What I’m Reading: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

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TITLE | We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

AUTHOR | Karen Joy Fowler

STAR RATING | 4

ABOUT | Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and our narrator, Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. “I spent the first eighteen years of my life defined by this one fact: that I was raised with a chimpanzee,” she tells us. “It’s never going to be the first thing I share with someone. I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren’t thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern’s expulsion, I’d scarcely known a moment alone. She was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half, and I loved her as a sister.”

WHAT I LOVED ABOUT IT | Wholly original in concept and voice — jaunty, smart and heartbreaking — this is one of my tops reads of the year.

WHO I’D RECOMMEND IT TO | Anyone who enjoys witty yet emotionally gripping work, especially in the context of complicated family relationships.

FAVOURITE QUOTE |

“One day, a package of junior-sized tampons was left on my bed along with a pamphlet that looked technical and boring, so I didn’t read it. Nothing was ever said to me about tampons. It was just blind luck that I didn’t smoke them.”

What I’m Reading: This is the Story of a Happy Marriage

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TITLE | This is the Story of a Happy Marriage

AUTHOR | Ann Patchett

STAR RATING | 4

ABOUT | A vibrant and moving portrait of love, friendship, work, and the writing life.

WHAT I LOVED ABOUT IT | I found her observations on writing as a profession at once consoling and encouraging.

WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE ABOUT IT | I would have liked more essays on her writing philosophy and process, but that’s just me.

WHO I’D RECOMMEND IT TO | Anyone who appreciates a witty, elegant collection of personal essays.

FAVOURITE QUOTE |

“The tricky thing about being a writer, or about being any kind of artist, is that in addition to making art you also have to make a living. My short stories and novels have always filled my life with meaning, but, at least in the first decade of my career, they were no more capable of supporting me than my dog was. But part of what I love about both novels and dogs is that they are so beautifully oblivious to economic concerns. We serve them, and in return they thrive. It isn’t their responsibility to figure out where the rent is coming from.”