My Struggle, Book Two: A Man in Love
Author: Karl Ove Knausgaard
Buy it here
It's maybe insane to make the case to someone that you don't know personally that he or she should begin reading a 3,500-page memoir from a sour Norwegian, but here goes nothing.
Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle, of which A Man in Love is the second part, is the most addictive series expressly concerned with how to live. (Zadie Smith likened it to crack.) It obsessively pursues the question: How should one live? It pursues it through boredom, death, children's birthday parties. It asks that you examine your own life and how you find satisfaction and happiness, and it does it without being schmaltzy or phony or cheap or self-help-y.
The first volume, subtitled A Death in the Family, follows Karl Ove Knausgaard as he deals with the death of his alcoholic father. Within that story, there is a long detour to talk about the time he expended much energy and brain power trying to get beer for a New Year's Eve party when he was a teenager. It tracks day-to-day life and memory with such doggedness, you won't believe you aren't bored. (That must sound like a back-handed compliment, but it's just the most accurate summary of the experience.)
The latest volume to be translated into English is A Man in Love, and it mainly deals with Knausgaard meeting the mother of his children and the realities of raising a family. You've never read so much real talk about the indignities of being a parent. Or about anything, really. Karl Ove Knausgaard is the realest shit walking.
And that's the best case I can make. —Ross Scarano