The Sympathizer – I tried to read this book a few years ago and had a hard time getting in. My brother told me to go back and try again. The author won the Pulitzer for this book in 2016, along with seven other prizes. The book is a stream of consciousness, incredibly verbose, telling the story of a mole inside South Vietnam’s forces. He begins at the fall of Saigon, eventually getting to the US and back again. What was it all worth? Reading this book while Afghanistan is being played out, again another American mistake, is eye-opening and certainly thought-provoking.
The Pear Field – Short listed for the 2021 Booker Prize. Set in the 1990s in the Residential School for Intellectually Disabled Children (known locally as The School for Idiots) after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The children are abused and definitely not taken care of but there is complexity to the novel and light at the end of the tunnel. A good read.
At Night All Blood Is Black – Winner of the 2021 Booker Prize. What I love about the Booker Prize winners is they cast an International net of authors. Reading their words is eye-opening about the different worlds around us. It is a haunting and horrific book about Senegalese soldiers fighting for Colonial France during WWII. It is a tough one to recommend.
Becoming Eve – Feeling comfortable enough to explain to the people around you that you might have been born a boy but have always thought of yourself as a woman is not easy. Being an ultra-Orthodox child who is supposed to become a rabbi and follow in the family’s footsteps is quite another. This memoir details Chava Stein’s journey now known as Abby. I wanted more from the book although the insight into the Orthodox world is fascinating.
Razorblade Tears – Not the kind of book I usually read but good for summer when you want a fast page-turning book. It is about two men whose sons were married and murdered. They come together to find out what happened to them.
Great Circle – Keep in mind this book is 600 pages long. At 23% in I almost put the book down and then I got drawn in. Insanely well-written intertwining American story starting during Prohibition taking us through WWII. It is about one’s desire to achieve her dreams regardless of the hand she has been dealt. Expect to see a movie be made about this book.
Homemade – The importance of a meal, community and how both of these things bring us together.
Yearbook – There are parts of this book where I laughed so hard tears came to my eyes. The last quarter of the book got a little tired but otherwise an absolutely great read.
Unstoppable – There is an advertisement for this book every single week in the NYTimes Book Review. It is about a Holocaust survivor and the story of his life. Everything he touched turned to gold. He was, as the title says, Unstoppable. I stopped reading the book about 60% of the way in. After a while of reading, he did this and then he did this, was plenty. Inspiring though.
The Great Mistake – An important piece of NY history from the turn of the 20th Century about a man whose impact on NYC is still felt today. Really good.
Detransition, Baby – Page turner about three women, trans, cis and de-transitioning and their motherly desires. It is a fantastic book. The characters are deeply layered. The right book at the right time. Loved it.
The Other Black Girl – The hype around this book is huge. A “Get Out” thriller highlighting racial social issues. I wanted to love it but sadly I didn’t.