I didn’t necessarily mean to, but I started out my reading year on a real low note. I don’t mean that I didn’t like the books I read, but most of them (both fiction and nonfiction) centered around grief, addiction or abuse. (Happy new year, everyone.) I actually don’t need my books to be happy, but maybe it was just the culmination of reading all of these around the same time that left me feeling like I needed something uplifting fast.
Someday, Maybe by Onyi Nwabineli I don’t remember where I heard about this book (a podcast, maybe?) but there are definitely trigger warnings around suicide. The main character loses her spouse very unexpectedly on New Year’s Eve and the book follows her journey of grappling with her all-consuming grief in the months that follow. Although I think it was well-written and felt very realistic, the details were pretty agonizing and overall, it felt very long to me–which is probably what this kind of grief actually feels like.
Friends, Lovers and The Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry I listened to this on audio with the expectation of hours of Chandler Bing talking in my ears. Unfortunately, nothing about it was Chandler Bing funny. I knew it covered his addiction but I had no idea how deep it ran. He’s still battling it. Besides the number of times he’s almost died, the craziest thing I learned was that he was only sober for one season of Friends. It’s sad, it’s very truthful but overall I’d still recommend. Sadly, it does make me feel differently when I turn on my TV and see the reruns now. . .
I Take My Coffee Black by Tyler Merritt It’s probably unfair to call this book a downer because it actually is about overcoming. Through stories of his personal life experience, the author details what it’s like to be a black man in America and well, some of that is definitely really crappy. One of the first stories in the book talks about how much thought he has to put into just walking up beside a car driven by a white woman at an intersection. Things I never have to think about. He also talks very openly about his faith and the deep roots of racism that are still affecting our country today. I know all of this sounds heavy but his tone is so conversational. He feels like a friend. I would 100 percent recommend the audio version.
All This Could Be Yours by Jami Attenberg A very dysfunctional family drama for your reading enjoyment. This story revolves around the dying father of the family, who we learn has done some pretty terrible things in his lifetime. Lots of moving parts as his wife and two adult children come to terms with who he was to them, what he did and how it all affects them and their children’s futures. In other words, dysfunction is often a “gift” that keeps on giving.
I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy You’ve probably already heard lots about this book so I’ll be brief. I’ve never watched one episode of iCarly so I went into it without really knowing anything about the author–a former Nickelodeon teen star. Either way, this (audio)book made me incredibly sad for what was basically a lost childhood. On one hand, she doesn’t spare any details, but be warned that this book deals with eating disorders, abuse (physical and psychological), addiction and depression. It was a lot and yet another reminder that things are not always as they seem on tv, social media or elsewhere.
The Latecomer by Jean Hanff Korelitz This book started off really strong for me. But, as time when on, I got a little bogged down. It’s the story of–you guessed it–another dysfunctional and wealthy family (usually my favorite kind of book) that features the strangest non-relationships between a set of triplets and their parents. The narrator, however, is a sibling that comes along much later. Can I be honest? I finished it a month or so ago and just can’t remember a lot about this book which is probably what you need to know. It received a lot of praise and several book of the year awards, however. Did you read this? Would love to hear your thoughts.
I’m behind with these posts so expect another (slightly happier) one soon. . .
Looking for more? I file away all of my top book recommendations here.
I love your book recommendations
I usually like what you like so I appreciate these reviews as well!
Elizabeth Scruggs says
I’ve read I’m Glad My Mom Died, and was thinking about the Matthew Perry one. Such a sad thing to think about- a life of addiction. Things are rarely as they seem, right? Not sure I wanna see my Friends reruns differently- thanks for the heads up. May wait a minute before reading this one.
Thanks for sharing! Have you listened to As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes? I listened to it after a string of depressing books, and it was the perfect pick me up! Light and sweet and nostalgic, and voiced by the original cast.
Emily Clark says
I haven’t. And here’s where I admit I’ve never seen that movie!
Grief books – yes. I read about 5 of them last year and I think I’m good for the next 5 years or so. I have never watched iCarly but I am interested in reading that book. Sounds much like a Mommy Dearest story, but fascinating.
Emily Clark says
Yes— I remember Mommy Dearest scaring me to death when I watched it as a kid.