I always try to share my quarterly Top Five Books on or near the solstice or equinox. Because I was in California for the spring equinox, I missed my Top Five “deadline” . . . but never fear! I’m here to catch up!

Here’s my . . .

. . . for winter 2024.

First up, I’ve got The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. I know, I know. I’ve been talking about this book – our winter Read With Us selectionfor months already. I hate being redundant by talking about it again . . . but it deserves a spot on my Top Five list for the quarter. It’s that good. I’ll spare you the details again — but I will say that this is a book that holds up well over the years. So if you read it decades ago, you probably wouldn’t be disappointed if you read it again. (I was afraid that I might be, actually, but I loved it as much the second time around — and maybe even more.) And if you’ve never picked it up . . . well. Maybe it’s time! (The audiobook is excellently narrated if you enjoy listening to audiobooks.) (I gave this one 5 stars.)

Next, I’ve got Wandering Stars by Tommy Orange.  I read (and loved) There There, Tommy Orange’s debut novel back in 2018, so I was really eager to get my hands on his new book. While Wandering Stars is technically a follow-up to There There (actually, I’d call it more a “deep-dive” into one of the families featured in There There), you don’t need to have read the first book recently – or at all, even – to enjoy and appreciate this newer one. For me, Wandering Stars packed a bigger emotional punch than There There (which is saying a lot). It’s an intense read, with a heartbreakingly raw – and very, very Real – storyline . . . the brutal truth of addiction, generational trauma, and cultural identity. It’s lovely, honest, heartbreaking . . . and, in the end, also full of hope. (I gave this book 5 stars.)

Next up, I’ve got How to Say Babylon by Safiya Sinclair. This memoir is getting a lot of buzz these days — with good reason. Safiya Sinclair is a talented and celebrated young poet, so it will come as no surprise that her powerful and moving memoir is beautifully written. Raised in a strict Rastafarian household with a domineering father and few chances for independence, Safiya was ultimately able to break free to develop her own voice and find her power. The story makes for a compelling and cathartic memoir. I am impressed with Safiya’s ability to write about her childhood with grace, objectivity, wisdom — and forgiveness. I have read many books in my life, but I’ve never cried while reading any author’s acknowledgments pages . . . until this book! I got teary listening to Safiya read her acknowledgments at the close of the book. What a beautiful web of support she created for herself – and what a testament to the power of love! (I gave this book 4.5 stars.) (This is another excellent audiobook listen, narrated by the author.)

Next, I’ve got another memoir (I love a good memoir. . . ): Composed by Rosanne Cash. I grew up listening to Johnny Cash. My dad was – still is, actually, at age 87 – a huge fan of his music. I didn’t always appreciate it as a surly teenager (like . . . at all), but I have a soft spot for it now, as an adult. Rosanne Cash, though? That was a different story! I loved her music from the first moment I heard it. I have been meaning to read her memoir, Composed, for years (it was published back in 2010). So glad I finally took the plunge . . . because what a treat! If you’ve listened to her music and paid attention to her lyrics, you already know she can write, and her prose flows just as beautifully. I was touched by this memoir. It’s beautifully written, honest, and intensely personal.  (I gave this book 4.5 stars.)

The last of my books this go-round is Forgotten on Sunday by Valérie Perrin, who many of you may remember as the author of Fresh Water for Flowers — a big favorite for a lot of us last year. Forgotten on Sunday is actually Perrin’s debut novel, originally published in 2015, but never translated into English. With the popularity of Fresh Water for Flowers, Perrin’s publishers decided to release her earlier work. Like Fresh Water for Flowers, Perrin’s debut novel is a gentle, delicate story, beautifully written and translated. While Forgotten on Sunday follows a much simpler storyline (and coming in at about half the length), it does share themes with Fresh Water for Flowers: love, loss, grief, and resurrection. I didn’t think it was as good as Fresh Water for Flowers, but it provides that same comfortable feeling; a truly charming read. (I gave this book 4 stars.) (*I also want to mention that I read an advance copy of this book; it won’t be published in English until June 4, 2024.)

And . . . there you have it! My Top Five Books from winter 2024.


How about you?
What books would make it onto YOUR Top Five list for the winter?


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.

If you’re looking for my previous Top Five lists, I’ve moved them. Now you can find them in my Field Notes (just click in from the menu bar at the top or bottom of any page) — or click the link.