BY Rose Cox

When your hero doesn’t quite have their sh*t together...

Sometimes it’s nice to get lost in the world of words, where every one has some degree of invincibility. Whilst the common thread for Young Adult reading fosters discussions of the imperfect, this discussion seems to be lost, as our reading tastes mature. Contemporary literature seldom discusses imperfection in a light hearted, nor relatable manner, instead forcing further into the world of the invincible, where we are often inadequate in comparison. The exceptions to these statements are fantastic reading for times when you are feeling low, or simply need to hear a familiar voice. I would suggest:

The Idiot – Elif Batuman (2017)

We follow Selin during her first year at Harvard. She is Turkish, but doesn’t feel very Turkish. She is bright but does not feel very smart. She believes she should feel confident, but instead is crippled with anxiety.

This book is essential reading for any stage of your university degree as it perfectly captures the strains of discovering yourself as you come into adulthood. Batuman has created a protagonist that is dry, humorous and unflinchingly honest. The catalyst for drama within the book is her developing romantic relationship with Ivan, who is a perplexingly accurate representation of the young male ego. Trust me when I say, everyone has an Ivan in their lives and it is refreshing to see such a tangibly authentic account of coming into adulthood.

Eileen – Ottessa Moshfegh (2015)

If you’d like a read that brings out all the dark and twisty bits within you, you cannot go past Eileen. The titular character is like nothing else you will ever read. She is frigid, disgusting (and easily disgusted), offensive and judgmental. She is the internal narrator you have when you are kinda hungry and everyone is asking you a million questions. Her life, and your reading, is dramatically changed with the introduction of Rebecca Saint John. Rebecca is beautiful, sweeping and warms the cold edges of Eileen. With Eileen’s guard being let down she is dropped into a world of Rebecca’s crimes and lies, however she enjoys every bit.

The books is replete with images of dirty snow and grimy characters. It’s a definite must read during the hot summer, as you’ll be transported to a cold more powerful than an air conditioner could allow.

The Nix – Nathan Hill (2016)

Samuel is a likeable narcissist who plays too many video games, hates his job and resents his mother. Oh and she has just committed a hilarious and absurd crime that has her plastered all over the news. This is one of those gems that you don’t want to spoil so I’ll leave the synopsis there.

Why should you read it? The 1960s has never seemed so relevant today as it does in Hill’s writing. Samuel feels authentic and is both funny and frustrating to read. I found myself confused as to whether I enjoyed his company as our narrator or not, but I think therein lies the beauty of this one. He like that guy who sits in your class playing video games, and yet will top the class anyway.

I hope you find a familiar, or at least slightly more human voice in these reads.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night