Once again I’m doing this tag — and one that you guys seemed to like! This concept was originally created by Alex over at the paperback piano and you can check out her original post for the letter B here.
In case you don’t know what the “Alphabeticals” posts I write are, they’re lists I compile of my favorite authors, books, and characters that start with a given letter. It’s an amazing way to bring to the spotlight some people or works you might not have heard about!
If you haven’t read my post for the letter A you totally should! You can read it here. Today I thought I’d do the follow-up post because I had so much fun with the letter A, so here are my picks for the letter B!
Authors beginning with the letter B
Brit Bennett: I should get double cookie points for choosing an author whose first and last name start with a B, and whose writing is as delicious as chocolate chip cookies.
Brit Bennett was born and raised in Southern California. Having graduated from Stanford University and later getter her MFA in fiction at the University of Michigan, she dedicates her professional life to writing. Her work has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and Jezebel. So far she has published one novel — The Mothers.
Her debut novel — The Mothers — was one of my favorite books of 2017. It follows the story of a young African-American girl named Nadia Turner who, during her teen years, becomes pregnant, the father being the son of the local pastor. Nadia sees herself involved in a love triangle one summer, and time starts to go by fast. As Nadia and the people around her, who know her secret and have some involvement in it, grow; the possibility of having chosen differently and the “what ifs” that come with it start to surface.
What I loved the most in this novel (besides the brilliant sentences Brit Bennett came up with) was the voice that would sometimes interrupt the flow of the novel. This voice is what gives the book its title. They are “The Mothers,” and their presence was almost God-like. They invoked in me the feeling that I was witnessing the muses and goddesses speaking and passing on judgment all the way up from Mount Olympus. It’s such a unique and brilliantly executed concept — for this reason alone you should read it!
Alain de Botton: This writer seems to be a hit-or-miss for a lot of people, but I actually really like him and find his work different from that of his peers.
Alain de Botton is a writer and television producer living in London and leaving him mark behind on the internet. He is a writer of essayistic books relating to his experiences and ideas, as well as those of philosophers, artists, and thinkers. He aims to make philosophy relevant to everyday life again, and one of the steps he has taken to achieve this was the start of the Youtube channel The School of Life.
His first published book — Essays in Love — is the only one I have read to this date, and it holds a special place in my heart. In it the writer tells of his experience with one relationship with a woman named Chloe. He goes through the mechanisms of falling in love, living your life in love, little gestures we notice our loved ones do, sustaining a long-term relationship, and finally falling out of love. It reminded me of “500 Days of Summer” in the aspect that the book follows a male character (in this case, the writer himself) and focuses on love. It’s a really unique read and I recommend it especially if you are, or you have been, in love.
What I also love about de Botton is the ideas he has put into the Youtube channel School of Life. The mere concept of this school is amazing — making philosophy relevant again to the average citizen. I love the talks he has given that you can watch on Youtube, and I plan on reading many more of his books.
Books beginning with B
The Best We Could Do: This is an autobiographical graphic novel authored by Vietnamese-American author Thi Bui. The Best We Could Do is about Bui’s family’s escape from Vietnam at the height of the war, during the fall of Saigon, to America.
I love books about migration and especially those that are memoirs. I love how the author explored the themes of growing apart from her family because they were exposed to different cultures during their formative years and the parallels she draws between Saigon and San Francisco.
If you’re looking for a great graphic novel written by an Asian-American about the experience of being Vietnamese in America in the 1980s, definitely give this one a go. I wrote a review of this book last year — you can read it here!
Bad Feminist: Roxane Gay’s 2014 collection of essays is still one that I always recommend to people who are looking for well-written non-fiction essays dealing with women’s issues and femininity. It touches upon a series of topics of interest to women — such as representation in the media and cultural fields, the concept of a “rape culture,” and growing up as a black American woman.
Gay’s prose is superb. It’s somber, it’s eye-opening, and the points she makes will stay in my mind for a long time. If you’re looking for a good intersectional essay collection, I recommend that you pick this one up. It’s a great starting point to get more into feminist essay collections.
Blankets: The last book I have picked is a semi to fully biographical graphic novel authored by Craig Thompson. Between these pages the author tells of his teenage romantic adventures in a God-fearing town in Wisconsin. Through adorable drawings he puts to ink the love story he lived with a girl he met at camp during the summer.
I think this book was absolutely adorable. The book is split into several parts, but the plot happens over the course of a little more than three weeks. I am a sucker for love stories, so of course this massive 600-page graphic novel would be my cup of tea. The author wrote down some pretty impressing quotes, and his drawings captured perfectly the feeling of being in love as a teenager.
If you want a cutesy and very easy-to-read book, reach for Blankets, as it won’t disappoint you!
Characters beginning with B
Billy Pilgrim (from Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut): This is a character I feel very strongly about. He’s a very complex character — a World War II veteran who saw the bombing of Dresden and now in the post-war is a time traveller — in a brilliantly written novel.
Slaughterhouse-Five is the story of Billy Pilgrim who comes back from the war and tells his story as a soldier serving the United States of America in a disjointed way. I don’t like to say much about this novel because it’s best enjoyed when the reader doesn’t have a well-defined plot, in my opinion. If you’re interested in historical fiction, this short book will surely become one of your favorites.
Bridget Jones (from Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding): Bridget is one of my all-time favorite characters. She’s such a brilliantly created character. Even though I’m decades younger than Bridget, and I definitely do not face the same adversities she does, I can’t help but laugh my ass off at whatever shenanigans she gets herself into.
Everybody knows the story of Bridget Jones, the thirty-something woman living in London desperate to lose weight, give up smoking, and hook up with her crush. If you haven’t read the book, you’ve probably watched the movie adaptation featuring Renée Zellweger — which is even better than the book, in my opinion. Her story is hilarious, and it’s so hard not to laugh at her actions. It’s also a modern loose retelling of Pride and Prejudice, which never hurts anyone.
If you haven’t read the book of watch the movie, I highly highly recommend it. Although it’s not a five-star movie, it’s hilarious and a classic!
These are my picks for the letter B! I’m certainly leaving something, or someone, out; but I feel like these authors, books, and characters are pretty good reflections of my reading preferences. What about you? Do you have any favorites starting with a B?