview them for his publication, which he did not mention was a high school newspaper. Slick move, Judd.
Sick in the Head is those interviews and more recent ones, with comedians ranging from Amy Schumer to Mel Brooks to... Eddie Vedder? This book is full of behind the scenes stories, nuggets of wisdom, and funny one liners (and random rock stars).
I did not expect a book that starts with an in-depth account of Auschwitz to be so uplifting and happy... but here we are. Martin Greenfield came to New York after surviving Auschwitz and with a lot of determination and smart decisions (and a little luck), he became the tailor of choice for pretty much every important person ever (you know—the Presidents Bush and Steve Buscemi.) I especially loved seeing the United States through the eyes of an immigrant, and hearing how accepting and welcoming our country was to him. It made me think about how our country treats immigrants, and how we can do better. I read this right before the 4th of July and was feeling all of the red, white, and blue feels.
Y'ALL. I loved this book so, so much. It is essentially William and Kate fan fiction but calling it fan fiction seems like a disservice. It was smart, hilarious, fun, and satisfying—which I completely expected from the authors, Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan of the blog Go Fug Yourself. I didn't want this book to end. In fact, I could barely bear to bring it back to the library so I paid approximately three dollars for it to sit next to my bed so I could gaze at it a little longer. WORTH IT.
I mentioned at one point, while talking about Fates and Furies, that I'm over whiny, privileged narrators. Is it so much to ask to read a book where people are happy?
By the end of this book I had highlighted so many beautifully written passages that I didn't even care that no one was happy. Also this book is like, 160 pages. I can handle whiny hipsters in small doses.
Between the World and Me
I relate far more to Jenny Offill's whiny hipsters than I do to Ta-Nehisi Coates -- that is to say that I will never understand what it's like to black in this country. But I can listen, and I can learn, and when a book like this exists there's really no reason not to.