Tulin’s top titles

Writers & Lovers by Lily King:
“Writers & Lovers” is for anyone who needs something honest. Lily King writes with such attention to detail and transparency that readers really are engulfed in Casey Peabody’s life as she embarks on a journey towards self-affirmation and discovery. Her life is not filled with action nor is it particularly lavish, but it speaks to the human desire for fulfillment in many forms. Casey looks for a writing career that she will love and gives her purpose. She explores romances even after a multitude of failed tries. Throughout the novel, King confronts the sullen grief that seeps its way through Casey’s life following her mother’s sudden death in a very honest manner. The grief and challenge that Casey experiences are so effortlessly woven into the pages of this story. Saturated with emotion, King’s words remain inspirational rather than overpowering, flowing off the page in an emotionally captivating way, filled with subtleties and vibrant observations about the human experience. Pain and all, it really is a beautiful read.

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger:
In these 200 pages of J.D. Salinger’s creation, a young man rants to his mother while tethered to a bathtub. Between every “goddamn” and puff of smoke, Zooey Glass—the main character— encapsulates the essence of growing up; the struggles of growing out of the confines of the home and realizing that all that you had remained oblivious to during your youth; the complexity of disdain and contempt you hold for your parents, particularly when they have certain aspirations for you. “Franny and Zooey” captures the drama of maturation. As Zooey pieces together elements of his family’s trauma, he is pushed into a series of jumbled realizations about higher education. He finds aspirations towards higher education in 1950s America to be ridiculous and believes the education system is plagued by egotism and consumerism instead of radical ideas. Again, I stress the jumbled-ness of this story. Salinger writes Zooey’s chapter without a linear trajectory, instead, writing in a stream of consciousness fashion. While this leads to an intense and exhausting story, it captures the urgency of coming of age. Although this work is concise, it is packed with raw thought and emotion all completely worth your time. It’s hilarious, honest, bitter and completely sarcastic.

A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet
In Lydia Millet’s “A Children’s Bible,” a series of children embark on an adventure to escape their parents in a story akin to William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies.” When a storm strikes on their summer homes, the children’s parents sink into self-destructive behavior—more invested in sex and drinking than caring for their children. Frustrated, the children gather and begin a quest for survival without their parents. While Millet’s story is a work of fiction, it offers compelling commentary on the state of our own society. The challenges that the twelve adolescents face mirror questions about the climate crisis and how different generations approach addressing it. As their parents drink wine, the twelve children pack up backpacks filled with their belongings and tredge through harsh storms and quickly rising sea levels. The novel particularly reflects on the difference of urgency that the youth have to solve the climate crisis compared to the lack of urgency that the adults carry. As the readers watch the clamor and the clatter of these twelve children attempting to hold themselves together, the parallels to what the future may hold in our world is uncanny.

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo
“The Chosen and the Beautiful” follows the life of “The Great Gatsby”’s Jordan Baker, except now she’s a queer, Vietnamese adoptee of the affluent Baker family in the 1920s. This novel captures the challenging essence of battling identity in white-dominant spaces—particularly when that’s all you really know. Vo weaves in a fantastical thread of paper folding—an art form deeply rooted in a series of East Asian cultures— which makes the book all the more refreshing and pays homage to Jordan’s Vietnamese identity. Filled with vibrant color and excitement, this retelling of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” embodies the liveliness of the 1920s. While Jordan dresses in silk dresses, attends champagne-soaked soirees and maintains her astounding golf skill, “The Manchester Act”—a fictional policy similar to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 that would expel Asians from the U.S.—looms over her life. Even if you felt that the original missed its mark, Vo’s retelling offers new depth and perspective into Fitzgerald’s story. Vo’s storytelling emulates Fitzgerald’s knack for imaginative detail, yet she adds political and identity-centric threads which broaden the white-dominant landscape of the original.

*These books are all available at the Urban library!*

“Normal People” by Sally Rooney
“Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng
“Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi
“all about love” by bell hooks
“Turtles All the Way Down” by John Green