A Few Top Reads of 2018 So Far
Writing down every book you read isn't just a good way to look back on your year of reading, it's also super handy when someone asks you for a book recommendation. I read a fair amount, in a wide array of genres, and I'm also very opinionated. I'm assuming this is why I get asked for book recommendations often, but who knows? The point is, I decided to make a little list of all the books I've read this year that I would wholeheartedly recommend, should you be looking for a good read.
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
At the beginning of the year Autostraddle publishes a list of Queer and Feminist books coming out in the next few months (and beyond). It's so handy for planning your year of reading. I go through the list and write down any titles that look up my alley, and then check them out or put a hold at my library on their release date. I'd never heard of Leni Zumas, but from the quick description I knew I wanted to read Red Clocks. It's a dystopian story that follows multiple women through their experience in a world where abortion and in-vitro are banned. It didn't give me nightmares like when I reread The Handmaid's Tale last year, but I did want to throw the book across the room multiple times while reading it (this is a sign of a Good Book, btw).
Ghosts of the Tsunami by Richard Lloyd Parry
I've mentioned it before and I'll say it again, Parry's People Who Eat Darkness is my favorite true crime book. If you haven't read it, well, fix that immediately. Then, once you are a Parry superfan, you can read Ghosts of the Tsunami, which on the surface is about the 2011 Japanese Tsunami, but is really about the people who were forever changed by that tragedy. I know a lot of Americans are caught up in fringe theories about the Fukushima meltdown, and I would love it if every one of them read this book. The stories of the people directly affected by this natural disaster will (hopefully) give you a little perspective and much needed empathy.
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
You should read this book. If you don't think you should, then you HAVE to read this book.
The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
I had so much fun reading The Wedding Date that I inadvertently read it in one afternoon. If you want to read a sweet romcom that's smart, funny, and all around a good time, look no further. I went to a reading/Q&A with Jasmine Guillory and not only did it make me want to sign up for her newsletter (which is also great, and free!), it made me excited to read every book she writes in the future. And wont have to wait long - her second book, which focuses on a secondary character from The Wedding Date, comes out in October.
Eat Up! by Ruby Tandoh
You may remember Ruby from her stint on The Great British Bake Off (or Baking Show, as it's rebranded in the US). But after Bake Off, Ruby not only wrote multiple cookbooks, she also became a columnist for The Guardian, and I always looked forward to reading her writing. She writes about food, but it's not just recipes - she writes about how food affects our culture. Food is so often given moral standing, be it that we're "naughty" for eating cake or "virtuous" for eating vegan, or "difficult" and "trendy" for avoiding gluten. Eat Up! drives home the point that there is no such thing as morally good or bad food. We all need food to keep living, and by assigning values to our food we're just making fraught what is simple: Nourishment, enjoyment, camaraderie, and fun. I think now is a good time to examine our relationships with food, and Eat Up! is a great place to start.
Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott
Here's a fun fact that I love: It's often said that poisoning is the most common way for women to kill. It keeps their hands clean and they can achieve their goal without getting too personal. But that's not true - if a woman is going to commit an act of violence, it's most likely that she will resort to stabbing - because it's the MOST personal. Women are so hardcore.
Megan Abbott is the master of crafting compelling stories that examine what makes young women strong, passionate, and, well, evil. She writes about women who you adore and fear simultaneously, and because of that her books are immediately on my to be read list the moment they are released. Read Give Me Your Hand, and then read any other Megan Abbott books you may have missed along the way.
The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn
This is a bestseller, and the movie adaptation is being fast tracked, so I'm not telling you anything revolutionary by recommending The Woman in the Window. I will say though, that I decided to hate this book and its author once I learned that AJ Finn is a pen name adopted by Daniel Mallory, because he thought his book would sell better if people thought he might be a woman. Nothing gets me riled up like white men thinking they're at any sort of disadvantage.
I read The Woman in the Window because I had no holds in at the library and I needed something to read while I waited for my next book to become available. I figured I could read this book that I had decided to loathe, and either justify my hatred or get past it. I didn't know much about the book at all, apart from the pen name nonsense.
Well, shit, I liked it. I grew up watching old movies (I have seen, oh, none of the popular movies from the 80s and 90s but I know every word of Charade) and if you have any knowledge of old movies this book is a treasure trove. It's essentially a mash up of Rear Window and Gaslight, and I can honestly say there were a few plot points that surprised me (there's also one that is glaringly obvious and if you don't see it coming, well, bless your heart). If this book were republished with Mallory's actual name, and if they didn't recently cast Gary Oldman in the movie, I'd be recommending this one a lot more often.
Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
If you, like me and millions of others, are fascinated with the rise and fall of Theranos, this book is a must-read. It's sometimes agonizing, knowing that every accomplishment is a lie, but it's also amazing to see how many (MANY) people brought up issues with the company, their methods, and their leadership, and were completely ignored. I didn't know just how lauded Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes were - she was declared the youngest woman to become a self-made billionaire - especially once you know it was all an elaborate scam. This is an amazing work by John Carreyrou, who resists any temptation to editorialize and instead simply presents the facts, which in a way makes this story even more chilling.