Earlier in this pandemic, I mentioned that I was reading my face off. Since that time, I’ve finished many other books. Most of those are listed below, along with a short review. I enjoyed nearly all of these and hope you like them as much as I did.
What is not shown is the cathartic reread I did of Susan Elizabeth Philip’s entire body of work. Reading these has the same effect on me as mainlining Hallmark movies over Christmas. It allows me to escape and zone out for a bit. It was wonderful. If you too are feeling overwhelmed, I can’t recommend this kind of diversion enough. Pretend as if you’re getting a doctorate in a fluffy topic and then, blissfully, deep dive into it. At some point, you might come up for air. Or not. Either way, you will feel relaxed for a little while, instead of worrying about how to balance homeschooling and work and everyone’s mental health.
If however your brain needs to be mildly engaged, pick up one of the books listed below. You won’t be disappointed (except by a couple).
American Spy – This historical fiction novel was so interesting. It talks about a black woman’s experience working in the CIA during the Cold War. This was an era I had read very a little about, and I found it fascinating. The way the author explores race also felt very timely.
The Scent Keeper – Set in the Pacific Northwest, The Scent Keeper shares the story of a young girl living alone with her father on a remote island. The descriptions reminded me a little of Where the Crawdads Sing – though that’s probably where the similarities end. Like taking a trip, this book will sweep you away.
An Anonymous Girl – A thriller by the female writing team who created The Wife Between Us, I liked this one, but didn’t think it was as clever as their other book. That being said, I read this quickly, as I was curious to see what would happen next.
Her – Wow. This book has some things to say about motherhood that were so interesting. It is a thriller, but I found the descriptions of what it means to raise a child to be the most insightful. The story is about a woman who has a vendetta against another from her past. You don’t find out why for many, many chapters. I liked this book. However, it ends abruptly, and I was not a huge fan of that. Also, the reason for the grudge felt forced.
Ten Thousand Doors of January – I’m not even sure how to describe this beautiful book, other than to say it is imaginative and magical. I loved it. It felt very different than anything I’d read before. If you like stories with fantastical elements, you will adore this.
Normal People – I can’t believe it took me so long to read this. I’d heard wonderful things about it for years, but finally started it several months ago. I basically read it in a day. The writing is beautiful and sentimental and heartbreaking. The Hulu series is based off this book, and while they do a nice job, it doesn’t hold a candle to the actual novel. Read this and feel wistful.
The Silent Patient – Hmm. I know a lot of people loved this book. I thought it was fine, but nothing noteworthy. It follows a criminal psychotherapist as he tries to unravel the mystery surrounding the murder his patient committed. As you can imagine from the title, she refuses to speak. It was good, but I figured out the twist several pages before it was revealed, which is a bit of a bummer for me.
The Incendiaries – I loved this one! The writing style for this was very unusual, and I found myself rereading passages, so that I could take in every word. Switching between multiple points of view, this story shares a college boy’s reflection of his relationship with a woman who was involved with a cult. Pick it up if you haven’t already.
The Bride Test – The Bride Test is a fun read. It follows a young woman from Vietnam who comes to America to marry an autistic Vietnamese-American man. The match is arranged by his mother. If you like romance, you will enjoy this book, which has a ton of heart and great character development.
Our Stop – Our Stop is about missed connections. It is about a boy who has a crush on a lady who rides his train line in London. He puts an advertisement in the paper, hoping to meet her. They continue to almost meet for hundreds of pages. I should have loved it, but I wanted to scream at them for most of the book.
An American Marriage – Every person I know who read this book loved it. So, I will whisper this to you. (I had a very hard time with this one.) It is extremely well-written depicting black newlyweds. Shortly after they are married, the husband is wrongfully arrested and goes to jail. Does this sound familiar? I read this book at some point this summer. It is heartbreaking and quite frankly, infuriating, because it is so realistic. This was a difficult book to read, but it was also an important one. And, months after I finished it, it has stayed with me.