Maggie's Best Books of 2019By The Book Slut
This is an impossible task. Tortured with the personality of liking most things, I greatly enjoyed 97% of the masterful one hundred books I read this year. They ranged from backlist to brand new. Educational nonfiction to contemporary lit. Poetry to comic books. I chose to go through my list of finished goodreads shelves and pull out the ones that had a profound effect on my life—books I still bring up in daily conversation, books I am still passing on to my friends, and books that still sit on my nightstand because I can’t fathom letting it collect an ounce of dust on my bookshelf.
Also, I did not go home for Thanksgiving this year for the first time in my life and the number of texts I received from high school friends whom I haven’t exchanged words with for years made me nostalgic for high school so we are doing a “Most Likely To _____” high school yearbook-esque list. I was voted Most Likely To Quote A Movie and Most Likely To Make Excuses in my yearbook. First of all, *picture me with a bowl cut driving a dog van* it’s a cardigan but thanks for noticing! And second of all, *Stephanie Tanner voice* how rude!
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Chanel Miller£10.99 £10.44
I remember reading Chanel Miller’s victim impact statement and crying in my bathroom in my apartment my senior year of college. The power this book holds! The Brock Turner rape case turned the world on its head and Emily Doe came out and stunned millions with her victim impact statement in court that was later published by Buzzfeed. It was later translated into languages across the globe, it was read on the floor of Congress to help enact law changes in California, and her statement ended up forcing the judge to be recalled from her case. Thousands of people wrote in to say that she had given them the courage to share their own experiences of assault for the first time, including me. After I finished this book, I posted a photo of the dress I was wearing when I was sexually assaulted the summer after my sophomore year of college and announced to the world for the first time that I was a survivor. The power or reclaiming your identity is not to be diminished and I know this book has saved hundreds, if not thousands of survivors’ lives.
Kiese Laymon£9.99 £9.49
I started this memoir by Kiese Laymon without knowing anything about it or the author. Have I been living under a rock, or what? I now have his two other books in my queue. I agree with Roxane Gay and her review—“astonishing, difficult, intense, layered,” just... wow. In Heavy, Laymon writes vulnerably about growing up a stubborn Black son to a complicated Black mother in Jackson, Mississippi. From his early experiences of sexual trauma, to his cruel college experience, to his cross-country move to New York as a young professor, Laymon delves into his complex relationship with his mother, an eating disorder, sex, writing, and falling in love. By attempting to name cover-ups and lies he spent his entire life avoiding due to his mother's secrets, Laymon asks himself, his mother, his nation, and us, the readers, to confront the terrifying possibility that few in this nation actually know how to love responsibily and openly, and even fewer what it’s like to live under the weight of actually becoming liberated. The entire book is written as though he is talking to his mother. He refers to her as “You,” so it feels as though you, the reader, are being spoken to. Laymon’s prose is insanely mesmerizing. I found myself lingering in my car for extended periods of time because I didn’t want to stop listening to his voice or his word (would highly recommend on audio). Narrating it himself added to the powerfulness. Anything I write could not do the work justice. If you think you aren’t into memoirs, you’re sorely mistaken...this book is for you. And for you. And for you. And yes, you too.
Lisa Taddeo£9.99 £9.49
There is not a book that came out this year that is more perfect for your book club. This book was a war zone for literary women this summer. You either love it or you hate it with every smoldering bone in your body. No matter if it resonates with you or makes you want to fight Lisa Taddeo, it will give you a lot to think about and you are going to have to discuss it with somebody or you might combust.
Sally Rooney£9.99 £9.49
I hate how much I loved this book. People left lots of reviews saying the characters are unlikeable and selfish, which is true, but it’s realistic because... let’s face it—everyone is narcissistic to varying degrees. It’s like when you take a shit at work and you anxiously think that everyone is wondering why you’ve been gone so long and then you come out and realize no one’s even noticed because they are busy being fucking obsessed with themselves. The characters simultaneously love each other and also want to make each other suffer, especially if they themselves feel as though they are suffering. It is messy yet sharp. It is subtle in its plot yet complex if you focus too long on an excerpt. I have never participated in an extramarital affair yet I felt very seen and understood and the writing made me feel as though maybe I HAD been involved in an affair and just blocked it out of my memory? That makes no sense but it feels like Rooney implanted an experience into my life. The ending made me throw my book because it wasn’t a cookie cutter give-you-closure-nor-satisfaction type of ending, but that’s also why it works. This book would have been twenty pages long if the characters were just mature and fully communicated with each other, but don’t we all sometimes want someone to just fucking understand us without having to explain ourselves? God, this fucking book. I need a Xanax.
Jia Tolentino£9.99 £9.49
Jia took my ass to church, talked me out of getting married, convinced me to try ecstasy, made me hate Donald Trump even more, and made my brain grow thirty seven times in size. This book is MARVELOUS. She writes with such intricacy and intimacy and I would read her to-do lists if I could, because even those would more than likely be life-debilitating. I also watched her in the Hulu Fyre Festival documentary after and she is just as dazzling in person! I also subscribed to The New Yorker halfway through this book because her name popping up in my inbox is like getting shot with a horse tranquilizer and a dose of epinephrine all at once.
Rachel Louise Snyder£9.99 £9.49
No lie, I almost quit my job to go back to school to get a degree in women’s studies, psychology, and social work to dedicate my life to ending intimate partner terrorism and domestic violence after reading this book. And I am still highly considering it because of the authors call to action. I was currently volunteering at my local domestic violence shelter as I read this and it changed my life. There is so much that is not talked about in regards to reporting DV and this book popped the discussion wide open.
Carol Anderson£18.99 £18.04
This book focuses on voter suppression in America in regards to gerrymandering, purging voter rolls, restrictive voter ID laws, minority-majority poll closures, ill-equipped polling stations, and more. It took me a long time because it is packed with citations & facts that I often found myself simultaneously researching. Carol Anderson is a professor of African American Studies at Emory University and she has written many books on this subject. She touches on Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Florida, and Mississippi and the rampant suppression tactics the GOP has succumbed to to stay in power and there needs to be a much higher collective effort to fight this. No more retweeting travesties on Twitter and then going about your day. No more sitting out voting or campaigning or canvassing. Let’s run for office, sluts! Read this book first.