What have you read lately I just devoured two incredible books …
First, between two kingdoms of Suleika Jaouad. The gripping memory begins when she is a college student with persistent itching on her legs. (“It’s eczema,” says a nurse on campus. “It’s stress,” suggests a doctor.) After graduation, Suleika is deeply exhausted – she regularly naps for six hours – but she wipes it off as a side effect of a busy one Life. After moving to Paris and falling in love, the 22-year-old is eventually diagnosed with leukemia with a 35% long-term chance of survival. The first half of the book tells of four harrowing years in and out of the hospital, when Suleika was fighting for her life. The second half of the book begins when she leaves the cancer ward. How does she live after surviving? She’s taking a country road trip to find the answer. In all fairness, when this book first hit my desk, I was reluctant to break it open. During a dark pandemic winter, I thought, shouldn’t I choose an easier read? But the answer is no. Treat yourself to these stunning, page-turning, life-affirming memories. You’ll be so glad you did.
TW // sexual abuse
Next, I ripped through Vanessa Springora’s intriguing memoir consent. The book caused a sensation in France when it was published last year – it sold more than 200,000 copies. Translated into English this February, Springora’s book boldly tells her true story: When she was 13, she accompanied her mother to a dinner party. A 50-year-old man – a famous writer – smiled at her. For the next few weeks he sent letters every day and followed her into the street until he finally led her to his apartment. And so began their relationship where she skipped school to meet him in bed and wiped makeup off her face to look younger. Although the writer’s relationships with underage girls and boys were well known – he even wrote a book called Under Sixteen – he was protected by the Parisian literary scene and ubiquitous cultural attitudes. In France in the early 1980s, after the sexual revolution, Vanessa said: “It was forbidden to ban.” (Your mother would even take him out to dinner.) I can’t stop thinking about this book, and I am impressed with Vanessa Springora’s ability to reclaim her story – and the effects of abuse – in such clear, controlled, and colorful words. A triumph.
What books have you read recently? I really enjoyed White Tiger too, especially after watching the Netflix movie.
PS Three more great books and Caroline’s five favorites.
(Photo by Marija Kovac / Stocksy.)