I did a bad job at reading this year. Each year, I set a goal to read [blank] number of books. I didn’t even set a goal this year. Womp. BUT I did manage to pick up a few, and here are my favorites. (Want to see my favorites from last year? Check ’em out.)
A Little Life: Four friends move to New York broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel painter; Malcolm, a frustrated architect; and withdrawn, brilliant Jude. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, especially with Jude. By midlife, he’s a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.
A Little Life is HEAVY, both in actual weight and in intensity. It’s not an easy read and it took me some time to get into, but WOW. It’s good. I love coming of age books and this one is no different. You will gasp. You will cringe. You will be shaken and intrigued and in need of a little time to process the story. Don’t expect puppies and butterflies at any point, but expect this one to stick with you.
The Royal We: American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it’s Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain’s future king. And when Bex can’t resist falling for Nick, she’s propelled into world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.
I am shamelessly obsessed with the British royals, especially Kate Middleton. I never wanted to be a princess, but she makes me reconsider. I cannot imagine the stress and microscope she’s under every day, but this book allows a little glimpse. It’s basically the more gossipy version of Will and Kate and what we imagine might go on behind closed (palace) doors. I read this while in Turks & Caicos; it’s the perfect beach read. (Side note: The authors are the creators of the blog, Go Fug Yourself. That should help you understand the humor.)
The Little Paris Bookshop: Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared.
This one is another good beach read (although I actually read it in London). It’s a cute story of an older man who has held onto his long lost love and he deals with it by “prescribing” books to help others heal. I love the idea and wish I could find a bookseller to do the same. It’s a beautiful love letter to books and those who enjoy them.
Between the World and Me: Ta-Nehisi Coates writes a letter to his adolescent son and shares the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.
This book has been everywhere, named to every list, nominated for every prize — and is so deserving. I, like so many others, have tried to figure out what the hell has happened in the past year (in many ways), and books like BTWAM give a little clarity. I was shocked to read about the pure prejudice and injustice Coates faced growing up and how he managed to overcome so much and go on to teach others.
- In a Dark, Dark Wood (It’s a fun, slightly cheesy read.)
- Today Will be Different (Not as good as Where’d You Go, Bernadette)
- Modern Lovers (Not as good as The Vacationers and Other People We Married)
- Everything I Never Told You (I liked it, but not as much as others did.)