At this point of the year, it’s a great time to check in with yourself and look forward to where you’re going; most of us can think of a couple of things we’d like to improve upon, whether it’s our family relationships, our health, our careers, or our contributions to our communities. While you are taking time for some self-reflection, you may be interested in these titles.
“I Liked My Life” by Abby Fabiaschi
When Madeline suddenly dies her husband Brady and daughter Eve are left reeling; she had been the foundation of their family right up until her death: a death everyone believes was suicide. As Brady and Eve struggle to pick up the pieces and adjust to life without Maddy, they also begin to comprehend how little they knew her and how many mysteries are left behind through her premature death… but Maddy isn’t quite gone. Stuck in between here and the hereafter, she’s determined to find her replacement so she can move on; when she chooses Rory, she seems like a perfect fit for her family, until Maddy begins to suspect that Rory is hiding some secrets of her own. Told alternately between the four characters’ points of view, I Liked My Life is a meditation of family, belonging, and mortality. By turns somber and wry, it’s a compelling novel populated by relatable characters and told through engaging dialog. Fans of Where’d You Go, Bernadette? will appreciate the complex family dynamics and off-key humor, as well as its touching moments. Maddy’s omniscient presence will also appeal to those who enjoyed Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones. Despite the heavy subject, I Liked My Life never seems to drag, and each character’s unique perspective keeps the story moving quickly. This is an excellent book for a quick read coming in at 260 pages, which makes it the perfect length for a roundtrip flight or a day at the pool; it’s sure to make readers hug their family just a little bit tighter after the final page.
“Feminist Fight Club” by Jessica Bennett
An excellent book with a brilliant name, Feminist Fight Club is part-manifesto, part-survival guide for women in the workplace. Based upon the experiences of the author and her friends in their own careers, it highlights common issues women encounter at work, from difficulty getting an interview to receiving proper credit, to being spoken over and asking for a raise. The first part of the book is devoted to deconstructing typical problem personalities at work including “The Stenographucker” (who treats women on the team as secretaries, asking them to take notes or get coffee) or “The Lacthater” (who assumes the mothers on the team are uncommitted or unserious). After breaking down these personality types, Bennett gives a rapid-fire list of ways to deal with and counter them. The second and third parts identify problematic behaviors women fall into at work, such as deferring praise or saying ‘yes’ to every favor or task they are approached with; Bennett follows up with ways readers can establish boundaries among their coworkers. Readers will almost certainly identify themselves and people they know in these descriptions. The section “F You, Pay Me” is worth the price of admission for a detailed guide on how to ask for a raise (and how to hold your own in negotiations); “Get Your Speak On” is an excellent examination of how women’s speaking styles can affect them at work, and will have readers analyzing their own tone and vocabulary. Ending with a guide to forming your own Feminist Fight Club with your friends, this is an excellent book for any woman at work or navigating any kind of group work atmosphere looking to reevaluate her professional life.
If you like these books and would like to find similar titles, check out NoveList Plus. This online resource, available through the Mid-Continent Public Library, will help you find fiction books that appeal to your personal reading style. For non-fiction titles, check out Books & Authors.
Elizabeth Reinhardt is the Readers Advisor and Book Group Coordinator at the Parkville Branch of the Mid-Continent Public Library. She holds a Master of Library Science from Emporia State University.