in a corner of our upstairs library
Here’s what I’ve read in the last twelve months.
- Everything Happens For A Reason: And Other Lives I’ve Loved, by Kate Bowler. I read it on our car ride to Massachusetts the first time we went up to see the farm. Wonderful, fast, delightful. Soooo good.
- When The English Fall, by David Williams. The journal format perhaps wasn’t the best choice for the story; the characters lacked development and plot didn’t have much nuance.
- Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart. Excellent writing, depressing story. I love saying the title out loud.
- Stray, by Stephanie Danler. Good writing, but chaotic. I didn’t like her (the author) most of the way through, which was unfortunate because I suspect she might be pretty great.
- The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson. Took ages to complete, but the themes stuck in my head. (Caste made a much greater impression.)
- A Place For Us, by Fatima Farheen Mirza. Slow, okay, nondescript. (Confession: can’t remember it.)
- Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage, by Anne Lamott. Meh.
- The Memory Police, by Yoko Ogawa. Slow plot. Couldn’t get into it.
- A Short Guide to a Happy Life, by Anna Quindlen. Took about two seconds to read and made me feel good.
- Little Beach Street Bakery, by Jenny Colgan. Disturbingly trite and distressingly inaccurate, but still sweet and fun. Baker’s porn, I call it.
- Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit, by Michael Finkel. Interesting, thought-provoking, well-written. Makes for some great conversation.
- Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell. Beautifully written and well done. Not a page turner, but lots of fun to read.
- World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments, by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Fun, easy, interesting. (It bothered a friend of mine, and rightly so, that the author uses the natural world as easy props to tell her own story rather than subject matter that stands on its own merit.)
- The Empathy Diaries: A Memoir, by Sherry Turkle. Meh — kinda dry. Skipped all the science.
- A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master”, by Rachel Held Evans. Skimmed parts. Love her voice and integrity. Miss her!
- Raising Free People: Unschooling as Liberation and Healing Work, by Akilah S. Richards. Refreshing to hear about un/deschooling through the lens of a Black mother.
- My Broken Language: A Memoir, by Quiara Alegría Huda. Beautiful, lyrical writing. Great perspective and story. I think about this book often. The essay at the end about her female family member’s bodies is utterly spectacular.
- Everything I Have Is Yours: A Marriage, by Eleanor Henderson. Beautifully written, and kinda nightmare-ish and grueling. How can it possibly be true?
- Taste: My Life Through Food, by Stanley Tucci. Fun and light. He talks about timpano!
- A Good Neighborhood: A Novel, by Therese Anne Fowler. Predictable; no new ideas. Characters were caricatures/clichés. Hardly even bothered to read the end. Only after finishing the book did I realize how it perpetuated racist ideology (and then I got angry).
- The Paper Palace, by Miranda Cowley Heller. Beautifully written and fun. A page turner.
If I had to pick standouts, I’d say: Kate Bowler’s book, My Broken Language, and The Paper Palace. What are your top reads of 2021? I’m planning a library run in the next day or two, and y’all know how much I love recommendations! (I’m currently reading Edward Snowden’s book, parts of which make for some great dinner table read aloud entertainment.)
Reference books I’ve used (heavily) but didn’t include in the list:
- On pies: Pies and Tarts, Pie, and First Prize Pies.
- On cheesemaking: 200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes, Home Cheese Making (excellent), and The Art of Natural Cheesemaking (game changer).
To the younger two kids, I’ve read Look Both Ways (I enjoyed this interview with author Jason Reynolds), The Inquisitor’s Tale, Out of My Mind (perhaps my fave), The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict, The Crucible (the audio), Word Nerd (another really good one), and Johnny Tremain. And last night we started Three Against the Wilderness, by Eric Collier.
For Christmas, we got our traditional updated copy of Guinness Book Records.
We also, last minute, picked up a collection of cutaway books from Costco.
My husband totally geeks out over these.
Happy reading, friends!