This collection of essays made me feel like Tolentino was inside my brain, pulling out all my half-formed qualms and questions about modern culture and turning them into deeply smart, well-researched speculations about what the internet has done to human society. She peels away the layers on topics like the performance inherent in social media, the ridiculous extravagance of modern weddings, and the surprisingly similar experiences offered by religion and the drug Ecstasy. It’s a dense read and worth taking some time to fully digest. 4/5
The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness
I was expecting to like this series more than I did. I’m usually a sucker for fantasy stories with magic and witches and prophesies, but this one just wasn’t that exciting. The world-building was inviting, but the story dragged a bit and the romance had me rolling my eyes every few chapters with its Twilight-like undertones. The heroine spent a good portion of the books being a wet noodle and literally got swept off her feet too many times to take any of it very seriously. 2.5/5
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Running 600 pages, this book had the confusing problem of being too drawn out while also making me wish I’d gotten more details on certain plot points and characters. Until the last part of the book, the narrative felt more like vignettes of the characters’ lives instead of a cohesive story, making it hard to stay engaged. There were, however, some really fascinating character relationships and illuminating points about race and the immigrant experience that definitely makes this book a worthwhile read. 3.5/5
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
If internet memes are any indication, lots of us can relate to a desire to forget the incessant traumas of the world and sleep a year away swathed in easygoing movies and a full bank account. This story is bizarre and unsettling but also tender and hopeful. Writing style is a big factor in whether I can really connect with a book, and Moshfegh’s unsentimental boldness telling this truly weird story totally captured me. I’m looking forward to reading everything else she’s written. 4.5/5
A short list of things I loved in February that made the snow covered hellscape of Michigan tolerable:
I finished N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy this month and now I want to read everything else she’s written. It was exciting, deeply upsetting at many points, and emotionally dense. She created a rich world, slowly unwrapping it over the course the three novels and dragging you in deeper with each chapter. She describes this future world from several different perspectives as the events piece together and the world and its residents crystallize into something truly magnificent and horrifying.
The band Cheekface knows how to write a serious jam wrapped up in lyrics that cut directly into our collective millennial heart. It’s hard to pick a favorite track from the delightful collection of singles they’ve trickled out over this past year, but “Eternity Leave” is a bouncy lyrical gem that I just can’t get enough of. Their debut album comes out March 20th and I can’t fucking wait.
I’ve been working on perfecting my pita and hummus making skills. I’m still tweaking my hummus recipe, but I’ve used this pita recipe from The Kitchn twice so far and I think I got it just right on my second try. On the first attempt, they turned out a little too dense and didn’t puff up—I think I over-kneaded the dough or maybe didn’t let the dough rise long enough. The second time, I only kneaded the dough for 5 minutes and then let it rise for one and a half hours—they turned out so good! This might have to become a weekly thing because pita + hummus is one of my favorite snacks, and the store bought options are truly awful for the most part.