Arts & Media

Our Quarantine Reads

Priya Canzius ’20
Editor in Chief
April 22, 2020

Some days in quarantine are spent panicking about the state of the world, others are spent ignoring all responsibilities and curling up with a really good book. The Scripps Voice (TSV) has asked the Claremont College community to help us compile a list of 20 books you must read– or should plan to stay away from– during quarantine.

Happy reading!

The following list contains our classmates’ favorites. Each of these 13 books received a 5/5 rating.

The Book
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid


The Rating & its Reasoning
5/5
This book checks so many of my boxes — old Hollywood, journalism, powerful and complex women… such a fun read!

The Audience
Any Scrippsie, especially those interested in movies or writing!

I’m interested… What’s it about, according to the author’s website?
Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life.
When she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career. Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

I’m sold! Where can I find this book?
https://bookshop.org/books/the-seven-husbands-of-evelyn-hugo/9781501161933

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The Book
What If It’s Us by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli


The Rating & its Reasoning
5/5
It was absolutely adorable and a nice distraction from the current moment

The Audience
For lovers of romance

I’m interested… What’s it about, according to HarperCollins Publishing?
ARTHUR is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.
BEN thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.
But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them . . . ? Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated. Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited. But what if they can’t nail a first date even after three do-overs? What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work and Ben doesn’t try hard enough? What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play? But what if it is? What if it’s us?

I’m sold! Where can I find this book?
https://bookshop.org/books/what-if-it-s-us/9780062795250

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The Book
Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston


The Rating & its Reasoning
5/5
A lighthearted book that’s wonderfully written! This is a perfect pick if you need a bit of escapism.

The Audience
People interested in politics!

I’m interested… What’s it about, according to MacMillan Publishers?
What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?
When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse. Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic.

I’m sold! Where can I find this book?
https://bookshop.org/books/red-white-royal-blue/9781250316776

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The Book
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller


The Rating & its Reasoning
5/5
A well-written romance set in Ancient Greece- what more could you want?

The Audience
Perfect for classics majors or fans of The Secret History!

I’m interested… What’s it about, according to the author’s website?
Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. Achilles, “best of all the Greeks,” is everything Patroclus is not—strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess—and by all rights their paths should never cross. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their tentative connection gives way to a steadfast friendship. As they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper—despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals. Fate is never far from the heels of Achilles. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate.

I’m sold! Where can I find this book?
https://bookshop.org/books/the-song-of-achilles/9780062060624

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The Book
Evicted by Matthew Desmond


The Rating & its Reasoning
5/5
Super eye-opening, informative, and devastating but still being an easy read due to its anecdotal nature.

The Audience
Someone who wants to learn more about housing inequality and relationships between landlords and tenants.

I’m interested… What’s it about, according to the author’s website?
In Evicted, Princeton sociologist and MacArthur “Genius” Matthew Desmond follows eight families in Milwaukee as they each struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Hailed as “wrenching and revelatory” (The Nation), “vivid and unsettling” (New York Review of Books), Evicted transforms our understanding of poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving one of twenty-first-century America’s most devastating problems. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.

I’m sold! Where can I find this book?
https://bookshop.org/books/evicted-poverty-and-profit-in-the-american-city/9780553447453

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The Book
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty


The Rating & its Reasoning
5/5
I listened to this as an audio book when I was driving away from campus (tear) and it kept me interested the whole ride! This book starts out with so many questions (and a murder!) and answers every single one of them all while telling a seemingly new story.

The Audience
Someone who likes mysteries and who is ok with author/time-shifts every chapter.

I’m interested… What’s it about, according to the author’s website?
Pirriwee Public is a beautiful little beachside primary school where children are taught that ‘sharing is caring.’ So how has the annual School Trivia Night ended in full-blown riot? Sirens are wailing. People are screaming. The principal is mortified.
And one parent is dead.
Was it a murder, a tragic accident or just good parents gone bad? As the parents at Pirriwee Public are about to discover, sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal…
Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, school-yard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

I’m sold! Where can I find this book?
https://bookshop.org/books/big-little-lies/9780425274866

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The Book
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson


The Rating & its Reasoning
5/5
A short but complex story about four girls growing up in Brooklyn learning how to navigate the world together.

The Audience
Anyone who loves coming of age stories, deals with issues such as racism, faith, and grief. Fans of poetry would also enjoy.

I’m interested… What’s it about, according to HarperCollins Publishing?
Running into a long-ago friend sets memory from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything—until it wasn’t. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant—a part of a future that belonged to them.
But beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away and fathers found hope in religion.

I’m sold! Where can I find this book?
https://bookshop.org/books/another-brooklyn/9780062359995

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The Book
How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones


The Rating & its Reasoning
5/5
A deeply personal coming of age memoir about blackness, queerness, and growing up that I couldn’t put down.

The Audience
For memoir lovers

I’m interested… What’s it about, according to Simon and Schuster?
“People don’t just happen,” writes Saeed Jones. “We sacrifice former versions of ourselves. We sacrifice the people who dared to raise us. The ‘I’ it seems doesn’t exist until we are able to say, ‘I am no longer yours.’” Haunted and haunting, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning coming-of-age memoir. Jones tells the story of a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears. Through a series of vignettes that chart a course across the American landscape, Jones draws readers into his boyhood and adolescence—into tumultuous relationships with his family, into passing flings with lovers, friends, and strangers. Each piece builds into a larger examination of race and queerness, power and vulnerability, love and grief: a portrait of what we all do for one another—and to one another—as we fight to become ourselves.

I’m sold! Where can I find this book?
https://bookshop.org/books/how-we-fight-for-our-lives-a-memoir/9781501132735
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The Book
From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey Stein


The Rating & its Reasoning
5/5
I listened to this as an audiobook and was completely engrossed for two entire days (ask my family – even when I wasn’t listening I was talking about it).

The Audience
For fans of memoir & romance who miss Obama

I’m interested… What’s it about, according to the author’s website?
In 2012, Beck Dorey-Stein was just scraping by in DC when a posting on Craigslist landed her, improbably, in the Oval Office as one of Barack Obama’s stenographers. The ultimate DC outsider, she joined the elite team who accompanied the president wherever he went, recorder and mic in hand. On whirlwind trips across time zones, Beck forged friendships with a tight group of fellow travelers–young men and women who, like her, left their real lives behind to hop aboard Air Force One in service of the president. But as she learned the ropes of protocol, Beck became romantically entangled with a consummate DC insider, and suddenly, the political became all too personal. Set against the backdrop of a White House full of glamour, drama, and intrigue, this is the story of a young woman making unlikely friendships, getting her heart broken, learning what truly matters, and discovering her voice in the process.

I’m sold! Where can I find this book?
https://bookshop.org/books/from-the-corner-of-the-oval-a-memoir/9780525509141

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The Book
Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reed


The Rating & its Reasoning
5/5
A novel that is part romance, part coming-of-age, part motherhood, all while also provoking important questions about race in America.

The Audience
For fans of novels that make you think

I’m interested… What’s it about, according to Penguin Random House?
Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living, with her confidence-driven brand, showing other women how to do the same. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night, walking the aisles of their local high-end supermarket. The store’s security guard, seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make things right. But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

I’m sold! Where can I find this book?
https://bookshop.org/books/such-a-fun-age/9780525541905

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The Book
Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis


The Rating & its Reasoning
5/5
I gave this book 5 stars because it’s a brutally honest memoir about a life entirely different from my own and I simply could not put it down.

The Audience
If you enjoy memoir, you’d enjoy this book. Content warning: addiction, discussion of sexual assault

I’m interested… What’s it about, according to Barnes and Noble?
In 1983, four self-described “knuckleheads” burst out of the mosh-pitted mosaic of the neo-punk rock scene in L.A. with their own unique brand of cosmic hardcore mayhem funk. Over twenty years later, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, against all odds, have become one of the most successful bands in the world. Though the band has gone through many incarnations, Anthony Kiedis, the group’s lyricist and dynamic lead singer, has been there for the whole roller-coaster ride. In Scar Tissue, Kiedis delivers a compelling life story from a man “in love with everything” — the darkness, the death, the disease. Even his descent into drug addiction was a part of that journey, another element transformed into art. Whether he’s honoring the influence of the beautiful, strong women who have been his muses or remembering the roaring crowds of Woodstock and the Dalai Lama’s humble compound, Kiedis shares a compelling story about the price of success and excess. Scar Tissue is a story of dedication and debauchery, of intrigue and integrity, of recklessness and redemption — a story that could only have come out of the world of rock.

I’m sold! Where can I find this book?
https://bookshop.org/books/scar-tissue-9781401307455/9781401307455

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The Book
All the Names They Used for God by Anjali Sachdeva


The Rating & its Reasoning
5/5
The incredible detail makes you empathize with characters that you thought you don’t have anything in common with.

The Audience
People who like short stories! One is a little dystopian, one is slightly fantastical

I’m interested… What’s it about, according to Penguin Random House?
A dystopian tale about genetically modified septuplets who are struck by a mysterious illness; a love story about a man bewitched by a mermaid; a stirring imagining of the lives of Nigerian schoolgirls in the aftermath of a Boko Haram kidnapping. The stories in All the Names They Used for God break down genre barriers—from science fiction to American Gothic to magical realism to horror—and are united by each character’s brutal struggle with fate. Like many of us, the characters in this collection are in pursuit of the sublime. Along the way, they must navigate the borderland between salvation and destruction.

I’m sold! Where can I find this book?
https://bookshop.org/books/all-the-names-they-used-for-god-stories/9780525508687
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The following five books may be worth picking up, depending on how invested you are in finishing reading all of TSV’s book recommendations. These books received either a 4/5 or 3/5 rating.

The Book
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney


The Rating & its Reasoning
4/5
The characters are really well developed, the style is excellent, but the plot itself moves slow.

The Audience
Readers who love Jane Austen

I’m interested… What’s it about, according to Penguin Random House?
Frances is a coolheaded and darkly observant young woman, vaguely pursuing a career in writing while studying in Dublin. Her best friend is the beautiful and endlessly self-possessed Bobbi. At a local poetry performance one night, they meet a well-known photographer, and as the girls are then gradually drawn into her world, Frances is reluctantly impressed by the older woman’s sophisticated home and handsome husband, Nick. But however amusing Frances and Nick’s flirtation seems at first, it begins to give way to a strange—and then painful—intimacy. Written with gemlike precision and marked by a sly sense of humor, Conversations with Friends is wonderfully alive to the pleasures and dangers of youth, and the messy edges of female friendship.

I’m sold! Where can I find this book?
https://bookshop.org/books/conversations-with-friends/9780451499066

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The Book
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell


The Rating & its Reasoning
4/5
A fictional book about sexual harassment and the long-term psychological effects. Super heavy content and difficult to get through, but I couldn’t put it down.

The Audience
Someone ready to tackle intense emotions and graphic descriptions.

I’m interested… What’s it about, according to HarperCollins Publishing?
2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.
2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed? Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.

I’m sold! Where can I find this book?
https://bookshop.org/books/my-dark-vanessa/9780062941503

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The Book
Just Kids by Patti Smith


The Rating & its Reasoning
4/5
“Just Kids” is a personal glimpse into the pre-success life of songwriting legend Patti Smith while coming to age in New York City.

The Audience
Music/poetry fans

I’m interested… What’s it about, according to HarperCollins Publishing?
It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation. Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence and enthusiasm, they traversed the city from Coney Island to Forty-Second Street, and eventually to the celebrated round table of Max’s Kansas City, where the Andy Warhol contingent held court. In 1969, the pair set up camp at the Hotel Chelsea and soon entered a community of the famous and infamous, the influential artists of the day and the colorful fringe. It was a time of heightened awareness, when the worlds of poetry, rock and roll, art, and sexual politics were colliding and exploding. In this milieu, two kids made a pact to take care of each other. Scrappy, romantic, committed to create, and fueled by their mutual dreams and drives, they would prod and provide for one another during the hungry years. Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. It serves as a salute to New York City during the late sixties and seventies and to its rich and poor, its hustlers and hellions. A true fable, it is a portrait of two young artists’ ascent, a prelude to fame.

I’m sold! Where can I find this book?
https://bookshop.org/books/just-kids-9780066211312/9780060936228

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The Book
Kindred, by Octavia Butler


The Rating & its Reasoning
4/5
It’s been hard for me to get through books in the past, but ever since I started reading time travel and historical books I got more excited about reading. This book has very interesting things to say about race, inter-racial dating, and how racism against Black Americans manifests itself throughout US history.

The Audience
Anyone interested in time travel, US history, or Black history.

I’m interested… What’s it about, according to Barnes and Noble?
Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana’s life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.

I’m sold! Where can I find this book?
https://bookshop.org/books/kindred-anniversary/9780807083697

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The Book
Orwell On Truth by George Orwell


The Rating & its Reasoning
4/5
I found it while leaving campus last month, it was a fun, short read on the plane, and really relevant to the state of the world’s political climate.

The Audience
It has famous excerpts from Orwell’s oeuvre. A person who enjoys accurate, historical outlooks on the future will enjoy reading this.

I’m interested… What’s it about, according to Barnes and Noble?
Over the course of his career, George Orwell wrote about many things, but no matter what he wrote the goal was to get at the fundamental truths of the world. He had no place for dissemblers, liars, conmen, or frauds, and he made his feelings well-known. In Orwell on Truth, excerpts from across Orwell’s career show how his writing and worldview developed over the decades, profoundly shaped by his experiences in the Spanish Civil War, and further by World War II and the rise of totalitarian states. In a world that seems increasingly like one of Orwell’s dystopias, a willingness to speak truth to power is more important than ever. With Orwell on Truth, readers get a collection of both powerful quotes and the context for them.

I’m sold! Where can I find this book?
https://bookshop.org/books/orwell-on-truth/9780358065050

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The Book
Run Away, by Harlan Coben


The Rating & its Reasoning
3/5
Such a fun thriller with so many twists and turns! The characters were a little too Upper East side for me but it was engaging enough.

The Audience
Someone who likes thrillers and likes surprise endings!

I’m interested… What’s it about, according to Barnes and Noble?
You’ve lost your daughter. She’s addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. And she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want to be found. Then, by chance, you see her playing guitar in Central Park. But she’s not the girl you remember. This woman is living on the edge, frightened, and clearly in trouble. You don’t stop to think. You approach her, beg her to come home. She runs. And you do the only thing a parent can do: you follow her into a dark and dangerous world you never knew existed. Before you know it, both your family and your life are on the line. And in order to protect your daughter from the evils of that world, you must face them head on.

I’m sold! Where can I find this book?
https://bookshop.org/books/run-away-9781538732731/9781538748442

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If you’ve exhausted all of your other must-read literature lists, these reads are for you! These two books received either a 2/5 or 1 /5 rating.

The Book
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green


The Rating & its Reasoning
2/5
The plot was super cool, but I didn’t like how this story was written. Plus, the characters were all pretty one-dimensional and uninteresting… Except for Carl. Some aspects of it were really timely because of coronavirus and the book’s sequel comes out this summer so it might be worth a read now.

The Audience
Fans of Hank Green and science-fiction

I’m interested… What’s it about, according to the author’s website?
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is a story about a young woman who gets thrust into the spotlight when she discovers something very very odd. The fame that she seeks gives her the power she’s always wanted, but also, it destroys her.
It was called “timely and sorely needed” in a starred review from the Library Journal. Lev Grossman said it was “pure book joy” and the San Francisco Chronicle said it was “sparkling with mystery, humor and the uncanny.”

I’m sold! Where can I find this book?
https://bookshop.org/books/an-absolutely-remarkable-thing/9781524743468

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The Book
This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz


The Rating & its Reasoning
1/5
It’s made up of short stories about men using women to find their place in the world, and then blaming women when they do. It’s beautifully written, though.

The Audience
Fans of short stories

I’m interested… What’s it about, according to Penguin Random House?
On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In a New Jersey laundry room, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness–and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses.
In prose that is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender, and funny, these stories lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart. They remind us that passion always triumphs over experience, and that “the half-life of love is forever.”

I’m sold! Where can I find this book?
https://bookshop.org/books/this-is-how-you-lose-her/9781594631771

Featured Image Credit: College Info Geek

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