Updated: Oct 6, 2021
To ease the emotional lethargy of this season, I went on a book (ebook) buying spree. Was it exciting? Hell, yes. Did I walk all over my savings? Also, yes. Financial instability aside, I am thrilled to introduce you to the following essay collections and memoirs by women who, like you and me, have found living not all that simple. But life and art have taught them a great deal about loving, coping, and healing. And in these books, they share those insights with admirable, gut-wrenching honesty and a wicked sense of humor.
Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency by Olivia Laing
Laing makes a case for art as an antidote to the weariness and anxiety inflicted by the turbulent political crises of our times. Her series of essays, profiles, and columns explore her informed perspectives on how humankind engages with deep emotions, mediums, and artists and their works.
Hardcover, 272 pages. Published on May 12th 2020 by W. W. Norton & Company
Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies: And Other Rituals to Fix Your Life, from Someone Who's Been There by Tara Schuster
Schuster dishes out her hard-won lessons on mental health and self-love in this hilarious and honest spin on adulting. A candid guide on growing up, this essay collection masquerading as a memoir is an excellent comfort read.
Hardcover, 318 pages. Published on February 18th 2020 by Dial Press.
Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
Alderton's memoir is a light-hearted take on friendship, love, and growing up and growing into oneself. Although quite British in its sensibilities and often repetitive, this memoir is an exercise in self-exploration and is highly readable - perfect for tedious commutes and decent as a pre-midday-nap read.
Hardcover, 333 pages. Published in 2018 by Fig Tree / Penguin.
Nobody Will Tell You This But Me by Bess Kalb
Emmy-nominated TV writer and New Yorker contributor Bess Kalb digs into her grandmother's voicemails, texts, and heart-to-heart chats over the years, unearthing the once fiercely opinionated woman's passion and zeal for life. Kalb's memoir affirms the ability of love and memories in transcending death.
Hardcover, 224 pages. Published on March 17th 2020 by Knopf Publishing Group.
I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron
"As a woman of a certain age," Ephron candidly chronicles her life as a mother, an obsessive cook, and a passionate city dweller. Commenting on the trivialities and the memorable highlights of her life, this collection of essays offers wisdom and life-affirming advice on aging, acceptance, and beyond.
Hardcover, 137 pages. Published on August 1st 2006 by Knopf Publishing Group.
Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion
Didion's previously unpublished essays examine her pointed remarks about the press, the politics of the time, the publishing industry, and womanhood. The pieces cement her staggering stature as a writer of consequence and influence while digging into the elements of her writing process.
Hardcover, 176 pages. Published on January 26th 2021 by Knopf.
Feel Free by Zadie Smith
Lending words to her meticulous contemplations about society and self, Smith takes a genteel swing at Britain's political changes and failures. While positioning her unease in the world alongside the national issues, this collection of essays bears no singular theme. It is, in fact, a vibrant yet poignant synthesis of varying subjects and conversations.
Hardcover, 452 pages. Published on February 6th 2018 by Penguin Press.
Too Much and Not the Mood by Durga Chew-Bose
Durga Chew-Bose's collection of essays and letters is inspired by one of Virginia Woolf's diary entries wherein she used the phrase, "too much and not the mood" in the context of editing her work. Focussing on the internal motivations of life, Chew-Bose's book is a young woman's exploration of her creative expression.
Paperback, 221 pages. Published on April 11th 2017 by FSG Originals.
Recollections of My Nonexistence by Rebecca Solnit
Solnit's memoir shines a light on her formative years as a writer and feminist in 1980s San Francisco. Recounting her years of being broke yet hopeful in a small apartment that witnessed her evolution, she elaborates on the influences that liberated her as a person.
Hardcover, 256 pages. Published on March 10th 2020 by Viking.