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.
The definition of a tiny but oh my god level mighty book is Assembly, and I don't think there's much contest. In 100 or so pages we follow a British black woman who seems to have so much going for her. She's made a name for herself in the firm she works for, has a loving boyfriend and in her eyes views herself as successful, but even with all that going for her she contemplates throwing it all away. A breathtaking debut from Brown that on the surface is a quick literary/contemporary fiction read, but its so much more. Its a look at the history of race and colonialism in Britain, centuries upon centuries of heinous crimes and activity, and how they still present themselves today, some in blatant ways and others in daily microaggressions that many don't see a problem with. There's so many books about race: fiction, nonfiction, memoir, essay collection, poetry, it's all been written and its necessary, but this is the one that stuck with me the most. How Brown tackles this ginormous and multi leveled issue in this tiny neat little book that will make you say "holy s**t" when you finish the last sentence. MY personal pick for what should've been at least a Booker longlist title, it's eye opening, anxiety inducing at times, addicting to read and leaves you thinking about so much more than what you started the book with.
Calling all lovers of Shuggie Bain, this is your next read and I promise you it'll top your lists of best books in a while. In this Irish based novel we watch the main character Sonya and her descent into an alcohol addiction. Sonya used to be a rising star, possibly the next big thing, but now she's a single mother to her son and a scrappy mutt that follows them everywhere. After two back to back incidents that endanger her son, Sonya is forced to go into rehab and try and get it all back together. This is a tough read but the fact that the story is fast paced and doesn't drag saves this from another sad and just soul crushing story about addiction. What this book truly is is a story of a mother's love for her child, and that is why this is my solid #3 book of the year. Amazingly written, filled with insanely accurate and clear depictions of addiction in a family setting, this one has a special place in my heart.
THIS BOOK IS INSANE!!!!! I cant even begin to describe it, as it seems just like a book about some guy who likes to watch his wife cheat on him, but oh my god, it takes a turn. This book came out of nowhere, I remember seeing it in a bookstore elsewhere and just thinking "hmmm this sounds like a really interesting read about something rarely talked about in books" and I took a chance on it, and I am so so happy I did that. Its a quick read, surprisingly funny for the subject matter and truly my jaw dropped when I finally got where this book was going. That is all I’m gonna say about this one, but if you read this please talk to me about it.
I would have never guessed I would have cried over essays that centered heavily around Cheesecake Factory or Guy Fieri, but Rax King made me do just that. This “love letter to the worst culture we have to offer” is in my eyes, a perfect collection of essays, and I mean perfect. From the cover, to the leopard print on the back, and the opening page including a quote from Snooki, I knew this book would be hysterical and an accurate portrayal of trashy pop culture that I and so many others love, but it's more than that. Each essay is written so well and is like listening to an old friend relive her embarrassing younger days, but some are dual ended, tying humor with heartbreak and loss. It's tacky, of course, but so tasteful and well done, this book deserves all the love and is rightfully my favorite collection of essays from 2021, and just maybe of all time.
Though this isn’t my number one pick for the year, this is without a doubt the most important piece of fiction Ive read this year, and even beyond that. Peters has solidified herself as one my new favorite authors, especially after reading this along with her novellas. Reese and Amy were a loving transgender couple in New York, when one thing lead to another and Amy detransitioned back to Ames and the couple broke up. Now Reese is trying to cope with losing her partner, all while Ames realizes his boss/lover is pregnant with his child, something him and Reese so desperately yearned to have. When Ames realizes this, the next immediate thought is "well can the three of us raise this child together?”. A stunning and whip smart debut about motherhood, gender, sexuality and everything in between, this is one that'll continue to stay with me for many many months to come.
If you've ever come into Fountain, I am sure at least one of us on staff has gushed over this book and it deserves all the love and than some. A memoir detailing the loss of Zauner's mother who was diagnosed with cancer when Zauner was just 25, this is the best memoir about losing a loved one Ive ever had the pleasure of reading. Crying in H Mart was originally just a New Yorker piece Zauner wrote back in 2018 and I remember stumbling upon it in the midst of grieving my own mom, and it stuck with me for years, so you can probably guess how thrilled I was when I found an arc of it back in March. This is a masterpiece on grief and every side of it: the good the bad the ugly, which is what makes it stand out from the rest. Zauner delves into the complicated relationship she had with her mom, and doesn’t sugarcoat anything about it, which made me appreciate this so much more. It's brutally honest, and one of my favorite aspects of this is the food writing she does, as that was the one true way her and her mother could connect: through cooking and Korean food. Ive been rooting for this book for almost 10 months now, and it deserves every ounce of glowing praise it's gotten. If you are to read any books from my top ten, please let it be this one.
I am a sucker for any non fiction about the politics of sex and feminism and within the last 6 or so years Ive been blessed with many great different books that supply this, but none compare to this one. Srinivasan causes the reader to stop avoiding questions and ideas and lets them tackle them head on. Unlike other essay collections and such that cover these topic they immerse you and thats about it, which is always fine, but this one causes you to think and have the conversation with yourself. Its a bold book, some ideas I don’t completely agree with and I think thats what made it even more appealing to me.Â Because of the differing of opinions and new ideologies that Srinivasan introducesÂ this caused me to do my own critical thinking on points made in this instead of just surface level digesting a few quotes about "my body my choice" which I’ve been craving from a book like this. Full of philosophy, powerful yet not overwhelming writing and such a distinct voice I love this one for the talent it took to pull this off, but also the way it left me feeling after finishing the last essay.
I think this is the book from my top 10 that I have the most thoughts and feelings about, even if its only in the 150 page range. The story starts with a young couple, Pietro and Teresa, and their riveting but tumultuous relationship. After countless arguments they decide to tell each other their deepest darkest secret that they each hold onto with all their might. Not long afterÂ this vulnerable sharing, the pair end up splitting. Pietro marries and starts a new life and becomes successful, as does Teresa, but he cant seem to escape the woman who knows the thing that could ruin him. Told in three separate parts I have come to love this book so much, after my initial reaction was that it was just a decent read. The differing points of viewÂ allow for new discussions on love and relationships to open up, and a reread of this helps that even more. This book is incredibly calculated, something you don’t really acknowledge nor appreciate for the first read, but oh my god I truly don’t think Ill ever stop rereading this one and finding new things to talk about that I missed the first time.