- A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles
Where do I even begin? I’m forever grateful to my dear friend Renee for recommending this book to me, as I found it absolutely enchanting. From the first chapter, I was lost in Alexander’s world, and mesmerized by the beauty of Amor Towles’ writing. Reading this novel was deeply satisfying, as every small detail in this beautiful book seemed to be connected to a larger purpose in Alexander’s life. A masterpiece.
2. Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe
I would have never guessed that a book about drug addiction and the pharmaceutical giants that perpetuated the issue would be so captivating, but I finished this very long book in days, awestruck. The Sackler family was (is?) filled with highly ambitious, motivated individuals that were not just business-savvy, but masterminds. The way they shaped the pharmaceutical industry continues to impact our country and how we (mis)handle the opioid crisis. An eye opening read about power, greed, and the devastating effects it can have.
3. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
I wouldn’t say that I love Sci-Fi books, but after a heavy read, I reached for something light and whimsical. This more than checked the box! I absolutely adored this book, and recommend it as an audiobook. You won’t get the full effect if you simply read it, as the audio version has robotic alien sounds (honestly not sure how else to describe this) for one of the main characters. I got lost in the world of Ryland Grace, and found myself imagining what it would be like to be in his shoes. A captivating read right up to the very last page.
4. Crying In H Mart by Michelle Zauner
People either love this book or can’t seem to finish it. I was definitely part of the former. I loved going along on Michelle’s journey with her mother, as I find the mother-daughter dynamic to be such an interesting, complicated relationship for just about everyone. Michelle’s ability to cope with the loss of her mom, as well as discovering her own identity, is foraged through a love of Korean food. She comes out the other side of grief with a stronger sense of self, and it was an absolute honor to watch her transformation.
Honorable Mention Memoir
5. Taste by Stanley Tucci
Oh, Stanley Tucci! I could hear his voice in every sentence of this book. Not only does the man love food, but he has a keen eye for keeping traditions alive through the food he serves. He’s able to share his passion with his family and loved ones, prioritizing meals around a table, whether he’s acting on set or locked in his London loft during the pandemic. This book inspired me. Not to create some complex menu or fancy new recipe, but rather to get into the kitchen and cook for the sake of nourishing my family and building memories. Would recommend to all food lovers!
6. The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict
After visiting The Morgan Library in NYC this past summer, I was bewildered. The collection of books (nay, masterpieces!) that J.P. Morgan acquired over his lifetime is awe inspiring. There are thousands and thousands of rare, exquisite books and pieces in the collection. Many of which would not have been possible without the help of his personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene. The minute I got home, I purchased this book, dying to learn more about the woman behind J.P. Morgan’s library, and it was every bit as wonderful and inspiring as I’d hoped.
Books I Wouldn’t Recommend
These books just didn’t do it for me:
- Bad Blood by John Carreyrou: This book made me unbelievably frustrated. I could barely get through it, mostly in part due to my anger at how much Elizabeth Holmes got away with illegally with regards to her billion dollar company, Theranos. Somehow this felt much harder to digest than Empire of Pain.
- Untamed by Glennon Doyle: I really wanted to like this book, and in fact did enjoy the first couple of chapters. But by the end, all I felt was that Glennon whined a lot. I was relieved when I finished, and am not sure I could read other books written by her.
- The Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins: Another book that I had hoped to love and to learn from. I found her attitude towards all women, not just Black women or White women specifically, to be off-putting. There were a handful of lessons I took away, but in general it felt disorganized and I ended the book thinking she has a lot of growing up to do.
I’d love to hear about the best books you read this year! Or if there was a book you had really high hopes for, but you felt fell short, let me know that as well. I’m hoping to surpass my number of books read this year in 2023!
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