The Soho Book Club: Toya Wolfe’s spring reads
This month, Soho House Chicago member and the author of ‘Last Summer On State Street’ shares what’s on her list
Wednesday 5 April 2023 By Soho House Photography by Nolis Anderson
This Spring Break, novelist and screenwriter Toya Wolfe is prioritising chill time –whether she’s at home in Chicago, treating herself to a spa day at the House or hanging out at a friend’s spot in Normandie. Wolfe has just finished the US leg of her book tour for her debut novel, Last Summer On State Street. As she prepares to cross the pond for the UK release and an accompanying promotional tour in the coming months, she’s got a strong reading list to keep her company.
‘I have five books on rotation right now that are helping me laugh, learn, and recreate a magical, soul-soothing home everywhere I go,’ she says. ‘I’m travelling a lot in the next few months and learning about what to bring – both tangible objects and your state of mind – so that wherever I pull up, I build a world of relaxation.’
Here, she shares those must-read five books and why they’re exactly what we need to see in the spring season.
1. The Hygge Life: Embracing The Nordic Art Of Coziness Through Recipes, Entertaining, Decorating, Simple Rituals, And Family Traditions by Gunnar Karl Gíslason
‘I’ve started reading about what makes a place so chill that you never want to leave. This book parses out those things, encouraging us to fill our dwelling spaces with the things that make us snuggle, feel comfort, enjoy beauty, and breathe deeper. Hygge helps you slow down and take it all in. Post book event, I want to open the door of my place and drink in an environment that melts away stress and tension.’
2. Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris
‘Sedaris’s voice has bounced around every car I’ve ever driven. I bought this audiobook on Libro.fm, so that I could hear Dave’s voice. Happy-Go-Lucky was nominated for a Grammy award; it’s that good. He’s a big part of my hygge. I love to grab a to-go cup from my favourite coffee shop, get the heated seats going, and let Dave tell me all the things while I make my away across town, or the country.’
3. Defined: Who God Says You Are by Stephen Kendrick
‘In the spirit of decluttering, every spring I try to do what my mama used to call “spring cleaning”, where instead of binging cartoons and playing Nintendo, we had to clear out closets and toss out clothes we couldn’t fit. I’m doing a mental detox right now, checking negative thoughts that I have about myself and recentering my beliefs. This book, recommended by so many people that I respect, has been a great reminder of how the great creator sees me; it’s been a lovely collection of affirmations.’
4. She Memes Well by Quinta Brunson
‘I’ve enjoyed watching Quinta Brunson in everything: memes on YouTube, A Black Lady Sketch Show and, of course, Abbott Elementary. Her first book, She Memes Well, is part autobiography, part “how to break into TV writing”. Brunson brings the funny, but I’m also loving the vulnerability in her stories. When I’m done with it, it’ll live right next to the comedy journeys of my other favourite TV writers: Tina Fey, Issa Rae, Amy Poehler, and Carol Burnett.
5. I Have Some Questions For You by Rebecca Makkai
‘A well-paced murder mystery set at a boarding school on the East Coast, I Have Some Questions For You has a curious woman narrator who attended school with the victim. It’s got a gossip girl, chatty-type voice who walks us through both the facts and fiction of the incident, as told by internet trolls and the narrator’s insider’s perspective of the crime. This is the only novel that I’m reading right now. I want to really savour this tale, so I’ve been taking small bites. This is the perfect by-the-pool book. Go get it.’