Good morning, good morning! Today’s topic for #AMonthOfFaves is: Which five books did you read this year that were totally worth the hype? Pretty straight forward, right? Yeah, except with me, it is never straight forward. Heh. Let’s see how much damage I can do!
So far this year, of the 210 books I’ve read, 42 of them were published this year. Let’s see if any of them were good enough to be Worthy Of The Hype!
1. Dead Wake, by Erik Larson. Yeah, this was definitely one of my favorite reads this year. I mean, here Larson is, retelling the story of the last crossing of the Lusitania, a luxury liner (think Titanic) we KNOW goes down because of enemy fire, and yet I’m STILL flipping pages as if the speed at which I read will keep the subjects alive! Brilliantly researched, imaginatively depicted, and just wow – a grand slam!
2. God Help the Child, by Toni Morrison. I debated whether to put this on here because after its release, I didn’t hear Word One about it. It wasn’t on any Best Of lists that I saw, it didn’t make any awards short lists… I mean, it was published, right? I’m not just dreaming this? I liked it ever so much better than her last two. There’s a straightforward story arc, a relatable protag, and cultural criticism as razor sharp as ever. It was hyped before hand – so why the silence now?
3. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. When one of the rituals growing up involves having The Talk with your son, and by The Talk we mean not How To Not Get A Girl Pregnant, but How To Act If You Get Pulled Over So You Don’t Get Shot Maybe, there’s something wrong with how we’re “civilizing”. That’s not civilization. That’s not a community I want to belong to; one where cops are so predisposed to think people of color are doing god-awful things, can’t be trusted, and must be shot to neutralize the situation. It’s scary. Devastatingly scary. Coates does such a fine job of walking the line between explaining his rage and heartbreak and calling it like it is. Every person in America should read this book.
4. Bazaar of Bad Dreams, by Stephen King. This may have made the list purely because Finders Keepers – the entire Bill Hodges trilogy, really – fell so far from the list. The Hodges books are terrible! By King standards, anyway. So it was with a little trepidation that I approached King’s new collection of short stories. I shouldn’t have worried. I loved the page or two of where’d-it-come-from backstory that preceded each chapter almost as much as the stories themselves. There were several pieces that were reprints or rewrites, and that’s okay. Leftover Stephen King done right is so much better than so many authors’ first servings. This was classic King and my heart was glad of it.
5. Sisters in Law: Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the Friendship That Changed Everything, by Linda Hirshman. When I heard a book about the two lady badasses of the high court was coming out, my jaw dropped and I maybe started mumbling about my precioussss…. The book helped me out by playing along, living up to the hype, and not dropping me into the fiery doom of Mordor. (Yes, I used a Supreme Court story tied up with a Lord of the Rings reference. All hail my nerdiness!) We all know how much I love the Notorious RBG and all she has done for demanding our rights as women be recognized. What I didn’t know what how much I should be loving on Sandra Day, as well. I learned so much as I read this book and everything delighted me. Man alive, do I love when a book lives up to expectations!
So there you have it! What books made your list for the year?