Tag Archives: Jillian

The Twelve Books of Christmas (or Your Chosen Winter Holiday)

At this time each year, two major things happen: everyone starts telling you what the best books of the last 12 months are, and you start trying to find nice gifts for the people in your life. Books, of course, make excellent gifts. They’re weighty but not too large. They’re often beautifully designed. And they (usually) communicate a certain respect for the cultural and intellectual qualities of the receiver.

But books as gifts also come with hazards. Giving one is a not-so-implicit demand that the receiver must actually read it. Where does your friendship stand a month from now if they read it and hate it? Are you maybe just giving them a book to show off your own cultural and intellectual qualities? 

It’s enough to make you just buy a gift card. But don’t give up. Fiction Advocate is here to help, with a list of some of the best, and worst, books to give as gifts this holiday season. We’re happy to present the 2015 Twelve Book of Christmas/Your Chosen Winter Holiday.


1: BEST BIG BOOK TO GIVE: City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg

City on Fire

An ensemble piece like Love Actually, except instead of Christmas in Britain it’s the collapse of civilization in 1970s New York City. There’s been a lot of hype around this one. Believe it.


2: WORST BIG BOOK TO GIVE: Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen

Book of Numbers

A young man with no responsibilities, and no apparent consequences for his actions, complains about the ridiculous writing job and extraordinary adventures that he falls into. I’m sure other stuff happens but I gave up around the part where he uses a laptop charger cord to masturbate. This book is a solipsistic hellscape of narcissism, entitlement, self-destructive behavior and bullshit masquerading as a commentary on our digital age.

…if for some reason that sounds good to you.


3: SUREST BET TO GIVESlade House by David Mitchell

Slade House

Beautifully designed on the outside, a page-turner on the inside. Literary enough for your snob friends, accessible enough for your Dan Brown friends.


4: RISKIEST BET TO GIVE: Jillian by Halle Butler


Is it too much like the TV show Girls? Is it too much like your actual, depressing life? Or is it exactly the right amount of bleak, contemporary, hilarious realism? At least one person in your life will absolutely adore this book. But choose carefully.


5: COOLEST NERDY BOOK: Hamilton by Ron Chernow


This may be your best chance to show both your nerd cred and your cool cred by giving a doorstop historical biography that is also the basis of a hip-hop Broadway sensation. Read here if you need more convincing.


6: JUST PLAIN NERDIEST BOOK: Thing Explainer by Randall Munroe

Thing Explainer

You know, things. Like “Bags of Stuff Inside You.” And “Stuff You Touch to Fly a Sky Boat.” Totally normal, socially well-adjusted things.




“Giant intelligent ants take over the planet, and a cat with opposable thumbs rises up against them, but he’s in love with a dog who hasn’t been transformed yet, and there might be a few humans alive, but they’re dressed like raccoons because they’re hiding. The whole thing is a critique of organized religion. You’ll get it. Just read it, you’ll get it.”


8: MOST FUN BOOK TO NOT EXPLAIN: Unworthy: How to Stop Hating Yourself by Anneli Rufus


“Thought you could use this!”


9: BEST TITLE: The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic by Jessica Hopper


You see this title and you say “Really? No, that can’t be true. Oh fuck, of course it’s true. Which means it’s the greatest title I’ve ever heard. And now I have to read it.” (It’s good inside, too.)


10: WORST TITLE: The Whites by Richard Price


It’s supposed to be really good and I want to read it, and it has nothing to do with race. But you run too much of a risk that your dumbass cousin or Fox News-watching brother-in-law is going to take an interest and start a conversation about how all lives matter.


12: BIGGEST AMOUNT OF BOOK: 3000 Classic Books USB Drive

3000 Classic Books

For your family member who likes to buy white tube socks by the hundreds at Costco (and has never heard of Project Gutenberg).


12: LITTLEST AMOUNT OF BOOK: Iterating Grace by Koons Crooks and Anonymous

Iterating Grace

In 26 unforgettable pages, an anonymous writer takes the douchebags of Silicon Valley over his or her knee and spanks them in the most literary way possible.


Michael Moats and Brian Hurley

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The 10 Best Books of 2015

In the humble opinion of one of our editors…

1 2 3 4 5

See what we said about them:

Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera

Chelsea Girls by Eileen Myles

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud

I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son by Kent Russell

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

Mort(e) by Robert Repino

Jillian by Halle Butler

Eve’s Hollywood by Eve Babitz

Making Nice by Matt Sumell

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HITTING SHELVES #16: Jillian by Halle Butler


Jillian by Halle Butler comes out today!

This debut novel is amazing. It’s like a train wreck of a drunken rant delivered by an embittered twenty-something woman standing outside a skeevy party. Megan, the main character, is probably a terrible human being, but instead of dealing with herself, she spends all her time silently judging and hating her co-worker, Jillian. Jillian is Megan’s complete opposite: a downtrodden single mother who insists on staying relentlessly, infuriatingly upbeat. They’re both miserable in separate ways. And Butler contrasts their miseries in a way that is consistently, inventively hilarious.

Jillian is a downer and a joy. Butler deserves all the credit that Tao Lin usually gets for nailing the flat, disaffected voice of young people today. With Jillian she proves that if you think, as Sartre wrote, that hell is other people, then other people think hell is you.

We asked the author one question.

Fiction Advocate: How are you celebrating the publication of Jillian?

Halle Butler: To celebrate the release of my first novel Jillian, I’m going to wake up at 6:00 in the morning and take a shot of wheatgrass juice. Then, I will fully disrobe and do 60—maybe 100—reps with my 20 lb. hand weights in front of a standing full-length mirror that I keep in the center of my living room. I plan to shower and then wake up my boyfriend and show him my baby photos—of which I have 8 albums. We’ve already talked about what he’s going to say to me about the photos, particularly the series involving me and my first kitten, Pippi. After that, I will take 17 vitamins (breakfast) and get in a cab to work my temp job downtown, probably forgetting my wallet and begging the driver not to “arrest” me, but then when I exit the cab, I will smirk and chuckle to myself, adjust my pencil skirt, and walk towards the lobby of the asset management firm where I redirect phone calls.

The workday will go by as usual.

Halle Butler

Halle Butler

In the evening, I’ll go out to a restaurant with my boyfriend (again) but this isn’t too “celebratory” on its own, since we go out to eat almost every night. To make it special, I’ll intentionally eat too much food, forcing myself to become sick, and then I’ll demand a discount on my meal. I plan to tip using real money, but I also plan to enclose the cash tip in a signed copy of Jillian.

Next, all of my four friends will come over for a little party, where I will make a little speech while they sit in a row on my sofa, gazing up at me, overhead light blaring. I know that making a speech is very self-indulgent, and that probably someone else should make the speech for me while I sit on the couch, but I like to make speeches, and I will have had several scotch and sodas and maybe some Pernod at that point, and it’s my special day, so I plan on making the speech.

I’m planning to say something intense and aggressive like, “I could have been a glassblower, do you know what I mean by that? It means that everything I touch turns into fucking gold. A novel, sure, why not? No big fucking deal for me! I wrote it in one day when I was 10 years old, what the fuck were you doing then, going to grad school? Have you ever even heard of Publishers Weekly?” etc, etc. Then, sitting on one of my guests’ laps, faces inches apart, I’ll say, giggling, “Do you want to test your strength against mine? You think you can come to my home on my special day and treat me like this? I bet you feel pretty sorry about a lot of things now, don’t you? How about a nice, sweet little kiss to put all of this to rest? You want to be my friend now that I have all of this power, don’t you?”

After my speech, I’ll put a mop on my head and sing German torch songs like Marlene Dietrich until I pass out crying on the floor.

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