If you haven’t guessed it by now, I love to read. I feel empty when I don’t have a good book on hand. I had a goal to read 40 books this year, and while I didn’t quite get there, I’m still proud of how much I managed to read while adjusting to life with two kids. I read some really great books, and some so-so books. Here’s the full list, with my recommendations on top.
- My favorite book I read this year and the one I can’t wait to read again:
I can’t say enough good things about A Gentleman in Moscow. I thought it was just fabulous. It’s about an aristocrat who is placed on house arrest for the rest of his life following the Russian Revolution, and he happens to live in a grand hotel. It reads like a classic novel. It’s funny, romantic, sad, happy, and thoroughly enjoyable all the way through. Come January 1, I will likely pick this book up again so I can soak in every page.
- The book I recommend to everyone, no matter what genre you prefer:
I bought A Long Way Home for my husband and ended up reading it before he did. The movie Lion is based on this book (and by the way, I don’t recommend the movie). It’s the true story of how the author was lost from home and eventually adopted by a new family. I read this book in less than 48 hours. Warning: there are some dark and horrifying events in the book, but the author’s voice somehow makes it an easy read.
- The best non-fiction historical book I’ve read in a while:
Five Sisters is the story of the Langhornes…one, Irene, was the model for the original “Gibson Girl,” (she married Dana Gibson), another, Nancy Astor, became the first woman MP in the British Parliament. The other three sisters had equally interesting and outlandish lives. These women were trailblazers, but also incredibly selfish and sometimes downright crazy. This is one of those stories that is better than fiction. I also enjoyed the local tie-in; this relatively unknown Virginian family launched into fame after Irene was “discovered” during a summer holiday at White Sulpher Springs (aka The Greenbrier) and became the most famous debutante of the season. If you’re into Gilded Age, Edwardian, or WWI history, read this book!
- The classic I read at least once a year:
Edith Wharton, one of my favorite authors and this, The Age of Innocence, in my top three favorite books. If you haven’t read it, please do! While I loved it from the first time I read it, I find the more I read it, the better I understand it. Plus, it’s in the public domain, so it’s free!
Here are the other books I read this year (not in any particular order of preference). I enjoyed most of them; if you want to know my thoughts on a specific book, please let me know!
- Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty
- Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance
- The Summer Before the War, Helen Simonson
- America’s First Daughter, Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
- Rules of Civility, Amor Towles
- The Golden Prince, Rebecca Dean (re-read)
- A Poisoned Season, Tasha Alexander (re-read)
- The Wicked City, Beatriz Williams
- Along the Infinite Sea, Beatriz Williams
- Cocoa Beach, Beatriz Williams
- Fortune Hunter, Daisy Goodwin
- Victoria, Daisy Goodwin
- Daisy Miller, Henry James
- Mercer Girls, Libbie Hawker
- The Color of Secrets, Lindsay Ashford
- The Woman on the Orient Express, Lindsay Jayne Ashford
- Everyone Brave is Forgiven, Chris Cleave
- Honeysuckle Holiday, Kathleen M. Jacobs (local author)
- The Chaperone, Laura Moriarty
- The Taming of the Queen, Philippa Gregory
- Roses, Leila Meacham
- Queen Victoria: A Life of Contradiction, Matthew Dennison
- On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft, Stephen King
- A History of the World in 100 Objects, Neil MacGregor (currently reading)
- The History of the Greenbrier: America’s Resort, Robert Conte (have not finished)