Happy New Year!
I meant to write this post in December so you would have titles to give as gifts, but it was busy, right?! So, here are some books for when you are stuck inside because it’s rainy and cold, or if you’re going on vacation this year, or if you need a last-minute gift.
These are my favorite books that I read this past year. Some were newly published this year and some were on my list from earlier years, and some I only discovered this year but were written years ago, and I only heard or read about them recently. I’m only including 10 of my favorites from the past year. I probably read double that, and I also probably started another 10 and decided they were not engaging enough to continue. Enjoy!
In no particular order:
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
I chose to read this book based on the fact that the movie was made. Sadly, the trailer did not appear to mirror the feeling I got from the book. I may watch the movie eventually, but the book was incredible! It’s about a girl who grows up in various places in the US with her 3 siblings and eccentric father and artistic mother. The parents are clearly unable to provide the basic necessities for their children. This is a true story.
The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian
A bit of a mystery novel. Told from the viewpoint of the eldest daughter, a story about a mother that has gone missing. The daughter learns slowly about her mother’s mental history and how she and her sister may also be at risk as she searches for where her mother may be and what may have caused her disappearance.
Origin by Dan Brown
I hesitate to include this book because it’s one of those books that is heavily publicized. I saw it in the airport bookshop. Here’s the thing, it’s set in Spain which is at the top of my travel wish list. There is a lot of art and architecture by Antoni Gaudi who I really love. And finally, the main character is the same as the Da Vinci Code. It’s super fun easy reading with very current technology topics.
Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi
If you read nothing else, read this! Easily, one of my favorites from the past year. It is a memoir written by a woman from Oregon who travelled to Europe and joined the circus as a young woman and experienced many adventures. If you love animals, this will give you good feels And it is true and a love story!
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
OK, this might be the best one! You should read this one too. It was on the required reading list for all incoming Stanford University students. It’s an amazing book by an amazing author. One of the author’s other books is already on my reading to-do list. This book is about a young woman and her family from a poor part of Mississippi who are unprepared for the wrath of hurricane Katrina. The characters are all dealing with their own individual hardships when the hurricane hits.
Sourdough by Robin Sloan
I lied, this was my favorite. Because, it’s set in the Bay Area and it’s about a young woman who specializes in programming robots. But she finds her calling in baking bread. If you know me or my dad, you know we love to eat, buy, and bake bread. It’s a little far-fetched at times, but in a creative scientifically interesting way.
Under the Influence by Joyce Maynard
I love that this also takes place in the Bay Area. (Are you sensing a theme in how I choose my books, clearly I am biased.) This is a story about a single mom who loses custody of her only child due to a DUI. She becomes friends with a wealthy couple who take an interest in her and employ her as a photographer of their extensive art collection. She learns that there is much more going on behind the scenes that is revealed throughout the story.
The Mouse-Proof Kitchen by Saira Shah
A young British woman leaves her home country to escape to France with her husband and infant disabled daughter. They take on a run-down castle and begin a new life renovating the building and learning to embrace their love while overcoming the hardships of living out in the country on their own. Their community of neighbors is genuinely heartwarming.
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
A long time favorite author of mine, this newest story about a young woman who learns to embrace her heritage though she knows very little about where she comes from in her home country. Adopted into the US from China, she seeks to find out more about her family back home and learns that she has a rare ancestral gift to recognize and cultivate rare tea leaves.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
The story about the descendants of 2 young women from Africa and the journey and hardships that their children and grandchildren experience over many generations that end in the current time period here in the US. A beautiful story that is elegantly told. Another of my favorites from this year.
So, have you read anything this year that you could recommend? I’m always looking for ideas. Have you read any of these listed, and what did you think of them?
If you are in the Santa Cruz area, Venus distillery hosts tastings and they are fabulous! Thank you to my friends for inviting me; we tasted gin, tequila, and whiskey! All made here in beautiful Santa Cruz, CA!
If you haven’t seen the jellyfish exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, I highly recommend visiting!