Yes, we have a thing for books. Always have, always will. This past year we brought you many a literature list that had us reading, borrowing, and stacking on the bedside. (Feel free to review here.) And now consider this the best of the best, the few we are adding to wish lists and to give lists. Our former Literary Editor, Elizabeth Lane, is back to share her top ten reads of the year (+ 4 more that our in-house editors deemed as personal favorites.)
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson: An extraordinary novel about the influence of history on a contemporary family from bestselling and National Book Award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson.
Chances Are by Richard Russo: From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls comes a compelling story about the abiding yet complex power of friendship.
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood: The Testaments is a modern masterpiece, a powerful novel that can be read on its own or as a companion to Margaret Atwood’s classic, The Handmaid’s Tale, written in Margaret Atwood’s singular voice.
Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout: New York Times bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout continues the life of her beloved Olive Kitteridge, a character who has captured the imaginations of millions of readers.
Sontag: Her Life and Work by Benjamin Moser: An exquisite and detailed portrait of one of the American Century’s most renowned intellectuals: her writing, her radical thought, her public activism, and her personal life are all beautifully detailed within these pages. Sontag is the first book based on the writer’s restricted archives, coupled with interviews from Annie Leibovitz among other luminaries.
The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir by Samantha Power: An intimate and powerful memoir by Pulitzer Prize–winner and former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power.
Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi: Ottolenghi’s series of cookbooks are always a favorite, now with Simple, it is as easy to make his beautiful recipes as to swoon over them. A sure hit for any food lover / home cook!
Signature Dishes that Matter from Phaidon: A global celebration of the iconic restaurant dishes that defined the course of culinary history over the past 300 years. An absolutely stunning book.
The Silver Spoon for Children 10 Anniversary Edition: A new edition of the best-selling Italian cookbook for children aged 10 and above, providing quick, wholesome and easy-to-make recipes that kids will love.
Pastry Love: A Baker’s Journal of Favoritre Recipes by Joanne Chang: A quintessential baking bible featuring 125 of the James Beard Award-winning baker’s favorite desserts—ranging from simple cookie recipes to showstoppers for experience
+ More from our Managing Editor and voracious reader, Brooke Klauer:
Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller. This should, in our humble opinion, be required reading for women and men alike, for parents of teenagers, for college students navigating crucial decision making, for lawmakers and policy enforcers. (And everyone else, too. Read this book!) Miller is extraordinary in sharing her story (she was attacked and sexually assaulted on Stanford's campus as an undergrad, and her attacker was sentenced to just six months)—she writes simply but with conviction. It's a gut-punch, but remains, ultimately, hopeful.
Inheritance by Dani Shapiro. Another moving memoir, Shapiro takes us on her journey as she discovers her sense of self shattered and broken. Taking a spur-of-the-moment DNA test in the spring of 2016 (as is possible now), she faced the unthinkable as she grappled with the results. It's an extraordinary, stunning, fierce book and a true testament to these current times.
The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo. A stunning debut novel about the intricacies of family, Lombardo weaves a tale of human connection and, above all, the mysteries of life. This family saga spans nearly half a century, and is written with wisdom, humor and a considerable understanding of human action and reaction. Lombardo's multigenerational novel will be a well-loved gift.
On Being 40(ish) edited by Lindsey Mead. This book feels like a best friend, full of wisdom, joy, heartache and laughter. With contributions from Lee Woodruff, Kate Bolick, Jill Kargman and Sloane Crosley among this smart, witty bunch, we found each essay both a comfort and an aspiration. For all of us needing a little pep talk, the perfect anecdote is found here.