This was a HARD list to compile – I read so many good books this year that I struggled to narrow it down to 10!! In no particular order, here they are:
American Dirt: I honestly can’t recommend this to enough people! It’s been called the modern day Grapes of Wrath and it IS. It was my favorite book this year – I read it in a matter of hours because I couldn’t put it down. It was so well researched and extraordinary, and despite the fact that it’s fiction, it could have been written about any number of people.
The Water Dancer: I can’t believe that I’ve never read this before!! The combination of magical realism and history was beautifully done and magnified by his prose. This was a hard one to put down, and quite honestly was one of those books where you had absolutely NO idea what was going to happen next.
Educated: This was probably one of my favorites so far this year! I couldn’t put this book down because it was so unbelievable. It’s an autobiography of growing up in a Mormon survivalist family in Idaho with NO education and follows the author all the way to Harvard and Cambridge while detailing her family’s story. It’s one of the most incredible books I’ve ever read and I’ve got to say…Tara Westover might be one of the strongest women I’ve ever read about.
The Vanishing Half: Ok, this one was SO GOOD that I read it in a matter of hours. It follows twin sisters raised in an unconventional southern town who separate and live completely different lives. The plot line weaves through the decades and shows the stark difference in these women’s lives as well as perfectly encapsulates the issues of racism throughout their lives.
The Huntress: It follows three characters through the past and present and includes some of the most BA women you don’t learn about in school called the Night Witches, who were Russian WW2 pilots who ran night bombing raids. I absolutely loved the strong female characters in this book and the twists that it took through post war Europe and America following Nazi hunters. Honestly one of the most gripping books I read all year, and I read it in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down.
The Indigo Girl: My aunt recommended this one to me and I absolutely LOVED it. It follows a 16 year old English girl living in 1700’s South Carolina who attempts to cultivate indigo to save her family’s 3 plantations. It’s also based on the true story of Eliza Pickney, who taught slaves to read in return for helping her create the dye. She proved that indigo could be a cash crop exported to England and became the first woman inducted into South Carolina’s Business Hall of Fame.
Pachinko: If you can get past the fact that this book is almost 500 pages long, you’ll find a majestic story of love, ambition and sacrifice across generations of an exiled Korean family in 20th century Japan. It was SO GOOD and I couldn’t put it down even though I put off reading it for awhile. It was beautifully written and when I finished it, it was one of the few books that has EVER made me sit there and say “wow.”
Becoming: This has been on my list since it came out!! I couldn’t put it down and absolutely devoured it in a matter of days. It’s such a candid memoir from Michelle Obama’s childhood to current times and really pulls the curtain back on their lives in the White House. It was so fascinating and…human? The way it’s written is perfect. Highly recommend!!
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo: This was recommended to me by multiple people and I can see why. The author also wrote Daisy Jones and the Six, and the style of writing carries over a bit into this novel. The cast of characters is fantastic and I couldn’t put it down – I seriously read it in one sitting!
The Radium Girls: EVERYONE needs to read this. It’s the true story of the women who worked with radium in the clock making industry during WW1 using a technique called “lip pointing” (which meant they put RADIUM FILLED BRUSHES in their mouths hundreds of times a day). Their employers not only assured them that radium was incredibly safe, but they encouraged them to recruit their friends. They all succumbed to radium poisoning and it follows their lives and the way that their employers deny any existence of poisoning. It’s infuriating and fascinating and heartbreaking at the same time. Ultimately, the women went after the corporations and formed a large part of the labor rights movement. Read it.
- The Giver of Stars: Jojo Moyes
- The Brave: Nicholas Evans
- The Rosie Project Series: Graeme Simsion
- When We Believed in Mermaids: Barbara O’Neal
- Last Bus to Wisdom: Ivan Doig
- One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow: Olivia Hawker
- The Lost City of the Monkey God: Douglas Preston
- The Alice Network: Kate Quinn