Book-ending 2017

Written By Emily Bennett and Beth Turnbull

“Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  is 63 pocket-sized pages of engaging anecdotes, passionate parenting advice and wisdom with one common goal — to educate the reader about equality, specifically gender equality.

The book, which can be easily read over the course of an hour or two, is set up as a letter. Adichie was inspired to write the book after a close friend asked her a seemingly simple question — “How do I raise my daughter as a feminist?”

Adichie proceeds to provide her friend with 15 suggestions with topics ranging from identity to appearance, marriage to thoughtfulness, gender roles to oppression. As a Nigerian woman, Adichie pulls from her experiences growing up in Africa and what she learned from the immersive Igbo culture.

Although the topic of parenting advice may not appeal to a wider audience, Adichie’s advice can be applied to women and men at various stages in their lives. The advice provided is helpful to those who wish to be more thoughtful in the way they approach gender equality, and to those who wish to learn what the core of feminism truly is.

Adichie’s other work includes “We Should All Be Feminists,” “Americanah,” “The Thing Around Your Neck,” “Half of a Yellow Sun” and “Purple Hibiscus.”

“What Happened” -Hillary Rodham Clinton

While political memoirs from Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Obama’s former speechwriter David Litt and several others flooded Barnes and Noble’s across the country, Clinton’s deeply personal account of the 2016 election was not lost in the chaos.

The 400 page account spares no details of the heartbreak Clinton felt after losing the election, a feat she didn’t consider all that likely. The memoir explores the decisions she made throughout her campaign, advice for a defeated America, and what it was truly like to run against one of the most unconventional candidates in recent history.

The book also provides the reader with insight into Clinton’s sense of humor, her go-to Chipotle order (she gets her guac on the side), and her experiences with gender discrimination in the world of Washington.

Clinton’s memoir is an inspiring story of loss and the road to recovery and allows readers a closer look at what it’s really like to run for President.

“Lincoln in the Bardo” – George Saunders

Perhaps you’ve long taken an interest in the personal life of Abraham Lincoln extending beyond the Gettysburg Address and his fabled inability to tell a lie. Maybe you’re into obscure, folk-arty, concurrently grim and coarse themes. Do you like cemeteries? What about Tibetan Buddhism? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, we should be friends, but also you should probably buy George Saunder’s epically long-awaited novel “Lincoln in the Bardo.”

The near-400 page novel chronicles the death of Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie smack dab in the middle of the Civil War. Told from the perspective of the already deceased, ghoulish inhabitants of a cemetery, the entire book stretches across a single evening. Readers are introduced to a graveyard full of deceased characters – including but not limited to: a man who was struck by a rogue ceiling beam before he had the chance to consummate his marriage, a murderer, a rape victim and an avid hunter who killed approximately 30 bears in his lifetime.

Leaning more towards a screenplay than a novel, the famed short story author delivers a poignant, occasionally laugh out loud funny walk through Lincoln’s mourning process. The endless slew of ghostly voices can be distracting — it’s clear that the book shines brightest when we see the broken Lincoln, tear-stained cheeks and lanky limbs, making his way to the graveyard in the night to see his son.

“Turtles All the Way Down” – John Green

There was a lot on the line for this book.

John Green’s first young adult novel since the humorously successful “The Fault in Our Stars,” fans were justifiably anxious about the new addition to their bookshelves – and it’s the thesis of anxiety that’s found at the heart of the novel – in a compelling, relevant and genuine fashion.

If you thought “Fault in Our Stars,” a fated tragedy about two cancer-ridden teenagers was dark, “Turtles All the Way Down” is considerably darker, documenting the harrowing realities of obsessive-compulsive disorder and debilitating anxiety.

This is where we find Aza, a 16-year-old who’s beyond consumed and repulsed by the bacterial ecosystem that’s simply part of being alive. Green, who has been open about his warfare with OCD, meets Ava right where she’s at – from a simple, yet detailed, quick-witted personalized and judgement-free point of view.

On-par for Green, “Turtles All the Way Down” features a quaint cast of wildly intellectual and introspective, adventurous teenagers. In traditional Green fashion, you fall in love with the characters in a way that just doesn’t quit — once you traverse through the slight initial drag of the first several chapters, that is. This book starts out a little slower when held up next to Green’s other fast-paced, adventure-packed tales.

But don’t misread me – “Turtles All the Way Down” isn’t lacking in adolescent thrill. The plot trails behind Aza as she sets out alongside a friend from her past to find and take down an Indianapolis billionaire who’s up for a shiny $100,000 reward. Reluctant at first given her condition, Aza warily steps into the peril – and of course falls in love.

Know this – this book is a tragic one. The conclusion is as moving as can be – and if you’re an admirer of Green’s consistent ability to blow your mind and smash your heart into a million pieces with beautiful twists and turns, you’ve got to give this one a go.