Not That Kind of Girl (Random House, $28), by Lena Dunham, perhaps best known for her HBO show, Girls, is a collection of “coming-of-age” essays from a millennial’s point of view. Roughly stylized after Helen Gurley Brown’s Having It All, instead of telling you what to do, Dunham gives you biographical anecdotes showing what not to do. And we are all the better for it. A veritable Judy Blume meets Woody Allen, Dunham has come up with prose that’s witty and personal, sharp and informative. She veers from funny stories detailing her relationships with her family to suddenly serious accounts of death and sexual assault…all wearing a fine veil of humor and self-deprecation. It is only later, when you stop laughing, that you understand the depth and substantiality of Dunham’s words, which often read like advice from a big sister as Dunham deftly reveals the kind of diets and men to avoid, what you shouldn’t say to your best friend, and what a healthy relationship with your therapist should look like. Fans of Caitlin Moran, Tavi Gevinson, and Tina Fey will especially appreciate this volume—I only wish it had been around when I was sixteen.
First off, it should be said that Emma Straub is the cool girl of the literary world; like that one girl in high school, her novels don’t try too hard... they are just smooth. The Vacationers is the perfect example of this. Simply put, the novel is about the Post family’s two week vacation to Mallorca with their friends – but a family vacation is never really simple. Especially one in which the parents’ marriage is disintegrating, the son needs money, and the daughter is determined to lose her virginity before college (which is just a few months away). Betrayals will be revealed, life-altering decisions made, and in the end, you will wish that you could continue on the journeys with the Post family and friends. It is one of those rare reads that is both snappy smart and juicy.