It’s safe to say, this has been a rough year. Understatement of the century, amirite? I’ve found myself struggling to focus on reading and continued the struggle from this past year to find my voice again on this blog. But despite my lack of posting, I’ve still discovered an odd assortment of stories that are definitely worthy of praise.
The King of Crows (The Diviners #4) by Libba Bray
I’ve been a huge fan of this series for years and while this final installment seemed far longer than necessary at times, it provided some solid closure. Do yourself a favor and pick up the audiobook: January LaVoy is spectacular.
True Grit by Charles Portis
This was one of the first books I picked up in 2020 and damn, it was a winner. I was upset to hear of his passing in February but I’m grateful to have a few more from his backlist to still enjoy.
Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Essays by Joan Didion
I was always a bit intimidated by Didion’s renowned memoir The Year of Magical Thinking so I opted to delve into some of her essays first just to get a feel for her writing style. Suffice it to say,
Evil Has A Name: The Untold Story of the Golden State Killer Investigation by Paul Holes, Jim Clemente, Peter McDonnell
It has to be said, this isn’t exactly a novel, more like an extremely long podcast episode. Honestly, though I don’t even care. This story was intense, thrilling, and thoroughly compelling. Much like anyone even mildly into true crime, I followed the case of the Golden State Killer closely after he was finally captured after 40 years but this “Untold Story” really shed some light on how his capture came to fruition.
Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan
I took the title of this graphic novel series a bit too literal and went into it with certain expectations and basically had my mind blown by the end of the first installment. Let’s just say, it’s far more science fiction and far less a group of girls riding around delivering newspapers.
This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life by David Foster Wallace
I may have stalled out permanently in Infinite Jest, but this accessible reprint of a speech Wallace did in 2005 at Kenyon College is something that has the power to touch people in a multitude of ways.
It’s Okay to Laugh: (Crying Is Cool Too) by Nora McInerny Purmort
I’m not sure what actually possessed me to pick this up but I was intrigued by the author’s ability to turn a tragedy into something transformative and uplifting. It was a powerful and admirable tale. Nora narrates her own audiobook and did an amazing job. I’m not sure if I would’ve found her story in print nearly as compelling.
The Girl in Red by Christina Henry
Christina Henry is certainly the Queen of FairyTale retellings and in The Girl in Red she transforms the tale of Little Red Riding Hood into an apocalyptic story that is as gruesome as it is entertaining.
Plan B: A Novel by Jonathan Tropper
I’ve been an avid Tropper fan since I picked up This Is Where I Leave You at random, not expecting to love it nearly as much as I did. Plan B isn’t Tropper’s greatest, it is his debut, however, it was the last remaining book I had left from his backlist so it’s still special to me and still definitely worth reading if you enjoy his type of storytelling.
Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
I always say that romance stories aren’t my standard fare (give me a psychological thriller or gothic horror any day) but every once in a while you need to mix things up in your reading life and honestly, sometimes I just need a little fluff in my life. This one was a winner.