Was Daria the first Book Punk? Nah, she wouldn’t associate herself with “punk” with a ten foot pole…unless Trent was standing on the other side of it. Remember when she got her belly button pierced just to impress him? Oh Daria. Those were the good old days. Now she’s a famous columnist or maybe a scientist, maybe both but definately a blogger, and she’s happy and well-adjusted because she has found her tribe of like-minded, observant, dry-humored, cynical, successful, highly intelligent friends. And she doesn’t just have to read the books that her English teacher Mr. O’Neill assigns her anymore.
What would Daria read? Well, she’d read a lot of things, but what would Daria like? These. (For a list of what Daria did read, this way please.)
Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes. Beukes is probably one of the only mystery writers dark enough for Daria’s taste, and her books do dark and mystery with enough spot-on social commentary to hold Daria’s attention. She’d be particularly moved by the teen bullying/social media nightmare storylines. Daria is relieved that she didn’t have to grow up during the social media boom.
The Magicians by Lev Grossman. Daria would have read Harry Potter and found it vapid, escapist, and too doused in male privilege. Under a pen name, she would write If Hermoine Were the Lead in Harry Potter for Buzzfeed (and never, ever admit it). Later, she would have read the New York Times reviews of The Magicians and thought “now a cynical Harry Potter is something I might enjoy.” Even though she doesn’t really do fantasy. While she would find Grossman’s apathetic hipster student magicians almost too irritating to bother with, she would enjoy it a hell of a lot more than she did J.K. Rowling, and she would think about the ways in which fantasy books and fantasy lives interact with a readers’ real-life expectations.
We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory. The plot: “Stan became a minor celebrity after being partially eaten by cannibals. Barbara is haunted by the messages carved upon her bones. Greta may or may not be a mass-murdering arsonist.” We Are All Completely Fine might as well be an episode of Sick Sad World (Daria and Jane’s favorite tv show) in book form. I have yet to read it, so I don’t know if it’s done well enough for her to like it, but she and Jane would both end up buying it for each other for Christmas one year.
Maddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood. In her free time, Daria writes dark dystopian novels that rival The Hunger Games in sales—but that she publishes under a pen name that only Jane knows about. She’s still a pessimistic misanthrope, so apocalyptic fiction and dystopian fiction are something of a guilty pleasures. She finds the Left Behind series particularly horrifying, but can’t seem to stop reading it. Daria thinks Atwood’s Maddam trilogy is particularly well done (not to mention The Handmaid’s Tale, wohoo, now there’s another Daria book right there.) She and Jane swap favorites when they meet up for pizza (yup, it’s a life-long tradition), though Jane is partial to robot uprisings and zombie apocalypses while Daria prefers a more intellectual what-if.
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. Daria reads a lot of non-fiction, particularly of the social justice warrior and/or feminist bent. But she’s careful to avoid labels. She was vegan for a while after reading Foer’s Eating Animals (she’s a big fan of his other work) but eventually came around to the Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal (Joel Salatin) perspective that eating meat or not eating meat isn’t the question she wants to be asking when it comes to food production. Mostly, she’s too lazy about cooking to keep up with food activism and the whole foods purists make her roll her eyes.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Having grown up in majority-white suburbia, Daria wouldn’t have had much perspective on race issues outside of books. When she runs into Jodie Landon while back in town visiting her parents, Daria says something embarrassingly ignorant on the subject of American race relations. Jodie lends her Adichie’s book, which she happens to have in her purse having just read it for her book club, to help her get some perspective. On top of finding the point of view interesting, Daria can relate to Ifemelu in a lot of ways, both are bloggers who tackle big issues and are popular enough to support themselves on the advertising fees, both end up in nice but sort of random relationships before a surprise meeting with an old high school crush changes their romantic course…
What books would you recommend to Daria?