1. Department of Speculation by Jenny Offill. This short, quirky novel was recommended to me over and over again, and to be honest I’m still trying to process how I feel about it. Department of Speculation charts the course of a marriage from the couple (only ever referred to as “the husband” and “the wife”) meeting and falling in love to falling apart and attempting to learn how to hold a life together. The best thing about this novel is the raw, poetic way in which the wife tells her story. Every sentence is carefully crafted, capturing both the ordinary and the extraordinary (the good and the awful) parts of marriage in a way that makes you want to keep reading.
2. Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin. Here’s the thing about Gretchen Rubin’s books—I feel like someone is reading me a textbook, but also like my best friend is the one reading it to me. And she really, really wants me to embrace and experience my very best self. Better than Before is an exploration of habits—how they affect us, how they form, and how we can develop the habits we need to have the kind of life that we want. I found it extremely helpful and really felt like I learned something about myself along the way. Definitely worth a read.
3. Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah. In this wonderful food memoir, Ann Mah tells the story of the year she spent alone in Paris while her husband, a diplomat, was stationed in Iraq. During her time there, she explored the origins of classic French recipes, while trying to balance the thrill of living in one of the most magical cities in the world with desperately missing her husband. And she ate. And I do love a book that describes good food.