Stuck inside on this insanely cold winter, you know the best distraction is a book. (Or, well, maybe seven.) The winter is a perfect time for a mega reading binge (resist the Netflix!) of one awesome author you've never cracked before. But whom to choose? I think it's the perfect time for you to reach for those pastel books you always see stacked on your friends' shelves. I think it's the perfect time for you to binge-read Emily Giffin.
The themes Giffin covers skew heavy: infidelity, death, broken-down friendships, family conflicts, and adoption — just to name a few. But although she faces the big stuff head-on, it's done with a sensitive touch that'll keep you connected the whole time. She gets you: Giffin always makes note of the little things we all care about — stuff like the Royals, detailed descriptions of outfits, and real-life celebrity spottings.
The best part is that all of her books take place in the same universe, so if you're settling down to read in a short period of time, you'll get immersed. Sometimes the connection is obvious, like siblings Dex and Tessa Thaler, whose stories play out respectively in Something Borrowed and Heart of the Matter. Other times it’s more subtle, and you have to keep an eye out, but Giffin always gives you hints about what happened to your favorite characters. Reading in chronological order to preserve the cameos is always a good plan, but you can also pick and choose to suit your current mood.
Ready to start with Giffin? Good, glad you're coming with me! Here's where to jump in:
If You’re About To Embark On Wedding Season
For those of you with a fridge covered in save-the-dates, check out Giffin’s first novel, Something Borrowed. You know that friend you’ve always been jealous of? Well, you can exact revenge by living vicariously through Rachel, who sleeps with her perfect best friend's fiancé during a summer spent split between the Hamptons and the city. You may have already seen the movie version, but this is one of those books you can read afterward and still enjoy. Something Borrowed portrays the lives of yuppies in mid-'00s New York, with throwbacks to their upbringing in the Midwest that make for an interesting contrast with their, at times, questionable behavior.
If Baby Showers Are Consuming Your Life
In Something Blue , Darcy Rhone finds herself alone and pregnant — but doesn't stay that way for long. She's not your average pregnant woman; instead of putting her life on hold until the baby arrives, she continues to date and travel well into second term. She's unique like Miranda from Sex and the City in that she's dating while pregnant — and if you think about it, there are so few representations of this in pop culture. When Darcy experiences complications toward the end of her pregnancy, her struggle may make you feel a little more sympathetic toward your expecting friends.
If You’re Missing Friday Night Lights
It’s okay if you’re still not over Friday Night Lights ending, but don’t fire up Netflix to re-watch just yet. Instead pick up The One and Only, a novel about a communications assistant at a Texas football university who has fallen in love at the worst imaginable time with the wrong person. As an added bonus, there’s a Tim Riggins–esque ex-boyfriend hanging around, as well as a famous NFL quarterback as a love interest.
If You’re Nostalgic For High School And Not Quite Settled Into Your Grown-Up Life
Read Where We Belong, a portrayal of a high school senior, Kirby, who tracks down her long-lost birth mother, Marion, a successful showrunner living in New York. Kirby is a surprisingly well-adjusted teenager and Marion has your dream job, but the flashbacks to Marion’s high school cooler drinking years and her love story with the father make it a relatable story.
If You're A Newlywed
You’ve got your choice of Baby Proof or Love the One You’re With , which as their titles suggest, cover the struggle of deciding whether or not to have a child, and infidelity, respectively. These two can be frustrating at times, because you tend to want the main characters to do what everyone else wants them to do, which is get married, stay married, and have kids. But maybe they don’t want that, or don’t want it on a particular schedule, and you realize it’s totally okay for them to not comply with the traditional model of marriage and parenthood.
If You're A Parent
Heart of the Matter is the only one of Giffin’s novels that really shows what it’s like to parent small children. It’s told from dual perspectives; Tessa, a stay-at-home mom in an affluent neighborhood, and Valerie, a single mom who works as a lawyer. Without getting into the way their lives intertwine in the book, you can expect to read about the choices mothers have to make about how to deal with an absentee parent, whether or not to stay at home with the kids rather than work, and how much of your love life to keep hidden from them.