It’s been about a year since I’ve been sheltering in place, some of it by order from the government and most by choice. In a year of not seeing friends or family beyond my four walls (is it just me, or have you found that the people who traveled the most before the pandemic are the very ones who are taking it easy and staying home until this is over?), I’ve immersed myself in fiction (and some non-fiction). Here are my top favorite novels and one narrative non-fiction book I’ve read over the last 12 months, in no particular order.
I read this dark mystery before lockdown and before we in the US thought COVID was actually here. I loved the complexity of the story and how it kept me thinking about it well after I finished it. I sent copies to two friends to see what they thought. If you’ve read it, I’d love to know your thoughts! My review here for the Asian Review of Books.
Another dark story of friendship and beaut standards in modern day Seoul. I also reviewed it here for the Asian Review of Books.
This collection of short stories about immigrants from Laos–and their children–is so special because I loved each of the stories, which is not always the case when I read short stories. I reviewed it here for the Asian Review of Books.
My oldest son gave me this book, a sequel to Ishmael, which is so fitting in this day of COVID. Both books really caused me to rethink consumerism and our responsibility to the planet. I liked the European setting in this book.
My friend Christine sent me this book along with many others and suggested I bump it to the top of the pile. Wow, she wasn’t kidding. It’s dark, as the title suggests, and upsetting, but so relevant for our times.
I can still picture Ueno Park in Toyko from my visit there 30 years ago. This story centers around the elderly homeless community in the park. I reviewed it here for Cha: An Asian Literary Journal.
This is the only non-fiction on my list. I love this book and how they combine humor with lessons on activism for people who want to do better.
Another novel from my friend Christine. I love Angie Cruz’s storytelling and the way she brings us back to New York City decades ago.
And still another from Christine. This novel takes place in Toronto, also some decades ago, when the downtown was still seedy and not where people of privilege would imagine teenage kids spending their days and nights.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this list. If you’ve read any of these and want to chat about them or have questions, please leave a comment! Let’s hope that a year from now we won’t need another lockdown list.