Books
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"Did Something Happen?": On Elena Ferrante's 'Abandonment' and Jenny Offill's 'Speculation'

I went on a trip back home to Texas last weekend with Elena Ferrante’s The Days of Abandonment and Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation in my backpack. I had no idea what either novel was about when I bought them; it surprised me to find that both were narrated by women whose husbands are having affairs.

We live in a world that is alarmingly full of options, which is why people have affairs and why I like plane rides in the company of books good enough to keep you off the expensive wifi: I read Offill’s book in one sitting and Ferrante’s in two. The authors’ [...]

12

Fifty Shades of Brontë

She describes him as “full of an interest, an influence that quite mastered me,—that took my feelings from my own power and fettered them in his.”

He tells her, “[Y]ou please me, and you master me—you seem to submit, and I like the sense of pliancy you impart; and while I am twining the soft, silken skein round my finger, it sends a thrill up my arm to my heart. I am influenced—conquered; and the influence is sweeter than I can express; and the conquest I undergo has a witchery beyond any triumph I can win.”

So speak the characters of an 1847 novel about a teenage girl’s liaison of [...]

7

Song for the Special

Excerpted from The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories, a posthumous collection by Marina Keegan, who was killed in a car accident in May 2012.

*Every generation thinks it's special—my grandparents because they remember World War II, my parents because of discos and the moon. We have the Internet. Millions and billions of doors we can open and shut, posting ourselves into profiles and digital scrapbooks. Suddenly and totally, we're threaded together in a network so terrifyingly colossal that we can finally see our terrifyingly tiny place in it. But we're all individuals. It's beaten into us in MLK Day assemblies (one person can make a [...]

45

Ask a Clean Person About Her New Book: A Conversation With Jolie Kerr

Lovely, stylish, very clean person Jolie Kerr has a book out Tuesday from Plume, and we are very excited, not least because Jolie got her cleanliness-writing start right here at The Hairpin. My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag . . . and Other Things You Can't Ask Martha is precisely what it sounds like, a cohesive, informative, and fun compendium to help you reduce filth of all shapes, sizes, and proteins without judgment. New York-area folks: Mark your calendars for the book launch, moderated by Hairpin writer Bobby Finger, at the Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn on Wednesday, February 26.

I talked to Jolie about how the column got [...]

6

A Six-Month Reading List

Courtesy The Millions, here is every new book you will want to read in the next six months. I just finished The Flamethrowers, so I'll catch up with you all 'round 2016. [The Millions]

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Tales of Post-Graduate Love, Turmoil, and Friendship: A Conversation with Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale

Graduates in Wonderland: The International Misadventures of Two (Almost) Adults is an epistolary memoir by Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale that’s out today. You may already know Jessica from The Hairpin; she writes the Baking from a Bygone Era column and often enlists Rachel when she embarks “on disgusting culinary adventures from the past," she says. The two friends and co-authors met at Brown. Before they graduated and Rachel headed to New York and Jessica to Beijing, they promised to stay in touch with honest, tell-it-like-it-is, regular emails to each other. Those emails, which they returned to years later after reuniting in London, became the basis for [...]

4

Notes on Notes to Boys: A Conversation with Pamela Ribon

In Pamela Ribon’s recent, very funny, moving memoir, Notes to Boys: And Other Things I Shouldn't Share in Public, the author looks back at her many teenaged letters to her crushes, examining them from her current-day vantage point. I really loved it (so much that I included it here), and as a lifelong journal keeper with my own history of cringeworthy meanderings, wanted to know more about what inspired Ribon to examine her younger self in this way — and what she learned about not only “Little Pam” but also Current Pam, and writing itself, through the course of creating the book. Luckily, she was kind enough to answer [...]

9

Hillary Clinton, Do Not Feel Guilty About Your Pleasures

Hillary Clinton talked to the Times about her favorite books: some of the many names mentioned include Laura Hillenbrand, Toni Morrison, John Grisham, Pablo Neruda, George W. Bush and the Bible, which she says "was and remains the biggest influence on my thinking." In the interest of resisting the game of How Much Is This Q&A a Fake-Casual 'Hey' Text For America's Smart Conservative Moms, let me just draw your attention to this one part:

What are your literary guilty pleasures? Do you have a favorite genre?

Cooking, decorating, diet/self-help and gardening books are guilty pleasures and useful time fillers.

[...]

7

Baby-Sitters Club for the Modern Woman

In middle school, the babysitters in The Babysitter's Club lived out every possible problem and dilemma a privileged tween in the '90s could face. But no one can stay 13 forever—eventually, a girl has to start growing up and facing the problems and dilemmas of privileged twenty-somethings.

If only the babysitters could come with us…

 

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15 Books by Women to Read Now (or Very Soon): A Reading List

There are quite a lot of good books currently out, and it comes as no surprise that quite a lot of them are by ladies (no offense to men, who we hear can also write very fine books when they put their minds to it). As for our list, which you will find below, there is something for nearly everyone: Y.A., short stories, essay collections, novels, nonfiction, books you might have read a long time ago and probably should read again in their updated states now—they are here. If we missed a book you have been reading and loving that’s out now (or will be very soon), please share it [...]