Today is the winter solstice. So you know what that means around here, don’t you?
It’s time for me to share my . . .
Each quarter, right around the solstice or equinox, I think back on the books I read during the previous 3 months, and I choose my top five. So, here goes: my Top Five Books from this past fall (the link listed for each book will take you to a published review of the book, not an Amazon link):
First up, The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. My comments here will fall far short of doing justice to this masterpiece, so I’ll just come right to the point: Blown. Away. As in totally. This incredible book ticks so many “genre” boxes: epic family drama, coming-of-age story, historical fiction — while simultaneously interspersing valuable lessons in black history, intersectional feminism, indigenous history, cultural studies, and philosophy . . . all woven together without ever making this 800+ page book feel like a slog. Seriously. This book is a marvel! Beautiful writing, believable characters you really care about, perfect pacing (for the entire 800 page journey). It’s just a fascinating story told in a most masterful . . . unfolding . . . kind of way. And, yes. It’s long. And the book is heavy (both physically and emotionally). Don’t let that stop you. (I gave this book 5 stars.)
Next, Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro. I read this beautifully written gem of a novel over two days (and if I hadn’t been so darn tired it would have been all in one sitting) – and then I started it again! Yes. I read it twice in a row. It’s that kind of book. Compelling. Poignant. Absolutely immersive. That said, I find it hard to actually describe the book to others. So . . . just read it. Especially if you enjoy immersive, character-driven novels that reveal . . . that our lives might be more connected than they seem. (I gave this book 5 stars.)
Then, there’s Elizabeth Strout’s Lucy by the Sea. Elizabeth Strout is one of my favorite authors, and I will happily read – and then re-read – all of her books . . . for the rest of my life. Lucy Barton is my favorite of all Strout’s characters, and I appreciate learning more and more about her with every book in the Amgash series. Lucy is such a real character to me – she’s so genuine, introspective, insightful, conflicted, and very complex. I loved this contemplative novel full of wisdom and Lucy’s sage understanding of life-under-lockdown. As always, I love the way Strout “drops” her other characters into the backgrounds of her stories. It’s like catching a glimpse of old friends – and gives each of her books a welcoming feeling. While I think Lucy By the Sea can be enjoyed as a stand-alone read, I feel that reading the preceding books in the Amgash series would help readers appreciate Lucy and her life much more. (I gave this book 5 stars.)
Next, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin . . . a book where Shakespeare, Greek mythology, and the literature of gaming all come together! Who’d have thought it possible . . . but it works; it really does work. I’m not a gamer myself (although I’m married to one, and I’ve raised two), but I really enjoyed this highly engaging, refreshingly original book about friendship – with a heap of moral complexity spread evenly on top. Tomorrow (X3) has excellent character development, a layered and complex storyline, and a structure that works very well. Don’t overlook this one if you’re not a gamer — video game play/descriptions mesh perfectly into the overall narrative, so as a non-gamer, I never felt “left out” or distracted. (I gave this book 4 stars.)
Finally, I’m including a book I just finished – A World of Curiosities, Louise Penny’s latest installment in her Three Pines series. First, I’ll say that I always find it a pleasure to slip into the world of Three Pines once again. That said, I’ve been a bit disappointed in several of the most recent installments of Louise Penny’s Three Pines series. And, really, that’s not surprising for a series that’s been around for as long as this one has! I mean, eventually, even the best authors run out of steam. Long-running series almost always get stale, and the characters get . . . tired. It happens. BUT . . . after obsessively reading this latest (18th) installment, A World of Curiosities, I’ve gotta say . . . Louise Penny has done the impossible. She found a way to breathe fresh life and energy into her beloved Three Pines crew. Bottom line . . . this one has it all for Three Pines fans: an exciting (and rather intense) storyline, further (even after 18 installments!) character development for the main players, plenty of time with the villagers you’ve come to know and love, and the comfort of spending time in your favorite Bistro.
And . . . there you have it! My Top Five Books from fall 2022.
How about you?
What books would make it onto YOUR Top Five list for fall?
If you want to see what I’m reading now, or if you’d like to check out my recent reviews on Goodreads, just check out the sidebar on my home page. You can find me here on Goodreads. And you can read my past Top Five lists by clicking the links below (some of these links will whisk you back to Stepping Away From the Edge):