April reading was incredible. Thanks for a long weekend at a beautiful Lake House, I managed to pack in some long awaited reads — including three of my favorite books of the year. From David Chang’s memoir, to the best short story collection I’ve read in a long time (maybe ever) and returning to an old favorite author following a bank robbery gone wrong and an accidental hostage crisis at an Open House, it was just an incredible month of reading. And to balance it, there were so super trashy and forgettable mystery novels.
March 2021 Reads//
This is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year.
This book contains six short stories and 1 novella, each beautifully written, nuanced, and multilayered. Though each stories examine similar themes, they each have their own distinctive narrative, and sometimes opposing perspectives. In “Boys Go to Jupiter.” a young, white college student finds herself mired in controversy after a photo of her wearing a Confederate flag bikini goes viral. “Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain” follows a photojournalist in the midst of wedding drama (not her own.) The titular novella follows two black women who have always been pitted against each other, and their journey to unearth the true story behind a black shopkeeper’s death back in 1937. Evans is an incredible story teller, direct, incisive, compelling and with razor sharp commentary on modern day racisms, sexisms, class. Despite being short stories, she packs in so many themes of grief, anger, fear, forgiveness, (lost) human connection so concisely.
I love the concept of the book- an alternate history and a reimagined American West where it’s the women and gender fluid outcasts that band together to break the law.
Read When: You want to feel happy, challenged, and don’t have any distractions because you’re going to want to read this in one sitting.
Read With: A Goblet of Red Wine
Eat a Peach by David Change // A
In this candid memoir, David Chang details his journey from a short-lived childhood golf career to building his culinary empire. Chang honestly reveals the “ugly” truth of his incredible career – from his high points starting Momofoku (a Korean restaurant during the time that Italian and French food ruled Manhattan) to his low points, blowing up multiple times at staff members in an open concept kitchen. He reflects openly on the impact of his late bipolar diagnosis, the perils of his work ethic, in which ” the paradox for the workaholic is that rock bottom is the top of whatever professional they’re in.” Even if you know nothing about David Chang — hard to believe in this day and age — or care about Culinary biographies, you will enjoy this book. Chang is a talented writer and narrator. He doesn’t color coat anything about his life. You will find yourself laughing, crying and cringing all within a couple of sentences. I suspect the audiobook version will also be incredible.
Read When: You need some entrepreneurial inspiratio
Read With: Some Korean Food — no joke you will be hungry.
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (Translated by Neil Smith) // A
Fredrick Backman has long been one of my favorite authors. From his story about a quirky curmedgeon A Man Called Ove, Backman captures the hilarity and sadness of the human condition. Anxious People follows an attempted Bank Robbery gone wrong and an accidental hostage situation at an Open House. While the plot is as hilarious as it sounds, this is, at its very core, a story about human interactions and connections. Backman has an incredible gift for writing and a remarkably astute understanding of what it means to be human. I laughed as much as I cried as he traversed the humor, tragedy, heartbreak and joy of being in a locked room. ”God doesn’t protect people from knives, sweetheart. That’s why God gave us other people, so we can protect each other. “
Read When: You want to laugh and cry at the same time.
Read With: Cheetos
One by One by Ruth Ware // B
Ware’s sixth novel brings you to a fancy mountainside chalet in the French Alps, where a music start up is hosting their annual corporate retreat. When the avalanche strikes, leaving the characters without power and access to the outside world just as a killer begins murdering them one by one. While I’m usually a Ware fan, this was a so-so mystery novel. The perfect beach read with a predictable ending.
Read When: You’re on a vacation
Read With: Hot Chocolate and tiny marshmallows
The Watcher Girl by Minka Kent // C
After avoiding her hometown of Monarch Falls for nearly a decade, Grace McMullen returns to find her ex, Sutton, married too a woman who looks eerily like herself, and their newborn daughter named…Grace. In an attempt to squash Sutton’s apparent obsession with her, Grace begins to confront her own buried past. I honestly had to google the back of the book to remember the plotline. I think this was an Amazon First reads. Totally forgetable, and probably not worth the read.
Read When: …. You want to waste an hour reading a mindless thriller
Read With: Sour Patch Kids
The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda // C-
Honestly, I debated even including this in the list given there are so many better reads! But I also want to be honest that I read a LOT of trashy mystery novels, and this one is no exception. After Myriam returns to work after having two kids, she hires Louise- who seems to be the perfect nanny….until a murder strikes.
Read When: You literally have nothing else to read but want to read thriller.
Read With: Something French — maybe a Sancerre and some brie and a nice crispy baguette. Hey just because you’re reading a trashy novel doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat well.
How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps the House by Cherie Jones // A-
Set in the fictional wealth tourist enclave of Baxter’s Beach, Barbados, How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House is the story of three women, and the three generations of internalized trauma. The protagonist, Lala, is a teenaged bride married to a petty criminal who commits a horrendous crime. She is then linked to Mira Whalen, a Bajan who escaped poverty by marrying a wealthy Englishman. At times, it’s a a hard read, Jones is unflinching in her descriptions of the character’s hardships, obstacles, violence and domestic abuses. Yet, the prose is oddly calming, brusk yet poetic and fluid. Overall, it’s a fantastic debut
Read When: You want to read a beautifully written, yet intense, novel
Read With: A nice cup of tea (or something stronger