Everything Is Figureoutable
I don’t want quick fixes in my self-improvement books—I want new ways of thinking, and this book offers just that. If you’re facing a challenge, this philosophy of relentless optimism will show you how to knock down the obstacles in your path and figure out how to make it happen.
The Other's Gold
This debut novel follows four friends, Lainey, Margaret, Alice, and Ji Sun, all assigned to the same suite freshman year of college. We watch as they go from the sheltered world of their idyllic campus to the sleep-deprived days of early motherhood and have their bonds tested by the life-altering mistakes they each make. I read this and immediately sent copies to my college roommates—a book like this is meant to be shared among friends.
Akilah Hughes is a writer, comedian, and YouTuber, and this book of essays—stories from my timeline, as she says—reminded me of the best of Tina Fey’s Bossypants and Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? From her Kentucky upbringing to finally getting to—and making it in—New York, Hughes covers everything from spelling bees and cheerleading squads to struggles with her weight and a racist fifth-grade teacher. Laugh-out-loud funny and poignant at the same time.
All That You Leave Behind
Erin Lee Carr
I love a good father/daughter memoir, and Erin Lee Carr’s was the most spectacular one I read all year. Her father, New York Times journalist David Carr, collapsed suddenly in the newsroom in 2015 and died at 58. To cope, his daughter began combing through their emails, looking for shreds of comfort and advice from him. The result is an exploration of his legacy and her path forward, and it is stunning.
Bill Cunningham: On the Street
New York Times
Once, a long time ago, I worked in fashion and got to attend some shows at New York Fashion Week. One of them was held at the New York Public Library, and as the well-dressed attendees descended the stairs, photographer Bill Cunningham was down below, photographing them all. That was my minor brush with this legendary photographer, but this collection encapsulates his decades-long career that traces the changing styles and culture during that era.
Mira Jacob’s graphic memoir—beautifully drawn and written with humor and vulnerability—attempts to answer her 6-year-old son’s many questions, especially the ones that arise in the wake of the 2016 election. In doing so, she thinks back to where her answers once came from, reflecting on her most formative conversations about love, race, sexuality, and family.
The Chelsea Girls
In my opinion, Fiona Davis can do no wrong. Her novels always center on famed buildings in New York City (see: Grand Central Station, the Dakota, and the Barbizon Hotel). Her latest is set in the Chelsea Hotel and follows a playwright and an actress struggling to make it big on Broadway of the 1950s. McCarthyism is whipping across the country, and these two women are caught in the crosshairs of a Communist witch hunt.
Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, dedicated to defending those most in need. One of his first cases was Walter’s McMillian’s, a young man sentenced to die for a murder he swore he didn’t commit. From there, Stevenson is brought into a web of inequity and conspiracy that causes him to issue this call to fix our broken justice system.
The Great Believers
This braided narrative might be one of my favorite reads of all time. One half centers on Yale Tishman, grieving his friend Nico’s death from AIDS in 1980s Chicago. As the epidemic grows, Yale’s career burgeons when he secures a large gift of paintings to the gallery he works for. Fast-forwarding to 2015, we meet Fiona, Nico’s sister, trying to track down her estranged daughter in Paris and rescue her from the clutches of a cult. This book is heartbreaking and moving and expands the meaning of what it means to be a family.
Daisy Jones & The Six
Taylor Jenkins Reid
This book, told in the oral-history style of VH1’s Behind the Music, feels like a perfect harmony of the movie Almost Famous and Fleetwood Mac’s album Rumours. It follows the tumultuous rise to fame in the late ’60s and ’70s for the titular band Daisy Jones & The Six. Brooding frontman Billy Dunne struggles with staying clean, Daisy Jones combats her explosive star power, and the rest look on, dumbfounded but along for the ride.
Whenever someone asks me “What should I read next?” (which is often, given the line of work I’m in), I usually ask them about the last book they loved. From there, I can pretty easily direct them to the next title that might pique their interest. But if all else fails, I recommend one of my favorites. I get to read all the time for my actual job, so I have a lot of recent reads to choose from. These are the ones I can’t stop thinking about and will press into any reader’s hands.
Featured Photo by Jinny Kwon