January/February 2020 Reads
I’ve read a lot of books so far this year – over 50, mostly due to travelling, being stuck in bed with a cold, and finishing up a lot of books I’d half-read last year. However, this list is a little shorter than usual, with only eight books I want to mention. Perhaps reading so much really highlighted the exceptional ones – or maybe it’s that I read too much, too fast, and the usual grammar of fiction began to grate, so only the most strange and beautiful stood out. Whatever the case, I’ve read a lot of good books lately, and here are the best.
The fiction below is all curious, dark, brutal, fantastical – and all by women writers. The non-fiction is clear-eyed and mind-expanding, with a depth that went far beyond their short page-counts.
Read on for the 8 best books I’ve read recently:
You Let Me In, Camilla Bruce – A glorious, pitch-black fairy tale of a book. Lush, strange and defiant. As soon as I finished it, I went straight back to the start and read it again.
Dark Tales, Shirley Jackson – I bow to the queen.
She Would Be King, Wayétu Moore – A magical-realist imagining of Liberia’s early years. Like nothing else I’ve ever read.
The Memory Police, Yoko Ogawa & Stephen Snyder (translator) – Beautiful, scary, sad, thoughtful. I’ve thought about it every day since finishing it.
Wilder Girls, Rory Power – Teenage girls at an island boarding school turn into half-animal creatures. It’s also a love story. More please.
Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage, Dani Shapiro – I don’t read much memoir, but I’m very glad I picked this one up. It’s tender and thoughtful; the sort of thing that can only come from many years of deep work and observation.
I’m Afraid of Men, Vivek Shraya – A slim but explosive book about masculinity and heteronormativity, and the way that they damage all of us.
The Science of Storytelling, Will Storr – Writers: you need this.
Want to keep up with what I’m reading? Follow me on GoodReads.
What are the best books you’ve read recently?