Thursday, July 1, 2021

57 Books, 6 Months, 10 Favorites

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Half of 2021 is over, and I'm three books short of my goal. I've read only 57 books so far. I have six more months to reach my 10-books-a-month quota that I set for myself at the beginning of the year.  Of all the titles I read from January to June, here are the ten that I liked best:

  1. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (2019). "This novel follows two black teenage boys—one idealistic, the other skeptical—trying to survive the horrors of a brutal Jim Crow era reform school."
  2. Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen (2020). This is a slice of life novel about a woman who lives in a small, insular town in Ireland.
  3. Monogamy by Sue Miller (2020). This novel tells the story of an artist who struggles to go on with her life when she discovers that her husband of 30 years who suddenly died was having an affair.
  4. A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life by George Saunders (2021). In this book, Saunders includes lessons from his 19th century Russian fiction class at Syracuse University and mixes writing advice with close readings of stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol.
  5. Writers and Lovers by Lily King (2020). This is a story about "a former child golf prodigy" who "now waits tables in Harvard Square and has spent the last six years working on a novel. When she falls for two very different men at the same time, her world fractures even more."
  6. The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan (2021). This is "the story of a BBC-sponsored wartime cooking competition and the four women who enter for a chance to better their lives."
  7. Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Family by Patrick Radden Keefe (2021). This nonfiction book is about "the now-notorious family behind Valium and OxyContin—a multigenerational saga that begins at the turn of the century among hardscrabble immigrants in Brooklyn and dissolves in bitter disputes over estates; fistfights in boardrooms; glittering art collections; Machiavellian courtroom maneuvers; and the calculated use of money to burnish reputations and crush the less powerful."
  8. The Premonition: A Pandemic Story by Michael Lewis (2021). In this book, Lewis gives us "an overview of how the Covid-19 Pandemic began and the people who worked behind the scenes trying desperately to contain it."
  9. Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane (2019). "A novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the friendship between their children, a tragedy brought on by mental illness that reverberates over four decades, and the power of forgiveness."
  10. Secrets of Happiness by Joan Silber (2021). This novel consists intertwined stories that center on "a man who discovers that his father has long had another, secret, family—a wife and two kids"  and "the interlocking fates of both families lead to surprise loyalties, love triangles, and a reservoir of inner strength."


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