A few favourites of mine this month, but I could easily say these books have been added to my list of favourite books of all time...
South and West: From a Notebook, Joan Didion (Knopf)
Joan Didion is a journalist that has always been intriguing to me. This book is a collection of notes, conversations and thoughts that this inspiring woman collected in two of her notebooks in the 1970s. The first part, 'Notes on the South', recollects stories of travelling with her husband to New Orleans and then exploring the rest of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The cultural clash she has as a Californian to the people living in small towns in the South is enormous. The gender and race discussions she records reminds me of the situation in the world right now. This book is of course about the past, but it presents issues that people are facing right now in a different but similar way. However, this book is also about the future. She took this trip to the South to learn more about the West by reconnecting with history. The second part, 'California Notes' is about her time in San Francisco during the Patty Hearst trial. She thinks about the idea of the West, what it represents, and what makes her feel at home.
This is a fascinating book with very detailed descriptions. Didion is a talented writer, and if you are interested on learning more about the United States, race, gender, and to identify with a location, then you should give this book a read! This is the first book I read from Didion but it made me curious to discover about her other works.
Sweetbitter, Stephanie Danler
This modern coming-of-age story is about Tess, a 22-year-old who moved to New York city for a fresh starts. After leaving everything behind, she finds an apartment in Brooklyn and a job as a back-waiter in a popular restaurant in Union Square. What follows is the connections she makes with people, what she learns about food and wine, a difficult quest to find who she really is, and many hours of partying. It is a poignant story that gave me chills! The story is so well written and I could feel Tess growing and experimenting more things as she got better with her work, fell in love with Jake, and learned to live in New York. I would read this book tomorrow if I could and would still be invested in the story like I was the first time I read it. It is a universal story that I think so many young women could identify with.