This post comes from our manager Consuelo.
At the beginning of the year, I decided I was going to take a photo of every book I read this year. And while it didn’t really change my reading habits, a few books in, I did start to think more about how I would visualize each book as I read it. With that being said, I’ve tried to come up with my favorite books I’ve read this year without being influenced by how much I like its corresponding photo. You can’t judge a book by its cover; or by the picture you take of it.
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
James Baldwin will always make my top five lists, as long as I keep reading him. Which I will. This was a re-read for me, done so for our Required Reading Revisited book club. His essays about race in our country stand the test of time, and send chills down my spine. He clearly saw our disfunction, and so beautifully wrote it down. Full of outrage and fury, he never crossed over into hopeless pessimism. If somebody’s words have the power to make change in and of themselves, it’s his.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
I read more than one book this year that was 700+ pages, and this one had me hooked on every single page. Its focus is one of four friends living in New York City. He keeps his troubled past (slowly revealed throughout the novel) hidden from his loved ones, causing a ripple of repercussions that affect them all. It was so emotional, I could not pull myself away from the characters Yanagihara created. They are so fully realized, it’s such an incredible feat.
O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
Sometimes I feel like a writer is speaking directly to me, and such is the case with Willa Cather. On the surface, it feels like a simple story of a young woman who inherits the family farm in Nebraska and the hardships that follow, and then things get messy and complicated. I deeply connected with what Cather had to say about gender roles and individuality. This is a book for every feminist. And especially for those who aren’t.
Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
My science fiction reading is pretty erratic, so when my book club comrade picked Arthur C. Clarke for us to read, I was pretty excited. I hadn’t ever delved into the landmark books of the genre. I was immensely impressed at Clarke’s world-building skills and his pure storytelling. He conjured up an amazing universe in such a concise form, adding layers to Rama or propelling the plot forward in a single sentence.
The Radiant Road by Katherine Catmull
As of writing this, The Radiant Road is the most recent thing I’ve read, but I have a feeling it’s going to stick with me for a long time, just as her previous book, Summer & Bird, has. The story of a girl who sees the magic (or Strange with a capital “S”) in everyday life, Clare quickly falls into fantastical danger when she moves back to her birthplace in Ireland. The ability to love and create is at stake, and Catmull beautifully explores the themes of both. As someone who has very vivid dreams, I was particularly drawn to how much of the plot revolves around dreaming, and how influential it is. And did I mention, her way with language is superbly gorgeous.