Five of My Favorite Books!
The Time-Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. This book is magic. It destroyed me – first, because I simply couldn't believe that the author had gotten it all to work out so perfectly. I would go flipping back to previously read scenes, thinking, “There's no way there isn't a mistake here somewhere..” but there were no mistakes. The humor in this book, the language, the images, the raw emotion, the sex, the visceral pain of loss – it's all there. I cried so hard when I got to the end (and, FYI, I almost never cry, period) that a woman on the subway asked if I needed help. This is probably the most perfect book I've ever read.
(Do not ever mention the movie of this book to me. No, I haven't seen it, and I certainly never will. There's simply no point.)
Lafcadio, The Lion Who Shot Back, by Shel Silverstein. Yes, everyone loves Uncle Shelby. But for me, this is his best book, and one I have loved for a thousand years. Go read it right now, if you haven't. It's about what it means to be human, and what it means to fit into your own skin. It's funny and strange and brilliant.
French Relations, by Fiona Walker. I bought this book at Heathrow Airport when I was 18 and wanted something juicy and fun to read for the flight back to the US. Little did I know I had stumbled on the BEST BOOK EVER. It's just everything about a fabulous chick-litty, beach read only more – fashion! Scandal! Drunken midnight romps! Misunderstandings! Puns! Horses! English people! It's like Bridget Jones if she lived in a Judith Krantz world. Seriously, I know it sounds ridiculous and very unliterary, but everyone I have ever loaned my copy to (on pain of death if it not returned, btw) has agreed. Best. Book. Ever.
Wicked, by Gregory Maguire. People who are only familiar with the (in my opinion, totally awful – and I say that as a fully-fledged and knowledgeable theatre geek, btw) musical version of this need to go buy the book AT ONCE. It's totally different. It's a political manifesto, and so complicated, so nuanced, so brutal... every time I read it I discover something I completely missed the last time. I think it's the best of his books (and I've read them all) - but that might be because it's the first one I read and I don't know if anything could compete afterwards.
The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells. I love Rebecca Wells' writing. I love the way she makes sentences, the ways she creates characters, and the way she tells a story. Her words are delicious. Her point of view is so specific. I think she has one of the purest voices in fiction – and I love Southern fiction. The Prince of Tides was a favorite novel when I was growing up, and her stories remind of it in all the best ways. (And no, I haven't seen the movie version of this either! You can't make me!)
Meredith Zeitlin is a writer and voiceover artist who lives in Brooklyn with two adorable feline roommates. She also writes a column for Ladygunn Magazine, changes her hair color every few months, and has many fancy pairs of spectacles.
"Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters" (Putnam, March 2012) is her first novel.
You can learn more about the book here: www.kelseyfinkelstein.com