Sunday, December 10, 2023

What did I read this year? (I don't remember)

So, thank goodness I kept a list. 

Otherwise, I REALLY wouldn't have remembered, and even with the list, it's a little tricky for me. One of the books, Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting by Lisa Genova, basically says that forgetting is our default. We're not meant to remember everything. At least I think this is what the books says, and from what I can remember, I liked this book. 

Other books I remember liking, in no particular order: 

Angel of Rome by Jess Walter. This collection of short stories is so well written and clever. One story still stands out to me. An older couple is having an emotional discussion in a diner and realizes halfway through that a nearby customer has been writing down every word they say. Turns out he's a student who's been given an assignment to record dialogue. The story takes off from there and it's somehow both hilarious and heartbreaking. 

Girls of a Tender Age, a memoir by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith. This book came across my desk at the library and piqued my interest because the woman grew up very close to where I did. Her story centers around a little girl in her classroom who was murdered and how the neighborhood quickly and disturbingly moved on from the trauma. 

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan. I don't typically read historical fiction, but this one, set during World War II and featuring a female diver in the navy and a mobster and how their lives intersect, quickly drew me in. I read this one because I had the opportunity to hear the author speak and everyone in the audience kept mentioning this book and how amazing it was and how did she write it, and her answer was fascinating. It took her years and most of it had to be completely rewritten and the whole time she thought she'd never be able to pull it off. But she did.

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. A retelling of David Copperfield, set during the rise of the opioid epidemic in Appalachia. You've probably heard about this book (it won the Pulitzer Prize) and it has the look of something dense and difficult, but I promise you, it is not. Open it and read the first page and the charming voice of the main character will immediately win you over. 

Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative by Melissa Febos. I've been reading a ton of memoirs lately but this one hit me hard. Part memoir about trauma and part How to Write a Memoir about Trauma. If you're someone who happens to be interested in that topic, this is a must read.

Winter Recipes from the Collective, poems by Louise Gluck. I don't read enough poetry anymore but once upon a time, I thought I wanted to be a poet and this book reminded me why. 

Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson. Funny, smart and kind of absurd story about a wealthy family in our nutty society. 

The Guest by Emma Cline. Oh my God I am still thinking about the ending of this book. What happened??!! I read some reviews (because of course I had to see what other people were saying) and one reviewer said it was the most anxiety-provoking book she'd ever read. I agree! I also was extremely annoyed by the ending, and my writer point of view is that it's a lazy cop out. But from a reader point of view...well, I'm still thinking about the damn book. 

The Postcard by Anne Berest. Another book I was hesitant to pick up because of how dense-looking it is. And it's a translation from French. And it's a book about the Holocaust, and I wasn't sure I was up for it. But I'm so glad I gave it a chance. At the core, it's a mystery. A woman receives a postcard in the mail with the names of her murdered family members written on it. No return address. No idea who could've sent it or why. This book has a gut-wrenching story at the core but somehow there is hope and something beautiful at the end. 

Unbroken: The Trauma Response Is Never Wrong, and Other Things You Need to Know to Take Back Your Life by Catherine McDonald. This isn't that groundbreaking of a book. And it didn't tell me anything I didn't already know about trauma through all of my reading and therapy. But...there is a story the author tells at the end that broke me apart and glued me back together in a way that all of my reading and therapy hadn't quite been able to do. 

I will never forget it. 


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