Favorite Reads of 2020
(In no particular order)
These aren’t necessarily books published in 2020, but rather ones reflecting my interests this year. There’s something here for anyone, so find a title to gift.
1. The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine, by Alina Bronsky: translated from German, this odd literary novel is told from the perspective of a sociopath, Rosie, who despite her limited ability to connect with others still seems to win over quite a few devotees, simply because she’s hardworking and focused on improvement. Though this story has a dark underbelly, Rosie’s nonplussed attitude is often funny and refreshing.
2. My Year of Rest and Relaxation, by Ottessa Moshfegh: Also told by a character with a personality disorder (can you tell I’m writing a novel told by a psychopath?), this literary novel has an end that sneaks up on you. The psychiatrist character provides such off-the-wall comic relief that you’ll read just to see what she’ll say next.
3. Lie to Me, J.T. Ellison: If you liked Gone Girl, you’ll enjoy this solid domestic suspense, which will keep you guessing. No one can be trusted.
4. I Am Here to Make Friends, by Robert Long Foreman: A collection of sometimes hilarious and other times touching short stories by an award-winning writer-to-watch.
5. Less, by Andrew Sean Greer: Light and fun, reminiscent of both Michael Chabon and F. Scott Fitzgerald, this novel follows Arthur Less on a journey of midlife-crisis discovery.
6. Know My Name, by Chanel Miller: A memoir written about her attack by Brock Turner, this memoir is both brilliant and shocking, artful and suspenseful.
7. A Nearly Normal Family, by M.T. Edvardsson: Translated from Swedish, this three-part, three-POV domestic suspense explores what parents might do to protect their families.
8. Our Kind of Cruelty, by Araminta Hall: told from the perspective of a stalker, a man with a problematic past, this psychological thriller will leave you questioning who is to blame for the inevitable crime: his past, his girlfriend’s enabling, or the man who commits it.
9. Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke: An odd, literary fantasy about a man who doesn’t question his life or remember his past. The story of Piranesi becomes allegorical, like the story of The Cave or the minotaur in the labyrinth, asking what part of our identities we will we sacrifice for progress.
10. Goodbye, Vitamin, by Rachel Khong: A collection of vignettes told by a daughter whose father is slowly deteriorating. Often funny, sometimes tear-wrenching, this novel is beautifully written and poignant.