My Year of Rest and Relaxation: the TikTok sensation lives up to the hype

2 mins read

Content warning: This book contains depictions of eating disorders, substance abuse, death and suicidal themes.

If you’re a TikTok user, by now you’ve probably seen the hashtag ‘BookTok’ floating around. With over 40 billion views at the time of writing, it’s quickly becoming one of the most popular communities on the app.

As with any online community, there are fierce debates within it. The main being, are popular BookTok books actually any good? I’m going to read them so you don’t have to! 

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh was published in 2018 to critical acclaim and it’s recent traction on TikTok shows no signs of slowing down. It definitely fits into the so-called “no plot, just vibes” category popularised by Sally Rooney’s Normal People. This, as well as its honest portrayal of mental illness, are the main reasons for its recent successes.

 Ottessa Moshfegh: has a singular instinct for the jangled interiority of loners and outsiders. Photograph: Krystal Griffiths
The author herself. Image credit: Krystal Griffiths

The premise is simple: A privileged young woman wants to sleep for a whole year. Sounds rather dull, doesn’t it? But Moshfegh’s writing is gripping and heart-wrenching, even darkly humorous at times. The less you know about the book going into it, the better.

There’s also something about Moshfegh’s writing that is very timeless. The novel is set in 2000, yet it is still intensely relatable. The protagonist spends most of the novel stuck in her fancy New York apartment, reflecting on her past. In our post-lockdown world, it seems eerily familiar. Leading up to the climax, the tense atmosphere grabs you from the page and compels you to read on.

Despite finding the ending predictable and a little disappointing, this truly is a wonderfully written book. Moshfegh’s flawless writing is the star of the show. Highly recommend, especially if you are a Rooney fan. I can’t wait to read more of Moshfegh’s work (her new book, Death in Her Hands, is next on my list). Share your own thoughts in the comments.

Feature image credit: National Gallery of Art/Freya Deyell.

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Film, media and journalism student. I like writing about my inability to eat gluten.

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