Every year I line up a big stack of really incredible, much-anticipated books to read while winter slumps into spring. Then, I go on a book-reading bender. I stay up past my bedtime, I walk around the house clutching an open book, reading it as I put dishes into the dishwasher, sass the cat or just walk from one part of the house to another. I carry a book with me everywhere, reading for two minutes before my yoga class, reading while my computer restarts, reading, reading, reading.
Then, I stumble upon The Best Book, the one I’ll spend the whole rest of the year thinking about, the one that speaks right to my heart and soul, the one that makes it hard to pick up another book because nothing can compare, nothing can match its brilliance.
It’s a very serious, very first-world problem, for sure, but the real point is that March just ended, there’s a bunch of months left in 2019 I’ve probably already found my favorite books of the year.
THE BEST BOOKS
WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by Delia Owens
This is the story of Kya, raised more by the marshes of the North Carolina coast than anything or anyone else. It’s a story about being wild, about solitude and self-sufficiency. And it’s my new favorite book.
As a girl raised by wolves and the wild, this book felt familiar and I saw parts of myself in Kya. There’s a lot of going into the wild alone, of figuring out how to survive and making friends with wild critters. Plus, there’s a murder mystery.
BAD BLOOD: SECRETS AND LIES IN A SILICON VALLEY STARTUP by John Carreyrou
I don’t think I read a single article about Theranos before I read this book. I knew about the big claims of Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos founder, and the revolutionary blood-tests she was promising. I knew she’d been named the youngest female self-made billionaire and I knew that it had all been a lie, that her $9 billion company was built on bullshit. This book fills in the details. It’s a wild ride, this story, and if you liked the delusional madness of the Fyre Fest documentaries, you’ll love this, the bio-med equivalent.
CHASING HILLARY by Amy Chozick
I spent most of 2016 in Kuwait, so I missed a lot of the election coverage. I read articles, sure, and I diligently cast my absentee ballot, but being abroad, even on a U.S. military installation, I just didn’t see much election coverage, which is probably why I enjoyed this book so much. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the adventures of her press corps on the campaign trail.
UNSHELTERED by Barbara Kingsolver
Full disclosure: I will read anything Kingsolver writes and I will love it. This is the story of two families living in the same house, one in the 1800s and the other in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. There’s a lot of nature in this book, which is pretty typical fo Kingsolver, a little bit of mystery, some science and complex, rich characters.
THE GOOD BOOKS
HEART BERRIES by Terese Marie Mailhot – an indigenous woman’s coming of age story, her battles with addiction and abuse and one of the most real and raw books I’ve ever read.
BARRACOON: THE STORY OF THE LAST “BLACK CARGO” by Zora Neale Hurston – an eye-opening and heart-breaking story of Oluale Kossula, captured and sold into slavery at 19. Kossula tells the story of his capture, his enslavement and his eventual freedom to Hurston, who tells the story in Kossula’s own vernacular. It’s a tough read, but a valuable one.
MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER by Oyinkan Brathwaite – snarky and dark, just the way I like my books.
NINE PERFECT STRANGERS by Liane Moriarty – this is the third or fourth of Moriarty’s books I’ve read and her latest. I very much enjoy the way she develops characters and the fun mysteries she injects into her stories, and this one was an absolute delight.
THE WOMAN’S HOUR by Elaine Weiss – an thorough look at the fight to get Tennessee to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment. It took me weeks to finish this one, mostly because it’s so dense, but it taught me a lot of things.
THE 7 1/2 DEATHS OF EVELYN HARDCASTLE by Stuart Turton – a very weird, very twisty book about a murder and a dinner party. It’s a wild, wild ride and was also the first book written by a dude I’d read since 2017.
LILAC GIRLS by Martha HALL KELLY – WWII historical fiction, one of my most favorite genres. I enjoyed this book, eventually, but it took me a while to get into it. It’s heavy and sad, this one, and it felt more raw and honest than other books in the same genre.
THE OKAYEST BOOKS
AN ANONYMOUS GIRL by Greer Hendricks + Sarah Pekkanen –★★★
THE PERFECT MOTHER by Aimee Molloy – ★★★
THE WITCH ELM by Tana French – ★★
THE TUSCAN CHILD by Rhys Bowen – ★★