While it may sound cliche, I really do enjoy reading just about anything. I may not read a ton of nonfiction or historical fiction, but I will read these genres when the right book comes along. And I promise I have nothing against history. Most of the time, I would just rather read a classic written in a particular time period than a new piece of historical fiction. Lately I have found myself shifting between romance, thrilling mysteries, family sagas, and essays/memoirs. See, I told you I like to read a little of everything! I like mixing up my genres so that I don’t get stuck in any particular rut, plus it helps me with my readers’ advisory when sharing recommendations with others.
All This Could Be Yours by Jami Attenberg – I recently finished this family saga, and it is well-layered with gloominess and snark. Attenberg’s biting tone is necessary as she explores a family brought to the brink by an over-bearing and abusive father. The tale opens with Victor, the family patriarch, having a heart attack. As the family gathers by his deathbed, his daughter Alex says to her mother “If I know why he is the way he is then maybe I can learn why I am the way I am.” Indeed, Victor was a cruel man who managed to nearly destroy everyone in his orbit either mentally or physically. This is not the easiest book to read but it a searing and honest look at toxic masculinity and how hard it can be to escape.
Get a Life Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert – This book is the perfect palate cleanser after reading Attenberg’s book. Our protagonist, Chloe Brown, has a great deal of charm and spunk. Chloe also has a fairly debilitating chronic illness, but she’s decided it’s time to get a life. So of course she makes a list! She wants to: “enjoy a drunken night out, ride a motorcycle, go camping, have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex, travel the world with nothing but hand luggage, and… do something bad.” When she meets Red while saving a cat stuck in a tree she has definitely met her match. Red starts to help her with her list. The rest is history.
A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay – I read this book towards the end of 2018 and I am still recommending it to people. It’s such a well executed thriller. Barclay literally grabs you by the collar within the first couple of pages and it is a wild ride to the very end. So many twists and turns! The story opens with Paul Davis, a normal guy living a mundane life until one night he literally stumbles upon a murder. He too is assaulted and left for dead but manages to survive. This horrible incident has naturally left him with a great deal of anxiety and PTSD. His wife tries to cheer him up by buying him a vintage typewriter at a garage sale, but soon things start getting weird. Paul starts to hear the typewriter typing on its own and it starts to leave him messages…
The Witches are Coming by Lindy West – I read West’s memoir Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman a couple of years ago and it stuck with me long after I finished it. West has such a strong and powerful viewpoint and I wish more people would listen to what she has to share. Her latest compilation of essays does not mince any words or pull any punches. She is brass, honest, in your face, and I’m here for it! Here is a taste of the truth that West is sharing:
- “We will not play likability anymore. It’s an endless runner—a game with no progress and no finish line—that women are expected to chase, that keeps us from doing the real work, accruing the real power. Chasing likability has been one of women’s biggest setbacks, by design. I don’t know that rejecting likability will get us anywhere, but I know that embracing it has gotten us nowhere.”
- “If you are one of those people who believes that racism is a thing of the past, never existed at all, or is defined simply as one person being mean to another person, you are claiming that white people genuinely earn—through ability alone, because anything else would be a systemic advantage—twenty times as much as black people.”
- “You fail again, you start again. No matter how many times you fail, you can still start. Don’t let today swallow tomorrow.”
- I’ll be posting this last quote somewhere in my home or work space. In order to deal with all of issues that West highlights in her book, we have to keep going; we have to keep moving forward.
I hope you check out some of these books, or that you are at least inspired to try a new genre. Until next time, happy reading!