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What Are You Reading?

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What have you been reading lately? I just devoured two incredible books…

First, Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad. The gripping memoir starts when she’s a college student, who has a persistent itch on her legs. (“It’s eczema,” a campus nurse tells her. “It’s stress,” a doctor surmises.) After graduation, Suleika feels deeply exhausted — taking regular six-hour naps — but she brushes it off as a side effect of a busy life. Finally, after moving to Paris and falling in love, the 22-year-old is diagnosed with leukemia with a 35% chance of long-term survival. The first half of the book recounts four harrowing years in and out of the hospital, as Suleika fights for her life. The second half of the book begins when she walks out of the cancer ward. Now that she survived, how does she live? She embarks on a cross-country road trip to find the answer. Honestly, when this book first crossed my desk, I hesitated to crack it open. During a dark pandemic winter, I thought, shouldn’t I choose a lighter read? But the answer is: No. Treat yourself to this jaw-dropping, page-turning, life-affirming memoir. You’ll be so glad you did.

CW // sexual abuse

Next, I tore through the fascinating memoir Consent by Vanessa Springora. The book was a sensation in France when it was published last year — selling more than 200,000 copies. Translated into English this February, Springora’s book bravely shares her true story: When she was 13, she tagged along with her mother to a dinner party. A 50-year-old man — a famous writer — smiled at her. Over the next few weeks, he mailed daily letters and followed her on the street until he finally led her up to his apartment. And thus began their relationship, in which she’d skip school to meet him in bed and wipe makeup off her face to look younger. Although the writer’s relations with both underage girls and boys were well known — he even wrote a book titled Under Sixteen — he was protected by the Parisian literary scene and pervasive cultural attitudes. In France in the early 80s, coming off the sexual revolution, Vanessa says, “it was forbidden to forbid.” (Her mother would even invite him over for dinner.) I cannot stop thinking about this book, and I’m in awe of Vanessa Springora’s ability to reclaim her story — and the effects of the abuse — in such lucid, controlled, dazzling words. A triumph.

What books have you read recently? I also really enjoyed White Tiger, especially after seeing the Netflix movie.

P.S. Three other great books, and Caroline’s five favorites.

(Photo by Marija Kovac/Stocksy.)

  1. Merrie Hupp says...

    I’m almost finished with The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. I have loved this book! Best quote: “So I made the decision to change. It might seem like change was impossible, given my nature and my age, but I understood exactly what there was to lose. It was chemistry all over again. The point wasn’t whether or not I liked it. The point was it had to be done.”

  2. Hi Joanna Goddard!
    Thanks for your article.
    Recently I’ve read A Portrait of The Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. It’s an amazing book to read. It is basically an autobiographical novel. The journey tells how a young man has become an artist.

  3. Anna Bryant says...

    The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates -started and can’t put it down.
    It’s powerful, important and inspiring- just bought copies to give to my daughters.

  4. Jacqueline Beach says...

    Reading The Deepest Well. WOW.
    Just finished The Overstory, amazing.
    I also quickly devoured and thoroughly enjoyed Wintering and Share Your Stuff, I’ll Go First.
    On my TBR stack: Hamnet, Luster, Circe, Inheritance, Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning.

  5. Kirsten says...

    Wow that’s is incredible, Graes! I just downloaded your spreadsheet.

  6. Graes says...

    Here’s the link of the google spreadsheet of all the books mentioned in the comments from Feb 24-Mar 2. It’s not a sophisticated list – title, author and # of people who read/tbr’d the book. I included this tally as I was just curious which book was the most popular. I am a huge Louise Penny fan so I was glad to see her taking the top mark. Happy reading. Thanks CoJ for these posts. :-)

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1sWdurWpK1GiYTTQ3Ek2akhGDZHoP4WTmkJ_ysHF-x_8/edit?usp=sharing

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, you are amazing, Graes!!!!!

    • Sherrie Saag says...

      wowza!

    • Casey says...

      Thanks! Wow

    • Kamaile says...

      Graes, Thank you so much for doing that. I’m so glad I stopped back by the comments to see this!

    • graes says...

      It’s my pleasure :-) I love books and lists.
      And always excited to find out what everybody is reading.

      Till the next book post.

      Thanks again Joanna!

    • Marnie says...

      Thank you!!

    • Heidi Seely says...

      Which Louise Penny book should I start with? I’m not familiar with her.
      Thanks for the list – looks I’ve got some reading to do!!

    • LAUREN BT says...

      Graes you’re the best!!! Came back to look for my next book and found your list. CoJ you should add this to the friday post for the whole crew!

  7. John C Head says...

    Paul Swider short stories – I stumbled onto his Amazon page – he brings a unique and welcome perspective to his stories. If you find western centric characters and situations on your read lists to have become a bit tiring, you may find Paul’s work to be refreshing. He posts new stories fairly regularly and I look forward to them.

  8. Pam says...

    I am currently reading “Mrs. Everything” by Jennifer Weiner. I have associated this author with “chick lit” in the past and so have stayed away – not my cup of tea. HOWEVER, someone recommended this book to me and it’s fantastic! The dynamic between two sisters growing up in the 1950s with a mother who has checked out and an absent father, and the commentary on how society views they “should be” – very good storytelling. Highly recommend!

  9. Nancey says...

    So far this year it’s been a lovely read….
    We Run The Tides by Vendela Vida – if you haven’t read her stuff I would say please go out today (or order online ANY of her books)

    The Midnight LIbrary by Matt Haig- so good, so much to think about here, I thought about this one when I wasn’t reading it, and talked about it to whoever would listen.

    Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout- I would say it was very good but I liked the first Olive much better

    The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware- I don’t read a lot of thrillers, but needed a fiction break. This one was good, probably my favorite of hers so far!

    World Of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil- What a beauty of a book, just holding it was lovely. The words were like little poems, a gorgeous read.

  10. Elisabeth says...

    Like so many here, I loved Station Eleven and it has stayed with me ever since. Recently I listened to The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold and while it is completely original it struck a similar chord in me.

  11. Tina says...

    Here are some of the books which I read recently and really loved:
    * the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling)
    * the Discovery of Witches series
    * The Midnight Library
    * The Sanatorium
    * Hamnet
    * Group (as well as Maybe you should talk to someone)
    And if there are any German readers here I can highly recommend Melody Michelberger’s “Body Politics” and Mel Raabe’s “Kreativität”

  12. Shannon says...

    I just devoured A Gentleman in Moscow and it was absolutely delicious. Perfect pandemic reading.

    • Heidi Seely says...

      I loved that book as well. I just finished another by the same author: Rules of Civility. A delightful frolic!

  13. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo: I loved the audio book. It’s read by the author and so good.
    Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta: Episodic coming of age story about the mother-daughter relationship. I enjoyed the writing.
    Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo: This one is one that will linger with me for a long time. So good.
    The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny: This was my first by her, and I’m looking forward to reading more.
    Don’t Overthink It! by Alison Bogel: After thinking about it for WAY TOO LONG, I got this book. I underlined a lot and will read it again.

  14. Tamara says...

    Recent reads:
    -“The Night Watchman” Louise Erdrich
    -“The Year of Yes” Shonda Rhimes
    -The Hate U Give” Angie Thomas
    -“Devotion” Dani Shapiro
    Recent Listens:
    -“Wintering” Katharine May
    – “Leave the World Behind” Rumaan Alam SO So good!
    -“Kitchens of the Great Midwest” Stahl – The Lager Queen of Minnesota was better.
    Love, love, love these reading posts!

  15. Naomi says...

    Have been reading over Zoom every Saturday to my mum (who had a stroke and is unable to speak) over this past year when we haven’t been able to see each other. We have enjoyed Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell (fictionalised tale about Shakespeare’s son, but also importantly a sympathetic re-imagining of Anne/Agnes Hathaway) and Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (think we both saw a bit of ourselves in Olive :) ). I am also enjoying Three Women by Lisa Taddeo (beautifully written, at times harrowing, description of women’s lives based on years of research by the author) and laughed lots and loudly to More than a Woman by Caitlin Moran (so many truths about living now as a 40+ woman, mostly hilarious but with heartbreaking turns, especially about her daughter’s eating disorder). Picking up new ideas from this post/comments – thank you!

    • Silvia says...

      Oh, reading over Zoom – I haven’t heard of this, what a lovely thing!

  16. margaret says...

    Ok, I’ve read most of these comments and I don’t think anyone has covered scary books. I can’t believe this has become a thing for me, but it has! Don’t worry, I’m not very brave, so none of this is horrifying or grisly, just a little spooky:
    1. Little Darlings – A new mother fears that a witchy woman is trying to steal her new twins and replace them with her own creatures. The audio book is extra eerie.
    2. Turn of the Key – A modern retelling of the Henry James classic. A nanny wonders whether the house is haunted.
    3. Ghosts of Harvard – A grieving first year student starts to hear voices . . .

    Happy reading everyone!

    • Nancey says...

      Just finishing up The Mist by Ragnar Jonasson, it’s just creepy, has a scary feel to it. I first saw it on Bookmarks which is a great site about what’s good that’s out now, I find so many good ones from there, also subscribe to Lit Hub which gives an email a week about what’s out that is getting notice. Loving The Mist!

  17. Janine says...

    I can’t seem to click through on the included links “three other great books” and “Caroline’s five favorites” – would love to know what those titles are!

  18. Rebecca says...

    I’m reading on the heavy side: Caste, by the amazing Isabelle Wilkerson, and Mediocre, by the clear-sighted Ijeoma Oluo and I’m listening to a beloved one-off novel by Ann Shayne, Bowling Avenue. Then there’s my most recent “fluff read” that turned out to be insightful and valuable: “The Bright Side of Going Dark,” by Kelly Harms–a funny and interesting novel about social media, influencing, loneliness, family, and community. Highly recommended.

  19. Chelsea says...

    I recently read Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras. It was so good. It takes place in Escobar-era Columbia and is told from the perspectives of a young girl and her family’s live in maid. It was so fascinating and really interesting to think what life was like for children growing up in Columbia the same time I was a child in the US. I would highly recommend it!

    • Carmen says...

      Hi Chelsea! I’m Colombian-American and just have to say, it’s “Colombia,” not “Columbia.”In English people pronounce it that way but the country is never spelled that way. This may seem like a small detail, but it’s an important one.

  20. Sarah says...

    I’m finishing up The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. I have to say, I was not excited about reading it. My book group chose it so I rather grumpily started in and it turns out I really like it quite a lot!
    Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell was another one that surprised me. Very well done!
    I am homeschooling my 3 kids this year and we have read so many good books together! It is the best part of homeschool. I just finished reading The War That Saved My Life to the older kids (7 and 10). I cannot recommend it enough! It is probably best suited for ages 9-13 but really depends on the kid. They learned so much history (WWII) and it is just a beautiful story of resilience and love.

    • Nancey says...

      Oh, I have wanted to read The Salt Path, I suggested it to my book club and then didn’t attend that meeting, lol. I have it on my TBR list!

  21. Juliana Gerigk says...

    Recently finished The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa which was ethereal and profound. Currently finally reading A Passage to India by EM Forster and rereading The Hatchet by Gary Paulson when forster gets too hard lol.

    • M says...

      Cup of Jo should do a YA post, haha. My kids are into the Wings of Fire series (which are hardly even YA as much as straight-up children’s books) but they are so good I ended up reading ahead in all of them after my kids went to bed lol.

  22. Ro says...

    I really enjoyed Molly Wizenberg’s book “The Fixed Stars” so I got a copy of “A Homemade Life” from a used bookstore, as well as a digital copy of “Delancey.” Currently reading through Delancey and really want some pizza.

    • Lisa says...

      I am listening to Molly’s “The homemade Life” as an audiobook. Still have a few mins left on it. I highly recommend it. You can feel yourself situated within the story as the narrator reads with so much expressions

  23. Ellen E says...

    these sound wonderful!
    recently I’ve been sticking with feel good books. Recently these…
    beautiful and poetic: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
    stands up to the test of time: The Fellowship of the Ring
    yummy lesbian romance: The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Pursuits

  24. Jimena says...

    I always have one book of poetry and at least one book of prose (sometimes one fiction and one non-fiction) that I’m reading; currently:
    -poetry: Joy Harjo’s She Had Some Horses
    -prose: María Luisa Bombal’s La amortajada

    Read this year so far:
    – Second-Hand Coat, Ruth Stone
    – Bells in Winter, Czeslaw Milosz
    – Cuentos completos, Silvina Ocampo
    – Tell My Horse, Zora Neale Hurston
    – A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold

  25. Cathy says...

    One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

  26. melz says...

    im loving all: Kristin Hannah. I’ve never fell this hard for an author before.
    Nightengale my fav

    • Sarah says...

      I loved The Nightingale too but I think I loved The Great Alone even more. Can’t wait to read her newest, The Four Winds!

  27. Meriame says...

    The Push, by Ashley Audrain – a mindblowing story about a mother-daughter relationship, couldn’t put it down, I gave up sleep and finished it in 2 days

    • Elisabeth says...

      oh wow! I just finished this yesterday. truly terrifying and so much to think about.

    • Kristin says...

      Yes! I finished it two days ago. I’m a mother of two small kids, and I found it to be a rollercoaster of emotions. I don’t think I’ve cried reading a book since Bridge to Terebithia…

  28. G says...

    Oo this is my favorite part of COJ!

  29. Tori says...

    I am yet to devour all these comments with pen in hand, but I have just finished a fantastic read – Sorrow and Bliss, by Meg Mason (an Australian writer). The cover line sums it up, if you adored Fleabag, you will love it. It’s sharp, dark, and laugh out loud funny.

    • Emma says...

      YES! I also strongly recommend Sorrow and Bliss. Absolutely adored it

  30. Lizo says...

    Page turning The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd. First century setting, story about Ana and her marriage to Jesus. Cant put it down.
    Also Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker. Nature vs. Nurture, schizophrenia, heartbreaking true story

    • Sarah says...

      Hidden Valley Road is fascinating and, yes, heartbreaking too.

  31. Julie says...

    I always love these posts; I have discovered so many great books thanks to COJ readers! Latest recs from me include:
    – They skin we’re in: a year of black resistance and power, by Desmond Cole
    – The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
    – Birdie, by Tracy Lindberg
    – Songs for the end of the world, by Saleema Nawaz
    – Leave the world behind, Rumaan Alam

  32. It’s a couple years old, but I just tore through “Watching You Without Me” by Lynn Coady. Wowow, so tense and thrilling in a low-key way. She is a wonderful Canadian author–her story collection, “Hellgoing” is great, too.

    • Sara says...

      Favorite books I’ve read so far this year:

      A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders. I LOVED it, even though I was unsure of it going in. I already want to read it again. It feels like the type of book I could see myself revisiting many times through the years.

      A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.

      Currently reading The Goldfinch – somehow I hadn’t read it yet. I’m about halfway through and it’s fantastic so far.

      And one that seems right up Joanna’s alley is The 6:41 to Paris by Jean-Philippe Blondel.

  33. Ellie says...

    After watching Netflix’s The Great Hack about the Cambridge Analytica I am reading, Mindf*ck: Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America by Christopher Wylie and it is amazing. It’s written by the 24 year old whistleblower who worked there and is one of the most important books I’ve ever read.

    It is overwhelming to understand just how sophisticated data harvesting and exploitation is. I hope enough people educate themselves enough to demand legislative protection for our data and that it becomes a priority for this administration.

    Next, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff.

    • Grace says...

      If you’re interested in that, you might like Jill Lepore’s If Then, which is about this company in the 60s, Simulmatics, that started the behavioral/data analytics train. It was all tied up in US politics in the 60s and went bust by the end of the decade, but really paved the way for our current environment!

  34. Yasmine says...

    I’m reading George Orwell’s 1984, and rereading Animal Farm next. Considering the times that this country seems to be moving into, it seems appropriate.

  35. I just LOVE your book posts and all the comments that follow!!!

  36. Elle says...

    I’m going on a warm much-needed staycation in Palm Springs and looking for a light and fun read I can rip through poolside. I am looking for a Sally Rooney-type style book. Any recommendations?

    • Sala says...

      David Nicholls – One Day – a blinder!

    • Robyn says...

      I loved Daisy Jones & the Six. Light but compelling, interesting and with great characters. I was transported from chilly Scotland to 1970s SoCal – a real treat!

    • Lesley says...

      You might like Writers & Lovers by Lily King. It was Rooney-esque.

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan.

    • Sarah says...

      I second Daisy Jones & The Six! It is so good! I listened to the audio, which is excellent if you’re into listening.

    • KCM says...

      I totally agree with Writers and Lovers (her Euphoria was wonderful too) as well as Daisy Jones (havent read the other two mentioned, but excited to!) and would add Susan Choi, Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler, and Arcadia by Lauren Groff and Such a fun age -Kiley Reid (among so many others I love these posts!) I would also add that if you like something more literary Science Fiction-ey that The Passage by Justin Croninis a great book that reads like literary fiction (its the first in a series, but this one is the best of the three, IMO)

    • margaret says...

      This is a fun challenge, Elle, because I don’t think of Sally Rooney’s books as light. So maybe engaging with a degree of heft? How about the Stationary Shop? It’s a literary love story told against the backdrop of pre-revolutionery Iran. Or for more true lightness, City of Girls by Liz Gilbert. Have fun! I love Palm Springs so much!

  37. I’m reading “Pretty Things” and loving it!

  38. Rachael says...

    Bel Canto by Anne Patchett, All the Light We Cannot See by Arthur Doerr, and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. Nothing you haven’t heard of but each were stay-up-all-night-reading types of books. I just started another by Anne Patchett called State of Wonder and am hooked. Both of your suggestions sound great as well, Joanna! I will check them out.

    • M says...

      I’m always looking for books that are “not-quite-stay-up-all-night-reading” books. Otherwise I don’t get enough sleep on worknights. It needs to be engaging *enough* that I’m not tempted to reach for my phone, but not so page-turney that I can’t nod off at a decent hour. Mostly, I’ve found that Victorian novels and popular non-fiction are the sweet spot. I have to save the books everyone is raving about for vacation.

    • laura says...

      Hey M – to be honest, that’s how I would classify the popular Dune novel by Frank Herbert. Worthy read but due to the writing style (imo), it wasn’t “unputdownable.” Good time to read it too as the movie will be coming out soon.

    • M says...

      @Laura – You are spot on. I actually recently read Dune (because of the movie coming out) and it was exactly that! Great minds lol.

  39. Meagan says...

    I just finished Burnout by Emily and Amelia Nagoski. It’s especially relevant during the pandemic and had lots of actionable advice. Recommend their podcast as well. Then I started Raising Human Beings, it’s about collaborative problem solving with your kids and I’m finding it helpful so far.

  40. Megan says...

    I live for these posts! Love getting new book recs from this group of smart, thoughtful women. So many of my faves of past year were because I read about them here, especially Station Eleven. Can’t recommend it enough. Some other recent recs: Eat A Peach, David Chang’s memoir; A Burning (amazing short novel set in India); Jesus and John Wayne, about how white evangelicals ushered in Trump (eye opening and infuriating); The Overstory (epic, long, but worth it. . .a plus if you love trees and nature!). If you’re an HGTV fan, I read Leanne and Steve Ford’s book, A Work in Progress, and it is a quick read and just delightful. . .they tell their story but also provide reflection questions at the end of each chapter. I’d recommend it especially for anyone who might feel stuck professionally.

    • Emily says...

      Station Eleven is the best.

  41. Kelli says...

    The House in the Cerulean Sea- such a great day. I’d make everyone read it if I could.

    • Megan Raitano says...

      YES! I think it should be required reading for all humans. What a great book!

  42. I just read “You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories About Racism” by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar and it was SO GOOD!! They are hilarious writers and it was a book I read in one sitting. Highly recommend!

  43. Marisa V says...

    I just finished Severance by Ma Ling and I’m tearing through The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich now. Was a bit skeptical of Severance at first because of the parallels to the real life pandemic, but I enjoyed it. And Erdrich is one of my all time favorite authors. Her prose have a way of calming me and she creates such vivid worlds for her characters.

    • susan says...

      I am a total Erdrich fan girl. I discovered her in college and think she writes characters so beautifully. Subject matter is often difficult. The Round House remains one of my all time favorite novels. I am looking forward to The Night Watchman…it’s queued up next on my Kindle.

  44. Poppy says...

    I am currently reading ‘Normal People’ by Sally Rooney; very late to the literary party with this one! I’ve got ‘I Used To Be Charming; the rest of Eve Babitz’ lined up next, which I’m already looking forward to…😊.

  45. Lindsay says...

    The Midnight Library and Four Winds! Must reads!

    • Sarah says...

      Both of those are high on my to-read list!

    • margaret says...

      I just got Midnight Library out of the library and plan to spend part of my Saturday afternoon in the chaise lounge reading it with a cup of mint tea and my classical music station on in the background. Yay!

    • Nancey says...

      Just finished The Midnight Library, very good! Made me think about it and all the possibilities as I would go through my day. I talked about it to others too, it’s an idea that you can’ t help but think about. Then apply it to your own life. One little change huh? and it all changes. fascinating.

  46. Brittny says...

    So far this year I’ve read Such a Fun Age, Know My Name, and The Nickel Boys. All were so different, yet thought provoking and excellent in their own right.

    My favorites from last year were Evvie Drake Starts Over, The Heart’s Invisible Furies (which is now my favorite book of all time), and After the Last Border.

    On my list are The Glass Castle, A Promised Land, Hidden Valley Road, In the Dream House, and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. So many good books to read!

    • Emma says...

      Brittny, I love your taste in books! I just finished Such a Fun Age and could not put it down. The Nickel Boys is on my list. I read The Heart’s Invisible Furies last month and LOVED it. I read The Glass Castle in college and my last book of 2020 was In The Dream House (read that one straight through the night, so hard and beautiful).

    • June says...

      Oh, we have a lot of overlap! You will not be disappointed by Addie LaRue.

      Some recently loved books you might enjoy: Love Lettering, The Flip Side, Strange Weather in Tokyo.

    • I love your list!! I am reading now Hidden Valley Road and it has been amazing! Can’t put it down. Have you heard of Educated, by Tara Westover? Thank you!

    • Lizo says...

      Hidden Valley Road and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue….both excellent and could NOT be more different!

    • laura says...

      The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue has been my favorite read of the year so far :) I know that doesn’t say much since it’s still early 2021, but I predict it’ll be one of my fave 2021 reads!

    • Sarah says...

      Brittny, Emma, June, Juliana, Lizo, and Laura, this thread made me feel like I found my book people! Seriously so thrilled to add some of these reads to my list. A few I’ve enjoyed that you all may like are The Last American Man, City of GIrls, Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, Crazy for the Storm, and Killers of the Flower Moon.

      Are any of you on Good Reads? I would love to connect with you to continue to share recs. I’m on there under Sarah Ellefson. xx

    • Brittny Gettman says...

      Emma: I meant to write The Glass Hotel, oops! I read The Glass Castle after college and it was my favorite book for many, many years. Oddly enough I haven’t seen the movie! Maybe because I hold the book in such high regard I don’t think anything can do it justice :)
      June: Thank you for the recs! And I love your name :)
      Juliana: This is controversial but I didn’t like Educated! I don’t even really know why- maybe because I wasn’t in the ready head space.
      Lizo- So excited to read them both!
      Sarah- Say Nothing is on my list! I just added you on Good Reads :) :)

  47. Katey says...

    Best book of last year was “Piranesi” by Susanna Clarke. It is incomparable, but it evoked similar feelings I had when I read “Frankenstein” and “Metamorphosis.” I read it twice. I loved it.

    Now I’m reading “Black Hole Survival Guide” by Janna Levin. Wow. What an amazing book. Her prose is next level and the subject is out there…. I mean, black holes! Space-time! Written as a survival guide, she brings you up close to these celestial mega-voids. It is very mind-expanding and it makes me feel awe for our existence (which is a welcome change from the ambiance of dread and doom and gloom and despair).

  48. txu says...

    So many great suggestions. Bookmarking this page for future reference.

    Most often police procedurals are too heavy with gore and machismo for my taste and typically the mostly male protagonists are magically unencumbered by the mundane, day to day struggles of family life, but the really good ones (I think) delve deeply into character and sense of place as they propel you through their plots; the best of these novels layer in larger societal themes as well.
    Susie Steiner, a British writer, has written a terrific series of three books featuring Manon Bradshaw, a middle aged female police detective (finally!) who wrangles with all the things that traditional hard boiled male cops do ( criminals, grey moral quandaries, office politics, societal injustices) as well as the very real ups and downs of parenting and partnering (oh, and sexism too, of course) . Couldn’t love this character more – she’s smart, funny(!), achingly vulnerable – and the novels’ themes are timely and deeply serious.
    Lissa Evans is not a writer of police procedurals. She is another British writer COJ readers may not be familiar with. Mostly she writes children’s’ lit but I recently finished reading her short adult series — Crooked Heart, Old Baggage, and V for Victory. The novels span the period from pre WWI to WWII and follows the tragicomic adventures of a motley trio of oddly endearing characters. One critic described Evan’s writing as “comedy edged with satire and pathos” and it is. Absolutely brilliant, as the Brits say. This dedicated library borrower ran out and bought all three.

  49. R says...

    Wish I could bookmark the last comment I read so I can return to carry on harvesting rec’s! By the time I can get back here the list will be hundreds long!

    • Shayna says...

      R, I know this feeling! When I come back to a particular post to continue reading the discussion, I hit Command + F to search for the commenter’s name where I left off.

  50. Christina says...

    Just finished Shuggie Bain. One of the best books I’ve read. Also read The Widows of Malabar Hill, a fantastic mystery set in 1920 India with a female protagonist.

    • Julie says...

      I’ve just finished that too. Beautifully written but such a sad harrowing story. I cried all the way through it.

    • Emily says...

      I am reading Shuggie Bain now. I am already wrecked.

  51. Ceridwen says...

    I have commented already….but also loved Sorrow and Bliss (think Fleabag) and Mayflies. Excellent! Different view of male friendship. Tender and wonderful.

  52. Ceridwen says...

    I am reading Growing Up Disabled in Australia. It is part of a series of “Growing Up in Australia” that features stories and experiences from people in marginalised groups in Australia. It is a brilliant book. I highly recommend to anyone, Australian or not. The authors are from diverse backgrounds and generations. I have learned more about ableism and the perspectives have also helped me to understand more about my own daughter and friends living with chronic illness and or disability. An excellent read. Before that, I read American book The Prophets. Incredible and stretched me. An amazing book.

  53. Courtney says...

    I’m reading Quit Like a Woman by Holly Whitaker, about choosing to not drink. I’ve been exploring ways to lead a more expansive, present life, and this book has been enlightening. It takes a feminist, humorous, honest approach to the author’s journey and will certainly impact how I make decisions about so many aspects of my life, far beyond drinking. Highly recommend to anyone curious about the role of alcohol in the lives of women.

    • Katey says...

      Yes!

    • Natalie says...

      I’m reading this right now, too!! Really loving it – feels like hanging out with a friend who just *gets it*.

  54. pmia says...

    I’m so grateful for you, Joanna, and for your blog and everyone who is part of your team and this community. Just wanted you to know.

  55. Katy says...

    I just listened to Long Bright River by Liz Moore and The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel and loved them both. I started doing audio books during the pandemic because I get a lot of tedious tasks done while I listen.
    I love when you post about books you’ve enjoyed. Thanks!

    • Jennifer says...

      I LOVED the Glass Hotel! Just downloaded Long Bright River, thanks!

    • Nancey says...

      I loved Long Bright River! I will try The Glass Hotel because I have loved all of her other books so much.

  56. Saundra says...

    Just finished This Tender Land by William Krueger and I’m missing it! If anyone loved this one, do you have a recommendation for a next read? What about his other novel Ordinary Grace?

    • odo says...

      Hosted a book club discussion of Ordinary Grace, like, six years ago. my memory is that it was very good!

    • Allison says...

      I haven’t read This Tender Land, but I really enjoyed Ordinary Grace.

    • Claire says...

      I read Ordinary Grace and really loved it.

    • Helen says...

      This Tender Land was one of the best books that I read in 2020. I can’t wait to dive into Ordinary Grace as soon as I’m off my library’s waiting list!

    • Pam says...

      I loved This Tender Land and I also loved Ordinary Grace! If you like those then Where the Crawdads Sing, The Giver of Stars, The Vanishing Half and Before We Were Yours are also fantastic. Also Chasing Painted Horses and The Great Alone. There are just too many to list :)

    • Elizabeth says...

      Loved this too! Try reading The Book of Polly.

  57. Annie says...

    I’m waiting for my hold of Between Two Kingdoms from the library! Can’t wait to read it. Will add Consent to my list as well.

    I’ve been reading so much this year and it’s brought me so much joy and escape. My recent favorites:

    – In the Dream House (Carmen Maria Machado) – an incredible read, wow. Will stay with me forever.
    – Transcendent Kingdom (Yaa Gyasi) – phenomenal writer, totally absorbing story.
    – How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy (Jenny Odell) – really made me think!
    – My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Mending of Our Bodies and Hearts (Resmaa Menakem) – a totally embodied reading experience. Brought my attention towards how racialized trauma exists in all of our bodies and what we can do about it. Highly recommend.

    Happy reading, everyone!

    • Ceridwen says...

      Loved How to Do Nothing! I keep returning to ideas in it. I love your list…noting down your recs.

    • Chelsea says...

      I recently read Transcendent Kingdom and loved it as well. Yaa Gyasi is a fabulous author, Homegoing was great as well and I cannot wait to see what she writes next!

  58. Kathryn says...

    American Dirt . Do not wait. You won’t put it down !!

    • Suzanne says...

      Agree 100%, Kathryn! I read it more than a month ago and still think about it almost daily!

    • Stacey says...

      Oh, I just tore through this! Couldn’t put it down.

  59. Chrissy says...

    I just finished ‘The Mercies’ by Kiran Millwood Hargrave and I love , love, love it!

  60. Emily says...

    I am reading Shuggie Bain and wow. Just wow.

    • Molly says...

      Yes! This book is incredible. I am listening to it on audiobook and the accents make the story come alive. Each scene is so well written and the characters are complex and devastating.

    • Beth says...

      Yes ! This book is brilliant – I broke my heart into a thousand pieces and simultaneously made it burst with such love . One of the best I have read in a very long time and a very worthy Booker prize winner

    • Nancey says...

      I have tried so many times with this one, I keep losing interest. I might try the audiobook, maybe that will do it for me. I keep trying because I WANT to love it. lol.

  61. Jess says...

    My favourites so far this year have been Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason and
    Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo. I’m currently reading Where The Crawdads Sing (judging by the lack of people recommending it, I’m about two years late to the party!) and I am really enjoying it and savouring each page.

    • Sam says...

      I read Where the Crawdads Sing in 2019. I felt like I was tardy to its reading party then. Loved it. Still think about it.

    • margaret says...

      I don’t think I ever read a book as slowly as Crawdads, by which I mean that I consciously slowed down to read and absorb every single word. I’m the kind of girl who usually skims through descriptive passages, but not Crawdads! The sense of place she develops made it so special.

    • Elizabeth says...

      Loved Crawdads. If you haven’t read Euphoria yet by Lily King it had a similar hold on me.

  62. Jordan G says...

    Oh, I also wanted to pop on to say that I’m 99% sure it was this blog – your husband I think – who recommended the book The Boys in the Boat in one of his Christmas lists. I LOVED IT SO MUCH. I still think of it often. My brother and I read it together and we both agreed it was phenomenal. Thank you!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Yes! So glad to hear it!

    • Alexandra says...

      I started reading The Boys in the Boat last night and look forward to it. I gave it to my son (who rowed the last two summers), and even he, who is not a great reader, enjoyed it!

    • Jan W says...

      Absolutely loved The Boys In The Boat!

    • Emily says...

      I gave that to my dad for Christmas after finding it on here and he LOVED it!

  63. Gilli Treiman says...

    Anything by Taylor Jenkins Reid
    Also loving The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai and The Vanishing Half

    • Emma O says...

      A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa. Breathtakingly good.

    • steph n says...

      She has a new book coming out in the spring! Can’t wait!

  64. Jordan G says...

    My book taste is all over the map, as evidenced by my last 3 reads:

    – “Rural Diaries” by Hilary Burton Morgan, a wonderful memoir about creativity, motherhood, infertility, marriage, acting, gardening, DIY
    – “Never Ran, Never Will” by Albert Samaha, a story of a youth football team in Brooklyn that will make you think about how our unique circumstances shape our path
    – “Tweet Cute” by Emma Lord, an adorable YA book that made me smile

  65. Agnès says...

    I’m really moved that you read Vanessa’s book, I didn’t know it had been translated. I met Vanessa some years ago when we both lived in Mexico and I think for that reason her story really seemed close to me (we’ since have lost touched but I vividly remember her). I find her book brilliant; it is a memoir but also a literary work and for the topic, it’s not easy. It is such a portayal of the 80s-90s and the analysis of a society in which patriarchy rules with the help of women. That seems absolutely crazy for today (a year ago, the book was like an earthquake in France). I am so glad women of my generation are speaking out loud. Thanks to Vanessa, the victims are heard and the complexity of their position, understood. (Also, Joanna, intense readings!! I just read poetry, and recently, Circé by Madeline Miller, which is so good and took me so far from here and now).

    • laura says...

      LOVED Circe. Wish I hadn’t read it yet so I can experience it as a first-time reader again.

  66. Andrea says...

    Born a Crime by Trevor Noah was the last terrific book I read. Engrossing and funny. I just kept wanting to pick it up and read it.

  67. katy says...

    Hi! I love the warning about the sexual assault. Just thought I’d share that recent research shows that putting ‘content warning’ instead of ‘trigger warning’ was actually less triggering to those who might be affected by the content. While they are technically used differently in media, the subject of the content was controlled for and it still had similar findings.

    This isn’t a critique in any way but I know that CUPofJo is always looking to be gentle to their readers :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much, Katy!

    • laura says...

      Katy – this insight is so interesting! Just reading trigger vs content in your content sparks the feelings you described.

      “Trigger” feels like an exclamation point whereas “content” feels like more of a gentle but sufficient alert.

  68. Sharon says...

    I just finished Between Two Kingdoms…what a terrible ordeal she went through and what a terrific writer! And her story continues…I am both in awe and terrified when I read about these illnesses and all they entail.

    Just started The Bucket list, which is a novel about a young woman who discovers she carries the BRCA1 gene. No opinion yet…on the first chapter.

  69. R says...

    Love, love these book posts! I’m currently reading Outlawed which is a fun ‘Old west’ book with a feminist twist. I also just read SK’s Misery for the first time and couldn’t put it down. Love reading everyone’s recommendations!

    • margaret says...

      If you like Western novels, I highly recommend News of the World. I resisted the recommendation initially because I don’t like Westerns, but then fell in love. Just a gorgeous book with a perfect ending.

  70. Lindsey says...

    Just finished Transcendent Kingdom and absolutely devoured it. The same magnificent, luminous writing Yaa used in Homegoing taken to another level. Highlyyyyyyy recommend.

    For non-fiction: Rage Becomes Her was freaking excellent. Masterful. Going on my list of “books I will pay my sons to read one day.” :)

    I also am 3/4 of the way through Permission to Feel, which is teaches us how to recognize, understand, label, express and regulation emotions. Amazingly helpful for me as I try and give my kids the tools to do this well.

    Yay reading!

    • Chelsey says...

      Lovvvvvvved Transcendent Kingdom!!

    • pmia says...

      omg this is the recommendation i needed (Rage Becomes Her)– I have been feeling so much displaced / bottled up anger (often looking like quiet resentment), followed by shame, etc. I know I need to allow it some sort of outlet but I have no idea … how…. The last thing I want to do is hurt anyone. And society does not like an angry woman, so I feel even more upset with myself. ANyway, Thank You for putting this out there. I am going to check it out.

  71. I am currently reading So You Want to Talk About Race [Ijeoma Oluo] and Girl, Woman, Other [Bernadine Evaristo] and both are really good.

    The best books I’ve read so far this year have been Know My Name [Chanel Miller], The Dating Plan [Sara Desai], Stay With Me [Ayobami Adebayo], You’re Not Listening [Kate Murphy], and Talking to Strangers [Malcolm Gladwell].

    Next on my list is Hood Feminism [Mikki Kendall] which I have heard great things about.

    • Olivia says...

      I just finished Know My Name by Chanel Miller, and it’s made a home among my “top books I’ve ever read” list. I actually listened to it on audiobook. She narrates it, and hearing her speak her story add impact beyond the written words. Her book is truly a gift to women. I would love for my husband, and then men in my life to read it, in fact.

      (For anyone interested in picking it up, CW around sexaul assault.)

    • Claire N says...

      Know My Name is one of my favorite books ever – truly incredible memoir.

  72. Claire says...

    I just love these book posts and reading the comments about what everyone is enjoying.
    I am reading poetry lately (such a balm), and am also about halfway through The Searcher, by Tana French- which is just terrific. I also recently read News of the World, by Paulette Jiles, and loved that one too. Excellent writing in both.

    • Claire says...

      Also, has anybody read The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig? and did you like it?

    • Sam says...

      I read The Midnight Library — although I can’t remember it well enough to give you a synopsis, I made notes on my book list that it makes one think.

      I also read The Searcher by Tana French — I’ve read all of her books — In the Woods (her first one) and The Searcher are my favorites.

    • Jennifer says...

      I read the Midnight Library recently because it was Goodreads top fiction book of 2020 and… I didn’t like it at all. I might be alone here but i guess it just wasn’t my style! I felt the same way about Anxious People. I love fiction that absorbs me with beautiful writing, and these were not that.

  73. Jessica says...

    Smacked by Eilene Zimmerman. So good!

  74. jen says...

    Really enjoying “Etiquette for Runaways” by Liza Nash Taylor!

  75. Trisha says...

    Just finished Alex Haley’s Autobiography of Malcolm X. I could not believe that with all the blogs out here recommending books about race issues and must reads for white people, that I had not one time seen this on anyone’s list. It is a must read and one of the best books I’ve ever read. What a fascinating person. Everyone should read this book IMO.
    I also just finished Mary Karr’s Lit, and I’m excited to pick up her other books soon! Reading has really been a saving grace in this loopy time.
    Love the blog, keep all the great content coming, you’re saving us all out here with your openness and light!

    • KOB says...

      Another biography of Malcolm X by Les Payne (and his daughter) just came out last year – The Dead Are Arising. Though I haven’t read it yet, it has received rave reviews, was meticulously researched, and has been compared to Haley’s (and includes a lot of details not covered in Haleys book). Just thought you might be interested!

    • margaret says...

      Trisha, your comment makes me so happy! The Autobiography of Malcolm X is one of my favorite books of all time. I think of it as one of truly great American books, not only because it provides such a compelling commentary on race in America but because Malcolm X so beautifully reinvents himself over and over again – such an American ideal – but he does it in response to new information. Can not recommend too strongly!

  76. Nicolle says...

    I printed out a “Top 50 Literary Classics” list from Pinterest and working my way through them. So satisfying to cross it off the list. Currently tackling both Wuthering Heights, with snippets of the Original Winnie the Pooh stories to break up the heaviness. To celebrate the end of a book, I watch the film if there is one. Gives me a sense of accomplishment during these crazy times.

    • Vanessa says...

      Excellent!

  77. Christina says...

    I finally got around to making use of the Libby app for borrowing books from the library and OMG it’s great. I’ve been reading books on the Kindle app on my phone for the past few years and it’s just so handy for always having a book nearby so I don’t know why I haven’t done it earlier, especially since it’ll send the borrowed books to your kindle.

    As a result I’ve been devouring books like crazy:
    – Mexican Gothic by Silvia Morena Garcia – A bit slow-paced in the beginning but then turns into super creepy WTF by the end
    – The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab – So good. Loved it.
    – Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson – Interesting and entertaining
    – Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb – I haven’t had much experience with therapy so it was interesting to read about a therapist’s experience as both a patient and a therapist and their methods and approaches.
    – Recursion by Blake Crouch – Interesting sci-fi/mystery
    – Born a Crime by Trevor Noah – Fascinating to read about living under apartheid

    Then some fluffier thriller/suspense which are always entertaining for me:
    – The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
    – Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
    – Pretty Things by Janelle Brown

  78. Dana says...

    My genre is memoirs. This Time Next Year We’ll be Laughing is a wonderfully written account of the author’s post-WWII childhood in England.

  79. Joana says...

    I’m reading ‘Alabama Chrome’ by the wonderful Mish Cromer. You immediately get immersed in a tale that unfolds in a small town in Kentucky, with relatable characters, a strong sense of community and the weighty subject of domestic violence. It is a book full of heart, compassion and warmth. This is her debut novel and I can’t recommend it enough.

    Recently I finished reading ‘Inheritance’ by Dani Shapiro, and besides the wild story, I so loved her prose, how she’s not afraid to write about difficult emotions and feelings and how she illuminates everyone while doing so.

  80. Emelia says...

    Just finished “The Most Fun We Ever Had” by Claire Lombardo and can’t stop thinking about the characters (and casting the movie in my head)!

    • Megan says...

      Ditto! LOVED this so much. Content warning: it includes a heartbreaking miscarriage.

    • Cynthia says...

      I read it earlier this year and loved it!

    • Jo says...

      Loved it! Tell me June Diane Raphael (from Grace and Frankie) wouldn’t be the perfect Wendy! She was all I could picture :).

    • LK says...

      YES about the casting!!! And whoever said June Diane Raphael is SPOT on. Such a good call.

  81. Amelia says...

    I’m currently listening to “A promised Land” and I’m having so many feelings. So much nostalgia and dee appreciation for what a great deliberate thinker and leader President Obama was(and is). Also the contrast. Dear lord the contrast.. between him and the other dude. UGH.
    A couple recent reads-
    “How the one armed sister sweeps her house”
    Valentine”
    “Deacon King Kong”
    “The book of Longings”
    “Everything you wanted to know about Indians but were afraid to ask”.
    All different but equally wonderful books I’d recommend!

    • Chelsea says...

      I loved Valentine! It was one of my favorite reads from the past year.