A new year provides the opportunity to evaluate, set goals, imagine what could be done differently. I have long wanted to keep a tally of the books I read in a year so have decided to accomplish that this year in this forum. It may be interesting, or it may not be, no telling until it is done.
So to start the year I have read two books that are light and entertaining and seasonally appropriate. These are exactly the right books for those times when you need something mindless and entertaining.
- Winter Stroll by Elin Hilderbrand
- Winter Storms by Elin Hilderbrand (These are books 2 and 3 in a series. The first is Winter Street).
Now onto the stack of books that has been sitting by my bedside for an undetermined amount of time.
3. Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy. A compelling, impossible to put down, engrossing read.
4. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. This is a heartwarming read that reinforces the goodness (and quirkiness) in humanity.
And just when I thought I was going to make progress on that stack of books, my library loans for my Kindle finally became available. Back to the stack another day.
5. Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown. An authentic read about marriage, the compromises made, and the real story behind the images portrayed.
6. The Long Run by Matt Long. Admittedly, I started this in 2019 but just finished it in January of 2020 so I think it still counts! This was an audiobook I listened to during many long runs of marathon training. Very inspirational story about a hard core, NY firefighter and endurance athlete who suffers horrific injuries and makes his way back to endurance sports. I had tears running down my face during the last two chapters. This guy is incredible!
7. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. A relevant story about race, class, entitlement, marriage and parenting.
8. Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center. An entertaining, engrossing read about a young woman’s coming of age and the power of love (of many different types).
Brief reprieve from library loans so I’ll return to the bedside stack. This stack of books is monstrous but I’m determined to make head way this year! Many of the books are in the stack because I kind of want to read them (or think I should read them) but they just haven’t pulled me in. This is the year to either read them or give up on them. I’ll try to make my peace with that.
9. The Wild Inside by Christine Carbo. A mildly suspenseful mystery about a murder in Glacier National Park. This author has written a number of similar stories and although I have enjoyed her previous works, I had a hard time getting overly excited about this one. I felt like it was just too similar to her other works.
And…..back to the Kindle.
10. Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates. I listened to this in audiobook format which was the perfect way to fully absorb all the great concepts Melinda writes about. If you are a woman, are raising women, or know women, then this book is a must read.
11. I’ll Never Tell by Catherine McKenzie. A family centric mystery that explores the sequelae of group dynamics and dysfunctional intrafamilial communication.
12. Older, but Better, but Older: From the Authors of How to Be Parisian by Caroline De Maigret and Sophie Mas. Entertaining, witty, hilarious, relatable. A must read if you are lucky enough to be getting older.
13. Whisper Network by Chandler Baker. An in depth examination of women in the corporate world, the bonds they form, the sacrifices they make, and the unspoken ways in which they are frequently undervalued and unfairly treated.
14. The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda. A psychological thriller with layers of complexity.
15. Untangled by Lisa Damour, PhD. This is a must read for anyone who has teenage or nearly teenage daughters. Dr. Damour clearly understands adolescent girls. She deftly provides parents with insight into the teenage brain and shares her wisdom for how to approach adolescent girls. The book is sprinkled with relatable stories and applicable suggestions about the gamut of issues parents and teens will face. My husband and I both listened to this as an audiobook on Audible and it quite literally changed the way we interact with our daughters. (As an aside, it also changed how I approach adolescents in my pediatrics practice and how I counsel their oft bewildered parents.)
16. The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo. A multigenerational story of a (still) happily married couple, their four adult daughters, grandchildren and assorted significant others. As the story transpires, you come to realize that even in happy marriages and seemingly happy families, there are secrets, and lies, and insecurities. None of us are immune to the human experience.
17. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. I resisted reading this book for awhile because I thought it would be too heavy and dark. It is heavy and dark. But in all the right ways. A compelling, heart wrenching read. I couldn’t put it down. If I had a list of must read books, this would be right at the top.
18. Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. An entertaining, illuminating examination of a man in the midst of an unraveling marriage. The author weaves marriage, divorce, online dating, professional life and full time parenting into one really fabulous story.
19. The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor. A psychological thriller that explores one man’s return to the scene of the crime that changed his life.
20. How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics….by Michael Pollan. My sister suggested this book to me and I have to admit, I probably wouldn’t have made it through the whole thing if she hadn’t told me to read it. It was fascinating for me from a scientific and mental health standpoint. It also offered a really unique lens into the world of illicit substance use (something I am admittedly judgy about). It is not a light read, however, and definitely demands (and deserves) some thoughtful interaction.
21. Three Women by Lisa Taddeo. A deep dive into the multifaceted sexuality of three American women. A thoughtful and worthwhile read.
22. Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. I wanted to love this book but in all honesty, I just didn’t. An exploration of friendship and romantic love and youthful naivete. I just didn’t find it all that relatable and while I finished the book, I didn’t love it.
23. All This Could be Yours by Jami Attenberg. An exploration of dysfunctional family dynamics brought to a head by a dying family patriarch. Enough said.
24. Everything is Under Control: A Memoir…by Phyllis Grant. A sweet memoir told through food. There is a collection of recipes at the end of the book, which, frankly, ended too soon for me.
25. City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert. This was a good one. I always love Elizabeth Gilbert and this was no exception. A genuine coming of age novel that explores all the complexities of what it means to be a woman.
26. The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. Another absolute favorite. Literally could not put this one down. A story of strong women, subtly shifting cultural perspective and finding one’s true self all woven through with adventure and purpose.
27. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. A story of a family, defined for too long, by the house they lived in. An intricately woven story of home, family, hurt and love.
28. Big Summer: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner. If you need a light escape from the reality of our current times, this is the novel for you. There are some worthy themes that are explored in this entertaining story. A perfect summer read.
29. Separation Anxiety: A Novel by Laura Zigman. Oh man, this one spoke to me! An exploration of a marriage well past it’s prime and the sequelae of staying in a relationship you need to leave but can’t get out of.
30. All Adults Here by Emma Straub. A well told, mulitgenerational family tale with exploration of parenting, childhood, relationships, sexuality, trust and betrayal. This one didn’t grab me the way some of the other books this year have but I think it is relatable and most will find something familiar in this story.
31. The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. A fascinating thriller that will surprise you with plot twists and intrigue.
32. The Vacationers by Emma Straub. An entertaining family drama in which the history of family relationships plays out during an extended family vacation in Mallorca.
33. Normal People by Sally Rooney. An exploration of class, relationships and loyalty.
34. Beach Read by Emily Henry. Entertaining, light hearted yet satisfying read about two very different authors who learn to see the other point of view.
35. Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arneth. This is a deep dive into the complexities of family relationships and what we will do in the name of responsibility. It’s dark, and twisted, and will leave you thinking long after the book is finished.
36. All My Mother’s Lovers by Ilana Masad. An exploration of a mother’s secret life, discovered by her daughter upon her death. A worthy exploration of human complexity.
41. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue. A heart wrenching examination of the immigrant life in America, told from the point of view of a wife and mother.
42. Never Tell by Lisa Gardner. A mystery book in the D. D. Warren series. Easy to read with just enough of a plot twist to keep you interested.
43. Home Front by Kristin Hannah. This book chronicles the stories of two female helicopter pilots who are deployed to Iraq. The story grapples with issues of marriage, war, friendship, motherhood and PTSD. This one caused me to shed many, many tears.
44. My Sister the Serial Killer. A dark and twisted story about the sister of a woman who has multiple boyfriends who have turned up dead.
45. The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell. A suspenseful thriller about a woman discovering the truth about her past.
46. Alone by Lisa Gardner. Another in the D. D. Warren series, this follows the story of a police sniper who may have killed the wrong person.
47. Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh. A fascinating read chronicling the musings and activities of an elderly woman alone in a house in the woods.
48. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. An interesting look at race told through the eyes of twin sisters who have led very different lives.
49. The Catherine House by Elizabeth Thomas. A fascinating read about an allegedly exclusive school that requires complete devotion from its students. For three years, they are not allowed any contact with the outside world. It is also clear that something nefarious is happening in the shadows of the school. A timely and thought provoking read.
50. Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan. I found this one a little difficult to get into. Once I got past the halfway point, the story line moved along at a faster pace. A story of an Irish girl living and working in Hong Kong while attempting to figure out identify, sex, love and self-confidence. An exploration of what motivates us and the factors that influence our decisions.
51. Anxious People: A Novel by Frederik Backman. I’ll be honest. I don’t always love Backman’s novels. But this one was just right for this strange pandemic time. It’s refreshing but meaningful and just might make you believe in humanity again.
52. Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking by Bill Buford. This was a fun one! I love cooking, travel and France and this book hit all those themes beautifully. An honest recounting of a journalist’s journey through the restaurants of Lyon as a chef in training and lover of good food and French cuisine.
53. The House on Fripp Island by Rebecca Kauffman. At turns entertaining, retrospective and dark, this story recounts a decades old friendship between two women as the spend a week vacationing together at the beach. What should have been fun and memorable turns dark as layers of secrets are uncovered amidst an awful tragedy.
54. The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher. A dark, twisted thriller with surprises at every turn. An addictive read to end the year.
And that’s a wrap! This was a great year to find an escape in books. Next year, I hope to start working through that never ending pile of books on my nightstand…..and on my bookshelf….and in my cupboard….and on my wish list.