In a Spotify-style Book Wrap, Jordan shares her favourite reads.
It would only be right to start by mentioning the first book I read this year, as part of a “50 books for 2020” challenge that I once again failed miserably at. Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson is, despite the misleading title, one of the weirdest autobiographies I have ever read. Clarifying what parts of the wonderful fever dream of a novel that is Oranges are not the only fruit were autobiographical, this book feels like all of your most complex thoughts and feelings have been placed on paper, and as such it inevitably ends up dog-eared and highlighted to bits. With beautiful ruminations on the constant search for love, healthy and unhealthy, romantic and otherwise, and on how it is the most important thing in life; on unhappy families rivalled only by Tolstoy himself; on madness and its relation to creativity; on nature as healing, and literature as essential. Some chapters read like love letters to literature, and its power to remind us we are never alone. Just as Jeanette repeats lines by T.S. Eliot for comfort in hard times, I complete the cycle and read the quote “Committing to life, in all its exuberant chaos – and pain” to myself whenever I need comfort or guidance on staying here. What you want does exist if you dare to find it.
I have tired everyone out by talking about this book and so I must turn to this article because I’m not ready to shut up about it. Crush by Richard Siken is not to be dismissed just because it’s a Tumblr staple. This collection of poetry is a gorgeous confessional on obsession, love, sex, and violence written in a constantly panicked tone.
If you need a gift for a friend, or for yourself, who exclusively seems to consume media by, for, or about unhinged women – Midsommar, The Bell Jar, Girl Interrupted, Gone Girl, and the likes – I have to direct you to Boy Parts by Eliza Clark. With a protagonist that initially seems just like that edgy art student we all know and love, Clark’s novel spirals out of control and we watch the protagonist self-destruct, pushing the extremes of her sanity as well as her moral and artistic boundaries. A debut novel released this year set in modern Newcastle, I will never tire of the familiar Geordie slang and online references, including a brutal takedown of Timothée Chalamet . Although it contains social commentary on the creative industry, on class and on beauty, this does not come at the cost of the narrative. It is a truly gripping narrative, so do not open this if you have a deadline coming up, as I did. You will want to do absolutely nothing else except binge-read this book until it’s finished – and then nothing else but talk about it for the next few days for good measure.
Here’s to hoping next year will be the year I complete Goodreads’ 2021 reading challenge.