september required reading


Sarah’s Picks

Howdy, bookish friends!

This determined-to-get-happy gal has a lot of September thoughts for you.

First up, I’m breaking the rules of this column one month in (who’s surprised, really), to tell you that in addition to reading, you should also be watching and listening. Keep an eye out for an upcoming list of great podcasts I’ve been getting into!

For Serious Laughs, Feel Goods, And A Message
As far as required watching goes: Girls Trip. I’ve been obsessed with the idea that friendship is more important than romance for a while now, but seeing this movie made me finally sit down and write about it. And also hit up my ~girlfriends group text~ to remind those humans how much I love and appreciate and absolutely rely on them.

For When Your Greatest Romance Is A Friendship
That’s the title of a really great essay by Victor Lodato for the New York Times’ ever-tear-inducing Modern Love column. The title reminded me of my bestie Catie, with whom I share lifelong friendship, partnership, understanding, and laughter.

I used to lament the idea that I’ll likely never find this depth in a marriage, but now I try to embrace the whole “everything but the sex” situation, to quote Lodato. Who needs another soulmate when you already have one in your best friend?! I can’t be greedy.

Anywho, this article is about a friendship that’s superficially very different from mine and Catie’s. A middle-aged man befriends his octogenarian female neighbor and they have a blast. A sweet look into the ability of friendship to cross genders, generations, and other silly, societally-generated boundaries.

A Few Other Good Articles On Friendship…
Romantics and pro-marriage folks, proceed with caution while reading All The Single Ladies by Kate Bolick. The long, well-researched essay may make you reevaluate your life plan and societal standards of happiness and fulfillment. It’s a bit easier to swallow if you chase it with some light-hearted reminders of how fun life can be outside of romance.

For example, maybe watch some platonic rom coms (which are now reigning supreme, according to Megan Garber and The Atlantic) to recover from realizing that marriage may be dead and Prince Charming wasn’t as real or as important as you once thought!

Or, read about the intense power of female friendship in this emotional article by Emily Rapp.

Lastly, read this fun article by Tara Parker-Pope that shows you just how important friendships are to your life - they are more likely to help you be healthy and live longer, in fact, than marriages or blood family relationships.

Tavis’s Picks

Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante
Reading Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels was like drinking the ocean. These books filled my lungs and made me gasp. They were rich and course and unbelievably true. Across four mind-altering novels, beginning with My Brilliant Friend, Ferrante unravels the story of a friendship across a lifetime. It’s the story of a friendship that defies time and place - one of those relationship born before we even know ourselves, one in which the other person witnesses our coming into our own, and thus knows us better than anyone ever may - for better or for worse. The story of Lenu and Lila begins in 1950s Naples and quickly unwraps into a tale that crosses generations, marriages, success and losses, political upheaval and emotional wars of influence. It’s a story Odyssey-like in it’s scale and encyclopedic in its understanding of the human condition. It is consuming. It is beautiful. It’s the greatest romance I’ve ever read. I will not spoil it with more words of my own. Go spend a lifetime between its pages.

We are living in a golden age of scripted TV friendship. I cannot wait for the return of Broad City. Abbi and Ilana are better than noses and glue. Difficult People is my favorite show about friends who need no one but themselves and aren’t afraid to say that and many other ruder things to Kevin Spacey. Shows like The Good Place, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and my mother’s/my favorite Grace and Frankie are very much about the power in finding your platonic one, and how that person will support you as you encounter your romantic others. I dig this very much. I dig it to the core of the Earth.

One more from Sarah...

Don't Forget - It’s Never Too Late To Join The Witch Cult
The below is one of my favorite, short and sweet, friendship-themed passages of all time. It reminds me of the ups and downs I’ve faced with the best of friends: navigating dating, suburban life, and the various school social scenes throughout 16+ years of school and church. Call the troll a metaphor for patriarchy or whatever else you want, but I think the best friendships often start in a similar “we fought through middle school together and now nothing can stop us” sort of way.

If you’ve never read Harry Potter before, or this scene hasn’t stuck with you as much as it has with me, maybe now’s the time to crack The Sorcerer’s - or Philosopher’s - Stone open. For good reason, it’s a defining series for our generation - and many generations to come, I believe.

Will I bring Harry up in every single book picks post? TUNE IN NEXT MONTH TO FIND OUT ;)

“From that moment on, Hermione Granger became their friend. There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.”  

— J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone