Book of the Year Picks — At A Glance

Posted December 6, 2019 by stuckint in BOTM / 5 Comments

Well everyone! They’re here and we are so excited to break down Book of the Month’s 2019 Book of the Year finalists! Whether this post will help you learn more about the five titles or you’re a BFF wondering which Book of Year finalist is right for you, we are writing this post just for you!

Recursion by Blake Crouch

Book of the Year Picks — At A GlanceRecursion by Blake Crouch 
Published by Crown Publishing Group (NY) on June 11, 2019
Pages: 336

Memory makes reality.
That’s what New York City cop Barry Sutton is learning as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived.
That's what neuroscientist Helena Smith believes. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious memories. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent. 
As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face-to-face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease—a force that attacks not just our minds but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it.
But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them?

At A Glance: This most recent masterpiece by the author of Dark Matter and The Wayward Pines series asks the age old question: if you could change the past, would you? When I started Recursion I was worried that the science would be entirely over my head. While there is plenty of science, Crouch does an excellent job of making the language and theories upon which his novel rests both accessible and clear Beyond the science, this novel hit all the right notes: there were moments when I found myself thinking about the points Crouch raises long after I closed the book. Places where I teared up as the book challenged our ideas of a linear reality and our inabilities to truly control our life trajectories. I am happy to hop on the hype train for this amazing novel.

Comparable BOTM Titles: Lost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger and The Martian by Andy Weir

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

Book of the Year Picks — At A GlanceThis Tender Land by William Kent Krueger, Scott Brick 
Published by Atria Books on September 3, 2019
Pages: 450

For fans of Before We Were Yours and Where the Crawdads Sing, a magnificent novel about four orphans on a life-changing odyssey during the Great Depression, from the New York Times bestselling author of Ordinary Grace.
1932, Minnesota—the Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O’Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own.
Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will journey into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an en­thralling, big-hearted epic that shows how the magnificent American landscape connects us all, haunts our dreams, and makes us whole.

This epic, coming of age tale is as sweeping and boundless as the rolling prairie upon which it is set. The story follows four orphans: Odie, Moses, Emma and Albert who travel down the Mississippi River, away from their cruel boarding school towards what they hope will be a better life. Telling the story from the vantage point of a long-lived life, Odysseus lives up to his Homeric namesake and weaves an evocative tale of suffering, discovery, friendship and hope. Krueger is not afraid of tackling questions of faith, family loyalties, and the morality of survival. While this was my first Krueger novel I can see why he has such a faithful following. I will not be surprised to see this masterpiece lauded as a modern day classic among the greats like Twain’s Huckleberry Fiinn and Steinbek’s Grapes of Wrath.

Comparable BOTM Titles: Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Book of the Year Picks — At A GlanceThe Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides 
Published by Celadon Books on February 5, 2019
Pages: 323

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.
Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.
Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him...

Okay, I have to admit that I totally picked this book up because of the hype and I really enjoyed it. Set in a mental asylum and told from multiple POVs and formats, this psychological thriller will keep you guessing until the very end. Our protagonist is Alicia Brenson who was admitted to a psychiatric facility after the murder of her husband. Alicia was the only witness to her husband’s murder. But there’s a problem. Alicia hasn’t uttered a word since that night. Theo, an ambitious psychotherapist, believes he will be the one to break Alicia’s silence and solve the case. I cannot say much more without giving anything away but this is one of the few thrillers that actually surprised me with its misdirections and the big reveal at the end. If you love thrillers, and haven’t picked this one up, go out and get it!

Comparable BOTM Titles: The Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekanen and Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Book of the Year Picks — At A GlanceDaisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid 
Published by Ballantine Books on March 5, 2019
Pages: 355

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six: The band's album Aurora came to define the rock 'n' roll era of the late seventies, and an entire generation of girls wanted to grow up to be Daisy. But no one knows the reason behind the group's split on the night of their final concert at Chicago Stadium on July 12, 1979 . . . until now.
Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock 'n' roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.
Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.
Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.
The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

At A Glance: This is an absolute marvel of a story from the author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. This novel is set up like an oral interview, following the rise and fall of the popular 1970s band Daisy Jones and the Six. The author makes it all seem so real and plausible, it’s like the best episode of VH1’s Behind the Music. (Sidenote: am I old? Do people even remember that show?) I admit I listened to it on audio rather than reading it, and I ABSOLUTELY recommend you do it this way. The audio is performed by a whole cast and it was so easy to get sucked into the story — it really seemed like a real interview process. There are important things explored here — like addiction, love, betrayal, and friendship — but it’s mostly a love story to music and to rock ‘n roll. It’s a must listen for an amazingly crafted story that seems so realistic, it’s easy to be disappointed at the end when you realize this is a work of fiction book and you can’t go buy the albums IMMEDIATELY.

Comparable BOTM Titles: The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce and Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum

Book of the Year Picks — At A GlanceA Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum 
Published by Harper on March 5, 2019
Pages: 336

This debut novel by an Arab-American voice,takes us inside the lives of conservative Arab women living in America.
In Brooklyn, eighteen-year-old Deya is starting to meet with suitors. Though she doesn’t want to get married, her grandparents give her no choice. History is repeating itself: Deya’s mother, Isra, also had no choice when she left Palestine as a teenager to marry Adam. Though Deya was raised to believe her parents died in a car accident, a secret note from a mysterious, yet familiar-looking woman makes Deya question everything she was told about her past. As the narrative alternates between the lives of Deya and Isra, she begins to understand the dark, complex secrets behind her community.

At A Glance: To be perfectly honest, I was shocked when I realized this was a debut novel because it is seriously just a perfect book. Both of us have this in our top 2 reads of the year and both would select it for the Book of the Year for BOTM. We absolutely love it. That’s not to say it’s an easy read, because it isn’t. It follows a Palestinian family who immigrates to America and focuses on the women in that family through three generations. It’s a gorgeous, heartbreaking story about the trauma of abuse and the dangers of secret keeping and how those things are passed frrom generation to generation. The last chapter of this book might be the most perfectly crafted thing I’ve ever read. I adore this novel and am desperately looking forward to whatever this author has coming next.

Comparable BOTM Titles: Dominicana by Angie Cruz and Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

What About You?

Which book are you voting for? Were there any books that you wish had made the final list? If you’re a BFF, which book will you be adding to your box in January? Let us know in the comments!

5 responses to “Book of the Year Picks — At A Glance

  1. Cori R.

    Daisy Jones and A Woman is No Man are both favorites of mine this year. Daisy Jones is unique and well written, while A Woman is No Man is important and brings a unique cultural perspective!

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