As a part two to this post, I thought I’d share a few of my favorites from the past few months.
Suggestions poured in after said post, which was awesome, and my mom mailed me a few books in a very heavy package. I also picked up a few when I went back home at the end of the year.
The hit rate has been very high, so thank you for having good taste, friends and family.
All the Light We Cannot See-This book got a lot of press last year and it’s a really good story about World War II and some lesser known regions of France (at least in the American narrative of the conflict). The two characters have very different arcs and the format keeps switching between their stories. The writing is beautiful and though it’s long, it’s a relatively quick read.
This Side of Paradise-I’ve of course read the Great Gatsby and enjoyed Fitzgerald’s first novel, which is about a young man figuring out what he wants to do with his life. Hmmm, wonder why this resonated?
Behind the Beautiful Forevers-I cannot recommend this highly enough. Clare, my brilliant friend, suggested it and it’s great. It’s a nonfiction account of life in a slum close to the Mumbai airport and it’s a really important look at poverty and development. The reporter followed the families featured for years. I’ve never been to India (it’s on the list) but found lots of connections to Guatemala. The note at the end about how the author decided she was the one to write this story is great.
Half of a Yellow Sun– I loved Americanah and was excited to read more by Chimimanda Ngiche Achebe. This novel follows five characters throughout the Biafran War in Nigeria, a conflict I didn’t know much about. It’s beautiful written, really clever in how the story unfolds and pretty tragic, as many war stories go.
Between the World and Me-I read this in two days on various subway rides and definitely recommend it. Coates is a great writer and the format is really effective. If you’ve read his other work (or taken a good history class), the themes of violence and the concept that America is built upon the pillaging of black bodes will be familiar, but it’s still searing, and important.
The Zahav Cookbook-I know, it’s a cookbook, but I spent some time reading the stories between the recipes at my kitchen table and really enjoyed it. Zahav is one of my favorite restaurants and I’ve had lots of great dinners there. My dad and I first visited when I was a sophomore in high school making a visit to Penn; the restaurant had been open for less than a year and was nowhere near the institution it is now. Mike Solomonov has had a really interesting and difficult life and the stories he shares, about himself and his family and the evolution of Israeli food, are lots of fun.
Someone-This is a book about a really ordinary person written in a really engaging way. I read it in a weekend and definitely recommend it.
A Manual for Cleaning Women– This was another rec from friends (thanks Frida and Emilie) and I enjoyed it. Lucia Berlin’s short stories are semi autobiographical and as a result, they’re stories of women who struggle with relationships, alcoholism, feeling at home in different cultures, and saying goodbye. I don’t normally like short story collections but this one was nice.
Currently, I’m rereading Pride and Prejudice (which I’m sure we all have a copy of somewhere) for the first time since I was about 14. My aunt always turns to this book when things get a little crazy and I’m really happy about my choice so far. Then, I might try The Devil in the White City, about which I’ve heard great things.
Any other book suggestions or questions? You know I’m all ears.