Book Club: Do Not Become Alarmed

There are certain writers who make me feel … a little bit low. As in, who inspire and illumine but also make me fear that nothing I’ve ever written, or will ever write, has been, or will be, any good.

I am thinking of Claire Vaye Watkins and Karen Russell and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Lauren Groff, and I probably shouldn’t even mention Zadie Smith—because if you consider that she published (published, not wrote) White Teeth when she was twenty-four, then you may not wish to get up again in the morning. Writers who were *authors* by the time they were thirty. Who have been included in some iteration of Granta’s “Best Young Novelists”—and also, by the way, honored as Guggenheim/Radcliffe/MacArthur Fellows. Who, accolades aside, are just so. damn. good.*

One of these writers, whose work I’ve only just discovered, is Maile Meloy. She won The Paris Review’s Aga Khan Prize for Fiction at twenty-nine, and has since gone on to publish two short story collections, three novels—her latest, this month—and a fantasy-cum-HF trilogy for children. (NBD.) I tore through two of her books last week in that numbers of days, and just picked up her new novel over at Books Are Magic.** I am very, very excited to read. My own expectations-from-experience aside, Ann Patchett apparently loved it, and I think we can all agree that Ann Patchett knows.

So, THIS is what I’ll be reading next, and if you’re looking something new, maybe it’s one you’ll want to read, too?

A few others for your beach bag, below:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah.
Lauren Groff, Delicate Edible Birds.
Maile Meloy, Liars and Saints.
Karen Russell, Swamplandia!
Zadie Smith, On Beauty.
Claire Vaye Watkins, Battleborn.

What are you reading and loving (or not) these days? Hope you’ll let me know.

*I realize that all of the writers I’ve mentioned here are women. In part, this comes from that reflexive/reflective communion of womanhood, and I simply thought of them first; there are plenty of dudes by whom I am equally inspired and intimidated. BUT ALSO, there are so many brilliant young writers who are women, writing today; let’s read and celebrate and talk about them. Jonathan Safran Foer has been sufficiently spotlit.

**A new neighborhood bookshop so lovely, it almost makes me want to move back to Brooklyn. Almost.