In the last year, I’ve read the following:
- The Story of Arthur Truluv, by Elizabeth Berg. Wonderful: simple but not simplistic, and easy, but with depth.
- Know My Name, by Chanel Miller. An incredible story about a difficult topic. Somehow she managed to tell her story in such a way that I didn’t suffer any second degree trauma. I learned so much that, hoping to get my husband to read it, I ordered the book. (And then he wouldn’t read it — says stories like this are just too deeply disturbing.)
- The Art of Natural Cheesemaking, by David Asher. An excellent book — highly recommend (but note: my kefir-cultured cheeses were a disaster!). I wrote more about it here.
- No Cure For Being Human: (And Other Truths I Need To Hear), by Kate Bowler. I read this one in a single sitting (and it made me tear up).
- Permanent Record, by Edward Snowden. Interesting, but the tech parts were baffling (so I skimmed about a third of the book).
- Stranger Care: A Memoir of Loving What Isn’t Ours, by Sarah Sentilles. Well-written (I love love love her writing style) and utterly devastating. As a former foster parent, I wasn’t surprised by her story, just (re)angered.
- Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of Life Interrupted, by Suleika Jaouad. A wonderful story that made me feel a little bit incredulous that I somehow have a healthy body.
- The Mindful Grandparent: The Art of Loving Our Children’s Children, by Marilyn McEntyre and Shirley Showalter. I got to see the creation of this book, participate (a little) in its formation, and celebrate its birth! I wrote more about it here.
- But You Seemed So Happy: A Marriage, in Pieces and Bits, by Kimberly Harrington. I had trouble connecting with the author and never really relaxed into the story.
- The Buddha in the Attic, by Julie Otsuka. A fast read. Well-written and creative. Poetic.
- Here We Are, by Aarti Namdev Shahani. About our broken justice system and an immigrant family, this is an important topic but the story felt disjointed and too long and I didn’t quite make it the whole way through.
- Tasha: A Son’s Memoir, by Brian Morton. Well-done and interesting.
- Migrations, by Charlotte McConaghy. A fun book, well-written and pleasant, but it took me a while to finish.
- Sex Is A Funny Word: A Book About Bodies, Feelings, and YOU, by Cory Silverberg. Balanced, open, upbeat, frank, age (6-12-ish) appropriate. I wrote more about it here.
- Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking: The Ultimate Book for Home-Scale and Market Producers, by Gianaclis Caldwell. Packed with scientific information, cheesemaking insights, and recipe ideas! I wish I bought this book a year ago.
- And Yet, by Kate Baer. I read this sweet little book of poetry in a single day, two sittings. Kate did it again!
- Teaching While Black, by Matthew E. Henry. Packed with imagery, this raw, dense book of poems is an insightful read about racial issues in our school systems.
- Before and After the Book Deal: A Writer’s Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book, by Courtney Maum. Warm and honest, and loaded with facts and details, this one is a real insider look at the ups and downs of publishing a book. (And then I arranged a phone consultation with her!) Highly recommend.
- The Measure, by Nikki Erlick. An interesting concept but the story felt a little too didactic. The plot seemed distant and then I realized: with an established predestination for all the characters, there’s not much thrill.
- Giving Up the Ghost, by Hilary Mantel. So dense that I found it hard to follow and ended up whip-skimming whole swaths.
Top picks include Stranger Care and Know My Name (for most absorbing and inspiring), as well as Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking and Courtney Maum’s book (both for their usefulness). I struggle to enjoy fiction — my mom says it’s because the stories aren’t real; she might be right — but I keep trying. Just now I placed several books from this list on hold at the library. What are you reading?
This same time, years previous: cheesetasting: round three, perimenopause: some goodies, 2020 book list, 2019 book list, the quotidian (12.31.18), 2017 book list, remembering Guatemala.
Love this. I’m SO working on being a mindful grandparent, so I will definitely find that title, asap.
I really disliked Between Two Kingdoms. Of course her illness is horrific, but at a certain point the navel-gazing became too much for me, and the roadtrip read like it was written up as an after thought.
I just read The Paper Palace and loved it! The Great Circle (about a fictional female pilot) was also pretty good.
Favorite post of the year! Big fan of memoirs myself, even though they can be traumatic. I really loved “Everything I Have Is Yours” by Eleanor Henderson and “Easy Beauty” by Chloe Cooper Jones. For fiction, recommend “Infinite Country” by Patricia Engle (like American Dirt but less graphic and more thoughtful) and I discovered Lily King this year and fell in love. Her collection “Five Tuesdays In Winter” is my favorite. “The Last White Man” by Mohsin Hamid is also great and thought provoking.
Totally off topic. What is the cookie in your picture that is at 9 o’clock and what is the chocolate cookie pictured in your last post? Thanks!
9’oclock cookie is the NYTimes recipe for pistachio, candied orange and chocolate shortbread.
And in the post before, that cookies is also a NYTimes recipe: latte gingerbread. Most people didn’t like it, though. Said the espresso gave it a burned taste. (I liked it!)
Thanks for your reply. I’ve been a long, long time reader and love your posts.
Thrift at Home
I can hardly handle books (or shows) with trauma in them anymore – life is just too much already! So I do love a good escapist fiction book. I want to read that grandparent book on your list.
I’m currently reading Lessons in Chemistry. Note: it is not about science but instead relationships. I wish it were about science instead. I also struggle with fiction. I find I prefer YA fiction & non- fiction. My next book is Dark Sun. There should be more science in that book.
I always enjoy your list of books and was happy to see one of my favorite writers, Elizabeth Berg, on it this year. You might like Berg’s “Durable Goods” for its strong and resilient young heroine. A book I am reading right now is the very popular, “Lessons
in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus. Some of it is silly (parts written from the perspective of an intelligent dog!) but I think you might enjoy that it’s about a female research chemist/cooking show host/single mother — and it takes place in the early 1960s. so you can imagine the obstacles she faces. It reminded me of another trailblazer, Julia Child.
Here’s to a new year with lots of good books.
I struggle to read nonfiction. We are opposites! I think I struggle with nonfiction because I feel like the world is too much with me without any nonfiction help. I do enjoy nonfiction in areas where I am intensely interested (like your cheesemaking), but as to reading about the horrors of real life, I already know too many of them IRL.
I love your post – finding out folks reads is always an interest of mine, since my days working in a library. Right now I’m listening to the 2nd Witcher audiobook with the husband, and reading cookbooks my niece has about Keto as she has started a new lifestyle journey for health.
Just finished Les Mis. Reading The Lord of the Rings for the first time! My hubby read it every year before we had kids. Also Mother Culture by Karen Andreola – classic homeschool read.
Wait, did you mean you struggle to enjoy fiction? You wrote “nonfiction,” but your top 4 books were all nonfiction!
Ha! Yes, thank you. FICTION.
I have trouble with fiction now, also, which makes me sad, because I used to enjoy it!