Share 13 Lena Dunham-Approved Books You Need to Read Right Now

13 Lena Dunham-Approved Books You Need to Read Right Now

After several years in the Subsidiary Rights Department at Atria Books, Hilary Krutt now works as an editor at L&T, a brand publishing company. A former member of the Off the Shelf editorial board, Hilary continues to be an avid consumer (and sometimes reviewer) of contemporary fiction and memoir. She hails from Boston but currently calls Brooklyn home.

Lena Dunham seems to be everywhere these days. Best known as the creator, writer, and star of the HBO series Girls, now in its fifth and penultimate season, and the author of NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL, she has emerged as a feminist voice for the millennial generation. She is a voracious reader, frequently highlighting her favorite books on Instagram and in Lenny Letter, her recently launched feminist newsletter. Just last week, she announced that Lenny Letter will begin publishing books as an imprint with Penguin Random House. Here, we have highlighted thirteen fantastic reads that have already fetched Lena’s stamp of approval.


Dietland
by Sarai Walker

Part coming-of-age story, part revenge fantasy, this is a bold, original, and funny debut novel that takes on the beauty industry, gender inequality, and our weight-loss obsession—from the inside out, and with fists flying.

Dietland
Sarai Walker

Part coming-of-age story, part revenge fantasy, this is a bold, original, and funny debut novel that takes on the beauty industry, gender inequality, and our weight-loss obsession—from the inside out, and with fists flying.

MENTIONED IN:

13 Lena Dunham-Approved Books You Need to Read Right Now

By Hilary Krutt | April 14, 2016

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Animals
by Emma Jane Unsworth

Laura and Tyler, both women in their twenties, are the very definition of party animals. But when Laura becomes engaged to Jim, she must make a difficult decision between her carousing lifestyle and society’s definition of adulthood—and between her best friend and future husband.

Animals
Emma Jane Unsworth

Laura and Tyler, both women in their twenties, are the very definition of party animals. But when Laura becomes engaged to Jim, she must make a difficult decision between her carousing lifestyle and society’s definition of adulthood—and between her best friend and future husband.

MENTIONED IN:

13 Lena Dunham-Approved Books You Need to Read Right Now

By Hilary Krutt | April 14, 2016

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The First Bad Man
by Miranda July
In this whimsical novel, Miranda July tells the story of Cheryl, a vulnerable, uptight woman. When Cheryl’s bosses ask if their twenty-one-year-old daughter Clee can stay at her house, Cheryl’s eccentrically ordered world explodes. But Clee—the selfish, cruel blond bombshell—teaches Cheryl what it means to love and be loved and, inadvertently, provides the solace of a lifetime.
The First Bad Man
Miranda July

The First Bad Man by Miranda July is one of my top five favorite books of 2015. Over the past year, I’ve given several copies of it to friends—which is why I need a new copy (or three!). July is an artist who is willing to share a world that is even stranger than what I experience in my fantasies. The characters in this novel use imagination as a tool for emotional healing and challenge readers to go beyond their comfort zones in a way that no novel I’ve read has done before. —Erica

MENTIONED IN:

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Life At the Dakota
by Stephen Birmingham

A deliciously entertaining social history detailing the lives of the rich and trendy who have lived at the Dakota, a New York apartment house daringly erected in 1884 and whose tenants have included Leonard Bernstein, Lauren Bacall, and John Lennon.

Life At the Dakota
Stephen Birmingham

A deliciously entertaining social history detailing the lives of the rich and trendy who have lived at the Dakota, a New York apartment house daringly erected in 1884 and whose tenants have included Leonard Bernstein, Lauren Bacall, and John Lennon.

MENTIONED IN:

13 Lena Dunham-Approved Books You Need to Read Right Now

By Hilary Krutt | April 14, 2016

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Luckiest Girl Alive
by Jessica Knoll
Lena's Lenny Letter recently published Jessica Knoll's essay "What I Know" in which she bravely shares for the first time that she was raped as a teenager. This real life event informed the writing of her page-turning novel, LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE, which details a young woman's struggle to build a seemingly perfect life while trying to hide her difficult past. Knoll has also written the screenplay for the upcoming film being produced by Reese Witherspoon.
Luckiest Girl Alive
Jessica Knoll

Ani FaNelli is the epitome of young, modern women. And that’s not a good thing. Image-obsessed, cruel, and deceptive, Ani isn’t crazy so much as extraordinarily damaged from two traumatic high school events that are expertly revealed, piece by piece, in this masterful debut. I loved the anger in this political, well-observed novel, made more powerful by the reveal that Knoll’s own sexual assault contributed to its creation. Contemporary and timely: believe the hype.

Crazy like: Carrie Bradshaw with a cleaver.

Best crazy moment: Ani’s choice of porn. (Ouch.)

MENTIONED IN:

8 Narrators Who Redefine Crazy

By Georgia Clark | August 9, 2016

13 Lena Dunham-Approved Books You Need to Read Right Now

By Hilary Krutt | April 14, 2016

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The Life and Death of Sophie Stark
by Anna North

Gripping and provocative, this is a haunting story of fame, love, and legacy told through the propulsive rise of an iconoclastic artist. As Lena puts it: “This novel is perceptive, subtle, funny and lingers in unexpected ways. The analysis of a woman who puts her art above all else is equal parts inspiration and warning story.”

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark
Anna North

Gripping and provocative, this is a haunting story of fame, love, and legacy told through the propulsive rise of an iconoclastic artist. As Lena puts it: “This novel is perceptive, subtle, funny and lingers in unexpected ways. The analysis of a woman who puts her art above all else is equal parts inspiration and warning story.”

MENTIONED IN:

12 LGBTQIA+ Novels to Celebrate Pride Month

By Erica Nelson | June 23, 2016

13 Lena Dunham-Approved Books You Need to Read Right Now

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The Night of the Gun
by David Carr
From the recently deceased David Carr, a good friend of Lena’s, this is a revelatory memoir of his years as an addict and chronicles his journey from crack-house regular to columnist for The New York Times.

Prelude to Bruise
by Saeed Jones

A debut poetry collection examining identity in all its forms—racial, sexual, geographical, and more—with both incisive intensity and tenderness.

Prelude to Bruise
Saeed Jones

A debut poetry collection examining identity in all its forms—racial, sexual, geographical, and more—with both incisive intensity and tenderness.

MENTIONED IN:

13 Lena Dunham-Approved Books You Need to Read Right Now

By Hilary Krutt | April 14, 2016

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One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses
by Lucy Corin

This dazzling collection is powered by one hundred apocalypses: a series of short stories, many only a few lines, that illuminate moments of vexation and crisis, revelations and revolutions. An apocalypse might come in the form of the end of a relationship or the end of the world, but what it exposes is the tricky landscape of our longing for a clean slate.

One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses
Lucy Corin

This dazzling collection is powered by one hundred apocalypses: a series of short stories, many only a few lines, that illuminate moments of vexation and crisis, revelations and revolutions. An apocalypse might come in the form of the end of a relationship or the end of the world, but what it exposes is the tricky landscape of our longing for a clean slate.

MENTIONED IN:

13 Lena Dunham-Approved Books You Need to Read Right Now

By Hilary Krutt | April 14, 2016

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You
by Caroline Kepnes
When a young, beautiful writer named Guinevere Beck walks into the bookstore where he works, Joe Goldberg is smitten. So, he does what any twenty-first-century person would do: he Googles the name on the credit card she uses. Her Facebook page, he learns, is public. She tweets all the time, revealing details about herself and where she’s going. Hoping to get to know Beck (her nickname, he discovers), Joe orchestrates a number of “chance encounters” and moves from stalker to boyfriend to potential murderer.
You
Caroline Kepnes

Joe doesn’t like artisanal soda, trust fund kids, Dan Brown, Brooklyn hipsters, or Vice magazine. He does, however, like you, ever since you walked into his East Village bookshop looking like Natalie Portman. Shame that Joe is a cold-blooded killer and adept stalker. In the all-too-rare second-person narrative, YOU takes place inside the obsessed brain of Joe Goldberg, who’ll stop at nothing to make boho-wannabe Guinevere Beck (the “you” of Kepnes’s page-turning novel) his.

Crazy like: The lovesick and the just-plain-sick.

Best crazy moment: The DA VINCI CODE reading marathon.

MENTIONED IN:

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By Georgia Clark | August 9, 2016

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By Leora Bernstein | December 11, 2015

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By Off the Shelf Staff | February 12, 2015

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Church of Marvels
by Leslie Parry

This novel is set in vibrant, tumultuous turn-of-the-century New York City, where the lives of four outsiders become entwined, bringing irrevocable change to them all. Moving from the Coney Island seashore to the tenement-studded streets of the Lower East Side, to a brutal, terrifying asylum, this ravishing debut takes readers back to a city of hardship and dreams, love and loneliness, hope and danger.

Church of Marvels
Leslie Parry

This novel is set in vibrant, tumultuous turn-of-the-century New York City, where the lives of four outsiders become entwined, bringing irrevocable change to them all. Moving from the Coney Island seashore to the tenement-studded streets of the Lower East Side, to a brutal, terrifying asylum, this ravishing debut takes readers back to a city of hardship and dreams, love and loneliness, hope and danger.

MENTIONED IN:

13 Lena Dunham-Approved Books You Need to Read Right Now

By Hilary Krutt | April 14, 2016

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Fates and Furies
by Lauren Groff
Groff spins the breathtakingly beautiful tale of Lotto and Mathilde and the secrets at the heart of their marriage, over a twenty-four-year span. Profound, surprising, propulsive, and emotionally riveting, this literary masterpiece stirs both the mind and the heart.
Fates and Furies
Lauren Groff

For fans of “The Affair”

There are two sides to every story—and the psychological drama “The Affair” explores that quite creatively. FATES AND FURIES is perfect for fans of dramatic romances told from alternating perspectives. At the core of this expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents a dazzling examination of a marriage over the course of 24 years.

MENTIONED IN:

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13 Lena Dunham-Approved Books You Need to Read Right Now

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Ghettoside
by Jill Leovy

On a warm spring evening in South Los Angeles, a young man is shot and killed, one of the thousands of black Americans murdered that year. This is a fast-paced narrative of a devastating crime, an intimate portrait of detectives and a community bonded in tragedy, and an inquiry into why murder happens in our cities—and how this epidemic might yet be stopped.

Ghettoside
Jill Leovy

On a warm spring evening in South Los Angeles, a young man is shot and killed, one of the thousands of black Americans murdered that year. This is a fast-paced narrative of a devastating crime, an intimate portrait of detectives and a community bonded in tragedy, and an inquiry into why murder happens in our cities—and how this epidemic might yet be stopped.

MENTIONED IN:

13 Lena Dunham-Approved Books You Need to Read Right Now

By Hilary Krutt | April 14, 2016

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