As half of the creative force behind Comedy Central’s hit series Broad City, Abbi Jacobson helped usher in a new generation of female-driven entertainment – one unafraid of showcasing women in all their complex and messy glory. Alongside writing partner and costar Ilana Glazer, the pair parlayed their 20-something experiences of life in New York City into a cult web series, before partnering with comedy legend Amy Poehler and making their cable TV debut in 2014.
Celebrated for its brash humor, vibrant on-screen chemistry, and relatable yet absurdist storylines, the series ran for five successful seasons before going out with a bang in 2019. Outside of the show, Jacobson’s dabbled in voice acting work and recently spearheaded Amazon Prime’s spin-off of A League of Their Own – a women’s baseball dramedy that’s garnered praise for its extensive cast of unapologetically queer characters.
Also a talented visual artist, Jacobson has published two coloring books and the bestselling picture book Carry This Book – a quirky look at the contents of celebrity pockets. In 2018 she released the illustrated essay collection I Might Regret This, reflecting on a transformative cross-country road trip she’d taken after a bad breakup.
In a reading list for The Week, Jacobson shared 6 of the best books she read during quarantine. Spotlighting work by trailblazing women writers – from Nora Ephron to Octavia Butler – find her favorites below, and complement with the bookshelves of Amy Poehler, Lena Dunham, Maria Bamford and Mindy Kaling.
Abbi Jacobson’s Reading List
“I find Jia’s commentary on the world, and basically on anything, to be so refreshing. I read a lot of current essay collections. When I read Jia’s, I found her point of view to be just what I needed at that moment.” -AJ
“When I first read Meaty, I just had to meet its author, even though I felt like I already had. She can talk about the most tragic and sad and hard things — like living with Crohn’s disease, and her parents dying, and how she shape-shifts in different situations — in such a funny way. I wrote to her after reading her essay collection and begged her to work with me. Now she is a good friend, and we’re making a show together.” -AJ
“I read Makkai’s novel about the AIDS crisis at the beginning of Covid. Eventually I started rationing it, because I was so invested in these characters and stories that I didn’t want the book to be over.” -AJ
“Ephron’s essays are the epitome of the way I want to write. They’re so direct, funny, and observational; they can be light and then all of a sudden swerve to aging and dying, or divorce and heartbreak. I need them every so often to remind myself how to tell a personal story well.” -AJ
“This story is so brilliant that I am reading the follow-up and, again, rationing what I have left. Sower takes place in the 2020s in a dystopian Los Angeles where water and other resources are limited. It’s scaring the s— out of me, because I feel like we’re not far from this sort of dystopia. But it also drew me in to the main character and her journey.” -AJ
“I think Lorrie Moore’s work must be what you read if you’re studying fiction writing and want to know what a short story is supposed to look like. After finishing Self-Help, I bought every other collection of her writing. I just wanted to eat it up.” -AJ
(via The Week; photo by Vivien Killilea)
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