Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by 2016. *literally everyone raises their hand*
Yup, this past year has certainly been one for the (not-so-great) books, and that’s exactly why we’re getting ready to turn the page as we begin Chapter 2017. However, if there was anything that gave us solace in 2016, it was all the literature we got lost in. It was the books that acted as a safe haven for our tired eyes at the end of a long day, the novels that wrapped their words around us like a warm blanket. To show you exactly which books we’re babbling about, we have the following works of wonder…
In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero
This stunning work was so honest and relatable — even though it’s about a life experience I could never even imagine. It feels like you just met Guerrero over a glass of wine and she’s telling you this heartbreaking and real story. It will also give you a kick in the butt and make you perk up when it comes to thinking about immigration policies here in America.
— Karen Fratti, Weekend Editor
You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
This beauty should be required reading by every human (especially of the female persuasion) on the planet. It is a down-to-earth book summarizing everything that inspires you about a self-help book, but in an extremely funny and empowering way. If you want to get a head-start on becoming an absolutely fearless human living a dream life, this book is the first step along that path. However, even the unambitious will enjoy the hilarious stories and totally relatable ideas for small changes that can exponentially increase your happiness.
— Briana Hansen, Weekend Editor
The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante
I just finished The Story of the Lost Child, the fourth and final book in Elena Ferrara’s Neopolitan series. The characters are so incredibly rich and nuanced, and I’ve never read a book where the protagonist’s thoughts and feelings felt so real. So worth the time commitment! Plus, the author is a total mystery. No one knows her true identity and she has never conducted a phone or in-person interview.
— Toria Sheffield, News Editor
I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron
For me, this was the year of Nora. I read all of her books and scripts, then watched the movies and listened to her narrate her audiobooks. I’m eternally grateful for her sharp eye and even sharper wit.
— Christina Wolfgram, Video Producer
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
I finally got around to reading A Little Life, which came out last year. It’s 720 pages long but I read it in two days, crying through most of it. We follow four best friends through their lives from young adulthood onwards, slowly learning about the trauma that the central character, Jude, endured in his childhood. It’s not a light read, but it’s a beautifully written book and one that will stay with you for a long, long time.
— Erika Smith, Weekend Editor
While it wasn’t necessarily my most favourite read in terms of entertainment value, Yanagihara’s novel about loss, love, friendship, and hardship had such a profound effect on me that I’ve been unable to shake the story from my mind since finishing it in February. While certainly tender, the novel’s exploration of what it means to live one’s life is a heartbreaking, traumatic, and essential thing that almost anyone could benefit from.
— Alim Kheraj, UK Editor
Delicious Foods by James Hannaham
This book made me laugh and sob and grow envious of Hannaham’s incredible storytelling skills. A story about a young man’s search for his missing mother who becomes ensnarled in a drug-fueled, sketchy farm called “Delicious Foods,” this book sheds light on addiction, loss, and racism. It’s complicated and wonderful and I could read it again and again.
— Gina Vaynshteyn, Editorial Director
You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein
Jessi Klein’s memoirs had me laughing (and wincing) the whole way through. You’ll Grow Out of It is drop dead funny but also heartbreaking at times. Let’s just say there’s a part where she tries to hook up with Dale (as in one half of the squirrel duo Chip and Dale) when she’s single at her sister’s Disney World wedding. It’s a must-read.
— Emily Popp, Deputy Editor
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
I have been a fan of Stephen King since I was a kid (yes, I read the super creepy It when I was just 12), but finally read his autobiography, On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft, just this year. It was recommended by multiple friends so I knew it had to be good, but I didn’t expect how much of an impact it would have on me. It was inspiring to learn how King started from such humble beginnings to becoming one of the most proficient horror writers in the world. Even if you’re not a writer, you’ll totally appreciate reading about his background and the inspirations for his stories. LOVE YOU STEVE.
— Marie Lodi, Beauty Editor
Going Off Script: How I Survived a Crazy Childhood, Cancer, and Clooney’s 32 On-Screen Rejections by Giuliana Rancic
I’ve always loved Giuliana and this book gave me a lot of insight on what it took for her to be successful! I loved this memoir because I really connected with her journey — the reason I moved to LA was because I have the same passion (to be a writer/reporter), and it really inspired me to keep following my dreams!
— Alyssa Morin, Associate Beauty Editor
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
Honestly, I just read (and then re-read) Mindy Kaling’s newest, Why Not Me?, again and again as if the book is my best friend or something. I think this book is even better than he first, because it went a lot deeper into what makes Mindy ~Mindy~ and I love that.
— Rachel Paige, Senior Writer
Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham
Also gotta give a shout-out to Lauren Graham’s Talking As Fast As I Can because it gave us SO MANY behind-the-scenes tidbits from not just the OG Gilmore Girls, but the revival, too. It should be required reading for any Gilmore Girls fan.
— (also) Rachel Paige, Senior Writer
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez
This book is so beautifully haunting and genuine. It captures the immigrant experience in such an authentic way and my heart broke a little at the end (another sign of Henríquez’s amazing storytelling).
— Eva Recinos, Social Media Manager
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
This was the one book I could not put down this year. The fact that I so personally connected and identified with a novel that was published 50 years ago speaks to the story’s power. Delving — from 2016 — into feminism, toxic masculinity, and femininity as performance in 1966 was an intoxicating, educational, and importantly depressing literary experience.
— Anna Buckley, Social Media Producer
Remembrance by Meg Cabot
I was obsessed with Meg Cabot’s Mediator series all throughout middle school, and to get a new end to the story after eleven years was beyond exciting. Suze was just as awesome as I remembered, Jesse just as hot, and Paul just as devious.
— Chelsea Duff, Weekend Editor
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
So, I know I’m ridiculously late to the game on this. This book came out in 2005 and was made into a movie in 2010 — but I had never read it or seen the movie. It’s a dystopian sci-fi novel that takes place in an orphanage. It questions the ethics of science and research, and examines the desires and dreams that make us human. Earlier this year — before I started working at HelloGiggles — I was an English teacher at a private high school. My students loved dystopian fiction, and I decided that we should read this book. I devoured the story, tearing up as I read. Teaching the profound symbolism to teenagers was an experience that I will always remember, and I can’t forget the questions the book made me ask myself.
— Rachel Sanoff, Features Editor
Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck
You know how certain books come into your life at exactly the right time? Well, this was one such book for me. Without knowing what I was getting into, I picked up this beauty in the throes of the presidential election. And I’m truly glad I did. Steinbeck’s words gently guided me through 1980s America, allowing me to learn more about a country that has undergone so much change this past year alone. While he certainly encountered disappointing and timely truths on his journey, Steinbeck also captured the beauty of this land, and the optimism-inducing beauty of the people who have always made America great.
— Anna Gragert, Associate Editor