This has been a good year for me, reading-wise. Which means it’s a hard year for me to pick a single favorite book, or even two. But if I was forced to narrow it down to only two, I’d pick:
Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel, by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor.
Honestly? I think this book would be worth it just for its use of language. But there’s more to it than that. The story is also clever, strange, sweet, twisted, and whimsical. There is a sense of play that’s rare in novels. The setting of Night Vale is dangerous and dark, but the playfulness of the storytelling keeps things from being gritty and oppressive.
Imagine if Garrison Keillor wrote a H.P. Lovecraft story in the style of Tom Stoppard. Can you imagine that? No. Me neither. Not really. That’s not actually what this book is like, but it gives you a hint of a glimmer of what to expect when you pick this up. And seriously, if you love language, you really owe it to yourself to pick it up.
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things, by Jenny Lawson.
You would think that a book about crippling anxiety and depression wouldn’t be particularly funny. The best you could reasonably hope for would be something uplifting and brave and hopeful, where the person talks about their struggles to overcome blah blah blah.
No. This is a book by Jenny Lawson, who is, according to most traditional metrics, broken in 18 different ways. And it’s the funniest, truest, sweetest thing I’ve read in…well…maybe in forever.
This book made me laugh in a restaurant, it made me cry on an airplane. It made me feel like maybe I’m not a total human trainwreck. Because I’m broken in a couple of profound ways too. But after reading this, I don’t feel nearly so bad about it.
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