This year has been a reading rollercoaster—exciting highs mixed with ho-hum lows. No sooner was I soaring from some fantastic piece of fiction than I was shutting a book after 100 pages because ‘life is too short’ to keep reading something that isn’t holding my interest or is poorly written. Now, as it comes to a close, I’ve corralled the reading I love into lists. Today is favorite books, but in two categories—those you’ve probably seen or heard about from other people (because they ARE great) and then some that are quieter in their fabulousness, but definitely worth checking out. The title of each links to my full review so you can get an even better taste of why you need to read these books.
Let’s start with the ones that made a big splash with me and a lot of other bloggers:
- Fates and Furies– This was a 5 star creative endeavor for me. Groff parses the truth behind a marriage in a novel split neatly between the perspective of the husband and that of the wife.
- Circling the Sun– Paula McLain’s historical fiction about the life of Beryl Markham, a woman who never let fear stand in her way.
- Infinite Home– a quiet novel about 5 unusual people who call one old Brooklyn brownstone home.
- A Little Life– A story of four friends in NYC and one of the most emotionally difficult novels I’ve ever read. Profoundly powerful, but not for everyone.
- The Nightingale– Two French sisters and the choices each makes to survive during World War II.
- The Lake House– Kate Morton is a master of multi-generational family dramas and this one is no exception.
These eight are books that you have not have heard of, but are well worth adding to your reading list.
- The Jaguar’s Children– A novel that takes place inside a water tanker transporting humans from Mexico into the U.S. Intense look at human trafficking and what world politics has done to desperate people.
- The Household Spirit– Two quirky neighbors beset by life’s problems
- The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty– One of the most interesting premises in a novel I read this year. If you lost your identity in a foreign country, what would you do? When it happens to a young woman in Morocco she finds herself.
- The Undertaker’s Daughter– A little girl’s life growing up in a small Southern town’s mortuary. A memoir but reads like fiction.
- Crooked Heart– A con woman and an orphan make an unlikely pair trying to get by in World War II London.
- The Improbability of Love– A painting as narrator? YES! I loved this one for it’s art history, snarky humor and mystery.
- The Girl Who Slept with God– An intriguing novel about coming-of-age in a family of religious fundamentalists.
- Alice in Bed– a fictionalized account of the quiet life of the fascinating Alice James, the little-known sister of Henry and William.