Three Books About How the Media Is Shaping the Way We Think

From a feature on headlined “Ask a book critic: Constance Grady provides book recommendations”:

Are there any fiction books which you think might mirror the nonfiction ones I have liked?

It sounds like you are in a place for books that spend a lot of time thinking about how media is shaping the way we think. Luckily, there’s actually a ton of ambitious fiction coming out right now about just that!

I have three recommendations for you. First, Self Care by Leigh Stein is a dark satire about two women working for a pop-feminist wellness company. It starts with one of the protagonists drinking wine from a mug that says “male tears” and lying on one of the office’s lavender velvet chaise lounges, compulsively hate-reading her mentions after she tweeted something mean at Ivanka Trump, and then it just goes on from there.

Second, Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler is about a woman who learns her boyfriend is an infamous Instagram conspiracy theorist. It starts off in January 2017, right as Donald Trump is taking office and the polite, progressive New York media is aghast at the online disinformation mill, and the narrator finds herself caught between enjoying condemning her boyfriend, whom she’s been thinking about dumping anyway, and relationship inertia. Oyler is an extremely talented and insightful literary critic (way meaner than I am, if you want to expand your critical reading list), and a lot of this book is a critique of both contemporary literary fiction and of the way we’re taught to think and speak by the larger media ecosystem.

Finally, No One Is Talking About This, by the poet Patricia Lockwood, aims to be a stream-of-communal-consciousness novel in which the consciousness is Twitter. The plot is hard to describe because so much of the experience of this book is about the language, but know that it is astonishingly good and beautiful and overwhelming, and it resolves into this very lovely, very tender place at the end.

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