Ever since I retraced my steps to what had “brought me joy” in 2017 books (to borrow from Konmari, but don’t worry, I’m not culling my shelves, I’ve culled quite enough before moving) I wanted to do more “parallel readings” or books that share some common ground (in the loosest sense because it’s highly personal) and that reverberate in one another. I want to keep my definition as loose as possible so that it remains open to my most personal interpretations all along the year.
The easy way to do it is to read together books set in the same period, and/or on the same theme. It’s quite fun and invigorating for me because it gives me a direction and leaves me not so overwhelmed in front of the huge number of interesting books available. It gives me an easier way to reject books (I always need a little nudge on that matter even at my age).
My first parallel reading has started in the first days of January, with a 1970s theme. I had been meaning to read The Girls by Emma Cline (a variation on the Manson family) and I jumped on the opportunity to read some iconic Joan Didion essays on the 1970s too. I’ve just finished this French-edited collection with Slouching Towards Bethlehem, On the Morning After the Sixties and The White Album. A post is due soon, but I needed to interrupt my reading of the Girls midway because the book was due at the library. I’m queuing up again to get it back soon! I’ve also started a French novel Mercy, Mary, Patty by Lola Lafon that’s loosely based on the Hearst kidnapping, but is also a portrait of young women under influence in the 1970s.
I have also started a French bestseller on audiobook, Delphine de Vigan’s Based on a true story, about an exhausted writer whose life gets “hijacked” by a new friend (I’m just starting the book so I might not be totally accurate – but it has been a called a perverse thriller about a toxic friendship). Guess who Delphine de Vigan has chosen as a quote on the first page of her book? Stephen King’s Misery of course! Perfect book pairing, especially if the writer points it out herself!
If you have recommendations of books about a toxic friendship (with or without writers involved), I’m all ears.