The Saints of Swallow Hill
I wanted to like this book, but it had some really unpleasant events. It takes place on a turpentine camp in Georgia during the depression. The story focuses on two white protagonists who endure terrible abuse, while the black workers are treated far worse. There is good historical research and some redemption, but not an enjoyable read.
The Lincoln Highway
After reading A Gentleman in Moscow and The Age of Civility, I thought I’d love this too. And I did. It just got off to a slow start. A beautiful homage to the Road Trip genre, it’s part Huck Finn and part Odyssey. Set in the early 50s with a cast of interesting characters, it is beautifully written and such a fun ride.
My favorite book this year. It follows a collection of lost and unlucky characters who find friendship and meaningful connections with each other. But the best thing about this book is the writing. Every word is perfect, every phrase is lyric and profound. So simple and so perfect.
Michael A. Singer
I read this non-fiction book on a recommendation of a friend. I chose to listen to it on audio and I think, no, I know I would have enjoyed it more if I read it. But, it was so, so good. Deep existentialist pondering! What could be better? Just the explanation of the creation of the universe will put your whole life into perspective.
Viet Thanh Nguyen
I am very proud of myself for reading this Pulitzer Prize-winning book. It’s obvious why it got such high praise. The writing is amazing. At times it felt too intellectual but I’m not mad about it. I would not normally chose a book about the Vietnam war, but this isn’t necessarily about that. It starts at the end of the war and follows the path of a double agent living as an immigrant in America. Not only is it an unflinching look at the relationship between Vietnamese and Americans, it’s unapologetically angry. I learned so much and am changed by it.
Emily St. John Mandel
I’m finally getting around to reading this. I’d heard it was really good but also fairly dark. It describes a deadly flu pandemic and a troupe of traveling actors through a devastated dystopia world, written before it actually happened. Doesn’t sound like a fun read, does it? But I am enjoying it.