We Are Never Meeting In Real Life is the book to read any time you need a laugh, or a cry, or, more importantly, when you need to hear someone tackle topics like body image, chronic illness, disability, and race with honesty and humor. If you think you can’t possibly relate, read it and be surprised. Samantha Irby is the hero and friend everyone needs right now.
Luvvie Ajayi, popular blogger at Awesomelyluvvie.com, brings her wit, irreverent views, and fierce humor to her collection, I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual. In her collection of insightful essays, Ajayi ridicules the spectacle of pop culture, from the never-ending iterations of The Real Housewives series to click-bait headlines driving fake news. This is Ajayi’s guidebook for navigating our super-connected digital world. However, it’s not all jokes in this poignant debut. Ajayi shines brightest when she takes on racial justice. In a moving essay about the story of Sandra Bland and policing in America, Ajayi gets at the core of what is so jarring about the current state of the country. It’s a brilliant strategy; by discussing the ludicrous, Ajayi creates a bond with the reader, allowing space for more difficult and transformative conversations. In a world full of judgment, Luvvie is here to remind us of our flaws, our mistakes, and how we are in need of deep reflection. More than anything, she’s here to remind us there is still a space, and hope, for meaningful connection, and we can still laugh while doing it.
This can be read as a collection of essays, or as a diagnostic look at how individuals, communities, and countries can work with one another. Known and Strange Things might be, at its core, a series of travel essays focused on the social and political. Cole’s duty is to question what it is we think we see: in one essay, “Blind Spot,” Cole worries a waitress might think he is illiterate, not knowing about his eyesight. The idea here, as in the rest of the collection, is being misread. Cole is aware of both how he might be seen, but also how others are seen without context. In Known and Strange Things, Cole is inviting you to take a journey of discovery; a trip around the world without a passport. Just know, when you arrive, you might see terrible, beautiful, or strange things.