This month: two reads from beloved authors, plus a masterfully written debut.
This article originally appears in the April 2018 issue of ELLE.
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With Love Rules: How to Find a Real Relationship in a Digital World (Harper), chief content officer of Hearst Magazines Joanna Coles presents a self-described “diet book for love.” Combining her years of wisdom gleaned at the helm of Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire magazines with case studies and insights from experts, Coles takes on the role of top love nutritionist, with a strict regimen for achieving lasting relationship results.
Love Rules: How to Find a Real Relationship in a Digital World (Harper); amazon.com
Curtis Sittenfeld’s You Think It, I’ll Say It (Random House) offers snapshots of twenty-first-century life: a politically charged one-night stand, a spiteful lifestyle- blog reader, an e-relationship, et al.
You Think It, I’ll Say It: Stories(Random House); amazon.com
America Is Not the Heart (Viking), Elaine Castillo’s powerful debut, follows an extended family of Filipino immigrants as they grapple with a violent past and a precarious future.
America Is Not the Heart (Viking); amazon.com
Lorrie Moore, best known for her short stories, delivers equally whip-smart and thought-provoking nonfiction in See What Can Be Done: Essays, Criticism, and Commentary (Knopf).
What Can Be Done: Essays, Criticism, and Commentary (Knopf); amazon.com
“For aspiring hell-raisers: We get only what we’re willing
to fight for—nothing more and, I hope, nothing less.”—Outgoing Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards in Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead.
Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead (Touchstone); amazon.com
The best-selling novelist Meg Wolitzer once wrote that some men “see most fiction by women as one soft, undifferentiated mass that has little to do with them.” It is labeled “women’s fiction” for engaging with such supposedly female topics as, you know, sex, relation-ships, and parenting.
Wolitzer’s engrossing new novel, The Female Persuasion (Riverhead Books), is something of a rebel yell, slapping gender right in the title and confronting the question, What does a feminist look like? The multifaceted answer comes via the four main characters: Greer, a white college student; her queer, political best friend, Zee; her boyfriend, Cory, the son of Portuguese immigrants; and her feminist icon, Faith Frank.
At times, The Female Persuasion can read like a crash course in intersectional feminism, and some lines, like the reminder that “most women were so, so much farther outside of privilege and access than Greer Kadetsky was,” seem to preempt potential criticism of the book itself. But this also reflects a key tenet of the feminist movement today: Acknowledge privilege, then work from there.
It isn’t a novel’s job to teach us how to be, but it’s sometimes a welcome side effect. So when you’re done binge-reading your copy, hand it off to a fellow literature lover. He’ll thank you for it.
The Female Persuasion: A Novel (Riverhead Books); amazon.com