Pia Singhal

Pia Singhal sitting beside a shelf of books and a plantWhat I’m looking for . . .

I’m at the very beginning of building my list, so the short answer is - a lot! I’m looking for writing that is sparse but sharp, and poised but vibrant, like Rachel Cusk’s Transit, Raven Leilani’s Luster, Sally Rooney’s Normal People, and Dionne Brand’s Theory. I'm looking for stories that are weird, darkly funny, and ­distinctive, like Samantha Hunt’s The Seas (if there is a weekly appreciation club for this book, I will join it), Jen Beagin’s Vacuum in the Dark, or Jade Sharma’s Problems. Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House and Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women both embody the qualities that are most important to me in non-fiction in that they are propulsive, urgent, and unconventional. I am especially in love when all of that is clear on the first page. Interests that lie outside of what I’ve described here but deeply enjoy are literary horror, speculative historical fiction, books about the economy geared towards millennials, and (of course) true crime. My particular interest is in stories that humanize BIPOC characters by centralizing their universal experiences around relationships and self-discovery - essentially, Issa Rae’s Insecure if it was a book. Reading is one of our best tools to build empathy, and I think these stories particularly have tremendous potential to do that.

What I read (and loved) recently . . . I love reading about young women navigating young adulthood irresponsibly but earnestly, so Zoe Whittall’s Bottle Rocket Hearts was delicious to me, as was Halle Butler’s The New Me, which is far darker and just as satisfying. I love reading a couple things that are not books as well, like Refinery29’s Money Diaries, which are full accounts of women’s personal, work, and financial lives for a week, and any article by Sarah Marshall, particularly those in which she exonerates popular maligned women of harmful lore (my favourites have been Tonya Harding, Anna Nicole Smith, and Marie Antoinette). I also always have a classic on the go - right now I'm working on Anna Karenina and Vanity Fair.

What I do outside of work . . . I spend most of my time on exactly what you’d expect: I do puzzles featuring The Baby-Sitters Club, care for a number of thriving plants, listen to podcasts while I do everything, and add too much garlic to my recipes. Prior to 2020, my friends were usually next to me encouraging the extra garlic. I am also an avid fan of television and talking about television, and in the rest of my free time, I enjoy 60’s and 70’s television, clothing and architecture (both commercial and residential), which is probably the only thing you didn’t expect.