8 brilliant books (by women) to distract you from the WTF week

What to read if you can’t bear reading one more article with the C-word

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[1] My Friend Anna: The true story of the fake heiress of New York City (Rachel DeLoache Williams)

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“Once upon a time, not long ago, I had been living my life and doing just fine. Anna’s presence in my world had occurred suddenly and quickly expanded. Her influence spread undetected. While she bought me dinners and invited me on vacation, I deluded myself into thinking that, as reciprocity, my understanding, time, and attention would be enough. Meanwhile, under the guise of friendship, she tethered herself to my core. With every hour we spent together, her power grew. Where I felt connection, she felt control.”

[2] From the Corner of the Oval Office: One woman’s true story of her accidental career in the Obama White House (Beck Dorey-Stein)

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“The funny thing is, nobody cares what you do. They don’t ask because they’re curious about how you spend your day or what you’re interested in. What D.C. creatures really care about is whether you’re important or connected or powerful or wealthy. Those things can help advance a career. But a jobless girl getting buzzed at the bar can’t do anything for anyone.”

[3] Expectation (Anna Hope)

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“It is Saturday, which is market day. It is late spring, or early summer. It is mid-May, and the dog roses are in bloom in the tangled garden at the front of the house. It is still early, or early for the weekend — not yet nine o’clock, but Hannah and Cate are up already. They do not speak much to each other as they take turns at the kettle, making toast and tea. The sun slants into the room, lighting the shelves with the haphazard pans, the recipe books, the badly painted walls.”

[4] Why Mummy Drinks (Gill Sims)

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“The men in the playground usually take the form of either Super Busy And Important Daddies In Suits who burst in and out, either throwing the children in at the gate or dragging them out at high speed while talking loudly on their mobile telephones so we are all aware that they are Super Busy And Super Important and only here because The Nanny was so inconsiderate as to get appendicitis.”

[5] Uncanny Valley: A Memoir (Anna Wiener)

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“Lightly hungover one afternoon, eating a limp salad at the literary agency, I read an article about a startup that had raised three million dollars to bring a revolution to book publishing. The story led with a photo of the three cofounders, men who smiled widely against a pastoral background, like fraternity brothers posing for a graduation shot. All three wore button-down shirts; they looked like they had just shared a good chuckle. They looked so at ease, so convincing. They looked like the sort of men who used electric toothbrushes and never shopped at thrift stores, who followed the stock market and kept their dirty napkins off the table. The sort of men around whom I always felt invisible.”

[6] Girl, Wash Your Face (Rachel Hollis)

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“Stop medicating, stop hiding out, stop being afraid, stop giving away pieces of yourself, stop saying you can’t do it. Stop the negative self-talk, stop abusing your body, stop putting it off for tomorrow or Monday or next year. Stop crying about what happened and take control of what happens next.”

[7] The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P (Adelle Waldman)

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“I feel like you want to think what you’re feeling is really deep, like some seriously profound existential shit. But to me, it looks like the most tired, the most average thing in the world, the guy who is all interested in a woman until the very moment when it dawns on him that he has her. Wanting only what you can’t have. The affliction of shallow morons everywhere.”

[8] American Wife (Curtis Sittenfeld)

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“I did not care if Ella went to Princeton, if she was exceptionally pretty, if she grew up to marry a rich man, or really if she married at all — there were many incarnations of her I felt confident I could embrace, a hippie or a housewife or a career woman. But what I did care about, what I wanted most fervently, was for her to understand that hard work paid off, that decency begat decency, that humility was not a raincoat you occasionally pulled on when you thought conditions called for it, but rather a constant way of existing in the world, knowing that good luck and bad luck touched everyone and none of us was fully responsible for our fortunes or tragedies.”

Shameless plug: in May, my own book will be out too! I hope life has returned to normal by then. If you enjoyed any of the books above, you might like ‘The Almost Girlfriend’ too — sign up to read it here.

Writing stories (www.adelebarlow.com) and helping companies tell theirs (www.copyand.co)