Thursday, July 13, 2023

Best Books of 2023 (so far)

Yep, I'm a couple weeks late on getting this done at the year's halfway point -- the main reason for that is because I wanted to finish reading one of the books that I was pretty sure would wind up on this list (Good Night, Irene). And it did. Wow.

It's been a real good six months of reading, and the next six months promises to be just as great. (I'm about to dive into the first of my three most anticipated books of the fall -- new novels by Zadie Smith, Lauren Groff, and Ann Patchett!) But so here, are my favorite books of far.

The Weight, by Jeff Boyd -- I love it when a book you pick up on a whim based on jacket copy or blurbs turns out to be this good. Boyd's debut is the Black hipster musician novel you didn't know you needed...but definitely do. 

Choosing To Run, by Des Linden -- Chances are, if you're a runner, you've read this book. And chances are just as good you loved it. I sure did. Des is in inspiration. And she's funny as hell, too. 

Gone To The Wolves, by John Wray -- The novel I was born to read. Devil horns up! 

The Longest Race, by Kara Goucher -- Man, eff Nike. Goucher lays bare not just how poorly the company treated her, but also how they turned a blind eye to former coach Alberto Salazar, and his doping, emotional abuse, and quack training practices. But not only did Nike turn a blind eye, they actually defended him until the evidence was so overwhelming they couldn't deny it anymore. Kudos to Goucher for writing this brave book.

I Could Live Here Forever, by Hanna Halperin -- A novel about addiction, relationships, and the creative spark, this is as devastating as it is engrossing. A masterful debut!

A Country You Can Leave, by Asale Angel-Ajani -- Voice, voice, and more voice. I love a novel with a good voice. And voice is certainly the hallmark of this novel about a girl and her, um, unusual mother living in a trailer park in California. 

The Deluge, by Stephen Markley -- A masterpiece of speculative fiction that feels all too real -- examining the people and politics of climate change, and extending 30 years into the future. I read this book on vacation in Kauai, and now have overused the following comment when recommending it: Reading a novel about climate change on the beach is like reading a novel about a plane crash on a flight. Still, though, if you're up for a long book about not-exactly-cheery subjects, this is your jam.

Good Night, Irene, by Luis Alberto Urrea -- One of the more satisfying, enjoyable reading experiences I've had in a long time, Urrea is a consummate storyteller. If you read one World War II novel this year, make this it.