Grace started her bookselling career back in high school, and now as a college student its become a huge part of her life. Orginally from the Outer Banks, reading has always been a passion for her, so working in a bookstore is a perfect fit. She reads a little bit of everything, with her personal favorites being literary fiction and political books. When not reading she enjoys collecting art and vintage magazines, visiting every park in Richmond she can get to, and finding new music.
There are not enough words I can say that would describe my absolute love for this book. I haven't read something that captivated me with every word on every page in years, and this one did just that. In this short, yet incredibly powerful book we follow Josephine, a 35 year old teacher in France who drowns her everyday sorrows and anxieties in Xanax and erotic literature. By day she's a mundane philosophy teacher, but at night she awakens and begins to live as Rose Lee, her dancer alter ego. On the surface this may seem just like a book that follows a teacher living a double life, but that is only the beginning. Novels where we follow a woman learning to love herself and her body is not new, but this book makes it so fresh it felt like the first time ever reading something like this. The writing in this is something else, creating these explosive nightlife scenes one chapter full of neon colors and sparks, and then the next chapter will be her drab and colorless life as a teacher, all while never dropping the reader's attention. I don't think I will ever run out of things to talk about why I love this so much. The writing, character development, world building, pacing, every aspect of this book is perfect. The themes of freedom and embracing your femininity and sensuality are revamped and just so captivating to watch how it all plays out. My favorite book hands down of 2021, and now one of my favorite books of all time.
At first glance a book about trees doesn't seem quite captivating, but this is hands down one of the most influential pieces of fiction I have ever read in my life. So breathtakingly gorgeous yet haunting at the same time, this is one of those books where even after you finish it stays with you forever. In this the protagonists are not the humans, but the five trees who set the tone for the story. The trees tell stories of nine different people from all different walks of life, but in the end they all tie together to address one problem: The destruction of our forests. The first book I read in the eco-fiction category, and something I highly highly recommend for anyone and everyone!!
I would have never thought I would say this, but Seth Rogen has written my favorite collection of stories in 2021. I may be a bit biased towards him, but often when I pick up a collection of essays or stories they are enjoyable but kind of heavy. Yearbook is the modern day cure: Humorous, engaging stories that are still captivating and extremely well written even with some of the subject matter. I recommend this for people looking for humor, a quick read, or even trying to get back into reading after a funk! It also gets bonus points for its cover and fun little jokes scattered throughout the book. I also recommend reading this in his voice for an extra laugh, made this already hysterical book even more enjoyable.
Having been a huge fan of Taddeo's previous book Three Women, seeing this on the arc shelf made me more excited about a book than I had been in a long time, and it did not disappoint. Taddeo's debut novel follows the protagonist Joan, a woman who has been through too many things to count. After witnessing one extra horrendous crime, Joan flees the city and goes to hills of California to begin addressing her past life, and how she is to overcome it. I cant put this book in one genre, it has twists, it has strong emotions that the characters and the reader will feel, and I couldnt get enough of it. A story of revenge, power, abuse, and modern day femininity, this is one that you cannot miss.
The coming of age fiction I've been looking for my whole life. Dolly Alderton has this magical way of writing that just wraps you in the words she puts on the page and I can never get enough. In her debut novel the reader follows Nina, a single 32 year old woman who is comfortable in her singleness and thinks she has it all, as she has family, friends, a new apartment and book deals on the horizon. But after being ghosted by a man she met on a dating app, Nina begins to realize her life is crumbling. Her father's health is deteriorating, her mother is turning a blind eye and reinventing herself instead, her friends are starting families in the suburbs, and her book pitch was a flop. Clever and full of hopes, dreams and loss, Alderton is the defining voice for a new generation.
Reading the book that wins the Booker Prize for the year is always a highlight for me, and this book set the bar incredibly high for next year. Easily the best writing Ive read in 2021, the plot follows Shuggie, a shy young boy who lives in Scotland with his family during the 1980's, a time full of new politics, high crime and low employment. His mother, Agnes, is the other main character, a highly presentable and high functioning alcoholic. When Agnes' drinking comes to a head, Shuggie is the one that steps up. The story itself is so strong already, but there's something about this gritty, new narrative of functioning addicts, low class working families and the real world struggles of it all that hooked me in. Stuart's debut novel is one that needs to be on everyone's 'to be read' list, there's nothing like it out there and without a doubt will be in my top 3 reads of 2021.
My personal nonfiction pick of 2020, Three Women follows just as you'd expect, three women, living in different states across the country and their lives behind closed bedroom doors. It took Taddeo almost a decade of reporting, knowing every aspect of these womens lives, even living in their own towns to create this book, and it all paid off. At first I thought this was going to be three women's sex lives and gossip, but I couldn't have been farther from the truth. It's a look into the pressures a girl faces in teen years, the ups and downs of relationships, heartbreak and new love, but most importantly its a discussion starter. If there's any book you should read about women and feminism, its this one.
Poetry was difficult for me to get into, I never clicked with what was being said or really understood the magnitude of eight words on a page, but this classic by Ferlinghetti changed all that for me. Written during the 1950's, it's a collection of poems seperated into three sections. Ferlinghetti writes that he got the title not because it's about Coney Island, but because the poems are a circus of the soul. With two sections being standard poetry and the third being spoken word poems from smoky jazz rooms in the 50's transcribed onto clean pages, there's something hypnotizing about this 90 page book. The poems are a look into not just everyday things, but the deeper thoughts we have about them as well. Making the mundane tasks of life into beautifully written page long verses, Ferlinghetti is essential poetry reading.