I'm wrapping up a really good year of reading with these five books. I hope to finish The Fortunes by Peter Ho Davies and Sex Object by Jessica Valenti by New Year's day, but I will report back on them in 2017.
You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson
I knew nothing about Phoebe Robinson before picking up You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain, but now I plan on listening to her podcast and stalking her on Twitter. Robinson is a comedian who had me laughing on almost every page even as she dealt with difficult topics like racism and sexism. The title of the book leads to a chapter on the idea of “good hair” and how black women are often raised to believe they must look a certain way to receive a positive response. It’s heartbreaking, honest, and somehow Robinson still laces the stories with humor and hope.
Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
I’ve only seen Anna Kendrick in the movies 50/50, Pitch Perfect, and Twilight, but hearing her voice over and over again on the Trolls soundtrack (thanks, kids!) made me want to grab this book. It was a quick read with insights about working on the stage and in Hollywood. Kendrick shares her personal journey using wit and humor, and she is a talented writer. After reading it, I’m hoping to watch Up in the Air and The Last Five Years soon.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany
I may be the last person on earth to read this, but I finally got around to devouring the play that takes place 19 years after Harry leaves Hogwarts. All is not well in Potter’s world, and this story is as much about family as it is about evil forces that threaten to tear the world in two. Harry Potter fans should read this one, and people who aren’t Harry Potter fans, well, I’m not sure how to talk to you. Go read Harry Potter!
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
This book knocked me off my feet as I laughed and cried my way through the feel-good book of the year about an old, cranky man determined to alienate himself from everyone he meets. Ove is annoyed with humanity in general, but new neighbors change his path, and he’s suddenly in the middle of a life with meaning and people surrounding him, whether he likes it or not. Ove’s full story unfolds in beautiful flashbacks, and don’t forget to read the chapter titles because they are absolute gems. This one is on the top 10 list of books I read this year.
The Girls by Emma Cline
To be clear, if this book had not been on the BookPage's Top 50 List, I would have never picked it up. A fictional account based on the Manson murders, it’s disturbing in a way that I don’t enjoy. However, the writing was amazing, and Cline does such a precise job of unearthing how sad girls end up falling in with people to feel like they have a home that I couldn’t turn away. Her observations, such as that girls don’t know who they are because they are pretending to be what boys want while the boys actually just get to grow into their own men, are simple yet profound, and that makes the book worth reading if you can stomach it.