6 books Abbi Jacobson read during quarantine
The comedian recommends works by Jia Tolentino, Nora Ephron, and more
Abbi Jacobson is a comedian, actor, and writer who co-starred with Ilana Glazer in the sitcom Broad City. She voices the character of Katie Mitchell in The Mitchells vs. the Machines, a sci-fi animated feature that premieres on Netflix on April 30.
Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino (2019)
I find Jia's commentary on the world, and basically on anything, to be so refreshing. I read a lot of current essay collections. When I read Jia's, I found her point of view to be just what I needed at that moment. Buy it here.
Meaty by Samantha Irby (2013)
When I first read Meaty, I just had to meet its author, even though I felt like I already had. She can talk about the most tragic and sad and hard things — like living with Crohn's disease, and her parents dying, and how she shape-shifts in different situations — in such a funny way. I wrote to her after reading her essay collection and begged her to work with me. Now she is a good friend, and we're making a show together. Buy it here.
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (2018)
I read Makkai's novel about the AIDS crisis at the beginning of Covid. Eventually I started rationing it, because I was so invested in these characters and stories that I didn't want the book to be over. Buy it here.
I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron (2006)
Ephron's essays are the epitome of the way I want to write. They're so direct, funny, and observational; they can be light and then all of a sudden swerve to aging and dying, or divorce and heartbreak. I need them every so often to remind myself how to tell a personal story well. Buy it here.
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler (1993)
This story is so brilliant that I am reading the follow-up and, again, rationing what I have left. Sower takes place in the 2020s in a dystopian Los Angeles where water and other resources are limited. It's scaring the s--- out of me, because I feel like we're not far from this sort of dystopia. But it also drew me in to the main character and her journey. Buy it here.
Self-Help by Lorrie Moore (1985)
I think Lorrie Moore's work must be what you read if you're studying fiction writing and want to know what a short story is supposed to look like. After finishing Self-Help, I bought every other collection of her writing. I just wanted to eat it up. Buy it here.
This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.