This is the perfect weather for reading by a fire. Lots of great choices to start 2021.
First is a spectacular book by Yaa Gyasi. "Transcendent Kingdom" is the story of a woman who becomes a neuroscientist in search of the science behind the mental health issues of her beloved brother and mother. If you missed Gyasi’s first book, "Homegoing," it is mesmerizing. The author’s background is also fascinating and easily accessible in online interviews.
"Memorial Drive" is a memoir by Natasha Trethewey, Pulitzer Prize winning poet and twice United States Poet Laureate. The author is biracial and was raised in the South which is challenging in itself, but then her mother is shot and killed by her former stepfather.
Though clearly sad, she is never maudlin or self-pitying.
To continue with nonfiction, "Dark, Salt, Clear" by Lamorna Ash is the story of the Cornish fishing community at the end of the rail line in southwest Great Britain. Ash weaves a complete portrait of this tight population, those at sea and those who stay ashore to support them. A dying breed and a well written tribute to hard work, dedication and personal pride.
"Lady in Waiting" by Anne Glenconner is a must read for all of you who need your Royals fix now that “The Crown” season is finished. She was the lady-in-waiting for Princess Margaret. Not only will you get the backstory to the whole Crown, Glenconner’s husband bought and created Mustique as a luxury island for the rich and royal. Their family story is bizarre reading and I was struck by the insularity of the British upper class. It explains a lot.
The next two books I found somewhat unsettling. They posit scenarios that disrupt the status quo. Lydia Millet writes of a catastrophic event stranding families at a vacation rental where the self-servient adults leave the children to fend for themselves. "A Children’s Bible" is ultimately children seeking security and protection.
Charles Baxter writes "The Sun Collective" about an activist cult in the Midwest which attracts seekers of purpose, the unmoored, under the guise of helping the oppressed. Those of us who have never lacked goals find it difficult to understand the attraction to these groups, but this is a well written if discomfiting read.
For mystery lovers, Anthony Horowitz’s latest is "Moonflower Murders" and it does not disappoint. Though tangentially related to "Magpie Murders," you do not need to read them in order. But if the library has a waiting list, get any of his books — you will enjoy them. "The Lady Upstairs" by Halley Sutton is a modern-day thriller set in LA. Multiple twists and deceptions in this dark debut novel.
"Beneficence" by Meredith Hall is the story of a loving family that is destroyed by tragedy and works through loss and grief to reunite. Luminous is the word most commonly used to describe this poignantly written novel. Heartbreaking and redemptive.
If you just want a fun and fast read, pick up "The Chicken Sisters" by KJ Dell’Antonia. Comic but never silly, serious but not tragic, an enjoyable and contemporary tale. For fans of "Daisy Jones and the Six," try "The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes" by Elisa Sloan.
The story of a girl group reminiscent of the Spice Girls and the dark side of music management.
Looking forward to more good reading in 2021!
Learn more at Beckysbookclub.com.