Do you forget what you read recently? My husband’s aunt was looking for book recommendations recently, and all I could think about was what I was reading at that very moment. Thank goodness for Goodreads, right? It’s such a good way to not only record the books you WANT to read (so so many), but to keep track of the books you HAVE read.
I know we are well, WELL into 2019, but I want to revisit some of the books I read and loved last year.
- Best book of the year was The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. It was lyrical and funny and heart-rending and I loved it so much.
- A very close runner up would have to be The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel, which was a perfect collection of short stories. The language was so beautifully crafted and the stories were so surprising and tightly drawn.
- Then The North Water by Ian McGuire, which was on a subject I did not know I cared for (maritime disasters!) and the plot was lively, the language was vivid, and the whole thing was full of fascinating historical detail.
I also really enjoyed History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund, Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert,and The Line That Held Us by David Joy – each of which had a LOT to recommend it, from great plot to beautiful writing to thought provoking subject matter and complicated characters.
photos from amazon.com
It’s so funny to look back at this list, which I wrote in December of 2018 when the books were more freshly-read. I am surprised that I listed the John Boyne book first — not because it wasn’t amazing, but because it hasn’t stuck with me over the months the way the others have. I don’t remember the plot of The North Water that clearly (it’s a little jumbled in my head with The Terror TV miniseries, which I also watched last year), but I remember quite distinctly the FEELING that I had while reading it, of invisible, unstoppable horror and blinding ice and cold.
The particulars of Conviction have remained with me fairly clearly, because I keep turning them over in my head. The main character had some, to me, problematic biases and I keep wondering if he really overcame them, and, if not, if that seems real and truthful or disappointing. It’s a testament to the writing and the construction of the story itself that I keep thinking of it, grappling with the messages it scrawled into my brain.
And when I remember the Mantel collection, it’s with unbridled enthusiasm and a sort of joyous awe: I remember it as a near perfect grouping of stories.
About the John Boyne book — which I gave as Christmas gifts to multiple people! — my recollection is a very hazy impression of quality, with a couple of key plot points jutting out of the fog.