Spotify wrapped...but make it books. Enter: our favorite reads of the year. These are, simply, the books Skimm HQ couldn’t stop talking about. (If we could share them into our Insta stories with stats on how quickly we read them, we would). We’ve got thrillers and romances, essays and memoirs too. Add them to your carts, get your book clubs fired up, and dig in.
PS: This is part of our end-of-year series, Skimm Faves, where we took a deep dive into what Skimm’rs (hi, you) and HQ loved the most this year. Check out the best self-care items, best kitchen gadgets, best home products, and general best-sellers.
“The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett
For when you want a book your aunt and the critics agree on...
This hype is real. Bennett’s second novel begins when identical twin sisters run away from their small, southern Black community at 16. Ten years later, one of them returns home, while the lives a completely different life, passing as white. The book then follows their daughters' lives over the course of a few decades. It's a multigenerational look at the history of passing in America, and a true family epic. (Amazon, Bookshop)
“Leave the World Behind” by Rumaan Alam
For when you’ve been thinking about renting a cabin for the weekend...
Sorry not sorry for making you think twice. This book goes from Airbnb goals to...something quite different. When a family of four heads to Long Island for a dreamy weekend away, their hosts return to the house panicked from a blackout in NYC. Cue the book becoming an apocalyptic thriller and you leaving all your responsibilities behind to finish. (Amazon, Bookshop)
“Luster” by Raven Leilani
For when you tend to judge a book by its cover...
Judge away. Because this one’s as good as it looks. Leilani’s literary fiction debut follows a struggling 20-something who hits it off with an older man she meets online. The catch? He's married. It deals with the complications of open marriages, interracial relationships, and more—all with a sharp, darkly hilarious voice. (Amazon, Bookshop)
“Untamed” by Glennon Doyle
For when you want something that’ll make you ugly cry...
*Glennon just entered the group chat.* The “Love Warrior” author’s new memoir slash manifesto covers a lot of ground—the end of her marriage and the beginning of her new relationship with soccer star Abby Wambach, ups and downs with body image, boundary setting, recovery, and what it means to be a good mom and friend. It’s part gut punch to your heart, part chicken soup for the soul. Add it to your cart...and maybe get some tissues too. (Amazon, Bookshop)
“Wow, No Thank You” by Samantha Irby
For when you’re looking for some levity…
This collection of essays will make you spit out your drink. Irby brings an absurdity to the everyday with a sharp voice and no BS humor. She lets you in on life with her wife, bad friend dates, her experience trying to get a TV show made, and more. (Amazon, Bookshop)
“My Dark Vanessa” by Kate Elizabeth Russell
For your friend who can’t resist a boarding school setting...
Get this on their bookshelf ASAP. This novel follows a 15-year-old student (Vanessa) who enters into an affair with her 42-year-old English teacher. 17 years later, as the #MeToo movement is unraveling, Vanessa untangles the complicated feelings about her past relationship. It’s explosive and timely and one of those books that’ll definitely come up at the Zoom holiday dinner. (Amazon, Bookshop)
“Party of Two“ by Jasmine Guillory
For when you need some romance in your life...
Swipe right on this. After a meet cute at a hotel bar in LA, a new-in-town lawyer falls for a junior senator. They start seeing each other secretly (giving us major Olivia Pope-Fitz vibes). But when things go public, it doesn’t exactly go as planned for the duo. Fingers crossed they get a happy ending. (Amazon, Bookshop)
“Pretty Things” by Janelle Brown
For when “The Undoing” was your favorite show of the year…
Get ready for Nicole Kidman’s next book-to-screen adaptation. In this buzzy thriller, there’s one grifter, one heiress, and one complicated heist. It’s set in Lake Tahoe and will give you echoes of the Anna Delvey scandal and “The Bling Ring.” Scammer season wasn't over, it still isn’t over. (Amazon, Bookshop)
“Open Book” by Jessica Simpson
For when you need an audiobook for your daily quarantine strolls…
This book was made for walking. In her first memoir, Simpson gets real about her “Newlyweds” days (yes, the chicken v tuna debate too), her relationship with her body and fame, and how she launched her billion-dollar business (yes, that’s billion with a b). She narrates the audiobook herself, and listening to her makes the stories feel all the more intimate. (Amazon, Bookshop)
“Writers & Lovers” by Lily King
For when you’re feeling stuck in a rut...
This protagonist can relate. Casey’s a 31-year-old aspiring writer who’s working as a waitress in Harvard Square, while also trying to get over the sudden death of her mother. As she tries to finish her novel, she gets involved with two very different guys at the same time. And you'll get involved trying to figure out what she should do. (Amazon, Bookshop)
"Sex and Vanity” by Kevin Kwan
For when you’re really missing your passport...
Reading this feels like a getaway. The "Crazy Rich Asians" author put out another book that looks at the crazy rich. But this time, it’s a modern take on “A Room With a View.” In this frothy satire, you'll meet Lucie Tang Churchill, who finds herself torn between two men and two worlds. It goes to Capri and East Hampton and will fill your wanderlust fix along the way. One way ticket to paradise, please. (Amazon, Bookshop)
“The Meaning of Mariah Carey” by Mariah Carey, with Michaela Angela Davis
For your friend who still has “Glitter” on repeat after all these years...
The limit for Mariah Carey content does not exist. The Queen of Xmas chronicles her turbulent childhood, toxic marriage, relationship with Derek Jeter, and yes, of course, her ups and downs in the music industry. For anyone who wants the scoop on how Carey became one of the biggest pop icons in the world, this one’s for you, dahling. (Amazon, Bookshop)
“Uncanny Valley” by Anna Wiener
For your friend who just binged “Silicon Valley”…
This story could be its spinoff. This behind-the-curtain debut charts one millennial’s move from a publishing job in New York to the San Francisco tech bubble. What comes next is a wild ride in startup land full of glamour and excess, toxicity and caution. Wiener’s stories crack the shiny exterior of start-up world and tech bro behavior. And spoiler alert: after five years, she leaves the industry and this book explains why. (Amazon, Bookshop)
PS: If you buy anything from this, theSkimm may get something in return. Oh, and if something’s out of stock, oops, it was there when we published. Thanks.
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