With my 41st birthday approaching, I am looking back at the books I read in my 40th year and sharing with you a few that you might enjoy reading, too. My tastes are eclectic but perhaps the variety offered in this list will lead you to something you’ll love reading, too.
Missing You by Harlan Coben. My commute to the university is about 40 minutes long, and audiobooks have helped me not mind it at all. I most enjoy listening to mystery/thriller type books while I am driving and tops on that list are books by Harlan Coben. I usually listen to his Myron Bolitar series of books, but this stand alone was great. I really appreciated the female main character, Kat Donovan, and this timely look at cat-fishing and dating online.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I discovered Liane Moriarty last year and have now read four of her six books (two of them were on my favorites list from last year). From page one, Big Little Lies is not a whodunnit as much as a who bit it. From page one, you know a murder investigation is underway but you don’t know who died, how, and what lead to that moment. The book takes you on a satisfying, redemptive journey to that answer.
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. Rowell’s Eleanor and Park was on last year’s favorite list (stop now and go read if you haven’t), and Attachments is equally satisfying but in a different (more light-hearted) way. Set in 1999 amidst the great fear of Y2K, a computer security employee at a newspaper is charged with monitoring emails to make sure employees are following the company’s rules of engagement (no personal emails!). Soon enough, computer snooping leads to love of the most unrequited nature. What do you do when you fall in love with someone whose emails you are paid to read and she has no idea you are reading them (0r that you exist)? A fun, well-executed premise.
Dare Me by Meg Abbott. A super satisfying beach read (well, that’s where I read it), Dare Me looks at the dark side of competitive cheerleading, lust, envy, and power. I watched Glee and couldn’t help but picture Quinn and Brittany as the tension built between the main character and her best friend. There’s something dangerous about the boredom of teenage girls, the book’s tagline reads. Never truer than in this book.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart Described as a modern suspense novel, We Were Liars details a critical summer in the lives of four best friends. Unique narration, a broken family, a mystery, and an unspeakable discovery make this book a shocking page turner.
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I heard Diffenbaugh on NPR when this book first came out but I was worried that the book’s subject matter– the book begins just as the narrator is released from group foster care on her 18th birthday- might be a little too close for me to be able to get through it. I’m so glad that friends kept recommending because, wow, it was gorgeous and heartbreaking and redemptive and touching. Really briefly, Victoria Jones is released from foster care on her 18th birthday and finds work with a florist. Victoria happens to know the Victorian Language of Flowers and that skill is one that makes her incredibly valuable to her clients. Why does she know the Language of Flowers? Alternating between the present and past tense, the book shares how Victoria became who and how she is and where she is going is a revelation.
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. Another beach read that I just could not put down. CRA focuses on the super rich in Singapore and their beliefs, buying habits, and behaviors. It follows a young couple from different backgrounds as they realize that while love might be enough for them, it is not necessarily enough for those around them. Call it a modern, Asian Romeo and Juliet with more comedy than tragedy. One of my favorite parts? The footnotes. Yes, a novel with footnotes. You’ll like them, too.
Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler. An African-American hairdresser in her mid-forties is in the midst of a rough patch when her almost ninety year old white client asks her for a ride to Ohio. In the car, they both examine their lives and the choices that have brought them to this moment. Inspired by a family story the author learned later in life, this one got me at my throat.
How about you? What books do you have to recommend?