It’s easy to romanticize the hustle and bustle of big-city living, but sometimes you find yourself jostled around on a crowded New York City subway car and the glamour abruptly drops; suddenly, you remember the litany of frustrations that come with city living: the sea of crowds, constant diversions and compulsions to see everyone and do everything. It’s moments like these I find myself reaching for books with women who have deliberately chosen to pursue their own adventure, their own truths. These women live way outside the norm—in fact, they’re often way off the grid. Inspiring and thought-provoking, these memoirs offer the perfect solace for those moments when you need to expand beyond your everyday life and remember that there’s a whole world outside of that crowded subway car.
Attention, bookworms! Spring Daylight Saving is upon us, which means more time with the sun—and more time to read in it. To get you ready, here are some beloved time-travel reads that are known for turning the clock back, forward, and everywhere in between.
January’s Women’s March on Washington inspired us to read more biographies and memoirs about women who have changed history and about influential women today who are building our future. From Madeleine Albright to Ronda Rousey, here are some of our favorite record setters, rule breakers, and “first-evers” from famous women in history.
For almost a century, the world (this list writer included!) has been fascinated by Zelda Fitzgerald, the tempestuous and troubled wife of one of America’s most beloved writers. The epitome of a flapper, her legacy of rebellion and glamour are practically synonymous with the era. Now it seems that she’s getting the credit she deserves with a miniseries to bring her story to life. Here are some binge-worthy books about Zelda Fitzgerald to keep you going long after the finale.
Get Book Recommendations
I was scanning the nonfiction aisle at Barnes & Noble, always a sucker for the “dysfunctional family” memoirs, when THE GLASS CASTLE by Jeannette Walls caught my eye. I picked it up and opened to the dedication page: To John, for convincing me that everyone who is interesting has a past. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a book reel me in by the dedication page, but this one did.
As Off the Shelf writers, and book lovers, we spend a lot of time immersed in fictional worlds. But every once in a while we’ll finish reading a book and then long for a more familiar place—our hometowns. Whether we were born and raised there, or took such a liking that we chose to call it our second home later on in life, these 11 books are set in the many places that we call home.
When you think of the word “immigrant,” different images may come to mind: perhaps it’s of Ellis Island, or colonists landing at Plymouth, or someone getting off a plane and starting fresh. Whatever your association, one thing has been the same throughout history: people come to America to find a better life for themselves and their families. This year, I am pledging to read more of those stories, especially the ones I haven’t heard before. If you’re looking for a place to start to learn more about the stories of immigrants, we’ve collected 13 novels about immigrating to the United States from its founding to today.
I love reading novels with dysfunctional characters. Something about their utter inability to get it together makes me feel so much better about my own moments of ineptitude. I may have accidentally forgotten to pay my electric bill last week, but I’ve never been so overwhelmed with responsibility that I disappear on my family like Bernadette in Maria Semple’s WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE. Sure, I’ve embarrassed myself after a drink too many once or twice, but I certainly haven’t squandered an entire inheritance after a drunk driving accident like Leo in Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s THE NEST.
And I may be a poor twentysomething trying to make it in New York City, but I’m so glad I’m not a grad-school dropout living at home and unable to face reality like Cal in Kris D’Agostino’s THE SLEEPY HOLLOW FAMILY ALMANAC.
At the start of each year, we always look forward to the unveiling of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge. Their list of 24 book prompts is the basis of their challenge to the literary community to read more widely, read more diversely, and try genres and topics we might never pick up otherwise. The list this year is no exception, and we are so excited to get reading! Here are some of our recommendations for the challenge. Read along with us or visit Book Riot to create your own list.
MRS. BRIDGE is one of those books that writers love to pass along to other writers, although there’s nothing difficult or “writerly” about it: it’s funny, even hilarious, and written in fleet, nimble, sparely elegant prose. I forget who urged me to read it first—I remember a classmate in grad school raving about it—but my near-instant infatuation with the book had to do with marijuana.