We proudly present the funniest, NSFW-iest books by some of the freshest female voices in the lit scene.
By Nada Alic
Summer is here, which means you’re probably looking for a chill summer read to bring to the beach. Girl, I got you. I’ve put together my top picks of summer reads (which coincidentally all pair well with a nice bottle of rosé!) I should probably mention, this is not your Oprah’s Book Club section of Barnes & Noble; these are some of the hottest, funniest, NSFW-iest books by some of the freshest female voices in the lit scene. So, get your life together and cop one of these before your next summer getaway.
Too Much and Not The Mood – Durga Chew Bose
Durga Chew Bose’ essays feel almost lyrical, like the way you’ll glide from topic to topic with an old friend. She effortlessly unpacks the merits of solitude, film criticism, gender politics, growing up with immigrant parents, the symbolism of an emoji, all seemingly without destination. She’ll linger for pages on a specific thought and you’ll stay with her until she decides to finish, or pivot, or release in one satisfying stream of consciousness session. There’s a subtle elegance to her writing, which you can feel in every little detail she artfully reveals, like when she describes chipped nail polish as “shrinking enamel continents.” You get the sense that Durga occupies a universe that makes even the most mundane aspects of daily life feel cinematic.
Attachments – Rainbow Rowell
Ok so I’m pretty sure this book is just actually my life. Attachments follows Beth and Jennifer, two coworkers who know their email is being monitored yet they still spend all day telling each other everything. Same. I basically just go full Hillary Clinton at work and write about all my hopes, dreams, fears and WebMD searches with my co-worker in great detail and assume someone, somewhere is reading all of it. In this case, Lincoln, the internet security officer falls hard for Beth but obv can’t just be all like, “hi, I creep your emails.” Doesn’t that kind of sound like the most 2017 meet-cute you’ve ever heard, though?
Homesick For Another World – Ottessa Moshfegh
The operative word in Homesick for Another World is “sick.” Sick, like an illness or a wound that you can’t stop picking at. Moshfegh redefines what a short story could be, putting perversion and disgust at the forefront, so repeatedly, so viscerally, that after time, all taboos become undone and eventually we lose our concept of shame. She challenges us to confront the dark, wet, swollen, sticky parts of ourselves and others whether we’re ready for it or not. Watching her characters destroy one another and themselves is unsettling, but like a slow motion car crash, you cannot look away.
The Answers – Catherine Lacey
The Answers just dropped June 6th and I Amazon-Primed that ish immediately. This is Catherine Lacey’s second novel and if you haven’t read her first one Nobody is Ever Missing, you’re going to want to do that too. It is legit one of my favorite books. The Answers is a book for any woman who has ever known a man whose girlfriend expectations defy logic. The main character, Mary, is hard up for cash to pay for the treatment for a chronic condition and finds herself playing “Emotional Girlfriend” to an actor seeking out various partners in order to fulfill all of his needs. Ok, been there.
Perennials – Mandy Berman
Anyone with serious summer camp nostalgia needs to read this book. Perennials unpacks the ever evolving female body, female friendships, identity, past and what it means to be an adult. Rachel Rivkin and Fiona Larkin return to their childhood summer camp, Camp Marigold as counselors where they realize the past has a funny way of attaching itself to places and hits dormant places in ourselves we thought we’d outgrown.
Sex and Rage – Eve Babitz
This is a re-issue of a novel originally published in 1979 is an homage to all things Los Angeles from the pink-stained skies of Venice Beach to the hyper vanity of Hollywood Bohemia in the sixties and seventies. The protagonist Jacaranda was even named after the purple flowering trees that cover much of Los Angeles, if you don’t know what flowers I’m talking about, just open your Instagram and you’ll probably see it after a couple of scrolls. Quintessential LA, Jacaranda grapples with her identity as a young female artist and writer trying to find her place.
Made for Love – Alissa Nutting
Hazel is caught between two equally absurd, yet vastly different worlds. She escapes her marriage to a man named Byron Gogol, who is the CEO of Gogol industries, a massive tech corporation set on world domination. Gogol tracks her every move for years and the final straw comes when he demands that they wirelessly connect their brains via a “mind-meld” computer chip. Ok, first of all, Gogol needs to chiiiiiiiill. So she moves into a senior citizens’ trailer park to live with her dad and his extremely lifelike sex doll, which sounds only slightly less chill than living in a 24/7 monitored compound. Inexplicably, things only get worse from there.
My Soul Looks Back – Jessica B. Harris
Jessica B. Harris’ memoir of her youth as a writer in the West Village in the 70’s is a who’s who of the black artist culture, citing the likes of James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Nina Simone as friends and contemporaries (NBD). A culinary historian and expert on foods of the African Diaspora, Harris is the author of 12 cookbooks. In her memoir, however, you get a real taste for her life, her friendships, and a bygone era of jazz clubs, love, heartache, travel and of course, food.
The Idiot – Elif Batuman
Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants is starting her first year at Harvard, it’s the mid-nineties and the internet is only now becoming a thing. Email becomes the precarious method by which Selin’s infatuation for a mathematics student named Ivan becomes amplified. She spends much of the novel exploring the perils of language and linguistics which is painfully relatable for anyone who has ever analyzed and dissected a crush’s email to find hidden meanings and clues. Increasingly, the world of email felt more intimate than real life, “I felt dizzy from the sense of intimacy and remoteness. Everything he said came from so thoroughly outside myself. I wouldn’t have been able to invent or guess any of it.”
Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel – Rachel Khong
There is something about returning home that feels like a kind of submission—a feeling of going backwards; and for 30-year old Ruth, it’s a little bit more complicated than that. After breaking it off with her fiancee, she goes home for the holidays, only to discover that her father is in the grips of Alzheimer’s. She decides to quit her job and move back in with her parents to help out but as her father’s condition worsens, she begins to uncover painful truths about her father’s infidelities and drinking problems, all the while attempting to keep his mind engaged. Trust me when I tell you that despite the weighty subject matter, Khong’s writing is a hilarious, empathetic and intimate portrayal of complicated family drama in the face of an illness that provokes the past and memory like nothing else.
All The Lives I Want – Alana Massey
Alana Massey is arguably one of the best culture critics and writers of our time, her essays feels like required reading for any woman who has ever loved, had a body, dated, had sex or interacted with a man in her lifetime. Her debut collection of essays unpacks female identity and celebrity and how we systematically strip celebrities of their humanity and likewise ourselves in the process. She covers everything from Sylvia Plath, Winona Ryder, The Olsen Twins, Amber Rose, and many other female icons that transcend person to become symbol.
One Day We’ll All Be Dead And None Of This Will Matter – Scaachi Koul
Buzzfeed editor Scaachi Koul’s collection of essays does not hold back, examining racism, sexism, feminism, internet trolls, her fear of flying, immigrant anxiety, rape culture and surveillance all while somehow being incredibly funny. Writing about growing up in Canada to immigrant parents and the mortifying experiences that come from that, she reminds us that sometimes life is so awful and awkward and unjust that all you can do is develop a deep self awareness for all of your neuroses, and laugh.