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January 27, 2016

Woman Crush Wednesday: Looking Ahead to 2016

Posted by Maya

Welcome to our first #wcw of 2016! With just a few weeks under our belts, this round we're featuring the women we're looking forward to reading this year! Be it a new title by our favorite author set for release in the coming months, revisiting our favorite literary heroines to motivate us for the year ahead, finally picking up that recommendation or that classic we've always been meaning to get into, or looking forward to a totally new story we've heard about --- we're excited about the literary ladies we'll get to experience in 2016! Here's hoping that this year encourages even more diverse, complex and exciting girls and women in literature and beyond.

Maya: Jhumpa Lahiri, IN OTHER WORDS
I haven't read THE NAMESAKE in years, but Lahiri's meditations on race and identity are so poignantly crafted, so expertly unique yet understandable --- she's stuck with me for all those years. I hope to give THE LOWLAND the attention I should've given it ages ago this year, but most importantly I deeply look forward to her new title, IN OTHER WORDS. Lahiri's subjects and voice lend themselves well to 20somethings, and her upcoming book is autobiographical, a dual language exploration of her journey into Italian fluency. I'm so excited to read something so explicitly personal from this skilled voice, something yet so conscious of her own multifaceted identity and her relationships with language.

Shara: MY BRILLIANT FRIEND by Elena Ferrante
As the editor of Teenreads and Kidsreads, my 2015 was filled with YA and middle grade novels. This isn’t a complaint --- I think that coming-of-age tales explore emotions more deeply than any other genre --- but in 2016, I’m excited to try out a few adult books that always seem to be pushed aside, particularly MY BRILLIANT FRIEND, the first installment in Elena Ferrante’s best-selling Neapolitan Novels series. When I sheepishly admitted that I’d never read Ferrante after my best friend spent five minutes raving about Book Four, THE STORY OF THE LOST CHILD, her eyes nearly bulged out of her head and she claimed that my “Ferrante inexperience” was completely unacceptable. A couple of weeks later, she gave me MY BRILLIANT FRIEND for Christmas so I’d have no more excuses. I’ve only just started reading it, but I can already tell my friend wasn’t exaggerating; Ferrante’s writing is sharp and descriptive, her characters nuanced and her setting fully realized, down to neighbors’ petty rivalries and the politics that rule elementary school classrooms. 

Emily: Clarice Lispector, THE PASSION ACCORDING TO G.H.
Clarice Lispector is a lot of things: a glamorous grande dame, a brilliant literary voice, maybe (probably!) a witch, a woman simultaneously larger-than-life and deeply, painstakingly human. I didn't know about Clarice until a friend introduced her to me a few years ago --- and when one soul-sister tells you to read another soul-sister, it becomes less of a choice and more of an inevitability. Her books are harder to come by than might be expected, but my friend was able to track down a copy of THE PASSION ACCORDING TO G.H. and sent it to me for my birthday at the end of last year. It comes with a lovely, intimidating forward: "This book is like any other book. But I would be happy if it were read by people whose souls are fully formed...." Right now, 2016 is a year full of wild potential --- for growth and self-discovery and love and loss --- and, like the used copy of THE PASSION tucked under my pillow, it thrills me to no end. 

Nicole: THE GIRLS by Emma Cline
THE GIRLS is going to be on everyone’s must-read list for the summer, if I have anything to say about it. Emma Cline’s debut novel is being compared to Jeffrey Eugenides’ THE VIRGIN SUICIDES and Jennifer Egan’s A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD, which should really be enough said. While I loved THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, this is not “the next THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN” --- it’s better than that. There, I said it.

The story takes place in Northern California in the 1960s as rising teenager, Evie Boyd, explores her place in the world and her community. As Evie’s current relationships with the women in her life begin to slide, she finds a kind of solace and intrigue in the mysterious Suzanne. When Suzanne ushers Evie into her cult, the comforts and securities of Evie’s benign life begin to break down. Loosely reminiscent of the Charles Manson tragedy, this story is ideal for thrill seekers and literary lovers alike.