We’re the girls that accidentally missed classes, lunch, and other super important things because we were off in another world going on thrilling adventures. The books we read shape how we look at the world, and how we feel about it. We’re gonna share with you some our most influential books and why we love them.
Harry Potter Series, by JK Rowling, duh (Becca). The fascinatingly intricate magical world Queen JK Rowling created and shared with the world has forever impacted those who have experienced it. I read the first book at the beginning of my fourth grade year in a new school where I was dubbed “the new weird girl that wears her green stirrup pants way too much”. Needless to say, I needed some friends. I could go on for days (and have after some wine) about how much I love these books, but for today I’ll leave it with this: friendship and love are the strongest forces in existence, and with those you can do anything, including conquering the world’s strongest wizard, winning wars, and finding lost loved ones.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling (Kaycie). I bought this for my bestie Hannah’s birthday one year. She was living in St. Louis and I was here in Springfield and missing her like crazy. We had both been big Mindy fans since falling in love with her character on the Office and I was especially inspired by her badass lady bossattitude. So obviously, when I saw her book at Barnes and Noble I immediately bought it and started reading it in the aisle. And then I read more when I got home. And then before I knew it I had read the whole thing before I could wrap it up and give it away as a gift. Giving books as gifts is really important to me. Especially if it’s a book I’ve already read and I really love. It’s like the two people reading it are in on a secret and if it’s a funny book like Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, you can both share in the humor. This book came along when I needed a way to feel close to my best friend even though we were 2 ½ hours apart and reading about Mindy and her best friend Brenda Withers writing a hilarious sketch comedy show based on Matt Damon and Ben Affleck made us realize that we write really well together. Thanks Mindy!
Here’s a little gem from Miss Mindy: “You should know I disagree with a lot of traditional advice. For instance, they say the best revenge is living well. I say it’s acid in the face—who will love them now?”
Look at that. Creative genius.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares (Becca). These books both showcase the bonds of sisterhood, whether by blood or by friendship. Sisterly love is fierce, bold, deep, and unyielding. Both of these stories represent emotions and experiences most everyone will have at some point. The women in these books are relatable to everyone, even Joey Tribbiani.
Yes Please by Amy Poehler (Kaycie). On to another funny woman who I am totally inspired by and in love with. Amy: if for any reason you happen upon this, like if you have a personal assistant who googles your name and likes independent blogs based in the Midwest, know that I hope you’ll officiate my wedding one day…..probably sometime in the distant future…in Reno…with my lady wife, Kinsley.This book made me laugh and cry within a few pages. I picked it up one day on a whim after hearing how amazing it was from literally everyone whose opinion I love and respect and I’m so glad I did. I was going through a thing. A funk. A total “why me what do I even do with my life and who even cares” moment and it’s like Amy heard my calls for help and answered me in the form of a very well thought out book detailing her own personal journey and struggle. Not only was she funny, but she wrote from a very personal and humble place. She wrote about her work with the Upright Citizens Brigade when she lived in Chicago and still chain smoked cigarettes. She wrote about getting a divorce and being very pregnant very publicly. She thanked absolutely every person who has helped her along the way including the TSA agent who found her laptop after she left it on a plane once. This lady, I swear. I know it’s creepy when you say you want to BE people, but I would totally like to be inside her body for a day and know what her brain thoughts feel like. They’re probably awesome, just like her.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (Becca). This trilogy was huge for me, it has action, mystery, horror, romance, crime, adventure, science, social injustice, and a badass female lead. All my favorite things. There are moments where these books hit in such a violent way so close to your heart, it feels so strongly that it’s almost too hard to read, but I feel like that is an important quality to have. Read them, and then watch the Swedish version movies on Netflix.
This is How You Lose Herby Junot Diaz (Kaycie). Being in grad school means a lot of late nights, early mornings, and reading, tons of reading. This doesn’t always mean reading things you love. More often it means reading things that have been assigned to you or are meant to help you figure out how to be a better student. Often they leave me feeling like a ridiculously dense human who has no business being in grad school, but sometimes there are those gems that stick out and save you when you feel like you’re drowning. A fiction writing class I took last semester was assigned The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz and I FELL IN LOVE with it. I wanted to read everything of his. Diaz released This is How You Lose Her five years later and it featured a lot of the same characters from his previous novel. It’s a wonderfully heartbreaking story separated into sections named after ex-girlfriends. Yeah. He goes through every emotion and through his characters pinpoints every dirty rotten thing we do when it comes to love. It’s haunting and moving and special. It’s like eating more chocolate after you already looked at your reflection and said “omg stop seriously”. Sometimes you just have to keep going.
Esther (Becca). I have always been obsessed with this book of the Bible. As an orphaned Jewish woman, she was super “unimportant” by most people’s standards of the time. Esther became queen, keeping her nationality a secret, saved her king’s life, and saved her family and her people from genocide. I will never tire of reading about brave women and aspiring to be like them.
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (Kaycie). Victorian Lit alert! Turn back now if you can’t stand stories about jilted society women! This book is seriously such a guilty pleasure. Don’t get me wrong, Edith Wharton is one talented boss bitch. House of Mirth is about Lily Bart, a well-born woman with no cash, not a good thing to be in the late 1800’s. She was gorgeous, funny, and men loved her. Specifically one dude who was a total fox but too much of a coward to stand up and be the man she needed him to be (amiright ladies) so she is forced to take a job doing MANUAL LABOR. To escape the pain of her sad, lonely, desperate life she starts knocking back a little chloral hydrate to numb the pain of being poor (totally reasonable) and she overdoses. Her dream guy shows up moments later to tell her he’s ready to commit and BAM she’s dead. Lesson? IF YOU LIKED IT THAN YOU SHOULDA PUT A RING ON IT. It’s basically a victorian soap opera that also deals with very real issues like sexism and classicism and ruffled the feathers of more than a few high society New Yorkers when it was released. I like a woman who makes waves.
Not That Kind of Girlby Lena Dunham and Bossypants by Tina Fey (Becca). Lena Dunham and Tina Fey are two more ladies we love, and we love reading their stories. NTKOG gave me so many amazing feels all at the same time, I would be laughing hysterically and then suddenly weeping from a moment of clarity. It’s a pretty amazing feeling when a book gives you a gift like that. Both of these books inspire me to do more, care more, think more, and be more.
Echo by Francesca Lia Block (Kaycie). I’m often asked what my favorite book is. I like this question and I’m always happy to talk about literature with new friends, but I recently realized that my answer hasn’t changed in years. I always tell people it is Francesca Lia Block’s Echo. I found this book when I was 11 years old and it dealt with themes way too mature for me, but I still related to really well. Echo’s mother is a beautiful healer who possesses an almost supernatural spirit and her father is an obsessive artist who is so entranced by his wife that he forgets his daughter entirely. In a desperate cry for attention, Echo moves off to college to be with some sad poet and develops an eating disorder. It’s heavy stuff, but when I finally got to college I was glad I had it with me and I somehow felt more prepared for all the weird emotions that come with living on your own for the first time. Good books are like security blankets and this one has stuck with me through it all.