The end’s not near...it’s here. To celebrate the end of 2019, we're bringing you some of the books this year that didn’t make it into our guides or Skimm Reads selections. You won't want to miss them. From an essay collection by Zadie Smith to touching memoirs and can't-put-down sci fi (trust us), these books topped our lists this year.
So does Dani Schapiro. Her memoir, “Inheritance,” is all about what happens when you find out your biological father isn’t who you thought he was. It dives into the complexities of fertility treatments and sperm donors and turns into an intimate story of self-discovery and forgiveness. It’s deeply moving, and one we couldn’t put it down.
Add a book to that lineup. Lauren Wilkinson's “American Spy,” was on former-President Obama’s summer reading list...and ours too. It’s a literary version of a spy thriller that follows an FBI agent on a mission in Burkina Faso. She’s brought there to stop its new leader from becoming president, and with it, comes some major complications. The structure comes in the form of a long letter to her sons addressing everything from her wild story and race, to family, and what it means to be American.
So does Marlon James. His novel, “Black Leopard, Red Wolf,” follows a skilled hunter who’s charged with tracking down a missing boy, who might be heir to an ancient African throne. The story’s filled with mythical creatures, and a cast of evil-ish characters that rivals the Marvel Cinematic Universe and “Game of Thrones.” Vampires, witches, and murders oh my.
Add Liz Phair’s “Horror Stories” to the list. Its told through 17 essays that shine a bright light on the some of her life’s biggest pain points. In it, she covers her 32-hour labor, her extramarital affair, and her experiences with the #MeToo movement. It’s no shock the world fell in love with her songwriting, because in this one, the prose is as powerful as the stories themselves.
Angie Cruz’s “Dominicana” to the rescue. This story vacillates between life in America and the Dominican Republic after a 15-year-old girl is married off by her parents to a 30 something man in New York City. It’s a coming of age story mixed with one that shares the difficult realities of life as an immigrant. It’s heart wrenching and powerful and you might end up reading it all in one sitting.
Say hi Ta-Nehisi Coates. His first foray into fiction centers on a young man born into Virginia slavery. When his mother is sold away, he is stripped of his memories of her, and is left with a magical power. And the only way he can harness it... is to remember his mother. It turns into an epic journey of fantasy and painful realities that will keep you on your toes.
Zadie's here. Her first short story collection features 19 essays—11 of them new—covering everything from dystopian worlds and historical fiction, to social satire and political commentary. It’s a true collection of thoughts on the modern world, and one that fits in perfectly with her longer novels: “White Teeth,” and “Swing Time.”
Beatriz Williams’ latest to the rescue. Her novel leads you down a long road of glitz, glamour, and espionage in the Bahamas during World War II. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor and their ultra-privileged social circle are there, so are murders, cover-ups, love-affairs, and...a reporter. Because high society can’t come without high drama.
Paging Ruth Reichl. She’s known for her role as the beloved HBIC at Gourmet magazine (RIP) and is out with a memoir reflecting on the golden years of the magazine, and her role as editor-in-chief. Even if you don’t care about food or magazines, it’s a story of an outsider making her way in, and leading one of the most successful brands in the modern publishing era. It sheds light on the juicy behind-the-scenes world of Condé Nast and is filled with descriptions of food that will make your mouth water.
Here's something to talk about. “Women Talking,” based on a horrifying true story, follows a group of women in a fictional Mennonite community in Bolivia. For years, they were unknowingly drugged and raped (yes, it gets heavy). After learning what happened to them, they set out to protect themselves. They embark on days of conversation, hence the title, where they explore the patriarchy, forgiveness, sexual violence, and their place in society. It’s devastating and one of the timeliest books of the year.
They’ll love this. The "Shrill" author, whose book was turned into a Hulu show, is back with more cultural criticism. It is all about what it’s like to live in the US as a woman, covering everything from the #MeToo movement and cancel culture, to Goop and HGTV. The essays are just as bingeable as her show, and is one of the best books to end the year with.
PS: These are editorially selected, but if you purchase it, theSkimm may get something in return. Thanks.
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