Leave it to comedian and actress Jenny Slate to write a collection—Little Weirds, her first book, out now from Little, Brown—that George Saunders has already called “something new and wonderful.” In the midst of its publication as well as the release of her first Netflix special, Stage Fright, Slate recommends a few of her favorite women’s survival stories, in the least traditional sense: “I find myself wanting to read about women and how they behave when they can be alone, either simply in their thoughts, or in that lovely solitude that one finds when they are writing in their own irreplaceable voice. I just want to read about women feeling, tasting, moving, and to learn how they think about their experiences.”
Villa Amalia, by Pascal Quignard
This book is rough on the heart and strips comfort from its reader’s experience much like the composer-protagonist strips down old symphonies and strips down her actual life. If you want to read a book about a woman who truly turns away from a man after he has been unfaithful, after he has shown himself as weak, read this. This lady turns away, tears it all down, and even though it will destroy you to read about it, she lives again.
Hotel du Lac, by Anita Brookner
Hotel du Lac is a real stunner, a book that will remind readers to trust their instincts.
The Gastronomical Me, by M. F. K. Fisher
This is a graceful and dignified book, one that might present as food writing if that’s how you’d like to take it. But what will make your mouth water is how M. F. K. Fisher whispers her emotions to you while she’s talking about food and travel. There is a message underneath all of the overlay—there is a woman living out the first phase of her adulthood, doing it with dignity, and eventually moving on, intact and alone.
Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Gift from the Sea feels almost religious to me, and, yes, it is a bit outdated, but if you want to read a gentle meditation about how hard it is, and how essential it is, for people to find solitude and faith in whatever way that comes to them, pick up this book and read any page.