How should a person be?

Hey Hart Beat. Happy Saturday! What are you doing on this overcast day? I had been hoping on going to the beach with C. but this foggy weather has me instead hanging out in Greenpoint doing yoga and reading this amazing book (seriously can’t put it down). I’ll tell you about it when I finish but today I want to recommend another boot that I loved reading this summer.

I flew through Sheila Heti’s How Should a Person Be? this month and am still thinking about it since finishing the last page. This review from Bookforum couldn’t describe the novel better, “A raw, startling, genre-defying novel of friendship, sex, and love in the new millennium — a compulsive read that’s like spending a day with your new best friend.” The story is told through the point of view of Sheila, a young woman living in Toronto, navigating her romantic life, artistic inspiration, and above all, a relationship with her best friend.

At its heart, How Should a Person Be? is an ode to female friendship. The real love story of the novel is between the Sheila, the narrator, and Margaux, another artist living in Toronto. The two meet at the beginning of the novel and find commonalities in their struggles as female artists and navigating their early 20s in a modern city. I could relate so much to the characters and was struck especially in the way that Sheila talks about her admiration and inspiration she finds in Margaux while trying to find her own place in the world. She is constantly questioning how her friends live and how she can adopt these ways. At one point the narrator asks, “Responsibility looks so good on Misha, and irresponsibility looks so good on Margaux. How could I know which would look best on me?

Another reason that I loved the book so much was that it was lent to me by my best friend and current roommate. Samantha and I have known each other since the day I was born and grew up next to each other until we left for college. Now we live together in Brooklyn and it feels like full circle, like coming to live with a sister. Sammy recommended the book to me and I loved reading her copy. On the first page was an inscription from another one of Samantha’s closest friends, Margo, gifting the book for Christmas back in 2011. Then, every so often in the novel there are liner notes from Samantha about her college roommate Viv. Vivian is a painter and the two of them lived in an apartment in Los Angeles through college. I love the idea of all these close female friends sharing this one book. I can’t wait to pass it along to someone else.

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