Ariel Levy's 2013 essay "Thanksgiving in Mongolia" is one of the best pieces of nonfiction I have ever read. If I taught a class in the essay, I would make every damn student memorize it. Levy, a staff writer at The New Yorker, has expanded on this essay into a full memoir out in March, The Rules Do Not Apply. I read it in one big messy gulp, because it is beautiful and heartbreaking and unruly and real. You should preorder it immediately so you can fall into her complicated, funny, and finely-wrought world as soon as humanly possible.
One of my resolutions this year is to read more poetry. In addition to our recent Poetry Issue, I've been spending a lot of time with the illuminating work of Monica McClure and Devin Kelly. In her debut collection Tender Data, Monica explores the emotional politics of her generation with grace and grit, unpacking what it means to be real, to reject tradition, and shamelessly celebrate one's flaws. In "From Epic to Lyric," she reminds us of our true selves: "Your insides make you / who you are," "You can adorn yourself with euphemisms / but underneath there is an unrepresentable truth." In Devin's Blood on Blood, loss and love lead to redemption. This collection will sink into your heart like a hymn. I especially love the final verse of "Why Women Make the Best Kind of Killers," which blew my mind over and over again each time I reread it: "life is short some days / & some days it is long. You tell yourself / it will be ok until it's not / & even then, you persevere. / It was women who taught me this." Both of these poets should be your list of favorites.