Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
This was an absolutely delightful read on the craft of writing. Maybe I'm biased because I think Anne Lamott is a very sane and beautiful human being anyways, but I found her advice practical, encouraging, relatable, and funny. I've never read anything else of hers and look forward to more of her nonfiction and some of her fiction as well.
Love Is a Mixtape by Rob Sheffield
I bought this when Rob Sheffield came to the Arkansas Literary Fest last year. It's a memoir told through the lens of music—specifically mix tapes made and played through every stage of his life, starting with childhood and leading up to the love story with and eventual death of this first wife, Renee. The story is HEARTBREAKING, honestly, but Sheffield writes about grief with so much honesty and love that a lot of humor and happiness comes through as well.
The Girls by Emma Cline
Ooooo, this one. This is a fictional take on the Manson Family cult and how one suburban teen gets pulled into the mix. I liked the narrator alternating from 1960s flashback to current day, and I loved getting to know so intimately the (fictional, but still) inner workings of a mind that could be drawn to this brand of cult. We all know how this story ends, but that tension of "when's it gonna happen, how's it gonna happen" was part of what made this book so thrilling for me.
Lit by Mary Karr
Sometimes you've been meaning to read something by a certain author for so long, but it isn't until you stumble upon her book in a used book store that, there you have it, fate has decided—it is time. Lit is Mary Karr's account of her decline into alcoholism after the birth of her son, the dissolution of her marriage, and the rocky path to sobriety that followed. I loved her voice and unbridled honesty. I listened to portions of it on audio and loved her Texas twang and cadence as well.
Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
What a fun read! I'd been intrigued by this novel's name for a while, so when I ran across it at—you guessed it—a used book store, I grabbed it. It has a sense of adventure juxtaposed with a nerd-culture earnestness that reminded me of Ready Player One, but I enjoyed this much more; I think the writing was a little more mature (though there was still a romance I was ... slightly annoyed by) and, of course, the currency of books rather than video games is more my speed.
The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
This was also my first book by Meg Wolitzer. It's a coming-of-age story about a character we follow from freshman year of college through her early 20s, but it was also about a lot more than that—feminism, death, grief, mentorship, friendship, mistakes, adulthood—and Wolitzer dealt with each theme and each character with grace. At times it felt like things were going to be tied with too neatly a bow, but on the whole, I really enjoyed it and loved her writing. Looks like I'll be adding one of her other 11 books to my to-read list soon.