It’s been a wild year my book-loving friends! With Covid continuing to rule over our lives, there was plenty of time for reading so this year’s list is longer than usual.
The following doesn’t include all the books I started but didn’t finish. Maybe I should start noting those to spare you the trouble of these rapid discards. However, there are enough literary losers in my 2021 list to protect my fellow readers starting with the first book on my list.
In Five Years by Rebecca Searle. Whiny contemporary romance of love and destiny.
*Monogamy by Sue Miller. Deeply crafted exploration of marriage.
Distant Shores by Kristin Hannah. Not one of her best.
Anxious People by Frederick Bachman.
*Washington Black by. Phenomenal
*Homeland Elegies by Eyad Aktar. America experience through the eyes of a brilliant Arab writer…and American.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle. Not great even for self-help genre.
The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer. Or books we cannot remember except that I liked it.
Nature Fix by Florence Williams. Non-fiction look at nature’s impact on well-being.
*Forty Autumns by Nina Willner. Compelling true story of a family split by the Berlin Wall over four decades.
*Rose Code by Kate Quinn— Women who helped win WWII through grit and camaraderie
*My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent. I expected to hate but was engrossed from beginning to end.
*A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore. Moving, surprising and so much Moore.
Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penney. Not great time travel tale.
*Island of the Sea Women by Lisa See. Engrossing, well-researched tale based on the real diving women of Jeju Island in Korea.
*Northern Spy by Flynn Berry. Surprisingly satisfying thriller in Northern Island.
*Silver sparrow by Tayari Jones. Family, race and secrets evocatively explored
A Promised Land by Barack Obama. Too soon.
Tzar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra. Strange, interlinked stories.
*Morningside Heights by Joshua Henken. Evocation of NY and love
**Four Winds by Kristen Hannah. Exceptional retake of Dust Bowl era through eyes of women.
Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis. Wonderful story for book lovers.
Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro. Learn a lot about art and
*The Cellist by Daniel Silva. I’m a sucker for Gabriel Allon and this is another timely political thriller.
Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire. Complicated children’s tale.
Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead. Couldn’t finish.
Phone Booth at the End of the World by Laura Messina. Would have made a better short story.
The Tunnel by A.B. Yehoshua .Aging, injustice, friendship. Masterful.
* Fresh Water for Flowers by Valerie Perrin. Like a seed, this story grew deeper roots and wings by the page. Loved it.
The Mother In Law by Sally Hepworth. Better than Expected tale of family dysfunction.
Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka . Reread this classic of Japanese American Experience.
*Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles. Relax and put yourself in the hands of a master storyteller.
Home by Toni Morrison. Deeply moving and provocative.
Out Stealing Horses by Per Peterson. A Norwegian coming of age classic.
Lastly, I gift you a wonderful article in today’s Washington Post about the disappearing “book towns” of Europe.
What books did you love or leave in 2021? Please share in comments. Happy New Year!