Ahhh, crises. We all have them, be they monetary, emotional, romantic, fashion-based, whatever. They can be small, like getting your arms stuck above your head while trying on dresses at Zara (who, me?). They can also be not-so-small — as overwhelming as a divorce or the death of a loved one. One comfort during these trying times is to remember there are others who have gone through “insert-current-crisis-here” before. To wit, here are 5 books that help confirm this:
1. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail – Cheryl Strayed
Yes, everyone’s all agog because, hello, Opes just named this the first book in her book club 2.0! Welcome back, O, we’ve missed you. There’s a reason why she chose this book, methinks; Cheryl Strayed talks about pain and loss so openly that just to hold the book feels like talking to a friend. Strayed’s story chronicles the loss of her mother and the aftermath of putting her life back together. She embarks on an eleven hundred mile hike and in doing so confronts her grief. Reading it made me feel like I, too, could be a hardcore Naturalist while still getting to shower (Bonus!). Oh, and Reese Witherspoon is making it into a movie. Love it. For anyone grappling with the death of a loved one.
2. Ali in Wonderland and Other Tall Tales – Ali Wentworth
It’s easy to begrudge someone who seems to have it all. Ali did, in fact, “have it all”. She grew up in a prominent family of journalists and blue-bloods. Heck, she even had an actual EXPLORER in her family. How’s that for a job title? She’s beautiful, blonde, intelligent and on and on. Ali in Wonderland is a comedic memoir detailing Ali’s rejection of this preordained life while struggling to find her way in the world. And how she did. Now she’s married to George Stephanopoulos (YUM!), has a beautiful family and an awesome career to boot. She’s like your brave, funny, older sister who tells you about her mistakes so you don’t have to make the same ones. PREACH – said all the little sisters! For those days when you’re hating your mom / trying to differentiate / leaving the nest / you know.
3. Five Men Who Broke My Heart – Susan Shapiro
I mean, I’ve been dumped. Multiple times. Hasn’t everyone? HAVEN’T YOU? I was once dumped twice in one month and one of the guys was a friend. And he was all, “I think our friendship is getting too serious” and I’m all – “IT’S A FRIENDSHIP! WAIT, LOVE ME!” But I digress. Susan Shapiro is next-level brave. She went out and tracked down the five men she dated between 13 and 35 to see what really went wrong and finally move on. She unpacked her entire dating history so she could take responsibility for her shortcomings and try changing them. I shudder at the thought. This book (and several hundred trips to Yogurtland) helped me through a horrible break-up a few years ago. For anyone burned by love.
4. How Did You Get This Number – Sloan Crosley
Sometimes essay books are very disjointed. Crosley manages to make it feel like you already know her stories and this is the highlights reel. A mixed CD rather than an album, if you will. She covers topics from travel, to career, to klepto roommates and horrible boyfriend. And, quite gracefully, she manages to do this without feeling overly self-indulgent and ranting. For anyone feeling stagnant and lost or just looking for a laugh.
5. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! – Dr. Seuss
Without veering into the “This-ish-is-so-sappy-I-need-an-action-movie-NOW” territory, whenever I return to this book I’m astounded by the inspirational yet honest message it conveys. Namely, everyone has ups and downs but everyone also has the potential to make changes in their life. For anyone on the verge of something big – and aren’t we all? YOU GO, GURL.