Some of you may remember that my New Year’s resolution was to read one book every week. So far I’m right on track! At times this has been a challenge, but I think that in the midst of everything that’s happening on the news right now a little escapism was just what I needed.
These are the first four books I read this year, including bite-sized book reviews for anyone who might be looking for a recommendation.
Wild, Cheryl Strayed
Genre. Memoir / Travel
Synopsis. At 26 years old, Cheryl finds herself completely alone in the world in the wake of her mother’s death. After walking a path of utter self-destruction that has destroyed her marriage and nearly killed her, she switches gears and embarks upon a 1,000 mile hike — with no previous hiking experience.
Read if. You love real-life redemption stories, masterfully told. Strayed’s writing is beautifully poetic and honest.
Under the Udala Trees, Chinelo Okparanta
Genre. Fiction / Historical
Synopsis. Despite being set in 1968, in war-torn (present day) Nigeria, this novel feels very timely in today’s sociopolitical climate. Okparanta’s writing reads like an elegant fable you haven’t heard before. It follows a young girl — displaced by the Biafran civil war — named Ijeoma, her first schoolgirl love (another lost girl named Amina), and her life thereafter.
Read if. You like love stories, war stories, and you need a good cry.
The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery
Synopsis. The dual protagonists of this novel are a 54-year-old apartment concierge named Renée and a 12-year-old spitfire named Paloma. Both are intellectual savants who reflect on their daily lives with satirical candor in a (sometimes obnoxious) tone of philosophical rumination.
Read if. You like books that make you feel smarter for having read them and surprise you by making you feel things.
The Final Solution, Michael Chabon
Genre. Fiction / Mystery
Synopsis. In World War II era England, an octogenarian detective comes out of retirement to solve one final mystery: a mute German refugee boy has lost his beloved pet parrot.
Read if. You enjoy stories where the writing style itself is as much of a treat as the content. Also read if you don’t have much free time — this is a short novella!
Click to see what I’m currently reading and what I’ve already read.