Your best friends get you, they inspire you to go on girlfriend getaway adventures and be the best version of yourself. In this week’s book club, we present three of your new besties. Though they have different levels of experience, they’re all awesome and accomplished, and they know what they’re about. Sit down and learn some life lessons from these witty, self-assured and cosmopolitan women.
1. How to Be a Person in the World: Ask Polly’s Guide Through the Paradoxes of Modern Life by Heather Havrilesky ($15): You know you’ve achieved best friendship when you hit that stage of Real Talk and truth. “Sometimes I think Heather Havrilesky’s Ask Polly column is the only true thing on the internet,” writes Spinster’s Kate Bolick. Havrilesky’s advice column, featured weekly in New York Magazine’s The Cut, has gained notoriety and accolades due to her no-nonsense, tough-love approach to life’s big questions. Havrilesky’s not afraid to tell it like it is and put our problems into perspective, but she’s also a sympathetic ear and usually knows just what to say to put us on the path to enlightenment — or, at least, off the road to Bad Decisions.
Heather (or Polly) “can dish out tangy snark but never fails to aim the knife back at her own damaged, hilarious heart,” gushes Patton Oswalt. The book, which includes sections like “You Are Uniquely Qualified to Bring You the World,” and “Weepiness Is Next to Godliness,” feels a lot like a Come to Beyoncé sesh with your nearest and dearest (who isn’t afraid to drop a few well-placed f-bombs to kickstart you into gear). “There is magic that comes from reaching out,” Havrilesky writes, and we believe her. Writer Anne Lamott says “How to Be a Person in the World will change your life, for the way better.” Just like your bestie.
2. Not Pretty Enough: The Unlikely Triumph of Helen Gurley Brown by Gerri Hershey ($18): Our best of besties shape our worldview, our aesthetic and even encourage us to change the world. Love it or hate it, Cosmopolitan magazine has had an enormous impact on not only the magazine world, but the way we view ourselves, our fashion and how to navigate this ever-more-cosmopolitan universe. None of this would have been possible without longtime reigning editor-in-chief Helen Gurley Brown, who steered Cosmo’s ship for many years, all while not being considered “pretty enough” to grace its pages. Brown gets the bio treatment with this new tome that — to borrow a phrase from the grand dame of lifestyle mags itself — is guaranteed to drive ‘em wild.
When Brown arrived on the scene as chief editor in 1965, the slumping family magazine’s focus took a sharp turn. Written by women for women, its focus became the life of the modern single gal who was dedicated to her career, her outfits and her sex life. Ask Polly probably wouldn’t be possible without Brown, who was already famous for her own pioneering advice book, Sex and the Single Girl, when she took Cosmo’s reins. Brown stayed on as editor at Cosmo for a staggering 32 years. After being replaced as Cosmo’s US editor in 1997, she continued on as international editor for 59 countries until her death in 2012. Writing the first truly unvarnished biography of Brown, Hirshey seeks to cut through the layers and polished semi-truths. Hirshey paints a picture of a woman who grew up shy, impoverished and uprooted, with an unstable life and a less-stable mother. Terribly self-conscious about her appearance, she was nonetheless a huge success in business, the social world and love. Sounds like she’d be a hell of a friend.
3. Trying to Float: Coming of Age in the Chelsea Hotel by Nicolaia Rips ($17): Our besties share their stories with us, and they make the pain and awkwardness of growing up just that much easier. What an adventure — and a great story – it would be to grow up in the world-famous Chelsea Hotel! The iconic location and exciting experience therein help answer the question: How did a 17-year-old wind up able to produce a memoir? Well, Nicolaia Rips is a high school student who is older and wiser than her years; the New Yorker claims that she “possibly came of age before her parents.” Rips has a hard time finding her place in school, but the artistic, wacky weirdos who populate the hotel easily become her confidantes and friends.
“We moved back to the Chelsea Hotel, known for its writers, artists and musicians, but also for its drug addicts, alcoholics and eccentrics. At any given time, at least one from each group was in the lobby. Since there were few children in the hotel, it was with these people that I spent my time,” Rips writes. She tells stories with disarming wit and candor about her father’s initial refusal to admit to her existence, her first trip in utero as her pregnant mother shot off automatic weapons in Uzbekistan and her unlikely admission to preschool on the strength of a toddler’s after-dinner toasting abilities. Elle calls Trying to Float “Eloise meets Wes Anderson,” and though Rips is young, she’s already lived a lot. We think she’d be a pretty cool bestie to grab a drink with (well, maybe a mocktail for now).
What’s on your reading list? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know!
(Featured image via Getty)