According to Goodreads, here are the books I gave 5 stars this year:
- Catch and Kill: Lies, spies, and a conspiracy to protect predators
- Mistborn trilogy and Secret History
- Maybe You Should Talk to Someone
- The Witches Are Coming
- Conversations with Friends
- Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered
- Big Girl: How I gave up dieting and got a life
- Fat Girl on a Plane
- The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein
- Shrill: Notes from a loud woman
- Paper Girls, vol. 5
- A Discovery of Witches
- The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
- Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Even though I would count all of those titles among my “favorites of the year,” there are a few that stand out from the pack. Here they are, with affiliate links, and in no particular order:
1. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – I discovered this on Hoopla because I was browsing for something to read while I was at the gym (I briefly had a gym membership and gave up because I hate exercise equipment). It was available as an ebook, and it had been on my radar because other readers were talking about it. I remember staying on the treadmill longer than I was going to force myself to do because I was so engaged in the book and didn’t want to stop – which is extra impressive since I hated exercising. I ended up buying a physical copy after I was finished, because I wanted to go back and re-read it at another time. I was originally apprehensive that the ending wouldn’t live up to the rest of the book, but I was happy to be wrong about that. I love books that spark discussion about issues that go beyond the story itself.
2. Shrill: Notes from a loud woman – I picked this up in preparation for the adaptation Aidy Bryant was doing for Hulu. This book was great, and the tv series was great. I can credit this book for enlightening me to the concept of fat positivity, which would lead me to the next book in this list.
3. Big Girl: How I gave up dieting and got a life – Unless you are on a specified diet for legitimate health reasons, dieting for weight loss/cleansing/etc is used by scammers and the patriarchy to make money off of you and to control your body. Our relationship with food and our bodies is complex and psychological and you (or someone else) telling yourself you “can’t” eat something because it’s “bad” for you is incredibly damaging. This (among a variety of other things) is where disordered eating originates. I have a lot more thoughts, but suffice it to say I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone.
4. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone – This was such an interesting, honest look at the life of a therapist, who is both giving and receiving therapy herself. It was funny and heartbreaking and enlightening and a good read. It never really occurred to me before I read this that if you don’t like your therapist you should go find a new one who you actually click with and you want to talk to. Hint: don’t continue to go and evade issues because it’s a waste of your money and their time. You’re probably not as good of a liar as you think you are, and you can’t get help if you aren’t honest about what’s going on. Who knew!
5. Mistborn trilogy (and Secret History from Arcanum Unbounded) – I was in the midst of a reading slump when I turned to Brandon Sanderson, and ended up discovering my new favorite series. He’s so good at writing characters I care about, as well as crafting a story that I don’t want to put down. His plot twists are game changers, which can be infuriating at times, but mostly just incredibly impressive. I also really appreciate a male author who writes female characters with depth and personality.
6. Catch and Kill – The levels of corruption, betrayal, and silencing that I read about in this book were truly astonishing. I had a surface level knowledge about the Harvey Weinstein story and the abuse his victims suffered, but damn. There is so much more to that story. I really enjoy reading investigative journalism, and Farrow is a great writer. He’s also a great Instagram follow.
Let me know if you’ve read any of these and also enjoyed (or hated) them!