New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Books beyond Bobst: A story about a father and daughter, a book narrated by an obsessive wife, and more

Books beyond Bobst is a monthly book-rec column highlighting what NYU students are reading now, outside of their classes. If you’re in need of a new read, look no further.

“Daughter” by Claudia Dey 

— Alexa Donovan, Deputy Arts Editor 

A book titled “Daughter” by Claudia Dey. On its cover is an abstract pink, red, orange and yellow shape with white sparks coming from the bottom placed on a black background.
(Illustration by Alisia Houghtaling)

I am absolutely certain about only a few things in life, but one thing I am sure of is this: when your cool Creative Writing professor personally recommends you a book, you should read it. When you open “Daughter,” the first words you see, right on the inside cover of the book jacket, are “To be loved by your father is to be loved by God.” Whew. This is how the main character Mona Dean views it, despite being stuck in the middle of her father’s harmful infidelity and the fallout it causes between her and her family. Despite the tense situations her father, an artist named Paul, puts her through, Mona craves his attention and praise. The novel takes readers through the manipulation, pain and suffering that comes with being Paul’s daughter. 

Mona is an artist, and the daughter of a very famous one too, and so her father’s shadow has always been casted over her entire life. But when she faces a loss greater than she could ever imagine, Mona starts to understand what love truly looks like, and how that differs from her father’s affection. 

“Daughter” is an exhausting read, but in the best way possible. Dey’s prose is shattering and contemplative, and Mona’s journey is slow going but meaningful. My love of the book isn’t because it made me happy to read — it didn’t at all — but because I was absorbed in somebody else’s world through good writing.

Sidenote: I also recommend Julia’s and Emily’s book choices later in the list — two of my favorites ever.

“Cleopatra and Frankenstein” by Coco Mellors 

— Julia Diorio, Music Editor

A book titled “Cleopatra and Frankenstein” by Coco Mellors. On its cover is a close-up of a woman’s face whose head, but not face, appears to be submerged in water.
(Illustration by Alisia Houghtaling)

As someone who attempts to make impulsive decisions “for the plot,” I felt my attention immediately grasped by the beginning of “Cleopatra and Frankenstein” by Coco Mellors. A New Year’s Eve elevator meet-cute leads to a reckless and rushed marriage between 24-year-old artist Cleo and 44-year-old businessman Frank. After that, the book takes off on an emotional rollercoaster and never stops. 

Mellors wrote the novel during her time at NYU for an MFA in creative writing, and I saw a lot of NYU culture reflected within “Cleopatra and Frankenstein.” There’s Cleo’s best friend who explores his sexuality, and Frank’s younger sister who’s perennially broke, but still goes out drinking all of the time anyway. Frank himself is in a perpetual midlife crisis, and he jumps from trying to be young and hip to trying to be old and wise. He can’t pull off either, though. Cleo, meanwhile, is truly struggling to stay afloat among the personalities that surround her in New York. 

“Cleopatra and Frankenstein” is a hard-hitting story about love and growth. At times, it’s shallow and pretentious. But at its core, it’s the combination of enhancing and covering up reality in its purest form — New Yorkers who have no idea what they’re doing. 

“My Husband” by Maud Ventura 

— Emily Genova, Deputy Managing Editor 

A book with a face with blue eyes, blonde hair and red lipstick on its cover, with the title “My Husband” written across her face.
(Illustration by Alisia Houghtaling)

“My Husband” follows a nameless narrator who is obsessed with her husband. Every single thought of hers surrounds how she can become perfect for him, how to impress him, how to keep him close. The novel takes place over the course of seven days, during which we watch our narrator play into these routines of molding into the ideal wife. She also makes sure her husband still loves her by testing him through mind games, and punishing him in mundane ways if he doesn’t act how she would like him to. She explains her thought processes and justifies each one, determined to keep their 13-year relationship fresh and alive. 

Relatable at times, insane most other times, “My Husband” is an amazing literary fiction thriller that I was so entranced by. There isn’t much of a plot, but I truly didn’t care because I was so consumed by the narrator’s thoughts. Living in her mind was such an unusually delightful experience. It’s so entertaining as a reader to watch this narration slowly progress from hilarious to astoundingly delusional. This book is unique and captivating, and I couldn’t put it down. 

“Know My Name: A Memoir” by Chanel Miller 

— Alisha Goel, Multimedia Editor 

A book titled “Know My Name” by Chanel Miller with a dark turquoise cover with three yellow lines along the corners.
(Illustration by Alisia Houghtaling)

Content warning: This review discusses sexual assault. 

“My pain was never more valuable than his potential.”

In 2016, Brock Turner was sentenced to only six months of prison after he was caught sexually assaulting Chanel Miller at a Stanford University fraternity party. Miller’s victim impact statement, which was filed under the pseudonym “Emily Doe,” was anonymously published on BuzzFeed News, and got over 11 million views in four days. “Know My Name” is Miller’s recount of the assault and its aftermath. This memoir is Miller reclaiming her story.

Miller doesn’t shy away from sharing the darkest and most horrifying details of the case, laying it all out bare for the reader. The story isn’t only about Miller — it is also about the inherent failure of institutions that are supposed to protect the vulnerable, how patriarchal biases play in the American judicial system, and the long and harrowing court procedure a survivor is put through just to have their voice heard. Furthermore, the story is about the victim blaming, public humiliation, dehumanization and erasure of survivors’ stories that come alongside reporting this kind of violence.

Though a challenging read, “Know My Name” serves as a testament to all the resilient survivors whose stories are untold.

Contact the Arts Desk at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Alexa Donovan
Alexa Donovan, Deputy Arts Editor
Alexa Donovan is a sophomore majoring in Journalism and Art History and minoring in Creative Writing. Her favorite drink is lemonade and her party trick is listing the U.S. presidents in chronological order. You can find her in Bobst Library most hours of the day, on instagram @alexadonovan/@lemonadequeen5678 and on Goodreads @alexafdonovan.
Julia Diorio
Julia Diorio, Music Editor
Julia Diorio is a sophomore studying journalism at CAS. When not reminiscing about 2000s pop-punk music, she can normally be found drinking copious amounts of Dunkin' iced coffee, curating hyper-specific Spotify playlists or struggling with the NYT crossword. Find her variations of all-black outfits and dog pictures on Instagram @juliadiorio_. Send song suggestions to [email protected].
Emily Genova
Emily Genova, Managing Editor
Emily Genova is a senior studying Media, Culture, and Communication and Creative Writing. She spends her free time reading, obsessing over pop artists and speed walking around campus. You can find her on Instagram @emilygenova or email her at [email protected]
Alisha Goel
Alisha Goel, Photo Editor
Alisha Goel (she/her) is a junior majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Integrated Design and Media. When she is not at WSN, she is developing video games/apps, reading a long book, or creating mildly disturbing art with her photography. You can find her at @03alisha17 on Instagram.
Alisia Houghtaling
Alisia Houghtaling, Illustration Editor
Alisia Houghtaling is a first-year in Applied Psychology in Steinhardt and one of WSN's Illustration Editors. In her freetime, you can find Alisia drawing, painting, reading, eating pasta or autopilot walking around SOHO to window shop or stare into windows and say "I want to live there." You can find her on Instagram @_alisiart_ and send Italian restaurant recommendations or ridiculous real-estate listings in the city.

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    TienJan 29, 2024 at 9:17 pm

    Awesome book recommendations! Thank you! 👍🏻