Sophia Benoit is a writer and comedian who writes for GQ, Allure, Refinery29, The Cut and her own advice newsletter Here’s The Thing where she tries to get everyone to ask their crush out. Sophia lives in Los Angeles with her boyfriend Dave. Her first book, Well, This Is Exhausting, is available now from Simon & Schuster.
When I was younger, people always told me that the reason they loved to read was that books took them to new and different worlds. I never connected with that. I think it’s because I was a little bit too literal as a child; I assumed they were talking about fantasy worlds like Westeros or Middle-earth or Arkham. I was not a fantasy reader and thus I found this reasoning unrelatable. What I liked to read about was this world. I loved—love—reading about people in the real world, in my world. When I first started reading as an adult post-college, I was drawn to nonfiction and most specifically to memoirs by women—if I’m being fanciful, I might say I was looking to be taught all the possible ways of being alive, of being a woman.
The books below are not all memoirs—I’ve expanded my horizons over the years—but they are books by women who taught me something, gave me something. Many are books that felt like talking with a friend, some are heavy with serious themes, some span the universe, and others span the bedroom. These books helped shape how I read and how I think; they invited me to see how another person views life, and that is ultimately what I wanted to do with my own book, Well, This Is Exhausting. I simply wanted to invite people in. Also, of course, I now understand that these varied experiences of being alive are each “new and different worlds.”