I’m going to be honest, this is really more like a list of books I disliked the least this year, and it makes me a little nervous because most of these books aren’t on any other best of lists and it stresses me out to recommend books that other people might hate. But you know, we’re all different, that’s one of the fun things about books. Some people have “Belzhar” as THEIR FAVORITE BOOK OF THE YEAR, while I’m still thinking about standing next to it at the library and slowly shaking my head no at anyone who tries to check it out.
Here’s to next year, right?
1. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
This was lovely. I thought it would be terrible, it was not. Sad and funny and beautifully plotted and great. Read it.
2. Lucky Us*
This is one of those books that really sticks with you. It wasn’t perfect, and it’s not super high on the feel good meter, but I still really liked it. Jennie Canzoneri, I predict you hate this and tell me it’s boring, so fair warning.
This was one of those very Britishy drama chick lit type of books. I found it quite enjoyable. If you liked “One Day” I predict you would like this.
4. Off Course*
This was a strange little quiet book, but I loved the vibe. I’m trying to think what to compare it to. Something about it reminded me of “Wild”, but don’t go hating it when it doesn’t turn out to be “Wild 2”.
5. Thank You For Your Service
Heartbreaking, interesting, intense, really really great. Best non-fiction of the year.
6. How to Love
My favorite YAF book of the year. It reminds me of romantic comedies, how the difference between a great one and a terrible one seems so small but actually you’re talking about the difference between “When Harry Met Sally” and “The Vow” and it’s SO easy to really make a bad one and shockingly hard to make a really good one but when you do it WORKS so well and it’s great and becomes so much more than “just” a romantic comedy. That’s how this book is. It’s not a comedy, but it’s an example of a cliched genre done really really well.
7. Young God
This was my “holy shit that was hard to read but it’s not like anything else out there, that’s for sure” book of the year. I would love to read this for a book group because it’s the kind of thing I want to talk about afterwards with everyone I know. It was a hard book to read and it was DARK DARK DARK but it was not NOTHING, if that makes sense.
8. How to Build a Girl
My favorite book of the year. This passage? It still gives me thrills every time I read it.
“John, he was not a beautiful boy, nor a tall one. He was round, like a barrel, in a shabby brown suit-and his hair was neither one color nor the other. His face was slightly crushed, and his hands shook a lot for a man of twenty-four–although, as he put it later, “In dog years, my liver is sixty-eight.” But when the wind blew in on the street corner, you could see his heart beat under his shirt, and when the conversation accelerated, you could see his mind chime, like a clock. He was bright bright bright, like the lantern above a pub door in November–he made you want to come in and never leave.”
People have said, in criticism, “oh, this isn’t a genuine voice for a teenage girl,blah blah blah.” Don’t care. Loved every word.
9. Althea & Oliver
This was very nicely written. I enjoyed the voice of the author and the female main character and it was different from 99% of the other YAF I was subjected to this year. It felt very fresh and new.
10. Station Eleven
Excellent. Probably my third favorite book of the year behind “How to Build a Girl” and “How to Love”. I wish it had been longer, for a change. This the best storytelling I read this year, a good quick creepy read.
*Had I read less utter poo this year, these three books would probably be on my runner up list.