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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. Ulrike says...

    I’ve just bookmarked (ha!) at least 10 of the books recommended in the comments… thank you!
    I just finished “The Plot Against America”, which is brilliant and creepy. I watched the HBO miniseries before, which I would recommend as well.
    Before that, I read “The Memory Police” by Yoko Ogawa. It is beautifully written and also haunting, I still find myself thinking about it a lot.

  2. Eva says...

    I’m reading Apeirogon , by Colum McCann. It’s tough but a very good book.
    And I recently discovered the novels of the japanese writer Ito Ogawa, which I recommand !

  3. M says...

    My January reading was Robert Whitlow’s Deeper Water. An old, but , good read. About the ethics of Law Students. February: David Baldacci’s…John Puller Series, The Escape. A proven fact that blood is thicker than water. And no he didn’t get the girl. March reading will be: Vince Flynn’s, The Third Option. It will be about Washington Politics. It will probably be like our November National News. We’ll see.

  4. Jee says...

    I’ve never read the Shining, but I adored the sequel — Doctor Sleep.

  5. Drew says...

    I recently read The Book Thief for the first time and loved it. Now I’m reading “Notes on a Nervous Planet” which feels timely. It discusses how modern life fuels our anxiety.

    Also, how does everyone comb through these recommendations? I want to read every comment but there are so many! I wonder if anyone has ever compiled a list…

    • Alyssa says...

      Oooh I would love a list too! The Book Thief was so good. I listened to it, and happened to be brushing my teeth when it got VERY SAD. My husband found me sobbing in the bathroom, only able to say “Ith juth so thad!!!!” through my mouthful of toothpaste. This was pre-pandemic so that type of behavior was not yet normal.

  6. illana says...

    I love reading books so much, and I think I must have about 25 around here is small piles that I am reading tiny bit-by-bit. That’s the weird thing lately: I think since covid I’ve had a remarkably short attention span for books. I’ve heard a few others say this – maybe just a general nervousness level. But I haven’t felt comfortable just cuddling up for an hour on the weekend to read. More like 15 minutes and then I feel compelled to stop reading. When I’m finally done with those 25, I’ll grab some more titles from all these recs!

    • June says...

      Not just you. I’ve heard the same from others even months out from their recovery from COVID. (Although it definitely gets better! Hang in there!)

      One person told me that they fell in love with poetry during that period. They’d read one or two and feel like they succeeded in finishing something. It was a genre they’d previously ignored. FWIW, one of my favorite poetry books is for children: “When Green Becomes Tomatoes.”

  7. Jessi says...

    I just finished The Henna Artist and I have to say it has been my favorite book that I have read in quite some time. Honorable mentions:

    – The Guest List
    – Such a Fun Age
    – The Stationery Shop
    – The Shoemaker’s Wife

    Next up for me is Modern Love!

    • Helen says...

      I absolutely loved The Henna Artist! I’ve added The Stationery Shop to my Goodread’s list and am looking forward to reading it.

    • Chelsea says...

      Loved The Henna Artist and Such a Fun Age too! I read both with my book club and we all enjoyed both books.

  8. Alyson says...

    I’ve carried a great deal of heaviness lately and was aching for something funny and light to think about in bed and, dare I hope, even fall asleep with.

    The Thursday Murder Club was a surprising treat! It’s based in a British retirement resort where shenanigans ensure. Old folks and murder didn’t seem like the antidote but the writing is so fluid and flirty that I can’t wait for one more chapter.

    • June says...

      That’s on my list! I’m so excited for it!

  9. Alyssa says...

    I’m currently reading Luster by Raven Leilani (which I like, but don’t love – yet?), and The Guest List by Lucy Foley which I have barely cracked open but am already completely glued to. I just finished Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi which was solid, and His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie which was light and fun – I liked it a lot. I pressed The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab into a friend’s hands immediately after finishing – loved.

  10. lisa rubisch says...

    Every year, I challenge myself to read the NY Times top ten books of the year. I don’t always read all ten to be honest, but I get close—usually eight or nine. There is never a dud in the bunch and it pushes me out of my literary comfort zone, introducing me to books whose worlds (and people who inhabit them) I’d otherwise never have chosen or known. That said, I do venture off the list—I recently devoured Wintering by Katherine May and I’m almost finished A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by my favorite living author, George Saunders. I’m excited to explore your books, Joanna, and these comments!

  11. Sam says...

    Just finished “Read This for Inspiration” by Ashly Perez. Quick, entertaining, excellent read. I’m about to read “Between Two Kingdoms” by Suleika Jaouad and “Like Streams to the Ocean” by Jedidiah Jenkins.

  12. J says...

    I just started “Anxious People,” which I’m enjoying so far!
    Other books I’ve read and loved recently-
    -The Veronica Speedwell series by Deanna Raybourne
    -Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
    -Multiple books by Simone St. James (The Broken Girls, The Sun-Down Motel, The Haunting of Maddy Clare)
    -The Brown Sisters series by Talia Hibbert
    -Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
    -A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

    • Ève Normandin says...

      So many of my favorites in your list!!! Veronica Speedwell, RWRB, the Brown Sisters… all so good! I might have to try the other ones you suggested, apart from Mexican Gothic, which looks too creepy for me. Do you read any other cozy mysteries in addition to Veronica Speedwell?

  13. sabrina says...

    This one is so good. It, along with Know my Name by Chanel Miller, was a book I couldn’t stop thinking about onece I had finished it.

  14. Elizabeth says...

    I’ve already read some great ones this year! First of all THE PUSH. Holy cow if any book could be described as unputdownable…a must read. It sparked so many questions and I can’t wait to discuss it with my book club. The Heart’s Invisible Furies was hilarious, heartbreaking, sweet, and everything I ever wanted in a novel. Last, Open Book by Jessica Simpson was a compelling read. As someone who came of age in the time of Jessica at her peak with Newlyweds on the air, it shed so much light on her life during that time. She really was an open book and spills ALL THE TEA. She describes a lot of toxic men (ahem, John Mayer) but shows no ill will toward any of them. ALSO just want to say Jessica weighed 120 pounds and wore a size 25 when the notorious “mom jean” photo was taken. Justice for Jessica. Justice for Britney. Justice for Janet. WHEW.

    • Jessi says...

      Okay, so I haven’t read the Jessica Simpson book yet but I listened to a podcast deep dive series You’re Wrong About did and I devoured all of the episodes talking about her book. I felt so compelled to tell everyone how I felt like we wronged Jessica. My husband even loved it. We listened separately but we had so many conversations at the dinner table about how terribly toxic John Mayer is. I second your, Justice for Jessica movement!

    • Elizabeth says...

      Yes Jessi! I completely agree! I know I personally consumed a lot of the toxic narratives about her weight, marriage, etc. during that time (which were all SO misogynistic). I even remember as a pre-teen during the Justin/Janet Super Bowl performance being really confused as to why everyone was mad at Janet, but figured it had to be her fault if everyone said it was? I feel like we owe all of these female pop stars an apology. I’ll have to listen to those podcast episodes, I loved their deep dive on Princess Diana!

  15. Em says...

    Some books I’ve recently read and loved:
    Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird
    The island of Sea Women by Lisa See
    Dearly: new poems by Margaret Atwood
    And with the kids I truly enjoyed My Fathers Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

    • Em says...

      I also just re-read Little Women and the entire Anne of Green Gables series and I cannot recommend enough re-reading something you loved at a younger age!

    • Sarah says...

      My husband and I have each read the My Father’s Dragon Series at least three times with our 5 year old, in the past few months. It’s his first favorite chapter book.

  16. Aimee says...

    Always love your book recommendations. Thank you! Reading “The Most Fun We Ever Had” by Claire Lombardo. I can’t put it down. Vivid, insightful, honest – heart aching, and life affirming all at once.

    • lkb says...

      I LOVED The Most Fun We Ever Had… it’s easily my favorite book of the past few years. And now I’m just waiting for enough time to pass that I can read it again and it’ll feel new.

  17. Anna says...

    I’m currently reading The Family Clause by Jonas Hassen Khemiri. I saw someone describe it as a Swedish “Family Matters” – think absent father, neurotic son, generational angst. It’s so, so good.

  18. Jane B. says...

    I’ve been loving several books on Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club List. Kinda surprised me. “Where the Crawdads Sing” is such a good book. And then “The Alice Network” was wonderful, too. Of course, if you’ve never read Ann Patchett NOW is the time. Her characters are magnificent and stay with me for months after reading her books. Start with “State of Wonder” or “Bel Conto.” So very very good.

  19. Katie says...

    My goal this year is to read 100 books. As a writer, this has really impacted my writing and how I approach short stories and my novel in progress.

    I have read a lot of great books this year (including Where the Crawdad’s Sing; The Secret Lives of Church Ladies; and Circe). I would highly recommend all three of these.

    However, last year I read The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai and I still wake up sometimes thinking about it. I read a lot and it’s the best novel I’ve read in 5 years. Highly recommend!

    • Colleen says...

      I loved the Great Believers! I read it last fall and it has stayed with me. Such a stunning book. There’s a new show called It’s a Sin about the AIDS epidemic in London that I would also recommend, which helped broaden my perspective about the crisis across the pond as well.

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      @Katie All the best with your novel.

    • Katie says...

      @Colleen – I will definitely check out that documentary. Also, thanks @Nigerian Girl.

  20. Emily says...

    Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson (nonfiction about the great migration of Black populations from the south to the north in our country)

    The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd (historical fiction about Jesus’s wife)

    One to Watch by Kate STayman-London (fiction, romance about a plus sized blogger that becomes the star of a bachelorette type show)

    Girl Woman Other by Bernardine Evaristo (fiction, short stories about the interconnecting lives of women of all ages and backgrounds. I’m fully obsessed with this book)

    • Aimee says...

      Girl, Woman, Other is amazing!
      It took a second for me to get into it, but once I was in… still thinking about it. Beautiful.

  21. Emma says...

    I really can’t imagine reading a memoir, a non-fiction book, or even a novel that takes place “in the real world.” I feel like I’m at a place in my life where I can’t fathom stepping into someone else’s. It just sounds…tiresome and emotionally exhausting. If there’s anyone else among you intellectuals that enjoy a good fantasy novel, I found both Piranesi and This Is How You Lose The Time War to be absolutely breathtaking.

    • Alyson says...

      At Emma, you might enjoy The Lies of Locke Lamora! It’s the first in a series and has some of the best world-building I’ve ever read.

    • June says...

      I’ve read both! Intellectuals love fantasy! Those are both stellar examples. This is How You Lose the Time War in particular. It was so strange and so beautiful.

      Try Warbreaker. The cover art and title may not appeal, but stick with it. Really great and different female leads. Brian Sanderson in general, actually.

      The Night Circus. If you haven’t read this yet, you MUST!

      Madeline Miller (Circe, Song of Achilles)

      This is going to sound like the opposite of what you want, but try Doomsday Book. Excellent.

      I’ve been reading the Keeper of the Lost Cities books along with one of my kids, and honestly, it’s been so much fun. Children’s fantasy has a lot of fun options. The Collectors (by J West) and When You Reach Me are recent favorites.

    • June says...

      And The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle!

    • June says...

      And The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue!

  22. Lily says...

    Piranesi Piranesi Piranesi! I can’t stop thinking a out it! No one I know has read it so I have no one to gush about it with, I just keep going back to it in my mind.

    • ND says...

      I loved her first book, and I mean LOVED it. But I found Piranesi disappointing. It took so long to get into it and then I felt cheated over the reveal. I wanted to love it, but I didn’t.

    • Lily says...

      Ha ND, I wanted to like Jonathan Norrell & Mr Strange so badly but I couldn’t get into it. I also felt cheated by the reveal– like, that’s all! just a campus scandal? I want to just wander around thinking about the tides! But I also then started to love the slow coming-to-grips of Piranesi with the gaps between his mind and other characters’ realities.

  23. Jamie says...

    Finally reading Jia Tolentino’s Trick Mirror! She’s a few years younger than me but I can relate to so much of her love/hate relationship with the Internet, reality TV and cults of personality. Lots to digest and definitely one I’ll pick up again to uncover additional insights.

    Also recently read and recommend:
    The Department of Historical Corrections
    Red at the Bone
    Writers and Lovers
    We Ride Upon Sticks
    Raising Zoomer (written by a friend re: raising her child gender neutral and the movement to break down socially constructed gender norms)
    https://www.kylmyers.com/book

  24. Anita says...

    Has anyone got any chick lit type recommendations? am fully into the light and bright stuff at the moment (as a single girl living alone right now !)

    • ND says...

      Read Curtis Sittenfeld, particularly Eligible. She straddles the chick-lit/ literary fiction divide.

    • LJ says...

      My Ex-Life: A Novel (Stephen McCaulay)

    • Elizabeth says...

      I really enjoyed Evvie Drake Starts Over! It’s a romance story with two very likable and empathetic characters who have great dialogue! Beach Read is a great one too!

    • Alyssa says...

      Yes! Beach Read by Emily Henry is super fun, and Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand (don’t bother with the other two books in the trilogy, but this one is great!). One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London was entertaining too. I just finished His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie – also good and light!

    • Jessie says...

      Jenny Colgan, Emily Henry, Deborah Harkness are some that may be of interest to you. Jenny Colgan’s books can be described as You’ve Got Mail type stories, Emily Henry has a few romance and a few teens coming of age novels, and Deborah Harkness has a grown-up, better-written Twilight type of series about witches.

    • Melanie says...

      I just finished It Ends With Us and it was fantastic!! Not a really fluffy chick lit book but I got completely sucked in and was so sad when it was over!

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      – The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
      – His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie

    • Maire says...

      Perhaps This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens. Also Sophie Kinsella and Mhairi McFarlane are some authors to check out!

    • SC says...

      Anything by Meg Cabot always makes me laugh out loud (I’m thinking of her books for adults right now, but her many of young adult books were also great). The Heather Wells series, the “Boy” series – even though they are all a little older, they are so silly and funny. Nothing too serious, and lots of laughs!

    • Joana says...

      ‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette’ by Maria Semple – an epistolary comedy novel that will make you laugh out loud :-)

    • Alison says...

      Flatshare by Beth O’Leary! A delight.

    • April says...

      I also really enjoyed Beach Read. Also liked If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane.

    • Luca LeBlanc says...

      One To Watch by Kate Stayman-London
      If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane
      Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore
      The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams
      The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
      Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

    • Rebecca says...

      I second the recommendation for The Flatshare. Chick lit is not usually my genre but I really enjoyed it.

    • Chelsea says...

      The Bookish Life of Nina Hill was really fun and light.

    • steph n says...

      I loved How to Fail at Flirting by Denis Williams, The Bookish Life by Nina Hill, and a sweet book called Dear Emmie Blue. I 5 starred all of them.

  25. Mouse says...

    David Mitchell’s Utopia Avenue, which is about a band in 1960s London and also involves a Japanese abbott who appears in his earlier book, The 10,000 Autumns of Jacob De Zoet. Utopia Ave was fun–lots of cameos by rock stars happening by–but the earlier book was kind of amazing. He’s a very inventive writer.

  26. Barb says...

    I just finished Homeland Elegies (AMAZING) and now I’m on to Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. I know, I’m a bit behind on this, but had to wait for my library to get it back on the shelf :)

  27. Deana says...

    I recently read Pachinko by Min Jin Lee for virtual book club and loved it. Also recommend the post-apocalyptic Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Besides the apt title, it’s apparently based on real science. The moon is knocked closer to earth by a meteor, and disaster ensues. I find that these types of themes are good now because it shows that things can always be worse!

    • Jennifer says...

      Yes to Pachinko, I read this recently too and absolutely LOVED it, one of my top books of all time!

  28. Maria Anagnostopoulou says...

    I read the three first volumes of Bridgerton (very entertaining) and a very interesting travelbook.

  29. Connie says...

    I’m probably a niche person with regards to this list. I’m a part of the worship band at our church, so I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately just to explore my calling and how to do it better, how to focus my faith life a little more intentionally, stuff like that. I’m liking things by AW Tozer, bob Kauflin, and Harold Best. I’ve been utilizing Better World Books to fill my habit (They’re less expensive because they are used books, there’s a sustainability function about that that I like, and they also donate to literacy programs!). In fact, I just got a new shipment today, so I’m amped. I plan to start with “Astonished” by Mike Erre.
    I am DEFINITELY jotting some suggestions for the next time I’m looking for new reads.

    • Lily says...

      Thank you for sharing about Better World Books! I almost never purchase books anymore (Kindle + public library), but this is a great, affordable option!

  30. Hannah says...

    I’m currently reading Exhalation by Ted Chiang. It’s a collection of short stories I never would have picked for myself. I got it in a mystery bag from our local bookstore last summer and my husband finally read it and said he thought I’d love it. Seriously cannot recommend highly enough.

    • Amy says...

      I loved Exhalation! I’m not a sci-fi person at all, but the book had such interesting observations about human nature told through these crazy stories. So good!

    • kat says...

      I checked this one out from the library and then bought it for myself.

    • Rachel says...

      I loved this book. I am not a huge sci-fi person (read it occasionally) but someone described it as “black mirror but more optimistic” and so I picked it up. Have now made everyone I know read it. Gorgeous and thought provoking!

  31. Jillian Schweitzer says...

    If you want some reading that’s life similar (I know some folks who watched all sorts of pandemic type movies last year) Station Eleven and Severance are two amazing novels. I can’t stop thinking about either but they do involve pandemics/end of the world type stuff so if you aren’t up for that, steer clear.

    • Mar says...

      Just finished Station Eleven — soooo good! Highly recommend

    • K says...

      I read station eleven like two years ago and STILL have bad dream about it. I wear glasses! I would be doomed!!

    • Ellen W says...

      The End of October by Lawrence Wright is another novel involving a coronavirus and a very realistic scenario for how it spread throughout the world. I also really liked Station Eleven and it also seemed realistic. I have a public health background so I don’t mind reading about pandemics.

    • Emelia says...

      Station Eleven was my #1 book of 2020! Seems fitting, right? Can’t recommend enough.

    • Megan says...

      Another huge Station Eleven fan here–prob my fave book I read last year. I just finished another book of Emily St. Mandel’s, The Glass Hotel, which was great, but Station Eleven was on another level. There’s an HBO Max limited series based on it coming out later this year!

  32. Jennifer says...

    I recently discovered Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series and I have fallen head-over-heels in love. It’s the perfect series for this year, and the village and characters that are woven into each of the stories have come to feel like old friends. Absolutely delightful!

    • Kristin says...

      The best!

    • Sophia Kiser says...

      This is the BEST series!! You’re in for a treat if you just started – it’s amazing.

    • graes says...

      I can’t get enough of Louise Penny. Read and reread her books. Even went to one of her “Meet the Author” shows sponsored by NPR.

    • I just read my first one of this series about two weeks ago! Looking forward to reading more.

  33. Lexie says...

    Writers & Lovers by Lily King. An amazing portrait of an aspiring young female writer, making her way in Cambridge, MA during the 1990s. The writing is sublime. Also have loved The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead and Delicious Foods by James Hannaham. Eagerly anticipating Red Island House, the new novel from my all-time favorite writer Andrea Lee. It’s due out next month!

    • JayNay says...

      I just checked and that’s the same Lily King who wrote “Euphoria”, which is a stunning novel about three anthropologists exploring Papua New Guinea and their relationships to each other in the 1930s.
      thanks for the recommendation!

    • Rebecca says...

      So excited that Lily King has multiple books! Writers & Lovers was one of my favourites from 2020.

    • steph n says...

      Writers and Lovers was my favorite book of the year, last year. I just loved the writing so much!

  34. Chelsey says...

    Dance Night by Dawn Powell!

    • Danielle says...

      Love to see Dawn Powell mentioned here!

  35. Kelly says...

    I cannot even finish another novel after reading A Little Life. It absolutely ruined me (in a good way). It’s one of those books I hugged when I was done, and I still miss the characters today.

    • Elena says...

      Oh, I absolutely hated A Little Life and had to stop reading it half-way through. I felt the amount of self-harm descriptions was too excessive, and as someone with personal experience in that, it was too much for me to read. It’s one of the few books that made me genuinely upset and despite all the great reviews it had, I will not recommend it to anyone.
      Kelly – this isn’t meant as an attack on you since I know many people loved this book but for me, it was just too harsh and it broke me in a bad way, i guess.

    • Amy says...

      I felt the same way. A Little Life absolutely wrecked me.

    • GN says...

      I read A Little Life about 5 years ago and I feel the same way – the characters have stayed with me even to this day. I haven’t found a book that well written since I read it. It is by far the best book I have ever read. It’s heavy and dark (probably not the best book to read right now) but the writing is incredible.

    • Laura says...

      I also LOVED A Little Life–but it’s one of the most polarizing books I’ve ever encountered. Which I think actually speaks to the strength of the read.

    • ND says...

      I also love A Little Life. Try Rebecca Makkai, The Great Believers as I had a similar relationship to those characters.

    • Kelly Farr says...

      @Elena I understand that. Definitely not an “easy” read and could be triggering, which is worth bringing up. It’s interesting – I was in a good place when I read it and so I was able to handle it. Currently my mental health is not in the best place, and I don’t think I would get through it right now. Thanks for sharing this. <3

    • Lorie says...

      True, it is an excruciating read at times, and certainly difficult if it hits too close to home. It is, however, one of my all-time favorite books to date. The writing is beyond good. It is the only book I’ve ever finished and quickly jumped back a chapter to finish it again. And one that sits so heavily with you for the story and the weaving of words that you find it hard to go on to another. Oh… to write like that!!!

  36. Rue says...

    Currently reading the novel Memorial by Bryan Washington and it’s super absorbing. I used to live in Houston and it’s fun to read a book set in one of my favorite cities. The narration is split between the two main characters, and there’s so much you pick up about what each character doesn’t say when you’re reading the other person’s voice. It’s really beautiful.

    • Jane says...

      I just read this as well! Such a beautiful writing style and I felt so attached to both narrators.

  37. Court says...

    Wow I’m reading things that are WAY lighter than you, Jo, ha! I am a teacher and I can’t consume very heavy literature, media or entertainment these days :) I am reading Big Summer which is GREAT. I loved the part in the book where she describes going to Sahadi’s in Brooklyn.

    I also read The Mystery of Mrs. Christie which is also FABULOUS and I hope the back story of this novel is true! My book goal for the year is 52 and I’m already on ten!

  38. Kat O says...

    I recently finished The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett and it was so compelling, and SO well-written. I’m currently reading Braiding Sweetgrass (I know, me and everyone else) but I’ve actually been going reeeeeaalllllyyy slowly because it’s one of the few thing that makes me incredibly happy right now and I’m afraid of finishing it haha. I’m also currently reading Range by David Epstein, which is about “why generalists triumph in a specialized world,” and it’s been so unexpectedly affirming – both my hobbies and career have taken meandering paths (I get bored easily!) and now I see why that’s actually an asset. I definitely recommend Range for anyone who’s a generalist by nature.

    • Vittoria says...

      YES to the Vanishing Half!!! I completely agree – it was SO compelling and SO well-written. I couldn’t put it down at night. I also loved Braiding Sweetgrass. I also just finished ‘Among The Living And The Dead: A Tale of Exile and Homecoming on the War Roads of Europe’ by Inara Verzemnieks and it was incredibly well-written. She is a poet with her words – it’s truly beautiful. It’s deep and moving and I highly recommend it.

  39. A. Norris says...

    I just finished reading Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano. It’s about a 12 year old boy who loses his whole family in a plane crash, and he’s the sole survivor. I was hesitant to read it because I’m a mother of 2 young kids and since I had them, I am so (so!) sensitive to seeing/hearing about/reading about children being in pain and/or heartbroken. But, I’m VERY glad I read it. I only openly sobbed once (lol), and the book was easy to read, beautiful, sweet, and encouraging. Highly suggest it!

    • Jen says...

      Loved this book so much! I may have openly sobbed too… :)

    • Katie says...

      I just finished this book too and was hesitant but loved it so much!!

    • June says...

      Ugh, I’ve seen that one and haven’t had the guts to open it yet. (Also a mother with the same ‘issue’ about bad things happening to kids in media).

      This may push me to finally crack it, though! I’m pulling on my big girl pants and putting a hold on it at the library…

  40. “Paula” by Chilean author Isabel Allende, and “Clap when you land,” by Elizabeth Acevedo. Both so enriching to the mind, dear to the heart.

  41. Nina says...

    I haven’t been reading any books for ages. Maybe one in september, Billie Holiday’s “Lady sings the blues” and a french book called “Waiting fro Bojangles” in November. Nothing since. I went back to school last year to become a primary school teacher and I just feel exhausted at the end of the day (between classes, essaysand internships). When I go to bed, I just close my eyes, recite a mantra and fall asleep in a few minutes :)

  42. EW says...

    Dark Matter by Blake Crouch! I read pretty widely but don’t often read science fiction. This came highly recommended by Laura Tremaine on Instagram so I reserved it at the library. The plot was bananas! Like, can’t put it down, ignored running my household for two days BANANAS. The author really nailed making the science approachable while focusing on developing the characters and their love story. Highly recommend.

    • Arianne Price says...

      Yes! Came here to write almost exactly that. I never read sci-fi but ordered this from the library when recommended by Kelly at Cupcakes and Cashmere and WOW. Read the whole thing in one sitting! The intensity! The love story! The ending!

    • June says...

      Because of you, this is now on my kindle! Thanks!

  43. Franziska says...

    Im just tearing through Elizabeth Jane Howard’s The Light Years , its about a British family in the years before and during WWII think Downton Abbey but with better writing … there is 5 separate books on the family and its fantastic.. Also recent enjoyable reads were Such a Fun Age by Kiley Read and Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers and anything John Boyne.

  44. Sabrina K says...

    In case anyone speaks German over here, or has learned German and wants to read a novel, I just read “Zwischen Du und Ich” by Mirna Funk which translates to “Between I and You” (not between me and you ;-) and I am 100% sure it will be in my top 5 novels of 2021, and I read a lot so haha!
    It´s about a Nike, 35 who moves from Berlin to Tel Aviv to try something new, make the Alija, learn Hebrew and learn more about being Jewish as she was born in East Germany and her family has been partly murdered in WW2 (which first she doesn´t know). There´s also a little love episode but it´s not kitschy romantic, it´s raw, real and heartbreaking.
    The main topic next to being Jewish and being Jewish now in Germany is transgenerational trauma, not only in Jewish live, but mainly. And the author just has written about this so so good I cannot even explain so do yourself a favor and read this! (It´s not as depressing as it sounds here, I promise!). Plus it´s like a trip to Tel Aviv in your head and we all miss traveling right know I guess!

    • Claudia says...

      I am German and love this recommendation! WW2 related stories are what I gravitate towards in general, and I’ve set out to read more German language books this year so this is fantastic. Added to my list, vielen Dank!

  45. Dana says...

    I recently finished The Choice: Embrace the Possible by Edith Eger and am excited to read her follow up, The Gift. I’d consider it a life changing read, and I’ve adjusted my outlook and attitude towards setbacks after reading this.

  46. Jessica says...

    I just finished The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio. It’s a collection of stories about undocumented immigrants living in the US. This book haunting. It’s like drinking bitter Chinese medicine and wanting to savor it like a fine wine. Highly recommended.

    • katie says...

      I heard about that book on the NPR Happy Hour podcast. It’s on my to-read list. I appreciate your assessment. I tend to read lighter material, mostly suspense, which is why I haven’t started The Undocumented Americans yet. This is the push I needed! Thank you.

    • Emma says...

      I second this recommendation, this book is BRILLIANT. Your description of it is perfect, too, Jessica. I finally picked it up after reading Karla Cornejo Villavicencio’s article in the New Yorker, which I think was linked to on COJ at some point? Anyhow, if anyone is looking for a sample of her amazing writing before diving in to the book, this article is also highly recommended: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/01/25/waking-up-from-the-american-dream

  47. Elisabeth says...

    Listening to the Four Winds by Kristen Hannah while knitting. it’s about Migrant workers during the Dust Bowl years but really these things are still happening every day. keeps me up late.

    • Leanne says...

      Fellow knitter here. I’m looking forward to reading Four Winds too. I have always had trouble doing audio books but recently I’ve been devouring them while I knit at night. -Leanne (Ravelry id: leannecoppola)

    • kristen says...

      Also an audiobook listening knitter here! Combines two of my favorite things and is the perfect reward at the end of the day.

  48. Marianna says...

    The Septimus Heap by Angie Sage. It’s an old-time favorite from my childhood about a wizard, a princess a dragon, and magical worlds.
    I wish more people read this for their children!

    • Katrin says...

      My 10 year old son just read all 7 books AGAIN and loved them!

  49. Nigerian Girl says...

    Lately I’ve read and enjoyed:

    – Walking With Ghosts by Gabriel Byrne: This completely changed my opinion on celebrity memoirs. Byrne has the soul of a poet. It’s such a gorgeous, lyrical, heartwarming book that’ll stay with me for a long time.

    – Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi: A sensuous meditation on family, faith and food. Please don’t let the word ‘meditation’ put you off. It’s readable and gripping with lots of depth. I can’t wait to see what the author does next.

    – Sisters by Daisy Johnson – Weirdly wonderful, superbly written and engrossing. I keep returning to this story.

    – Intimations by Zadie Smith: No other book captures my feelings about the pandemic and the current state of the world as aptly as this one. Zadie Smith wrote it for me.

    – News of the World by Paulette Jiles: I finally got around to reading this after seeing the movie over the weekend. It’s so many things: tender, deliciously spare, entertaining, historical, gritty and always, always true. If you enjoy stories about unlikely friendships and chosen families, this book is for you.

    • Gail says...

      YES! So glad to see a little love for News of the World, quite possibly my favorite novel ever. I was thrilled when I learned they were making it into a film, and equally thrilled to see that Tom Hanks was playing the Captain, but I’m not sure I want to see it out of fear that it will tarnish the experience I had reading it. Did you know Jiles recently published a sequel called Simon the Fiddler, about (obviously) that character from News of the World. It was good but didn’t blow me away.

      A couple others I’ve read recently and really enjoyed were A Gentleman in Moscow (dense, but beautifully written and ultimately life affirming, with one of the best.endings.ever) Olive, Again (even better than Olive Kitteridge, which I would never have thought possible), Did You Ever Have a Family, and Ask Again, Yes.

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      @Gail I’m glad I’m not the only person who thinks Olive, Again is better than Olive Kitteridge. Strout is just a genius. And, sadly but unsurprisingly, the News of the World film isn’t as good as the book. The young actress who plays Johanna is incredible, though. I keep hearing good things about A Gentleman in Moscow. I should check it out.

  50. Meghan says...

    Last night, I stayed up way too late reading “Those Who Are Saved” by Alexis Landau. It’s shimmering and poetic and suspenseful– a novel about artist expats in Los Angeles during WW2. The last book that made me sad to finish was Andre Gregory’s “This is Not my Memoir” — maybe not for everyone, but a fascinating glimpse at a life of an artist and searcher. And Leonard Cohen’s “Book of Longing” is something I’ve been savoring…just a poem here or there is enough to make me smile.

  51. Monica says...

    Our parent/kid readalouds are The Hobbit, Johnny Tremain, and Black Heroes of the American Revolution.

    My husband and I are reading The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher.

    And I haven’t done much personal reading lately just for me, it’s been pushed to the back burner. It’s one of the little ways I start to notice fatigue and depression on the horizon – like realizing I haven’t washed my hair in a week or noticing clean, folded clothes still not put away after a few days.

  52. Loesie says...

    I am reading Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks at the moment (the Dutch translation of it) and I love it! I have always loved him as an actor but wow his writing is really as good as his acting! Highly recommend it! It’s a collection of fictional stories. I love every story, each for its own reasons.
    Read it if you can!

    • June says...

      I was also surprised by how much I enjoyed those!

  53. Etta says...

    I love getting ideas from the comments!

    I just read Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi and Little Gods by Meng Jin. They’re very different, but I LOVED both books and I want everyone to read them.

    On a similar note, it would be really cool to have a beauty uniform or some kind of interview with either or both of these women. Please, COJ?

  54. Kirsten Jewett says...

    American Dirt!

  55. Marie Lamensch says...

    Breast and Eggs – Mieko Kawakami. It’s amazing. Such a profound reflection on womanhood, desire, social expectations, the female body, motherhood, and absence.

    If I had your face – Frances Cha.

  56. E says...

    I adored Olive Kitterage and Olive, Again. I also recently read Leave the World Behind. I have read lots of mixed reviews, mostly around difficulty with the intentional uncertainty and lack of clarity in parts of the plot. I found it really thought provoking though and can’t stop thinking about it.

    • Michelle says...

      Same! I thought I didn’t like Leave the World Behind when I finished it but I think about it every day.

    • gail says...

      Loved all three of those books!

  57. megan says...

    Afterlife by Julia Alvarez. It manages to be so charming while dealing with death, dysfunctional family relationships, and (the oh-so-familiar) uncertain future. It’s also not very long and I easily read in a few hours.

    • Amelia says...

      I just finished Afterlife! I almost DNF’ed it but I’m so happy I stayed the course. It did manage to tackle death, grief and family connections (especially between sisters). Great book!

    • Chelsea says...

      I have this in my stack of books to be read on my bedside table. Glad to hear it’s good. I am looking forward to it.

  58. Jessica says...

    I just devoured the Phillip Rock trilogy, Passing Bells. Amazon describes it like this, “Before Downton Abbey, there was Abingdon Pryory…”. It’s a very entertaining series as long as you don’t take it too seriously. I’ve nicknamed it the soapy breast trilogy. ;) CLEARLY written by a male author.
    In a similar time period, the Will Darling Adventures by KJ Charles are fantastic.

  59. Larissa says...

    I highly recommend The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. I know sci-fi isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (it’s not usually mine), but this book isn’t typical for the genre. It’s not super fast-paced, bleak, or violent. In fact, it’s incredibly heartwarming. It seriously made my soul happy! The characters are all unique, complex, and memorable. And, overall, the world is more accepting and less prejudiced than ours. It was a nice place to live for a little while! If you’re looking for something to lift your spirits during this pandemic winter, I definitely suggest it.

  60. Aliez says...

    This is such perfect timing for this post, as we are currently in the midst of my favourite season – CBC’s Canada Reads! https://www.cbc.ca/books/canadareads Canadian readers may be familiar with this CBC (Canada’s national broadcast network) program, but our American and international friends might not. It’s a neat concept: each year 5 books are selected and 5 panellists chosen to defend each book. Then on one showcase night (different this year, for obvious reasons!) the authors and panellists come together to discuss the books, answer audience questions etc. Though it is of course very heavily Canadian (Canadian authors, Canadian actors, politicians, musicians, artists etc as defenders), it is a wonderful way to gain exposure to new books – books that run the gamut of theme, not all necessarily “Canadian” focused. And although personally I don’t always love each of the books selected, when I’m in a rut of finding something to read I search through previous years titles and can almost always come up with a gem.

    This past year, based on last years Canada Reads selections I read “From the Ashes” by Jesse Thistle, which is one of those books that has stuck with me on a visceral level. I’ve found myself deeply affected by his story; at times angry at him yet also cheering him on, deeply shameful of our past (and current) policies towards indigenous peoples, humbled by the privilege of my own (white) life, reminded of the overwhelming sense of showing compassion to those with whom we may cross paths – in short, exactly what an amazing author can do.

    • Rebecca says...

      I always find Canada Reads to be a bit of a mixed bag but it definitely pushes me to read outside of my usual genres. My personal favourite combo was Miriam Toew’s Lullabies for Little Criminals supported by John K. Samson (lead singer for the Weakerthans) and they won!

  61. Sarah says...

    I usually love to read buzzed-about new books (like many of the ones mentioned here), but I recently started watching The Crown, and even though I’m only on season 1, I went down the rabbit hole and had to get Diana, Her True Story (the original 1992 version). It’s just what I need right during this pandemic winter. As a child growing up in the 80s, I remember Diana as a true icon. She seemed so approachable and down-to-earth. Kind, empathetic, and of course, fashionable. I always heard snippets of her story–the gossip and rumors, but it’s great to get more of her actual story. (Reading it sent me down a whole other rabbit hole– all the lovely Diana fashion IG accounts!) It also casts Harry and Meghan’s departure in a whole new light and I find myself saying, “thank God they got out!” LOL

  62. Kay says...

    My favorite kind of post! I just finished a middle grade fiction book called The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate . So beautiful and hopeful yet sad and hopeless at the same time.
    Now I’m reading H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. I have no interest in birds, they kind of freak me out, but this book is so good mainly due to Macdonald’s writing. It is about how she turns to training a hawk to deal with the grief of losing her father.

  63. Andy says...

    I tore through Detransition, baby by Torrey Peters. It was amazing and I was so sad when I was finished. I wanted to stay with those characters longer!
    Highly recommend, would love to hear your take/maybe there could be an interview with the author???

    • Stephanie says...

      I LOVED this book. And yes, I think Torrey Peters would be a perfect interview for COJ!

    • Janey says...

      I’m currently reading Detransition, Baby for my “book and boozy brunch group” (zoom edition!) About halfway through and totally gripped!

  64. Lisa says...

    The Idea of You by Robinne Lee. It is amazing. When I read about it I didn’t think I would like it but I can’t stop thinking about it months later. It was amazing.

    • Kelsey says...

      Yes! This book! My podcast cohost and I read it and we recorded an Instagram Live chat about it after several listeners read it. The chat is at @higirlsnextdoor. I could not/cannot stop thinking about this book after it ended. I hope she writes more!

    • Sandra says...

      I’m reading it now! So glad to hear you say this. I’m wondering how it will turn out.

    • Court says...

      LOVE this book. Hayes Campbell, sigh, so dreamy!

    • Lisa says...

      Kelsey, I will check it out thanks!

      Court, I may or may not have developed an obsession with Harry Styles since reading this book (the author loosely based Hayes on him).

  65. Rebecca says...

    Thanks for this – I love scrolling through the comments and adding books to my library holds list. I’m a lifelong voracious reader, but I’ve had stretches during the pandemic where I can’t seem to focus. But then I’ve also managed to read some books I had picked up and put down many times before, including the Neapolitan novels and A Fine Balance — I can’t understand how they all didn’t grab me before, as they were so engrossing this year.

    I’m so grateful to the library these days. A new tradition in our house is that I pick up a bunch of graphic novels for our girls and then the three of us put on our Comfys (best purchase/gifts of the pandemic) on and sit in the living room and have comfy reading hour. For all the library lovers out there, I second the recommendation below for Susan Orlean’s The Library Book. Really well-written non-fiction is such a joy and that book is in definitely in that category.

    • EW says...

      My family was so relieved when our library re-opened. We loved Family Story Time at the library on Saturday mornings, which are not happening right now. So, every Sunday/Monday, I put a bunch of picture books on hold. On Friday evening, I pick them up. And, on Saturday morning, we have our own Family Story Time. It’s not the same but it is pretty good.

    • June says...

      You’re the second person to recommend The Library Book. It’s now officially on my list!

      We’re also a big library using family who can’t wait to get back inside. I read over 100 books in 2020 alone, plus all those (expensive!) graphic novels the kids zip through, and the library saves us a ton. Plus, there’s nothing better then exploring the shelves. Each kid gets to dig around whatever area interests them. We’re there a couple of weekends each month. Ah, someday, again.

      As a family, we worked through the Jedi Academy books :) and read D’Aulaires Green and Norse myths a million times (we ended up buying those!)

  66. Laura Schultz says...

    I really liked The Woman Who Smashed Codes – which is a true story about the man and wife team who are responsible for the advent of code-breaking in the US. GROUP by Christie Tate is a fantastic read. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and a really satisfying page-turner that I inhaled in one night – The Last Flight by Julie Clark.

    • Calla says...

      I second Mexican Gothic! Also read it almost in a single sitting, stayed up way past my bedtime

  67. Claire says...

    I was assigned two great books this term for a writing class:

    Here, by Richard McGuire, and The Call by Yannick Murphy.
    The first is a hard-bound graphic novel that is absolutely nuts! It is set in one room over the course of millennia, and deals with the subject of time and the human condition. I was a bit annoyed at first because I couldn’t imagine how a novel with almost no words and no linear timeline could possibly relate to a course in fiction, but was immediately sucked in. Beautifully drawn, and so much more than I initially thought it could be.
    The Call is written as a series of journal entries that seem relatively disjointed at first, yet an incredible narrative about a family (and aliens?) unfolds. Still working through it, but it’s a great read so far.

  68. I just finished The Correct Order of Biscuits by Adam Sharp. It’s about these brilliantly ridiculous collection of lists – combining a love for lists, puns and the quirky.

  69. Nina says...

    I always appreciate these posts. It is fun to see what others are reading and I trust the suggestions here.
    I just started reading a series of essays, ‘Trick Mirror’ by His Tolentino, and I am taking notes for what to read next!

    • Nina says...

      *Jia Tolentino

    • Sam H. says...

      Nina! I read Trick Mirror and LOVED IT. Excellent, thought provoking, relatable. Happy reading!!

  70. Laura says...

    This year I’ve loved The Glass Hotel, Weather, The Office of Historical Corrections, and Sorrow and Bliss. Last year’s favorites included Writers & Lovers, Girl Woman Other, Just Mercy, and something random I picked up that takes place in Japan called What’s Left of Me is Yours. I read a lot but these have especially stayed with me. I need a balance of seriousness without trauma/depression and these fit the bill!

    • Sam H. says...

      Laura, I absolutely LOVED Writers & Lover. Favorite book of 2020. Made early quarantine fun!

  71. Susan says...

    Just devoured When We Were Young by Jaclyn Goldis. It’s partially set in idyllic Greece and I wanted to jump into the pages. It’s a story about three generations of women and the effects of their interconnected secrets. While it’s fiction, one of of plots is based upon the true story of what happened to the Jews of Corfu during WWII. Highly recommend!

  72. Sarah says...

    I’m sure this book was buzzy several years ago, but I just got to it: “Nothing to Envy” by Barbara Demick. It’s a non-fiction collection of stories about people who defected from North Korea and was so compelling—honestly, I couldn’t put it down. It was a page turner that read like a novel and gave me so much compassion for an entire country that is suffering so much. The honest-to-God brainwashing they endure from the time they are infants is *mind-blowing.* Highly recommend the book.

    • Kate says...

      This book was amazing and I still recommend it to everyone a decade after reading it.

    • MB says...

      I second that, what an incredible book and so eye-opening!

    • Audrey says...

      Thank you for this recommendation! I just ordered it at the library. My book club read The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee which is one woman’s memoir of her escape and the long process of building a new life. She is an incredible writer and it was also eye opening for me to read of what she and so many others have endured.

    • April says...

      I read Nothing to Envy several years ago and found it so eye-opening about what life is like in North Korea. I still think about this book often.

    • Megan says...

      LOVED Nothing to Envy, it’s so well written, even if you know nothing about North Korea, you will devour it!! I also really enjoyed The Girl With Seven Names. . .I binge read it on a mini vacation a few years ago. You know when you read a book for hours and hours straight, it becomes your world? The author is constantly having to pay bribes in the book. When I put the book down to go meet a friend, I thought, “Let me just put a $20 in my coat pocket in case I need to pay a bribe”. . .and then was like WHAT??? It really sucks you in!

  73. Emily says...

    I finally got my hands on Stuart Turton’s newest book, The Devil and the Dark Water, after a lengthy time on the library holds list. It was 100% worth the wait. I will read anything and everything Turton writes…even his dedication, author note, and acknowledgements are thrilling. His 2019 book, The Seven and Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, was one of my top five favorites of 2020!

    I’m currently in the midst of Cobble Hill by Cecily von Ziegesar (I’ve heard mixed reviews but just started it last night) and Unfinished: A Memoir by Priyanka Chopra Jonas (this is an fun, interesting one!).

    • Emma says...

      Thank you thank you for mentioning Stuart Turton! Every time there’s a book post, I scroll through the comments looking for Evelyn Hardcastle. Easily one of the best books I have ever read. I thoroughly enjoyed The Devil and The Dark Water, as well.

  74. Darby says...

    I just finished Rules of Civility by Amor Towles and loved it. Also “A Gentleman in Moscow” by the same author. Beautiful writing, compelling characters… both stories really moved me.

    • Kate says...

      Loved both of these as well!

    • MB says...

      I could read those over and over – such compelling writing

    • Charlotte says...

      Yes! I read Gentleman in Moscow last year and LOVED it. Can’t wait to read Rules of Civility.

  75. Sylvia says...

    The stranger by Claudia Durastanti! Loving it!

  76. There are only so many times I can re-read Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh. AND there are only so many times I can rewatch The Queen’s Gambit…so I’m reading The Queen’s Gambit.

  77. Sherrie says...

    A Midnight Library by Matt Haig – A modern “It’s a Wonderful Life” – what if you had a do over? Just wonderful.

    Leave the World Behind, ooooh so very much to talk about at Book Club next month!

    Recommend both!

  78. Lucy says...

    The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue! Read it last month and still thinking about it.

    • Darby says...

      Sigh… I started that one but it was on 7day loan from my library and now I have to wait about 2 months until it comes back to me!

    • Laura Schultz says...

      love that one

    • Calla says...

      Hot tip, if you are borrowing from your library on kindle, just take your kindle off wifi (transfer the books via usb) and they won’t get returned so you can take your time

    • Michaela says...

      @Darby I’d you are borrowing on Kindle put it in airplane mode and the book won’t go away for you (but someone else will still get it). You can’t borrow anything new because if you sync your library it will update and go away, but this helps me when I’m on a tight schedule (and I don’t think harms anyone).

  79. Ann Lowell says...

    I just finished Eager: The surprising secret life of beavers and why they matter by Ben Goldfarb. Beavers have always fascinated me for a number of reasons so I dove right into learning more about these truly amazing creatures. Beavers left undisturbed in their habitat have the ability to heal and protect our water supply in so many interesting ways. This book is so hopeful and fascinating.

    • Janey says...

      I’ve been helping my 13 year old with home school English essay about why beavers should be re-introduced here in the uk and it has been so interesting studying them! I’d love to read more about them and will definitely look for this book

  80. Lilly says...

    Two recommendations, I flew through both!!

    1. The Mountains Sing – this incredible story takes place in Vietnam, and it shares the incredible history & a story about this family & all they endure. I loved it, it was so beautifully told. The author is also a poet & there were many passages that reflected that.

    2. The Stationery Shop – this book takes place in Iran & is a story of lost love. It stayed with me long after I read it.

  81. I DESTROYED my copy of Untamed by Glennon Doyle. It was the kind of book that made you never want to read another book again, but nothing else could live up to how you felt when you were reading it. I’m being a bit dramatic, of course, but it was so wonderful and powerful.

    After a few days of reeling from the loss you feel when you finish a great book, I moved on to Educated by Tara Westover. It took me a minute to get used to the writing, as it was quite different from Glennon’s, but now I’m so enthralled by Tara’s story that I don’t want it to end.

  82. Jeannie says...

    Just finished Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid! Lots of thought provoking material. Highly recommend!

  83. Briana says...

    NPR’s Book Concierge (https://apps.npr.org/best-books/) is really helpful for finding your next book. Discovered “Why Fish Don’t Exist” there by Lulu Miller (of Radiolab and Invisibilia), which was excellent and maybe a little under the radar last year.

    The best book I’ve read in years was Anthony Marra’s “The Tsar of Love and Techno” which was so subtlety funny and clever, and human and heartbreaking. It’s a series of interconnected short stories from early Soviet Russia times to current day, that in the end read more like a novel. I cherished that book.

    • Elle says...

      Love Anthony Marra. “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena” is an even better work of his, IMO

    • Julie says...

      I feel such kinship with you fellow Marra lovers! Just finished rereading “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena” and it made me ache even more for a new book from him.

  84. Lauren says...

    I’m on a Kristin Hannah kicked. Just finished her new book, Four Winds, a historical fiction set in the Dust Bowl and later California during the Great Depression. It was wonderful. Then I read Firefly Lane after starting the show and realizing it was one of her books. Also amazing but not like her normal historical fiction. More of a love story of two friends spanning many decades.

  85. Heather says...

    I want to to read Between Two Kingdoms! I love when this community does book recs- thanks all!

    I loved The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. I listened to the audio, done by Carey Mulligan, and it was so lovely. I finished it last month and still think of it often.

    • Kelly says...

      I just finished the audiobook this week- was sad to see it end. Have you read The Night Circus? The audio for that is also very good.

    • June says...

      Kelly, I picked up The Night Circus on audiobook ONLY because Jim Dale read it. He’s amazing. (He also does the Harry Potter books, btw.) I had never even heard of it and wasn’t sure it even sounded appealing, but it fortunately turned out to be one of my favorite books!

  86. MJ says...

    Just finished Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by by Brittney Cooper (every feminist should read!) and I’m about 1/3 of the way through The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett.

  87. Fay says...

    A recent book that I can’t stop thinking about is Bradford Pearson’s The Eagles of Heart Mountain. It’s technically about a high school football team in an incarceration camp in Wyoming, but it’s about so much more than that. The stories of the families in WWII are beautifully told-highly recommend if anyone is looking for an excellent non-fiction read.

  88. Sage says...

    Read A Secret History recently, which has entered “favourite books” territory for me. (Next I picked up Goldfinch, also by Donna Tartt – that was not nearly as captivating or interesting IMO.)

    Currently I’m in the middle of “Adulthood Rites” by Octavia E. Butler. Not quite as compelling as the first of the trilogy but still great.

    (I always like linking up with other CoJ readers on Goodreads, here’s my profile: https://www.goodreads.com/schweinxgehabt )

    • Kat says...

      totally agree about secret history vs goldfinch which surprised me since I hadn’t heard much hype about a secret history! a secret history earned a spot on my shelf for re-reading for sure.

    • Julie says...

      I’ve just finished the Secret History too and I thought I would really like it but didn’t at all. The characters felt unbelievable and so did the plot. Like a bad made for television movie. In contrast with a similar theme, Hana Yanagihara’s A Little Life was masterful.

    • Kelly says...

      I read The Secret History years ago and it has always stayed with me. One of those books that I recommend as well. I’ve read Tartt’s other books and haven’t found them to be as good as her first.

    • Sage says...

      To each their own, Julie:) I love “dark academia” and those characters that are a little too smart for their own good. It really appealed to me, and, clearly, others, but I can see what people wouldn’t like.

      Personally I won’t be reading A Little Life; I have heard the rave reviews but it’s not where I wanna focus my mind, and I know too well that you cannot unread things (thanks a lot DFW for “Incarnations of Burned Children,” a short story I cried so hard reading the end of that it scared my husband).

  89. Kenzie Randall says...

    Just finished Bravey after your post about it and absolutely LOVED it!

    I also recently loved The Stationary Shop and Black Buck.

  90. Jean says...

    These are old, but bear with me. I’ve been tearing through The Cat Who…series by Lilian Jackson Braun. Light mysteries from the 1980s about a middle aged newspaper reporter and his crime solving Siamese cats. They’re a joy. Not great literature, but the purrfect escape. I’ve also been reading some of the Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey series and P.G. Wodehouse. Escapism and humor have been what the doctor ordered, I’ve noticed that even scary things in entertainment have a bit of a dragging effect on me these days.

    • Debbie says...

      I loved those books and think about them often!

    • Becky Reed says...

      I read all the Wodehouse I could lay my hands on years ago. Delightful!

    • Stella says...

      I loved “The Cat Who…” series! They are perfect Pandemic Reads- just the right amount of low stakes intrigue and small town charm. I should definitely revisit them.

    • Kat O says...

      The Cat Who… was my favorite series in elementary and middle school! (I know they’re adult fiction, but I loved a good mystery…and cats haha.) I would scour thrift stores for the whole series, I deeply regret getting rid of them now. Thanks for the flashback!

  91. Elizabeth says...

    I recently “Cold Millions” by Jess Walter, “Monogamy” by Sue Miller, and “The Water Dancer” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Loved all of them.

  92. Emily says...

    I have really been digging the Libby app recently – you can borrow ebooks from your local library! A lot of books have a hold list, but it’s actually wonderful to get notifications that a book you forgot about is now available! I almost always have another book waiting for me, which encourages me to read more than I usually do :)

    I LOVED “Such a Fun Age” by Kiley Reid (I think I added it to my Libby hold list after a Cup of Jo recommendation!), and also really enjoyed “We Came, We Saw, We Left: A Family Gap Year” by Charles Wheelan. The author is a public policy professor who takes a sabbatical year with his wife and their 3 kids to travel the world for 9 months. He’s such an enjoyable, amusing writer and makes me want to travel the world with my future family one day. A few chapters in, I realized I had read another one of his books, “Naked Statistics” about a decade ago!

    • Briana says...

      Yes on Libby! I spent so much money on Apple Books this past year, but discovered Libby last week. Realized at least half the ebooks I bought were sitting there on Libby, for free. Oops.

    • Darby says...

      I am scrolling through this list and putting books on hold in Libby right now! I usually have to wait a few weeks for titles to come available but now I’m in a groove and as I finish one book, another one is almost always ready for me:)

    • Megan says...

      YES to Libby! Kicking myself all the money I paid to Amazon to buy books on my Kindle before discovering it (a week before quarantine, huzzah). You can probably call your local library to get info on accessing if you’re not able to go in person.

  93. Kate says...

    Reading The Great Believers by Rebecca Mekkai and wishing that it would never end! Have had a permanent lump in my throat for the past six chapters. It’s really, really beautiful.

    • Lori says...

      I really loved the Great Believers! I moved to Chicago in the late 80s and was there for a number of years so it was like taking a walk down memory lane. I also found so many parallels between the was she wrote about the AIDS epidemic and our experience now with COVID. Such as waste how many lives were lost to these tragic events.

    • Kate says...

      Sooooo good!

    • C says...

      I LOVED that book. Wish I could read it again with fresh eyes. Picked up a few of her other books and I’m not as into them.

    • Jen says...

      YES! The Great Believers was a recent read of mine too and I thought it was just beautiful. I still think about it.

    • Suzanne says...

      If I had to pick one book as my favorite ever, I think it would have to be The Great Believers.

  94. Francesca says...

    I’m in the middle of reading Mary Oliver’s “Devotions” because who doesn’t need her poetry at this moment in time. Also obsessed with “The Likeness” by Tana French. I love how she can make a thriller read like poetry, and the slow build of her novels won’t let you go until you’re finished. Lastly, I can’t recommend “Leave the World Behind” enough. I finished it months ago and still think about it. A previous comment described it as “hauntingly good” and honey that it is.

    • M says...

      Devotions is so good. I read one poem every morning when I first wake up <3 Mary Oliver

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      Devotions gave me great comfort in the thick of the lockdown last year. It is required reading.

    • Tina,NYC says...

      Francesca, you are my reading soul mate! I’m requesting “Leave the World Behind” right now.

      I don’t read psychological thrillers normally but I was really captivated by Helen Philips’ “the need”.
      I also loved Mary Beth Keane’s “Ask Again, Yes”. James McBride’s “Deacon King Kong” and Natasha Trethewey’s “Memorial Drive”.

      M, love idea of reading one poem every morning. I’m going to start this today!

    • betsy says...

      I subscribe to the Poets.org/ poem-a-day. you are emailed a new poem everyday and on weekends the daily poems are older. i love it. i also am thrilled with Libby, i listen to audiobooks.
      i just listened to The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich.

  95. Amanda says...

    I loved(!!!) Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. I wish all books were this much fun to read.

  96. jdp says...

    ps one more note on reading: my kid (10) reads a lot, and i’m often tempted to clean and work and putter when he is distracted with a book. but instead lately i’ve been…sitting and reading, too. so now we both take our lunch (we’re both still at home for work/school) sitting together, eating and reading. and sometimes in the evenings, if i see him reading i grab my own book and join him. such a simple shift in behavior, but it has been a way to finally allow myself time to read…and it’s turning out to be a way to bond as well. for the win.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I love that!

    • Lori says...

      A colleague recently told me that during the pandemic, her l’il family of 3 (mom, dad and college aged daughter) decided to do a month of family reading time on Wednesdays. They all sit together and read on their own in their living room. No music or other distractions. They’ve enjoyed it so much, it is now a regular thing. I love it!

      I also just learned about the silent book club. Not really possible until we are able to safely gather again – but I think this is such a fantastic idea!

      https://silentbook.club/pages/about-us

    • Monica says...

      My son and I do this too!! He’s on the third Harry Potter. :)

    • Darby says...

      I love this! My daughter is almost 14 and spends most of the day rolling her eyes at her parents but before bed, she still asks my husband to read to her<3 They are currently reading a book about the tv show “The Office” together.

  97. Breana says...

    Just finished “World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments.” I’m nine months pregnant with a toddler running around while I work from home. My brain capacity is a bit limited right now…This book was perfect. I loved the stories. I learned new things. The poetry was beautiful. I laughed out loud reading the chapter about her kids asking all sorts of questions. Highly recommend!

  98. Kate says...

    I just finished The Secret Life of Groceries. NF, quick read divided into 5 sections the author weaves together seamlessly: entrepreneur bringing a product to market, the international shrimp trade, working at a Whole Foods seafood counter, long haul truck driver, Trader Joes vs. mega grocery chains. No gruesome killing depicted but it really opened my eyes about the foodI take for granted. Highly recommend.

  99. jdp says...

    i’m reading a gentleman in moscow! why? because of recommendations here on cup of jo….and it’s a fun read so far, especially in pandemic. i love how he finds all the secrets and lives a whole, rich life in the hotel he can’t leave. next up: olive kittredge!

    • Karin says...

      I’m reading this too! Loving it. And really enjoyed ‘Rules of Civility’ (also by Amor Towles. I love his writing style).

    • Calla says...

      You might like the Elegance of the Hedgehog if you haven’t read it! Very similar to Gentleman in Moscow

  100. Magdalena says...

    finished between two kingdoms yesterday! loved it. today I am starting Nomadland by Jessica Bruder

  101. Kimberly says...

    A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself
    Peter Ho Davies

    Fiction so honest it felt like memoir

  102. Emily says...

    Currently reading The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey and cannot put it down! And I finally got to Girl, Woman, Other, by Bernadine Evaristo and it was every bit as amazing as everyone said.

  103. Mimi says...

    How about audiobooks? I spend my days in front of screens or grading papers (mostly on screens), and being able to listen instead of reading is a welcomed new experience. I listen while I wash the dishes, while I put my feet up a wall in a relaxing yoga pose, while I’m out cross-country skiing. I feel like I’m in a different world. Cela me fait voyager!
    So far, I’ve listened to… Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven (it was on my list, I had forgotten it was about a deadly pandemic! Strange reading experience…).
    And Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth.
    I need to be brought elsewhere.

    • Kari T. says...

      Station Eleven was the first audiobook I listened to in years, loved it so much. Just finished Middlesex on audiobook and it was wonderful. Currently listening to Born a Crime as told by Trevor Noah, a great listen.

      Reading: just finished The Innocents by Michael Crummey and started Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice, these were both for our online book club where we are trying to stick to Canadian content.

    • June says...

      Some of my favorite audiobooks:
      – The Night Circus, The Starless Sea
      – Circe, Song of Achilles
      – Good Omens
      – Talking to Strangers (non-fiction, so maybe not for you)
      – Born a Crime (non-fiction, same disclaimer)
      – The Collectors by J West (it’s a kids book, but fun and the reader is AMAZING)

      I had a very long driving commute pre-COVID and passed the time with audiobooks. The longer the better. I did the Harry Potter series and the Hobbit/LOTR series, which I highly recommend. I also did Pachinko, which was excellent, but I actually had to pull over to cry safely a few times.

      A coworker also turned me onto cast productions of books. He lent me two from Graphic Audio. Elantris and Warbreaker, both I recommend.

  104. Kristin says...

    Between Two Kingdoms is on my hold list! My favorite book so far this year is Our Time Is Now by Stacey Abrams. I wasn’t even through the intro before I realized I needed to buy my own copy because I wanted to underline and make notes.

  105. Preeti says...

    I’ve only been able to read super light hearted books lately. 2020 has been full of personal losses. Most recently finished
    Two Lives of Lydia Bird – 4 *,
    Flatshare 3.5 *,
    Evvie Drake Starts Over – 2.5 *,
    The Hating Game – 5 *,
    Educated – 5 *

    Just started reading Chanel Miller’s Know My Name (TW: sexual abuse) & loving it so far. It’s not an easy read for sure, but a very compelling one.

    Also something that blew my mind last year was the app Libby which allows you to borrow ebooks from the local library and then allows you to read on the same app or export it to Kindle. It handles the loan/return books process too which was a game changer for me since I didn’t want to get physical books from the library or keep paying Amazon for Kindle Unlimited.

    • Meredith says...

      Hoopla is like, Libby as well — I use it for books/video all kinds of things!

    • The Flatshare is one of my favourite books! :) I disliked Educated enormously (and I so wanted to love it), I didn’t enjoy The Two Lives of Lydia Bird as much as One Day in December, Evvie Drake left me disappointed and I know I’ve read The Hating Game, I just can’t remember anything about it!

  106. J says...

    I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of Melissa Febos’ upcoming Girlhood and I plan on buying at least a dozen copies to hand out to my sisters and friends when it hits the shelves in March. Febos’ explores the wounds women/femmes have carried since childhood onward with the most beautiful, heartbreaking, and loving prose.

  107. Caroline K says...

    Just started Didion’s Let Me Tell You What I Mean! Loving it so far. So wise, so thoughtful and quiet.

    • Fay says...

      It’s so good!! Reading it right now. I’m trying to limit myself to one essay a day because I don’t want it to end :)

  108. Francesca says...

    Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason rocked my world. A beautiful novel exploring marriage and mental health. A must read this year. Cannot recommend it more.

    • Julie says...

      I loved it too. So good!

  109. Karin says...

    The one I liked best recently is “The Library Book” by Susan Orlean. Story of how the LA Central Library burned down in the 80s and the mystery remains unsolved. Sounds dull, but it’s absolutely not.

    • Julie says...

      Such a good read!

    • Briana says...

      Loved this one too

    • Meredith says...

      Loved this, too. Def. recommend

  110. Allyson says...

    I’m currently reading A Court of Silver Flames, the latest in a fantasy series by Sarah J. Maas and Star Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman. The latter was recommended by @meagansbookclub on Instagram, and I always love her recs! Really enjoying them both!

    • Marian says...

      OMG I’m reading ACOSF right now and it is just as glorious as I was hoping. My husband is enjoying my enjoyment as well ;)

    • Ali says...

      A Court of Silver Flames was excellent! I re-read all the previous books in the series and still loved them. Any recommendations in this genre would be welcome! I’ve read all of Sabaa Tahir and all of Sarah J. Maas. These YA/ adult fantasy books are the kind of read I need these days.
      Also Tana French, all excellent, although the Witch Elm was not my favorite.

    • Larissa says...

      I just finished A Court of Silver Flames! Overall, I really enjoyed reading Nesta’s story—the ending was great!—though my favorite book in that world has to be A Court of Mist and Fury!
      As for Ali’s question about recommendations in a similar genre — check out the Daevabad Trilogy by S.A Chakraborty. They’re considered adult but have YA vibes. I devoured the entire trilogy in a couple of weeks. And, if you haven’t already, Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi is great! (And it’s also a series, so you can stay in the world for a while.)

    • Eileen says...

      I just tore through ACOSF and loved it! My favorite of the series is still A Court of Mist and Fury, but this one was pretty close. There is something about these books that makes me feel seen and remember that I am strong, even though these books are set in a fantasy land with Fae, humans, magic, and couldn’t be farther from my own life. It’s so refreshing to escape my everyday pandemic life into this other world, and to emerge feeling more connected to myself.

    • Kari T. says...

      If you are looking for beautiful prose with historical but fantastical settings I highly highly recommend anything by Guy Gavriel Kay. There are stand-alone novels as well as trilogies and they are all amazing, my absolute favourite duo is Under Heaven followed by River of Stars. If you want a more YA feel his Fionavar Tapestry trilogy are really good.

    • Ali says...

      Thanks for the recommendations Larissa, I just borrowed the trilogy on Libby.

  111. Erin says...

    Our book club just finished The Girl with the Louding Voice. I really enjoyed it. Before that, I read American Dirt which was very well written. Homeland Eliogies is also another book I would recommend.

  112. Melissa says...

    I’ve recently read a few I would recommend generally:
    – Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn (family/sibling relationships, poverty, modern and mystical Hawaii told via super cool modern magic realism)
    – The Undocumented Americans by Karla Villavicencio (I could not get enough of her voice! The content is heartbreaking and fascinating and very important), -Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey (beautifully written , short, gut-wrenching memoir of her mother’s murder.)

  113. Monica says...

    I have been recommending The Thursday Murder Club to everyone I know. It is a perfectly delightful modern British mystery set in a retirement community. It is so funny but poignantly sweet for those with aging parents. The dialogue is masterful.

    • Graes says...

      I just finished reading this book last night and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Richard Osman’s a funny guy so I wasn’t surprised with the wit interwoven with the mystery.

      Another shoutout to Libby – got this ebook from the library.
      Thanks again, CoJ . I always look forward to these book references:-)

    • Calla says...

      Ooh thanks for the rec, this sounds right up my alley! Just put it on hold

    • Fun fact – The Thursday Murder Club outsold Obama’s memoir in the UK in the run up to last Christmas. :)

  114. Jen says...

    Just finished ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’. Fantastic. Also great were: Things in Jars, A Long Petal of the Sea and The Water Dancer.

    • Amy says...

      I also just finished A Long Petal of the Sea. After reading dozens of modern romance novels in 2020 (I finally gave up on my snobbishness about them), it was refreshing to read something with more depth.

      For the modern romance novels – some were predictable yet unbelievable; others were actually quite pleasantly solid (Evvie Drake Starts Over is the only one I can remember off the top of my head).

      I also enjoyed Still Life by Louise Penny a bit too much…I stayed up til 3am reading it (mystery book). It starts off slow, but steadily picks up the intensity while remaining manageable even with my low tolerance for gore and violence right now.

  115. K.C. says...

    The best book I’ve read lately is Such a Fun Age. It’s fantastic.

  116. Emily says...

    I just absolutely loved Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell! Beautifully written and engaging. Don’t let the fact that it is centered around the bubonic plague dissuade you from this gem!

    • Nanaka says...

      I also really loved “Hamnet”. I didn’t know what to expect from it, and was surprised that this was such a powerful story about motherhood. I couldn’t put it down! (Also enjoyed the fantastic elements in it!)

      I also recommend other books by Maggie O’Farrell, like “This must be the place” and “Instructions for a heatwave”. So good!

  117. Existential Kink By Carolyn Elliot. It is an easy read and very relatable regarding confronting your shadow and owing your power.

  118. mado says...

    Just read two amazing books, American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson, which combines gripping plot with really important portraits of certain aspects of US history which we aren’t often taught. The central character is also just fascinating.
    Also Guidebook to Relative Strangers by Camille Dungy, which was just beautifully written (not surprising I suppose for a poet) reflections about American history, early motherhood, and travel among other things. I already know this is a book I will come back to again and again.

  119. I’ve clung to reading more than ever lately and my recent favorites have been: Invisible Man, Tar Baby, By Night in Chile, and The Margot Affair. But last week I devoured Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. The whole book is so wonderfully moody – it evokes that nagging feeling of being aware of a sadness you can’t quite understand. Where all joy is tainted by knowing it’s not as joyous as it could be, or that it won’t last forever. I found it a painfully true coming-of-age story, a beautiful love story, and a careful examination of mortality, without too heavy of footing.

  120. Kristin says...

    I too am reading A Promised Land and it is wonderful. I love being inside his brilliant mind! And I agree, had things turned out differently in November, I would certainly not be reading this now– it would have made me too sad.

  121. Lindsey says...

    Shuggie Bain was too deeply sad for me to finish in these pandemic days. Had to return it to the library.

  122. Kristin says...

    We are on the same wavelength with this post, as I’ve been reading more and am currently searching for my next book. I just finished Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, which was EXCELLENT—very heavy subject matter, but the writing itself is so engaging. I’ve also really enjoyed contemporary fiction lately – Fleishmann is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Ackner, Luster by Raven Leilani, Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alan, and All Adults Here by Emma Straub.

    • rachel says...

      I just finished Luster last night and I can’t stop thinking about it!

    • MB says...

      Fleishmann is in Trouble was such a delight!

  123. Neeraja says...

    I finished reading Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy, day before. Though the book started out a little slow, Franny’s haunting story is still lingering with me. I can’t stop thinking about her wanderlust and the evocative way the future of the world is depicted in the book.
    I am now reading The Office of Historical Collections by Danielle Evans, which is an engaging collection of unpredictable and nuanced short stories.

    • Alison says...

      I JUST finished Migrations last night. I went into it knowing it was about a woman tracking birds disappearing due to climate change (accurate) – but I am so glad I knew nothing more than that. It was absolutely haunting the way it peeled back her life. I will be thinking about this for quite some time.

  124. Nissa says...

    After thoroughly enjoying the adaptation on Masterpiece these past few weeks, I am reading All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot!

  125. aga says...

    I’m currently reading “Butter Honey Pig Bread” by Francesca Ekwuyasi. It’s beautifully written.
    I read “The Book of Longings” a few months ago, and it’s one of the my favourite novels I’ve ever read, and I read a lot.

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      Yes to Butter Honey Pig Bread. I’m so glad someone else here has discovered this gem of a book.

  126. Jo says...

    I LOVE your book recommendation posts–I always get such great reads from your recommendations and especially from the comments! Just put Between Two Kingdoms on hold…

    Here are some recommendations:

    Exit West by Moshin Hamid–this is one of the best books I read during the pandemic.

    Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk–the other best book I read during the pandemic!

    The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda–this was just the right mix of gripping and thought-provoking, the kind of book you can’t wait to finish but you don’t want it to end.

    White Teeth by Zadie Smith–I’m reading this now at the recommendation of a friend and I’m really enjoying the pace and characters so far.

    Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda–I’m about to start this for a book club and it was described to me as “Japanese folk tales retold with a modern feminist twist” so I’m pretty curious to see how this one goes.

    • Katie says...

      Exit West is going to be made into a movie or mini-series!

  127. Becka says...

    Both of these are going on my list, as well as many from comments! In January I started to reclaim a bedtime winddown, which involves washing up at 8:45, journaling for a couple minutes at 9, and reading for 30 minutes or so before I go to sleep, ready for my 5:30 am workout. Those 30 minutes are really the only time I have to read, so I’m in the middle of Michelle Obama’s Becoming, two years after I asked for and received it for Christmas.

    Barack Obama’s A Promised Land was this year’s gift, so it’s next. But then I think I need some fiction or memoirs from people whose lives I know little about.

  128. I didn’t want Hamnet to end … lovely lovely prose especially about the loss of a child to the Plague. Sounds awful … but much much to absorb about the love between twins, how a couple separately bear – barely – unceasing grief. This is the most compelling book I’ve read in a long long while.

  129. Cynthia says...

    The Education of an Idealist…a memoir by Samantha Power. What a testament to the difference one person can make. It’s a tome, and there will be tears, but so inspiring. This would be a great book club or mother/daughter (teen or college age) read as there’s so much to process and discuss. And yes, women WILL rule the world one day!

  130. Callie Kurtz says...

    I’ve recently collected David Sedaris’ “The Best of Me” from the library and I have been laughing ever since. It’s essentially a “best of” collection from David Sedaris, who is already THE BEST, so it’s really the ultimate combination.
    I saw him on tour a few years ago and his intonation and emphasis is everything. Now, when I read his work I can’t do it without his voice in my head which it makes it all the more funny. I also notice that when I’m currently reading something by him, his very particular view of the world infiltrates my everyday life and I find that I’m noticing mundane, daily occurrences through a different, much more quirky and somewhat sceptical vein. It makes life so much fun!
    And to top it all off, this busy, studying, mum-of-three brain in the midst of a pandemic world is so thankful for short stories that I can read in entirety in the 5 minutes I have to spare and will WITHOUT A DOUBT make me laugh. It’s a much-looked forward to moment of my day that I can count on to raise my endorphin level, no matter when or where.

    • Dana says...

      I love everything from David Sedaris!

  131. Sala says...

    Just read Shuggie Bain – a gay boy growing up in Glasgow in the late 80s in working class tenements and communities. His mother is an alcoholic, his older siblings can’t wait to leave. It’s beautifully written, heart-wrenchingly, achingly resonate of living in a dysfunctional home where appearance is everything. I read it not waiting for something absolutely horrific to come (in some ways the horror is in the relentless slow suicide an alcoholic’s world and punishment inflicted on everyone around them) and not wanting the story to end because it’s so bewitching.

    Would recommend for anyone.

    RE Consent – there’s a national debate happening in France right now around about not only the age of consent (as there is none) but more importantly – around the laws of incest following the recent MeTooInceste# which trended on Twitter following the publication of Camille Koucher’s book – La Familia Grande – which revealed the abuse within their family.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I’ve heard only raves about Shuggie Bain! Can’t wait to read.

    • Kiki says...

      Ooohhh, I am plowing through Shuggie Bain. Dear, dear Shuggie! My eyes blurred your response as to not influence anything left to read, but I highly recommend it, too!

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      Shuggie Bain is so so good. A true original.

  132. Suzanne says...

    I’m currently mixing the literary fiction of Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder (a pharmaceutical researcher is sent to the Brazilian jungle to find her former mentor and understand how a colleague died) and David Pogue’s How to Prepare for Climate Change (“a practical guide to surviving the chaos”). They are wildly different reads but I recommend both, depending on what you need in your life. If you need a female protagonist, compelling characters, and an exploration of medical research ethics, then reach for Patchett. If you need a handbook for the future world of climate disasters and some tips for planning/anxiety, then reach for Pogue.

  133. Eloise says...

    I’m savoring every word of A Promised land – and hear almost every one of them in President Obama’s voice as I go. Not sure I could have brought myself to read it if things had turned out differently in November. And, based on your description, Between Two Kingdoms is going on my list.

    • Alanna Kellogg says...

      A Promised Land is mesmerizing, like President Obama in my ear, calm, smart, human.

    • Fay says...

      Agree-A Promised Land was actually better than I hoped-and I had high expectations!

  134. Jennyg says...

    Working my way through some best of 2020 fiction from NYT and NPR lists:
    We Run The Tides by Vendala Vida
    Nothing To See Here. By Kevin Wilson
    Sisters by Daisy Johnson
    Leave The World Behind (hauntingly good)
    Transcendent Kingdom.
    A Children’s Bible.
    Hamnet.

    • Eloise says...

      I loved Nothing to See Here, which I picked up due to a CoJ rec.

    • Calla says...

      Nothin to See Here is so good. I laughed out loud a lot

    • e says...

      +1 Hamnet. So good.

    • Meredith says...

      I am LOVING the audio version of Nothing to See Here … I have to ration it out at night or I’ll just burn through it (pun intended)

  135. Calla says...

    I’ve been on a whodunnit/thriller kick lately. They’re so engaging and I just can’t seem to read anything lately that feels like work. Just finished the Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz and One by One by Ruth Ware. Now I’m waiting for my hold for Tana French’s new book The Searcher

  136. MK says...

    I feel like I read books everyone’s dads are reading; I go back and forth between Bill Bryson and Erik Larson. I recently finished Bryson’s “At Home: A Short History of Private Life” (since we’re spending such quality time with our homes); now I’ve moved on to Erik Larson’s “In The Garden of Beasts” about the rise of Nazism in the 1930s. Who wants to join my what-your-dad-is-reading book club?

    • Jean says...

      I read In the Garden of Beasts earlier this year…by that I mean 2020, the never ending Covid year :D and I want to read Bryson. I love your description of “dad’s book club”! I hadn’t thought of it quite that way before, but I find myself better off avoiding really emotional works now and faring better on either comedy or these kinds of books – thoughtful, rich, compelling, but not anxiety provoking. Dads don’t tend to upset themselves quite so much with their reading choices, at least ones I know.

      I also read The Splendid and the Vile this year and it is really gripping. Garden of Beasts was good, don’t get me wrong, but Churchill and fam *chef’s kiss*

    • RH says...

      Count me in!

    • Alison says...

      MK, count me in! I listened to At Home on audiobook and it was so fascinating. I have all of these random facts in my now about windows and glass and how people would take out their windows from their homes when they went on vacation so they wouldn’t get ruined (WHAT?!). It was so interesting to hear the evolution and influence on each of our private spaces.

  137. Winter Blue says...

    I just finished ‘writers and lovers’ by Lily King. So. Good.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      ooh loved that book, too!

    • Erin says...

      I love Lily King. She is such a clean writer–no filler all valuable context and words.

    • That book is SO good.

  138. Alexandra says...

    I love this question! Last month I flew through “Come As You Are” by Dr. Emily Nagoski. Highly, highly recommend to anyone looking to connect with their sexuality. I learned so much and feel so empowered!

    Now I am reading “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer and I find it absolutely mesmerizing. She does such a beautiful job of weaving together Indigenous stories, botanical knowledge, and memoir. I feel very inspired to deepen my relationship with the earth.

    • Dana says...

      Braiding Sweetgrass might become my favorite book of all time. I haven’t finished it yet so cannot say – there’s so much wisdom and beauty on each page that I’m reading it sloowwwwly with big gaps between each chapter. I want to read everything she’s ever written.

    • Alison says...

      Come As You Are – the chapter about stress – life changing! I really wish this was a book I’d had as a young girl.

      Definitely recommend it to not just women about their own sexuality, but to parents raising girls – there are a lot of notes in here about how small approaches at home and in society impact your mental state around sex in the future. Honestly, it triggered so many things that I didn’t even realize were impacting me! I think it’d be a great reflection for parents to reduce stigma.

  139. Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler. It’s…a little bit of a challenge to follow because there’s a lie told at every corner, but that’s also kind of the point of the book….? The narrator is more or less reliably unreliable, lol. But it is mildly entertaining. Anyone else reading/read this?

  140. Julie says...

    If you’re looking for a light, highly entertaining read:

    “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

    Excellent!

    • Eloise says...

      YES – I was very surprised at how much I liked that one!

    • A says...

      I just finished The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr. It was unlike anything I’ve ever read – the story of two gay slaves, their love and struggles, and the intersection of religions. It is a story that will stay with me for a long time.

    • Tara says...

      “Daisy Jones and the Six” by the same author was even better!

    • L says...

      This book is AMAZING! I recommend it to everyone!!

    • Yes! So good. I then started reading everything by her and Love her work so much. My favorite is probably One True Loves.

    • Yes … and everything else by Taylor Jenkins Reid … especially the superb Daisy Jones and The Six.

    • June says...

      I was also surprised by how much I liked that one! I thought about it a lot during and after, also.

  141. Michelle says...

    I just finished reading ‘My Dark Vanessa’ by Kate Elizabeth Russell. The story line is similar to Consent. It’s about a 15 y.o who has a sexual relationship with one of her 40 y.o boarding school teachers. It was a long book but a quick read. I didn’t empathize with any of the characters especially Vanessa.

  142. Jenni says...

    Thank goodness for online library books! I recently read the entire Inspector Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny. The descriptions of the town of Three Pines, the people that live there, the croissants, and the frothy cafe o lait, are so comforting. Everything has been so overwhelming lately. Escaping to Three Pines is a joy!

    • Katie says...

      I can’t like this comment enough. The world Louis Penny created is magnificent. I want to spend a day with every single character, starting with a morning at the Gamache’s home, chatting over coffee and pastries, followed by a walk then lunch at the cafe for soup and a baguette with Gabri and Olivier and Ruth. After that, I’d browse Myra’s bookshop then read on a bench overlooking the square. Dinner would take place at Clara’s and everyone mentioned would be there. The night would end with a nightcap and stay at the inn. What a dream.

    • Debbie says...

      These people, that place, that wonderful man! Love these books so much.

    • Arielle says...

      I just discovered these too! They are so fun with just the right amount of suspense! I also love the way she writes about older women!

    • Jenni says...

      Armand Gamache is now my emotional support Canadian. 😆

    • Mary says...

      I am making my way through the series too. I have found comfort in Three Pines.

    • H says...

      Louise recently did an interview on forever35 podcast it was amazing!!

  143. shannon says...

    THANK YOU for a book post. I always love scrolling the comments and building my hold list at the library!

    I was floored by Digital Minimalism (written by Cal Newport) last summer. I have been putting off the tech detox he recommends as I was derailed by having a baby and desperately needing some content to keep me awake with alllllll the feeding and rocking. Toying with the idea of trying the detox for March… I suspect a hefty reading list will be much needed. Also, I highly recommend the book if you’re interested in changing your relationship to technology.

  144. fgb says...

    Will pick both up, thank you for always keeping the recommendations coming! My most recent favorites (some are quite old, but SO good):
    The Glass Castle
    The Chaperone
    American Dirt
    Girls Burn Brighter
    Girl, Woman, Other

    • Stacey says...

      Girls Burn Brighter was devastating but so good. It’s not something I would have normally picked up because it seemed so heavy (and it was), but my brother got it for me for Christmas two years ago and I loved it.

    • Fay says...

      Agree! Girl, Woman, Other is SO GOOD. One of the best books of last year.

  145. Marisa says...

    That’s so cool- I had just heard about Between Two Kingdoms, and it’s on my request list from the library!

    I just finished “Leave the World Behind” by Rumaan Alam. Every so often, I would exclaim to my husband, “He’s such a good writer!” That’s the best recommendation I can give.

  146. Kim says...

    I saw an interview with Suleika Jaouad about her book! I can’t wait to read it…and I didn’t realize that her partner is Jon Batiste. What a powerhouse!

    • Alyssa says...

      I’m 31 wks pregnant and on bed rest, so lots of reading happening over here! So far this year I’ve read:
      – certain girls by Jennifer Weimar (engaging, relatively light)
      – the pull of the stars by Emma donoghue (loved! Among my fave books ever)
      – the team of five (a look at the last 5 US presidents (in Canadian) honestly kinda meh)
      – chicken sisters by KJ Dell’Antonia (cute! Also managed to get me thinking about my own family relationships)
      – how not to die alone (random kindle pick, was on sale for 0.99… 3/5)

  147. Denise says...

    I’m currently reading The Overstory by Richard Powers. I’m about 1/3 through. It’s interesting but I’m not sure how I feel about it overall yet. Before this I read the Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer, which were brilliant and I can’t recommend them highly enough!

    • Kaitlin says...

      Same! Some of the stories are so gripping, others I struggle through. But there’s something lovely about it that keeps me reading. It’s been a slow read, but I think I’ll be mulling it over long after I’m finished.

    • Jenni says...

      This was a BEAUTIFUL book! I loved it!

  148. b says...

    I tore through The Push by Ashley Audrain a few weeks ago and then had the worst book hangover. I’m now reading The Heiress by Molly Greeley, which is a Pride and Prejudice novel about Anne de Bourgh, who was addicted to laudanum from the time she was a baby. I’m working my way through the unread books on my shelves as I pare down my collection.

    • I just started The Push and it is sucking me in!! I’ve heard great things about it!

  149. kay says...

    i just devoured luster by raven leilani. i had heard such great things, but it surpassed all my expectations. i picked it up last saturday morning and then didn’t notice the day go by until i had finished the whole novel. such a funny, smart, incisive read.

    • rachel says...

      same! i miss it.