I read a lot. And I’m fast. I can read up to three books a day. With so many volumes under my belt, I thought I’d choose the five best novels I’ve read all year. This is no small feat because I’ve read literally every single novel that came out this year, but it’s also the most accurate because unlike other Best Of lists, I’ve read literally every single novel that’s come out this year. Without further ado, I present the top five books of this past year….
1. "In Touch" is a novel similar to "The Bible"–it’s written by many people. The main character in this book, Jennifer Aniston, is a desperate, yet successful, actress who at forty-five years old has STILL NOT HAD A BABY. In this book, Jennifer Aniston learns that not wanting a baby when you’re female means something’s wrong with you, and when she realizes that she’s failed to live up to standards that were never hers, she spends a lot of pages crying in public.
After these crying photographs surface on the covers of national magazines, and she’s rightfully shamed and publicly humiliated, she quickly comes to her senses; Okay, she’ll have a baby! Yes, yes, she will. Only, wait! There’s no man in her life; it’s too late. She’ll never have a child, and at forty-five, she’s far too old to marry. What a tragic tale of a wasted life. At least she has a hot body and good hair. Halfway through the book (spoiler alert!) we learn that she’d not been crying in public after all, but was on the set of a movie rehearsing a particularly grueling scene. While the narrative arc is wildly uneven and the character development has major flaws, the intrigue is too good to pass up. Does she want a baby, or doesn’t she? Is she a desperate, haggard, old lady, or is she fooling all of us? You’ll have to read and find out for yourself! Highly recommended. Plus, it’s only $2.99 and a REALLY fast read.
2. Life & Style is an incredibly compelling novel. It’s about an Italian woman named Theresa Guidice from Franklin Parks, New Jersey, who goes to jail for criminal acts having to do with something or other and taxes, she’s not really sure. She spends almost a year being brutally tortured in one of the most harrowing prisons in America. First of all, there are no tanning beds. Just actual beds, twin-sized, for six year olds. And they’re silver. Where’s the gold, people? The life she had before prison was an intoxicating dream of luxury and abundance. She’d been on a wildly successful television show, has three (or four, she can’t remember) daughters, and a very juicy husband named Joe who would definitely have another kid with her, but since she’s going to prison, maybe they should freeze his eggs. Wait, does he have eggs? He’s not so good with medical stuff. Outside of Theresa’s prison hell are some rollicking subplots: girls at each other’s throats, secret double lives and newlyweds spending nights apart. There are some major inconsistencies and logic problems, but overall I urge you to run, run, run to your local bookstore! An amazing deal at just $2.99!!
Okay, so Star digs deep into gender and sexuality issues. The protagonist is a former Olympian athlete who has humiliated his wife and children by being true to himself. His narcissistic need to walk freely in life, to stop hiding, to discover what real happiness feels like, is ruining an entire television empire for which his wife has worked very hard to exploit their entire family. The athlete wants to start dressing as the woman he feels he is, perhaps even cast about for a new name. This book is about the total freaks who don’t live their lives compromising who they are in order to make the people around them comfortable, like the rest of us. This book exploits, sorry–explores, the private process of this uniquely painful and individual choice. Subplot includes two country singers in a hair-pulling, skin scratching catfight (which is how ladies fight) and a female pop star who, after putting her arm around her female friend, is accused of making out with another woman because…gross. Could have used some editing and there are some grossly overlooked spelling errors, but still…intrigue abounds!
Remember Jennifer Aniston from In Touch? Well, she’s back in the sequel called OK! I wrote to the publisher asking after the significance of using the same cover for a different book, but no one’s called back. Anyway, here she is again, pathetic, forty-five year old Jennifer, successful actress, failed female. This book finds her fulfilling the very dreams she was told she was wrong for not having: being pregnant. That’s right, Jennifer Aniston is finally pregnant, but without a proposal, what good’s a baby? So, she does what every woman is forced to do, and pressures her very edgy NYC boyfriend to propose to her, but he refuses!! Obviously Jennifer feels there’s no point to living.This book follows the trials and tribulations of the fight that sends Justin storming off to NYC, and the complicated decisions Jennifer must make. Meanwhile, someone named Miranda buys a new body, Ryan and Rachel get back together, although Ryan is engaged to Eva who is pregnant with their child. A very steamy read. Will Justin and Jen ever marry? Will Jen be stuck a single mom and die a pathetic death, all alone, the way she’s lived her life? You’ll have to find out! There were one too many characters in this edition for me to keep track of, but it didn’t seem to change anything when I just ignored the characters who seemed secondary. Give it a try!
This book, Life & Style is about three sisters, all of them business women, who happen to get pregnant at the exact same time. As any woman will tell you (except the creepy women who, at age FORTY FIVE, have never even been pregnant) second to marrying rich, the secret to happiness is getting pregnant at the same time as your sisters, or best friend. In this case, the three sisters, The Kardashians of Calabasas (are you seeing the thematic connection to the Earnshaw Family of Yorkshire Manor?) are already rich. Very rich. This book is about all the unnatural and mortifying things that happen to pregnant women: they EAT. A lot. Like fat fucking pigs. Also, they gain weight. Which means they’re disgusting. Not only that, two of them can’t seem to make it work with their men, and one of them is completely abandoned (in his defense, she did gain weight). There’s some stuff about print clutches, which I felt was unnecessary padding, and took away from some meatier considerations such as a minor character named Selena who gets a boob job for her boyfriend, but don’t hold that against this lush and complicated narrative. Read it! So so well written! Also only $2.99!
Originally published on amandastern.com.