In the United States, the average man only reads one or two books a year, or less. New Zealand is still on our list of places we’d like to move to.
Reading is great because you look cute when you do it, you can do it for free, and even though it’s not always good for you, it’s at least fun. We and our friends go to these places when we need ideas when we’re in the library.
Almost any kind of fiction: noir, romance, thrillers. In genre fiction, you know what to expect: the hero will brood, and the girl (and a lot of orgasms, too) will get the guy. A burly ex-marine is going to stop the bad guys from blowing up the Capitol again. A few of my favorite things: Anything by Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole, Cat Sebastian, or Jennifer Crusie: Murder on the Orient Express, Queenpin, The Cuckoo’s Calling, and anything else by Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole, Cat Sebastian, or Jennifer Crusie
The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It by John Seymour
Everything you need to know about homesteading is in this book. It talks about tomato pests and how to remove a boulder from your field before you plow it.” I can almost picture myself in overalls, holding a bushel of my own produce like Oprah does on Instagram. • Miya Kumangai, an expert on tarot cards and a big fan of Justin Peck, says this.
Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman
“I reach for this book when I’m introspective.” It’s painful, but in the end, “cathartic.” This is another book that I read: Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson. “The ethereal haze of nostalgia in this book makes me want to stay still.” The author of Out East and a wedding guest more than anyone else we know: John Glynn.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
It’s not the kind of movie that had a soulless CGI-cash-grab on the big screen. The real Hobbit is a cozy story about a bumbling little hero who quickly becomes the reader’s “spirit animal.” It’s full of warm happiness and cool wisdom. (Also, there are lovely descriptions of food and drink.) When I read the first line, I melt into the couch pillows as if I were going to fall through to Middle Earth. –Adrian Louis Chandler is a writer, story editor, and fan of Disneyland.
My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme
I mean, it’s about learning how to cook in your beautiful homes in France, which is something we all want to do. There is so much food lust in the paragraph about her first loup de mer. Plus, there’s the diplomatic service, crazy housemaids, pipes freezing in the Childs’ apartment, and her savage disdain for Marseille fisherwomen who can’t agree on the right recipe for bouillabaisse.
Slow Days, Fast Company by Eve Babitz
The coolest LA girl is writing about the coolest LA things. A woman named Babitz is the one who kept drinking all night long with beautiful people before writing some of the best personal journalism in history.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
“I reread it (or parts of it) whenever stuff like dating is stressing me out, because with P&P I actually know what’s going to happen, and it’s all going to work out. And it’s just a great place to live! –Annette Berg is a Danish supermodel who looks like a model.
My Soul Looks Back by Jessica B. Harris
A cookbook author and food historian talks about her friendships with famous people like James Baldwin, Nina Simone, and Toni Morrison, and how they often took place over elaborate meals and wine at restaurants in New York City’s hip West Village.
In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce
As a teenager, I go to a place where the world is even more wild. In this middle-grade fantasy classic, a girl who is actually a boy learns how to be a knight, falls in love with a prince, and fights an evil mage. Another thing is that she has a psychic connection with her cat, too. She’s my favorite heroine of all time, and my problems aren’t as bad as hers, but that’s just me. Estelle Tang, a senior editor at vogue.com, is a Karaoke Goddess.
People I Want to Punch in the Throat by Jen Mann
You can laugh or cry with someone who understands you while you’re on the train. I like listening to comedic, complaining, self-parody, memoir-style audiobooks that make fun of parts of my life. Even with the train ticket, it costs less than $9 to get all of them. She is smarter than you.
An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine
As a seventy-two-year-old Lebanese woman with a brilliant, literary mind, Aaliya Saleh lives a quiet life. In this 2014 novel, she looks back on her life. It’s about nothing and everything, but it’s a lot of fun to slip into her life and see how normal it is.
Was She Pretty? by Leanne Shapton
This book will make you love your ex-boyfriends so much. This is great when you’re going through a breakup and need to remember that there are nice people out there.
Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith
Reading this book could be like talking for hours with your most brilliant, agile-minded, and hilarious friend. But in reality, none of our friends are quite as cool as Zadie Smith, so there’s no way to compare her to our friends. There are nonfiction essays in this book about everything from Middlemarch to 50 Cent’s movie about his own life. It’s great in one word.
The New Yorker
“Am I the only one who starts with the caption contest when I open up a new book?” Every time I finish a magazine, I think about how clever the people who read it are. “It will make you feel like a third of the Obamas’ marriage, which would be the ultimate act of self-care.” Then there’s no shame in real trash: Bella is beautiful. Every now and then, I look up Kristen Stewart and read the same old stalker press about her. Validating a hot celebrity’s lack of privacy is the best thing you can do for them. Georgia Clark, author of The Regulars and The Bucket List, is a big fan of cheese.