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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wisconsin chapter.

And why it’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever read

If you’ve been in tune with popular books in the last few years, I’m sure you have heard of My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh. I kept seeing summaries and reviews of this book, all of which said that it tells the story of a woman who sleeps for a year. I was very confused and did not understand what I was missing: what do people mean by “sleeps for a year?” When I finally picked it up to read it, I realized that I wasn’t missing anything. It’s literally a 300-page monologue told from the perspective of a privileged young woman living in New York City who decides to sleep for a year.

Let me give you some more context. My Year of Rest and Relaxation is a novel about an unnamed young woman who attempts to navigate her struggles of burnout, emotional trauma and feeling lost in her life with a self-induced year-long hibernation period aided by an absurd amount of prescription drugs. Although many of her problems were real, others were extremely exaggerated and her reactions to them were almost sociopathic, particularly her extreme lack of empathy toward her friend who was dealing with bulimia and struggling to find herself. 

I know what you’re thinking: this seems like the most depressing book ever written, but it’s actually kind of the opposite. It is written as a complete satire of this over-privileged woman whose views on the world are so absurd that it will leave you questioning her sanity on every other page. The book is composed entirely of her complaining about her life and taking drugs, but somehow, I could not put it down.

What intrigued me the most is how out of pocket and extremely unlikable the main character is. She spends pages going into detail about how many drugs she has taken and how angry she feels about having to deal with minor inconveniences, such as going outside or speaking to literally anyone. She has absolutely no filter, which is the whole appeal of the book. There’s also not really a plot or a resolution, but it’s funny, so it works. I’m being vague because I don’t want to give anything away, but Ottessa Moshfegh really does test the limits of how unlikable a character can get. 

I still don’t quite understand why I was so entertained by this book, but I was. And the popularity that it has gained proves that I am not the only one. There has also been a lot of hate because the main character says some offensive things, so if you are planning on reading this, go into it knowing that she is supposed to be ignorant and unlikable. I do not think that this book is promoting the things she is saying, but rather it’s mocking people who say those things. 

My Year of Rest and Relaxation is definitely the strangest and most absurd book I have ever read, and I recommend it if you’re looking for a unique reading experience. But before you get into it, please remember that nothing this character does is morally correct on any level, so read it through a satirical lens and don’t take anything she says seriously.

Allison Yusim

Wisconsin '26

Hi! I'm Allison! I am a Freshman at the University of Wisconsin Madison majoring in Mathematics! In my free time, I enjoy hanging out with friends, reading, and exploring Madison. I am so excited to be a part of Her Campus!