My first book, Hard to Love, is an easy-to-love collection of essays about love and friendship. It arrives on February 5, 2019.
Here's what some early readers have to say about it:
"Briallen Hopper’s extraordinary essay collection, Hard to Love, is full of heart and wisdom and humor and surprise. It has sharpened and electrified my senses of intimacy and family—how both are more multiple, more complicated, and ultimately more capacious than I’d understood them to be. It moves effortlessly between the personal and political, exposing all the ways in which they have never been separable at all. I know I’ll return to this book over and over during the years to come: for its gifts of insight and delight, for the primal and powerful gift of its company—and I know I’ll be giving it to others, to the people I love most, so they can experience its gifts as well." —Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams and The Recovering
"I adored Briallen Hopper’s Hard To Love and its miraculous intermingling of revelatory criticism and soulful memoir. Hopper’s essays tell the story of a life in reading, baking, hoarding, praying, and watching Cheers; in friends, roommates, siblings, and, last and least, lovers. In its excesses of tenderness, intelligence, and pleasure, this book brilliantly puts the lie to the idea that a single life is less full—or less complicated—than a coupled one." —Alice Bolin, author of Dead Girls
"The best essay collection I've read in ages. Briallen Hopper's rare gifts of intellectual rigor, spiritual depth, and genuine curiosity make her a must-read voice on Cheers, Miss Havisham GIFs, sperm banks, Flannery O'Connor, and everything else she turns her brilliant mind to. In her nuanced exploration of the delights and limits of found families, she's earned a place as the poet laureate of single womanhood." —Ada Calhoun, author of Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give
"A loving, thoughtful meditation on the resilience and importance of female friendship. I found myself deeply comforted by Hard to Love. Briallen Hopper lets us know: We are not alone in the universe after all." —Jami Attenberg, author of All Grown Up
“Our culture often tells us we have two options: coupled and loved, or alone and unloved. Briallen Hopper posits a third option: uncoupled but very much loved and loving. Gently but firmly, these essays refute our binary assumptions by teasing out the satisfying complexities that lie between and beyond the old poles. Rarely has friendship been more articulately defended.” —Anne Fadiman, author of The Wine Lover’s Daughter and The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
"Hopper debuts with a smart group of essays on contemporary relationships. A literature scholar, Hopper cultivates a voice that is sophisticated and analytical, but also earnest and eager ... [S]he demonstrates how being deeply personal with the people in one’s life can help one to be critically engaged." —Publishers Weekly
Here's what Bloomsbury has to say about it:
A sharp and entertaining essay collection about the importance of multiple forms of love and friendship in a world designed for couples, from a laser-precise new voice.
Sometimes it seems like there are two American creeds, self-reliance and marriage, and neither of them is mine. I experience myself as someone formed and sustained by others' love and patience, by student loans and stipends, by the kindness of strangers.
Briallen Hopper's Hard to Love honors the categories of loves and relationships beyond marriage, the ones that are often treated as invisible or seen as secondary-- friendships, kinship with adult siblings, care teams that form in times of illness, or various alternative family formations. She also values difficult and amorphous loves like loving a challenging job or inanimate objects that can't love you back. She draws from personal experience, sharing stories about her loving but combative family, the fiercely independent Emerson scholar who pushed her away, and the friends who have become her invented or found family; pop culture touchstones like the Women's March, John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, and the timeless series Cheers; and the work of writers like Joan Didion, Gwendolyn Brooks, Flannery O'Connor, and Herman Melville (Moby-Dick like you've never seen it!).
Hard to Love pays homage and attention to unlikely friends and lovers both real and fictional. It is a series of love letters to the meaningful, if underappreciated, forms of intimacy and community that are tricky, tangled, and tough, but ultimately sustaining.