Drop one or five titles in the comments, and get a boatload of recommendations for your TBR!
A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles. It came out in 2016 but turned out to be the perfect pandemic book - a Russian count must spend the rest of his days sequestered inside a vast luxury hotel. Instead of feeling trapped, his attentions turn to people, love, stories, food, companionship, family, and his deepest memories. It's funny, thoughtful, and beautifully composed.
In an interview with The New York Times Book Review, Lionel Schriver said the prose "is a delight: elegant, clean, crisp and dry, like a good Italian white."
#1 for me, by a mile: A Gentleman in Moscow, read in early '21. Fantastic story, even better writing, poetic, clever, beautiful.
Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson.
Alexander Hamilton, Chernow. I started it after last Christmas and slow walked through it for 6 weeks. I read many of the references along with additional information on events and people in the book. Chernow gives you the background of the times. I found it interesting that rancour and decisiveness is in our political DNA.
I also enjoyed the War and Peace reading group. One other book I recommend is "Salt, Fat, Acid and Heat" Nosrat. A culinary school level course on how chemistry affects the taste of food made accessible to non professionally trained chefs and cooks. The way she writes is entertaining.
The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris
A Gentleman in Moscow
I enjoyed Rules of Civility by Amor Towles.
Re-read A Christmas Carol again this year, can’t be beat!
A Gentleman in Moscow
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Coddling of the American Mind - a great explainer of our age and a vital read imo. Sean Wilentz's No Property in Man is to me the best book on slavery and the Constitution. The Lincoln Highway is another great book by Amor Towles and my favorite new fiction this year and Austen's Mansfield Park my favorite repeat.
I have to say War and Peace via the Big Read! Just absolutely expansive and engrossing and totally mind changing about what literature can be and how much fun Russian lit can actually be as well. Thanks for coordinating that!
Ordinary Grace and The Lincoln Highway
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
Anything by Louise Penny
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
War and Peace, The Idiot, Walden and On Civil Disobedience, Animal Farm.
Loved your rec of City of Thieves by David Benioff
Late to this, but great thread! Besides all of the Jane Austen and Austen retellings I'm constantly reading, my fave for 2021 might have to be Elena Ferrante's latest, The Lying Life of Adults.
I read two that have changed my life. The Overstory by Richard Powers and When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron. I also read Bewilderment by Powers. It was good. Not great.
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
Destiny of the Republic by Candace Millard
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
Writers & Lovers by Lily King
Gulag Archipelago (abridged version)
The Murderbot Series by Martha Wells
Independent People by Halldor Laxness (2nd time I've read it, one of my all time favorites and held up on the re-read)
I, Robot & the follow up novels by Isaac Asimov (Just fun sci-fi, and ahead of its time)
The first 3 Harry Potter novels (Somehow had never read these before, just kept putting it off, love it so far. Prisoner of Azkaban was my favorite of the 3. Just starting the 4th now and plan to finish the series early 2022)
Stoner by John Williams, 1965.
William Stoner, a great stoic fictional figure. A powerful, efficiently beautiful American novel.
"You must remember what you are and what you have chosen to become, and the significance of what you are doing. There are wars and defeats and victories of the human race that are not military and that are not recorded in the annals of history. Remember that while you're trying to decide what to do."
How Will You Measure Your Life? by Dr. Clayton Christensen. I read it every year!
Two books that I read in 2021 garnered 5 stars from me (on Goodreads). I'm pretty stingy with my "stars", so any book that gets 5 made quite an impression. My "Best in 2021" are:
Eventide by Kent Haruf
What a fun community this has been. Thanks to Jeremy for bringing us together. Hope everyone has a Happy New Year and good luck with next years the Big Read. Would love to do this with Musashi, or Shogun.
I read the most recent installments of a few series. Wayfarers by Becky Chambers (really cool sci-fi world she's building) and The Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson. I also started Jemisin's, The Broken Earth, series. She's a master story teller, and I'm excited to read more of her work. All good, all unique within the genre of fantasy, and all great great fun. Chambers and Jemisin are bringing some really unique content to the world of SciFi/Fantasy. First time with Sanderson and it's easy to see why he's popular.
Book with the most heart goes to Brandi Carlile's Broken Horses. If you are a fan of hers do the audiobook as it includes her singing the songs that each chapters story tells. Thoughtful, and full of heart.
Biggest surprise goes to Matthew McConaughey's Greenlights. I don't want to spoil it, but he's a character so its fitting that the book would be entertaining but who knew he had such an interesting back story and so much depth.
Freedom by Sebastian Junger. He writes short books, but they are really good. He deserves more attention. Packs a lot of truth and insight into these short little books he writes.
Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman
Personal History by Katharine Graham
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
Fresh Water for Flowers by Valerie Perrin
Overstory and My Dear Mr. Hamilton
The Yellow Envelope: One Gift, Three rules, and a life changing Journey by Kim Dinan The Grape Series by Laura Bradbury, Troublemaker by Leah Remini, Lock ever door by Riley Sager, and The Magpies by Mark Edwards
Stories of Your Life and Others, Ted Chiang
I feel like this was a pretty bla year in books for me. But I'm still working on "His Very Best" and loving it. I can tell by how much I've been bring up Jimmy Carter in conversations (more than my usual).
"Nonviolence" by Kurlansky was fascinating if you're into that sort of thing.
The rose code - enjoyable
the psychology of money- should be required reading
anxious people- hilarious
Thursday murder club- even more hilarious
the killer across the table- absolutely crazy
The Shadow of the Wind, The New Jim Crow, Jesus and John Wayne, With the Old Breed, The Caine Mutiny
Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer by Steven Johnson. Especially now with Covid raging, learning about how we doubled the life expectancy in the 20th century is a great testament to the importance of medicine and public health initiatives. Johnson will also give you a greater appreciation for your toilet! ;)
Henry David Thoreau: A Life by Laura Dassow Walls. The most complete and comprehensive book on Thoreau's life out there.
Bunker Hill by Nathaniel Philbrick. If you love American History and the Revolutionary War this is a great read (bonus if you live in Boston so you can visit the sites!).
Bewilderment by Richard Powers, no question about it. The second might be The Rain Heron by Robbie Arnott.
The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes
by Zachary D. Carter
Sellout: The Major-Label Feeding Frenzy That Swept Punk, Emo, and Hardcore (1994–2007)
by Dan Ozzi
Lone Star Nation HW Brands
The Spy and the Traitor Ben Macintyre
The Splendid and the Vile Erik Larson
The Invisible Life of Addie Larue
Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan Henry.
Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King
Nine Inches by Tom Perrotta
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
The Black Count by Tom Reiss
Good Seeds: A Menominee Food Memoir by Thomas Pecor Weso. As a Minnesota/Wisconsin girl, I appreciated seeing how the foods I knew growing up crossed cultural lines. Plus, his storytelling was delightful, the structure interesting, and tone comforting. Though it is non-fiction, it is narrative in style. It’s short and packed with both vignettes of his childhood and adulthood, plus there are recipes! I’ve pressed this book into three other people’s hands, and they’ve loved it too! It’s a delight.
Of Human Bondage - W. Somerset Maugham
Razor’s Edge - W. Somerset Maugham
The Honk and Holler Opening Soon - Billie Letts
Haunted Castles - Ray Russell
Maria Dahvana Headley's new translation of Beowulf was fantastic.
Other favorite reads this year include:
Hero of Two Worlds, Mike Duncan
Say Nothing, Patrick Radden Keefe
Churchill: Walking with Destiney, Andrew Roberts
Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel
Survivor Song - Paul Tremblay
Valiant Ambition by Nathaniel Philbrick
John Adams by David McCullough and The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard
Magic Hours by Tom Bissell. A great book of essays.
Bio - When I Was a Slave ed. Norman Yetman
Non-Fiction - Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz
Fiction - Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe