I’ve been a fan of stories since day one. It took me, however, a bit more time to discover great storytelling hidden outside of fiction. Even though I automatically tend to associate nonfiction with heavy academic texts, fighting against this stereotype paid off. Searching for stories in different literary forms introduced me to books that deeply affected me and challenged my worldview. Here are some favorites of the past year.
What If This Were Enough (Heather Havrilesky, 2018)
As I mentioned before, Havrilesky’s weekly column at The Cut contains a lot of golden life advice, which the author transformed into a stellar collection of essays. Havrilesky’s philosophy can be best described as life minimalism, opposing the omnipresent pressure to constantly keep improving and striving for more. The essays don’t offer any definite questions, rather a bunch of sharp and resourceful questions. If Havrilesky’s voice resonates with you, this book is well worth the time.
All About Love (Bell Hooks, 2000)
I can’t claim to have loved this Instagram sweetheart, but some of Hooks’ words are still stuck in my head months after having read her book of essays. It addresses love from various standpoints, covering anything from romantic partnership to one’s own spiritual fulfilment. While some of her statements would – in my opinion – deserve to be further elaborated on, it’s still a captivating read for anyone interested in self-growth literature (but not necessarily in the commercial self-help stuff).
Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott, 1994)
I kept saving this one “for later” (whatever that means), simply because it’s a strong card. Lamott’s book forever changed my view on creative writing. Her narrative style is quirky, funny and focused, and the themed chapters cover all aspects of writing and publishing while offering actual advice. One of my few must reads.
Everything I Know About Love (Dolly Alderton, 2018)
The only autobiography in this mix, and one of the very few ones I’ve ever read. It’s a warm, sentimental and very girly read (in a good sense!), which basically functions as a toolkit for various existential crises. Alderton’s writing proves that our lives are stories, with all their narrative plot twists and ups and downs, and that is a very comforting thought, I believe.