For those of you just joining, or those of you who have better things to do than to scroll though my assorted posts, below is a full accounting of my reading (29 books!!) from last year with comments, of course.
The Year of Magical Thinking (Joan Didion) — Real and really heartbreaking.
Americanah (Chimamanda Negozi Adichie) — Funny and self-aware with a squirmy view of ‘Murica for us natives.
The Namesake (Jhumpa Lahiri) — Lahiri captures that feeling of being between two worlds with a longing you can’t really explain. A vivid book.
Still Life With Breadcrumbs (Anna Quindlen) — Good beach read.
Bringing Down the Colonel: A Sex Scandal of the Guilded Age, and the “Powerless” Woman Who Took on Washington (Patricia Miller) — This should be made into a full-length feature film (like Bombshell, but set before the invention of television). A great book bringing together the people and social movements that brought a wave of Progressive change — the work never ends, does it?
Vox (Christina Dalcher) — Dystopian fiction! My favorite! In this story all women are limited to speaking no more than one-hundred words a day. Yeah, really.
The Bus on Thursday (Shirley Barrett) — Aussie Gothic where the bus takes center stage. Goofy and scary at the same time.
White Houses (Amy Bloom) — Beautiful story, beautifully rendered with great heart. Reminder that love is love is love is love.
The Emissary (Yoko Tawada) — Don’t let the slimness of the pages fool you; a powerful yet beautiful dystopian story of love between a grandparent and his grandchild.
What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City (Mona Hanna-Attisha) — This should be required reading for EVERY citizen. What happened in Flint can (and does) happen anywhere. The need for water is basic for survival — environmental justice is too.
Good Bones and Simple Murders (Margaret Atwood) — “The name’s Atwood, Dame Atwood if you’re nasty.”
Under the Table (Stephanie Evanovich) –– I CANNOT wait to see what new stories she’s got cookin’.
The Nest (Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney) — It took me until the end to appreciate this book, but it will make a terrific movie because it has just the right amount of schadenfreude with a scoop of redemption.
Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over (Nell Irvin Painter) — This is an ambitious memoir of an accomplished woman who, despite all the accolades of an academic career, is still plagued by self-doubt (just like the rest of us). To write about that takes guts.
The Woman in Cabin 10 and The Death of Mrs. Westaway (Ruth Ware) — I preferred Mrs. Westaway over The Woman in Cabin 10 — but maybe I’m just tired of all the Girl/Woman titles?
The Great Believers (Rebecca Makkai) — Just exquisite. If you came of age in the early 80’s your heart will break along with these characters’.
Feel Free: Essays and Grand Union: Stories (Zadie Smith) — If you’ve spent any time with me you know I love Zadie Smith. She’s real and she keeps it real. Essays or stories, it don’t matter — she writes so you get it.
Where the Crawdads Sing (Delia Owens) — Not sure if I get the hype over this. Beautiful descriptions of Nature, but for Narrative and Nature I’d recommend Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer.
Private Life (Jane Smiley) — A wonderful surprise. A story of a woman underestimated by everyone who makes a life for herself in spite of them all.
The Female Persuasion (Meg Wolitzer) — I love when an author creates a whole contemporary world out of thin air that makes me swear I remember when that (fictional) event happened. My favorite Wolitzer.
My Sister, the Serial Killer (Oyinkan Braithwaite) — Tight as a drum and sharp as cut glass. I read it in three hours. Braithwaite better be writing more of these.
Advice for Future Corpses (and Those Who Love Them): A Practical Perspective on Death and Dying (Sallie Tisdale) — Both practical and poetic. A must read for anyone with a body.
At the Wolf’s Table (Rosella Postorino)— Fiction that reminded me a bit of The Handmaid’s Tale in that these “things” did happen (women were recruited as food tasters for Hitler). A story of survival in a strange time.
Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger (Rebecca Traister) –– The title says it all. A good book-end to Bringing Down the Colonel and very topical as the E.R.A. was just ratified by the the state of Virginia, Harvey Weinstein is going to trial, and it’s an election year, so there’s some stuff going on.
Daisy Jones & The Six (Taylor Jenkins Reid) — Were you alive during the Fleetwood Mac years? Daisy Jones & The Six are coming to VH-1 with a “Behind the Music” episode just for you. The narrative is told as a series of interviews with the members of the band. Join the stunt casting round robin here!
Frankissstein: A Love Story (Jeanette Winterson) — If you have not read any Winterson yet I highly recommend this as your first. Not a word out of place. You got Mary Shelley talking about her monster story and then you have AI and sex dolls and it all makes sense.
The Museum of Modern Love (Heather Rose) — This was a really lovely year-end read that I added via Hoopla. The author is another Aussie who asked the artist, Marina Abramovic, if she could incorporate her true-life story into her fictional story. I remember when this installation, The Artist Is Present, was running at MOMA –concurrently with a Tim Burton retrospective strangely enough, and I’m a sucker for any New York story.
Well, that’s a wrap — I’ll see you at the library, after a nap.