1. The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs If you loved When Breath Becomes Air but lean more towards the poetic than the scientific, this book is a perfect choice. A distant relative of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Riggs speaks urgently about the death of her mother and ultimately her own loss of life. It's emotional, to say the least, but really moving and totally worth the inevitable tears.
2. The Love and Lemons Cookbook by Jeanine Donofrio A wonderful gift from my friend, Arielle, who knows my love of cookbooks knows no bounds. This one is especially fitting, as it takes inspiration from certain seasonal produce and creates beautiful recipes with them in mind. I love leafing through its pages on Sunday afternoon to get inspired for the week to come.
3. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls Not to be confused with Educated, which I did, many times as I read both at the same time. The Glass Castle is kind of a pillar of what a great memoir should read like. I enjoyed the passage of time, the ultimate tie back to New York, and the relationships between the siblings of the main character. The Sound of Gravel is yet another read alike if this genre is for you.
4. Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover Perhaps the buzziest memoir of the year, it's hard to take a trip on the subway without seeing someone bent over this book. And for due reason. If you like memoirs at all, even if you don't, this book is as captivating and binge-worthy as your favorite Netflix series. Ruby kept reminding me to start the book, which I mistakenly left at home during spring break. It's hard to talk about this book without giving it away. But read it, listen to this podcast, and then get back to me.
5. Tomcat in Love by Tim O'Brien This book was a staff pick at a lovely bookstore in Burlington, Vermont. I knew nothing about the author, hadn't heard about it from Ruby, or seen it on Instagram, but decided to go with it. Risky move. I ended up being captivated by the novel's main character, a tall, neurotic, lying Midwestern professor and his vain attempts to win back his ex wife. Totally irregular from my usual reading choices, it was fun to step into something new.
6. Asymmetry: A Novel by Lisa Halliday I know I said Fire Sermon was my favorite fiction of this year, but Asymmetry puts up a strong argument. Divided into three sections, the book tells the stories of love and war. Another Ruby rec, I picked up this book at Three Lives and nearly ran home from the subway so I could pick up where the book left me at the 7th Ave station. The book is somehow a debut novel, but reads like the work of an acclaimed author. Ruby has to explain the ending to me (typical) but the conversations this book stirred were really important and unique.