Best books of the half-year 2021

For the last many years I’ve published posts at the end of June noting my favorite books of that year so far (it seems I did not do this in 2020 – chalk that up to a lost year).  The previous posts are here: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015.  I stand absolutely by all of those recommendations!

I’ve been reading a lot.  I hope people never stop asking me what I’m reading or what I recommend.  It’s one of my favorite conversations and I love to ask others that, too.

Fiction:

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead.  Wow.  My favorite book so far this year. This is a tour de force and I absolutely loved it.  About ambition and feminism and identity and family and the restless, eternal dialog between where we came from and where we are going.  Read this book if you have not!

A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet.  This book is disturbing and compelling and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  It reminded me of both Lord of the Flies and of futuristic, dystopian novels about the world in the future.  Powerful and lyrical.

Monogamy by Sue Miller.  I love that this book is set not only in my town but in my actual neighborhood. A wonderful story of long marriage, of the things we forgive and those we struggle to, of the ways our selves wind around those we live with in ways that are both comforting and sometimes, restrictive.  I can’t wait to see the movie! (Dani Shapiro is adapting it).

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell.  My sister pointed out that this is an unusual like for me, and it is (I don’t gravitate towards historical novels).  I just loved it, perhaps because Hamlet is one of my all-time favorite pieces of writing.  I found it engaging and both whimsical and wistful.  The writing is poetic, spectacular also.

Memoir:

Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted by Suleika Jaouad. This story made me want to cheer and made me want to cry.  Jaouad writes unflinchingly about her years-long struggle with serious cancer as a young adult, and in so doing reminds us that all we have is right now.  I closed the book and my life shimmered in a new way.  The best books do that, I find.

Bravey: Chasing Dreams, Befriending Pain, and Other Big Ideas by Alexi Pappas.  Pappas tells her own story of hard work and determination in her pursuit of a professional running career.  The book is inspiring and funny, and it reminded me that though I’m VERY far from an athlete I can always try a little harder, believe in myself more, and that most pain passes.

Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life by Christie Tate.  Oh, I love Tate’s voice.  She is so honest, so unafraid to reveal the depths of herself, and this book is nothing less than the telling of her transforming her own life.  Her bravery and her candor stayed with me after I finished the book and left the room.

What are you reading and what have you loved this year?  I’d love to know.

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