We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo. I didn't know anything about Mugabe's Zimbabwe. I learned about it through the voice of Darling, the ten year-old narrator of this semi-autobiographical debut novel. Darling simply and vividly describes daily life in Paradise, her post-independence slum, and then captures her ambivalence about emigrating to the United States as a teenager. Bulawayo explores what's gained and what's lost. Excellent.
We are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. As is the case with two others on this top 5, I wrote about this title in my first 2014 recap on audio books. I'll just add here that of all the books I've recommended to others this year, I think this was the most liked. People have been texting me when they finish saying they loved it.
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. This novel of historical fiction spans the lives of two women - Sarah Grimke and Hetty "Handful" Grimke. The latter is a slave given to Sarah on the occasion of her eleventh birthday. I'd never heard of Sarah Grimke, but she is a real person, a leader in the abolitionist movement and active Quaker and suffragist. Kidd alternates writing in the perspectives of Sarah and Handful, giving them each agency. This is fantastic and sparked my curiosity on all kinds of historical topics.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. This was a pick in my top audio books list. More than anything else I read this year, this one inspired me as a writer. I now follow Ng on Twitter. I wish we could be pals.
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. I blurbed this is the audio books post. At the end of the audio book, Ozeki talks about the differences between the paper version and the audio version and the benefits of producing each. This might be one to read with my eyes AND my ears? I've never tried that before.
Here are my next favorites:
- A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
- Sister by Rosamund Lupton
- Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
- The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
- The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
And here are the others, minus the two that I wouldn't recommend. I don't really read things I don't like. I think the following are all fab:
- War Dances by Sherman Alexie
- Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
- Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde
- The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
- Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
- The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
- Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton
- The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
- Labor Day by Joyce Maynard
- TransAtlantic by Colum McCann
- The End of the Wasp Season by Denise Mina
- The Accident by Chris Povone
- Still Life With Breadcrumbs by Anna Quindlen
- Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
- Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld
- Old School by Tobias Wolff
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