By now most of us have developed a permanent obsession with Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s dry-witted BBC black comedy, Fleabag. And it’s needless to say, just two seasons is never enough! While we can’t make Phoebe Waller-Bridge share her genius with us as and when we want, we’ve curated a list of books you can read that are very similar to Fleabag! All of them have a persistent tone of melancholy that is very typical of the show. The narrators (both fiction and nonfiction) are sometimes angry, sometimes grief-ridden, but mostly operate from a gnawing place of emptiness, oscillating between self-distraction and self-introspection. However, hope is not too distant and despite all the emotional upheavals, someday it will definitely bring them redemption. If you are an ardent fan of this one-of-a-kind series, this list is perfect for you.
Sabrina & Corina: Stories By Kali Fajardo-Anstine
This book is a brilliant anthology of short stories that go beyond what’s comfortable to dig out the multiple layers hidden in our psyche. Exploring themes of motherhood, friendship, ancestry, and dislocation from the motherland, this powerhouse of a book transcends what’s ordinary to spin a moving narrative of the indomitable female power.
The Artist Of Disappearance By Anita Desai
Anita Desai is a force to be reckoned with. Her daughter, Kiran Desai, won the Booker Prize in 2006—like mother, like daughter. Anita Desai’s storytelling is deeply poignant and often sensuous. This book includes a trio of deftly crafted novellas, set in India where the past casts a looming shadow on the present of every character. An overarching theme of loneliness haunts the lives of all the protagonists, making it an extremely relatable read. Here, history is never static as the characters in their own way are always trying to make something new out of the past.
Thin Girls By Diana Clarke
Written by one of Roxane Gay’s extremely talented proteges, Thin Girls delves into themes of queerness, body image issues, eating disorders, diet culture, sisterhood, intimate partner violence, and the redeeming power of love. A tale of twin sisters Rose and Lily, this book is very topical considering how nowadays we inhabit a world where social media influencers are constantly advocating for unrealistic beauty standards.
Red At The Bone By Jacqueline Woodson
This book juggles with themes of familial dysfunction, class privilege, race, education, sexuality, ambition, and young motherhood. It’s a nonlinear narrative that goes back and forth in time to flesh out Melody and her family in intricate details. Melody’s ever-complicated relationship with her mother is the most dominant story arc but a lot of craft has gone into shaping all the auxiliary characters as well.
Motherhood By Sheila Heti
Contemplative and highly self-reflective in style, this is one woman’s take on motherhood. Motherhood can be both wonderful and debilitating, depending on where your priorities lie. And bringing a whole new human to this planet just so someone can check off the goal of motherhood from their list is immature. Heti asks of women to appraise their goals and aspirations in life before diving deep into the world of motherhood just because society wants them to. After all, a woman’s body is her own and it’s not a gateway to another human.
Bluets By Maggie Nelson
Calling this book an absolute masterpiece would be an understatement. Nelson talks about her love for the color blue, which further unfurls into an honest exploration of love and suffering. Laden with heartfelt confessions about the wounds left by a past love, this book is a transcendental reading experience all together. Break ups expose us to our visceral selves. From there starts the process of letting go, which is messy and happens in waves. In this book hope, desire, and deep seated sadness come together to help the readers get a little closer to their authentic selves.