Happy National Book Lovers Day! The only thing that would make this second-tier holiday better would be if it was combined with National Donut Day. But we can’t always get what we want.
In order to celebrate this literary anniversary, here are five top-notch books that were published this year. Ranging from criticism and essay collections to novels and personal memoirs, settle down with one of these volumes for a guaranteed rapture.
The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Following an eighteen year-old girl through her college experiences at Harvard in 1999 sounds either boring or strangely Elle Woods-esque. But don’t be quick to assume—Selin, the book’s main character, carries herself with an air of sophistication far beyond her years. The Turkish-American New Jersey native arrives at college in pursuit of a linguistics degree and the meaning of life, but what she finds is an apathetic love interest and a trip to teach English to Hungarian schoolchildren. Elif Batuman’s prose is truly poetic and worth savoring throughout this 432-page novel.
Hunger: A Memior of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
A seasoned veteran of writing about women (author of Bad Feminist and Difficult Women), Roxane Gay turns the focus inward with Hunger. A deeply vulnerable account of her own experiences with sexual violence, judgement, and food, Gay ruminates on her childhood and how it has come to affect her life as an adult. From looking back into her Haitian-American roots to explaining her love of Ina Garten, Hunger is a journey of extreme loss and learning to accept oneself in the wake of trauma.
Too Much and Not the Mood by Durga Chew-Bose
Taking its title from a Virginia Woolf line, Too Much and Not the Mood establishes Durga Chew-Bose as one of the most insightful essayists in the publishing world. Combining criticism and memoir, Chew-Bose creates vignettes of her childhood trips to India and comments on Italian cinema. An author who flies much too far under the radar, Chew-Bose’s prose is a breath of fresh air, so much so, this book is a literary vacation to the coast of Greece.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
The New Yorker‘s review of Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West is titled “A Novel About Refugees That Feels Instantly Canonical,” which is both a concise and accurate summary. The Pakistani author’s fourth novel focuses on emigration and the difficulties that refugees face on their journeys. Both heartwarming and humanizing, Exit West presents readers with a current issue that is usually, quite literally, foreign. Hamid presents characters not as humans in a far off land, but as real individuals with families, jobs, and interests, which is what we need in 2017.
One Day We’ll All Be Dead And None Of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul
Punctuated by humorous email excerpts from her overbearing father, ODWABDANOTWM is a collection of essays on the modern young adult’s human experience. From family matters to romantic relationship snafus, Scaachi Koul puts her life on display as a young Indian-American. Koul manages to be incredibly relatable while also maintaining her individualism. A culture writer at Buzzfeed, Koul’s twitter account is an ongoing sequel to her book.