There’s an episode of Parks and Recreation where Ben can’t decide whether or not he should run for Congress so he asks Leslie (queen of politics, waffles, and hearts) what he should do. She says she doesn’t have an opinion on the matter. He knows she DOES have an opinion regarding the subject and subsequently yells, “YOU HAVE AN OPINION ON POCKETS.” Leslie Knope has an opinion on everything. I, somewhat similarly, have a feeling regarding everything. This is why I loooooooove reading. Books are a myriad of opportunity in terms of eliciting any feeling.
So I’ve compiled a list of books to help you feel whatever you think you may need to feel.
If you need something deeply emotional
Girl In Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
I encountered this book on quite a few “Young Adult” book rec lists. The protagonist is a teenager, but her problems are that of someone who has lived quite a few qualms and quite a few lives. This book will break your heart in seventeen different ways, but it is also an emotional and educational experience in its every word. It will push you out of your comfort zone (this novel will actually throw you in a trunk of a car, and throw you in a ditch that is 800 miles away from your comfort zone, actually); it will reaffirm the validity of adulthood’s constant and pesky gray areas.
*This book deals with immensely challenging and heavy subject matter including self-harm, sexual assault, and homelessness.
The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
Keegan’s ability to craft a character is impeccable. Her fiction is entrancing. Keegan’s characters feel like friends who have gone through all the same disappointments you have. This is a good, different read.
If you want something different
Losing It by Emma Rathbone
This is a quick and enticing read! The plot draws the reader in from the very beginning of the novel. Julia is a 26-year-old virgin who cannot stop obsessing about the fact that she is a 26-year-old virgin. Her daily activities are inundated with her constant thoughts reminding her of the backdrop that is her virginity. Julia travels to North Carolina to spend the summer with her middle-aged aunt, Viv. Viv is also a virgin, and Julia scrambles to figure out a) how being middle-aged and a virgin is possible and b) how to avoid becoming this reality at any cost. The book is honest and genuine in its reflection of the unpredictability of being young and the feeling that being different can feel like the end of the world.
Knives and Ink by Isaac Fitzgerald and Wendy MacNaughton
This is exactly what you need if you’re in the mood for something other than a standard fiction novel or politician biography (not that those aren’t grand too). Isaac Fitzgerald and Wendy MacNaughton interviewed chefs around the country to discuss the backstories, motivations, and symbolism regarding each chef’s tattoos. The illustrations give the book an extra special feel. This is a book I’d love to have on my coffee table for guests; it’s also a great book to give as a gift. There are a ton of fun recipes in the book as well–including a spiced hot chocolate one that I am hoping to actually attempt!
If you’re trying to feel a case of the giggles
You’ll Grow Out Of It by Jessi Klein. This is a fantastic book; the best nonfiction book I read in 2016. As I read this, I couldn’t help but think about how hilariously candid and relatable Jessi Klein is. Jessi Klein does not try to be funny, she is funny. Her humor and humanity is innate and this book is one of my new goto gifts for all my lady pals and pals who are into comedy writing (Jessi Klein is an abundantly successful comedy writer). Read this book.
If you like thrillers that leave you wanting to throw whatever you’re reading straight out the window (in a good way)
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll is the brain-twisty that your heart desires. This book inadvertently challenges the true drive behind the girl who wants you to think she has it all. It’s dark, thought-provoking, and entirely intoxicating. You will find yourself having very strong feelings regarding the choices you feel the protagonist should make or try to escape. Any novel that can get a reader this invested is worth it.
If you’re in the mood for a romantic/guilty-pleasure YA novel
Sarah Dessen’s Saint Anything is the best. I did not leave my house and read this book in less than 24-hours. Thanks Sarah gurl!! Seriously though, this is one of the best young adult novels I’ve ever read. I am normally a slow reader, and this entire book flew by. This is an excellent book for a stressed out teenager who feels like there are other people and entities in her life that suck all of the energy out of the room, leaving him or her to fight the annoying world all on his or her own.
If you’re looking to no longer feel alone in your grief
Read Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst. This was one of the first books I ever enjoyed reading and one of the only (I’m genuinely sorry Ms. Brilliant!) books I read in its entirety during high school. The plot is exceptionally unique–it centers around a grieving widow named Paul who is trying to interview the only one who witnessed his wife’s death. The perplexing aspect: The only one at home when Paul’s wife died was Lorelei, the family dog. In my opinion, the book poetically encapsulates the hope we hold in our hearts when we convince ourselves that answers will help us in soothing the pain of losing someone.
If you want to get a thousand percent lost and engulfed in someone else’s drama
Need a vacation from YOUR family drama? The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney has a world of its own familial nonsense! Completely engrossing, occasionally infuriating, and always entirely captivating this book is exactly what you need to take a brain and stress vacation.
If you want a mix of all things good and heartbreaking
If you just want a whole lot of life, then you should read my favorite book, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. This book approaches any and all subject material. I think I talk about this book every day (I have a problem). This novel is funny, dreamy, and it’s a comfort in itself.
All of these books are phenomenal. They also couldn’t be more different. They can push you over the edge straight to a much-needed cry. They can make you giggle. You can even vicariously live the high school romance you always kind of wished for. I hope you find one book that helps you to feel whatever you need to feel.