The best books of the year are here! It’s finally time to announce my favorite books.
Mind you, I read more than 10 that are my favorites! I tried to pick the top ten that I can definitely recommend. What you are not going to find on this ‘best books’ list are romance novels, chick-lit, memoirs, or nonfiction. I will, however, list a few categories at the end for those genres.
Let’s get started because I have a lot to share:)
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The Maid by Nia Prose
What a quirky and real little book this was! Also, I must tell you upfront that this is a story you need to listen to!
Molly has been taught for years by her grandmother, whose strict social rules have served her well. Molly, it seems, has autistic tendencies. (This is never fully explained in the book.) She is quite literal and interprets everything with her own perceptions. Her grandmother has some tendencies as well, toward perfectionism and maybe a little bit of OCD.
Molly is struggling after the death of her grandmother, and this becomes even more apparent when she walks into the suite of Mr. Charles Black, a rich client that spends a lot of time with his second wife as occupants of the hotel. As Molly discovers as she enters the suite, Mr. Black is quite dead.
Ahhh, this was a lovely book! Full of humor, good intentions, and a little bit of trickery. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, several of the scenes in the last chapters just blew my theories away! It did not end as expected at all! ALl reasons to make the top ten list!
Small World by Jonathan Evison
What a beautiful book! I predicted this one would be on my top ten list this year. It is actually going to be on my best books ever list! It’s a series of stories but stay with me…
The stories begin in the 1800s and spread out over 200 years. The stories are woven together, subtly, and surprisingly, and then abruptly, converging near the ending. This is a must-read!
Racism is apparent in the characters’ lives but in different ways. Or is it all the same? These are immigrants, Native Americans, and poor people, all with labels and mistreatment due to their station in life. You will absolutely love them all!
The story of all of these characters is told in a sweeping tale. You will hold your breath and cry with the tragedies and you will not want this book to end. The story separates the groups and time periods and yet you will know from the start that there will be some cross-over and when it happens you will stop and re-read to relish the way it is all brought together. The chapters are alternate voices- from each character and over the hundreds of years. It is, quite frankly, like a jigsaw puzzle, but one where all the pieces will come together in a beautiful ending.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
The book opens with ‘The Theatre’- a section that introduces us to Arthur Leander and a young girl, Kirsten. Shockingly, Arthur collapses midway into the play in which he is portraying King Lear. Efforts to save Arthur by audience members, Jeevan Chaudhary in particular, fail and the theatre empties.
Jeevan discovers his girlfriend has left the theatre without him and then he receives a phone call that changes everything.
Twenty years later, those left on earth are living in camps, abandoned houses or stores, and living without electricity, airplane travel, phone service, television, well you get it. This includes Kirsten who is traveling with a group of musicians and actors performing Shakespearean plays and just surviving.
I loved it. I will read it again. It may even be on my top ten list next year!
The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka
I did not rate this book immediately. I had to rest with it before I made up my mind and I will tell you that you might also feel this way. In the end, I say 5 stars.
It will stay with you for a while. It’s heartbreaking. It’s emotionally packed. But isn’t that one of the reasons we read? It’s also a perfect reason to make my top ten list!
The swimmers are a group of people who go to their local pool every morning to swim laps. They don’t interact ever, except for those moments in the pool. They swim their laps, in their respective lanes and styles, and life moves forward. The point of view is awkward at first because you cannot decide who is telling the story. Most days we are able to leave our troubles on land behind.
In the meantime, one swimmer, Alice, became a focal point. Alice, afflicted with dementia, swam daily and then she didn’t. The story took a turn.
There is more I could tell you but just read it. This book is very short and worth your time.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…”
So begins this really amazing book. It’s the story of a very young woman employed as a companion to a wealthy, overbearing, elderly lady. As they sit dining (in Monte Carlo) the older woman mentions Maxim de Winter who is seated nearby. Thus begins the nameless narrator’s journey.
The narrator of the book is never named, only merely called Mrs. de Winter as she soon becomes after the chance meeting with Maxim. As they honeymoon in France Mrs. de Winter learns that Maxim’s first wife, Rebecca, disappeared while sailing. Her body was recovered months later.
Mind you, at some point, early in the book I wondered if I could read the whole thing There are definitely parts that become boring, filled with conversation and not much happening. About midway I found myself gasping at a turn of events that changed everything.
The writing style is interesting and can be a little disconcerting, but I eventually found that I liked it. Descriptions and passages were beautifully written, just a little too much talking for me. I still say 5 stars. Read this classic!
Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow
This beautifully written book spans the years 1937 to 2003. It is the story tracing 3 generations of women from a Southern Black family in Memphis, Tennessee. Their family home was built by Hazel and Miriam North in the historic Black neighborhood of Douglass.
It is the Summer of 1995, when 10-year-old Joan, with her mother Miriam and younger sister Mya, escapes her father’s violent temper, to the safety of her mother’s home in Memphis.
The father they left behind served in the military and suffered from PTSD. Miriam had had enough of his outbursts and mistreatment and left with her children and the clothes on her back. A disturbing event that happened when Joan was very young haunts them all – including Miriam’s sister August and others that knew what happened. I will let you discover this event as you read. 🙂
This book was difficult at times yet uplifting at times. The relationship of all the women in the story is complex and intertwined. It is beautiful when all is revealed and you see pieces fall into place. 5 stars for this book!
Fairy Tale by Stephen King
Charlie is a teenager with a sad history. His mom was killed when he was very young and his dad became an alcoholic as a result. Charlie has raised himself and taken care of his father. Then one day he meets an elderly neighbor, Mr. Bowditch. The man is in very poor health and Charlie takes care of him and his dog.
Ah, but there is a mystery in the backyard of Mr. Bowditch. A shed that sometimes makes odd noises. And, well, you know exactly what happens.
Charlie is drawn into the shed and embarks on a fairy tale of sorts. A mystery to solve and all with the help of Radar. Stephen King at his best! I listened to this book and would suggest you do as well. The narrator was amazing and brought the story to life! 5 stars!
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
Oh my, I loved this book! It is so different from anything I have read by this author. A different style and theme.
It’s the story of Hig who lives in an abandoned airport with his dog, Jasper. A semi-friend named Bangley lives nearby and the two just try to stay alive.
It seems that the world has come to a crashing end – with a worldwide pandemic.
Ah, well, let me tell you now that this book was published in 2012, long before our current pandemic events. Anyway, Hig’s family is gone and the only human he has met that did not want to kill him is Bangley. The two watch out for approaching strangers and any possible encroachment on their living arrangements.
It turns out that Hig can fly an airplane and he frequently does. He is able to patrol their area to watch out for intruders and to help a nearby family. He always, as a habit, keys into his radio and calls out to try and locate any other operating airport. He never hears anything until one day he does. Will he try to visit the responding airport and meet the humans there?
I loved this book despite its writing style. Mr. Heller wrote short, disjointed sentences, one-word sentences, and sometimes included very little punctuation. However, this is something I was able to overlook as the story drew me in! 5 stars for this one, too!
Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
This time-travel novel was perfection. It is tied for first place in my top ten book list of 2022. It is also on my “read it again” list.
The book begins with characters and times that do not seem to fit together. There is Edwin who arrives in Canada in 1912. Then there is Mirella who is visiting New York in 2020. Alan plays the violin in an airship terminal in the year 2200. And there is Olive who is on a book tour in the year 2203.
This fascinating book weaves their stories around one another and they occasionally overlap. Is there ever a point in which times that overlap become a corruption in time? Ah, that may be happening here. The characters may hear something or feel something that seems familiar. Enter another character, Gaspery Jacques. Which just happens to also be the name of the book written by Olive. YOu see, the stories may just become one.
A delicious book! I will read it again and savor it even more since I know where it is headed in the end. A must-read!
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Who, exactly, is Owen Meany? He is a peculiar boy with a very tiny stature and a very high, squeaky voice.
It is 1953 when Owen and his best friend are playing a baseball game. Owen hits a foul ball that flies into the stands, striking his friend’s mother, and killing her. Thus becomes Owen’s legacy. He will forever be known as the boy that killed his friend’s mom.
This is, perhaps, a perfect book. It draws you into the story of these two boys and their long friendship. As they go through childhood, teenage years, college ages, and young adult life they remain friends. And everything, everything, that happens is part of the ending of the book. There will be a moment near the end when you will sit up straight and say, “Oh, my goodness, I get it now.” And you will reread that page and marvel at the beauty of how the story was told.
A must-must-must read. 5+ stars. (Also, I listened to this book and the narrator for Owen had the highest, squeakiest voice ever and his performance was magnificent!)
Best of the Rest (Honorable Mentions)
These books did not make my top ten list, but they are so good!
- Romance (Chick Lit) – Book Lovers by Emily Henry
- Classic – Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- Nonfiction – Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth, and the Trials of American Democracy by Jamie Raskin
- Memoir – Solito by Javier Zamor
- Best Recommendation (that was actually quite good) – Rules of Civility by Amor Towle
Happy New Year Book Friends! Here’s hoping we can find great reads together in 2023:)
You may want to try my Book Reviews page for more ideas! Book Reviews Category