You know I love me some book time! Not a day goes by that I don’t start and end my day with a book. So, here are some of my favorite books I read last year that will (hopefully) blow your mind!
More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth
This! This damn book! We already know Elaine Welteroth is a powerhouse with her long resume of accomplishments at the age of 33. She was the first African-American woman to be the beauty director of Teen Vogue and then the youngest ever editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue at age 29. She wrote this memoir and who writes a memoir in their 30s? Elaine does because she’s that much of a bad ass! The style of this autobiography is like your best friend relaying a long story to you. It’s personal AND well-written, so you’re hanging on to every word. You truly are wishing to be besties by the time it’s done just so you can bathe in the awesome that is Elaine. Not to mention, as a white woman, I got some serious insight into black culture and life as a mixed-race woman that I don’t think I would get otherwise. This book is aspirational with a tinge of self-help and with a big dose of go-getter positivity and somehow makes you a better person by the time you’re through. She’s a rockstar!
The Secret Commonwealth (Book of Dust Volume II) by Philip Pullman
If you’re a fan of the His Dark Materials series you obviously need to read this, if you haven’t already. If you’re a fan of the show, you need to jump on the Philip Pullman train because the books are way better. Honestly, I still prefer the movie version. I thought they did a better job of casting and brought the fun, even though a movie is NOT enough time to tell the story. Man, Lee Scoresby is so much better in the movie and Serafina Pekkala. Ugh. Anyway, in the new installment of the His Dark Materials world, we jump in time and Lyra is an adult. There’s intrigue and fantasy and all the goodies from the previous books, but this is waaaaaay more grown up. I mean, some shit got real in this book and I didn’t expect Philip to go there. Not that the first books weren’t dark, but I think we got even darker. Anyway, this is really fucking good. If you have never read any of these you need to start with the His Dark Materials series or even The Book of Dust (the prequel to His Dark Materials) before getting to this. If you are a Harry Potter enthusiast you will like this fantasy world, especially if you prefer J.K. Rowling’s later books in the series. Personally, these are my favorite books of all time. The animal familiar aspect really takes it up a notch for me and the writing is much more beautifully done than other YA.
The Price of Illusion by Joan Juliet Buck
This quickly became one of my favorite books, of which I plan to re-read soon. Joan Juliet Buck is the former editor of Vogue Paris and left her mark on the fashion industry in the most classic and revolutionary way. However, this book isn’t just fashion. First and foremost, Joan is a damn good writer. Afterall, that’s where she got her start! The way she describes her life in this book paints some beautiful imagery. Not to mention she name drops famous people like a boss, like her bestie Anjelica Huston and her mother’s best friend none other than one of my favorite actresses of all time Lauren Bacall. I was honestly start struck every time I figured out who that person was she merely referred to by their first name, like Jack aka Jack Nicholson. And her life was wild and seductive and decadent and breezy and sometimes the opposite of all those descriptors. I would love to be a fly on the wall in her life. Not to mention my girl now is a Hudson Valleyite, so I feel like we’re basically neighbors. (One can dream).
Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
POWERFUL. Although this book is a quick and easy read (you could read it before bed in one night), it’s absolutely powerful. The story is about a young girl in Nigeria. It dives into her mindset about her dreams and goals and wants until it’s suddenly dashed away when her village is attacked by Boko Haram. This book is hard to read at times, but necessary. I learned so much and was able to see a different side of current events than I understood from the media. I also think it’s very important to read books from a diverse array of authors and to get a bigger picture of the world through the eyes of others. I also learned a lot about baobab trees. If you’re only reading books by American white authors, you’re doing it wrong.
The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
This was a Book of the Month read (don’t even get me going on my love for BOTM) and I fell in love instantly! I want to be careful not to give anything away because the twists and turns are surprising and so interesting. I will say that if you love ghost stories and serial killers this actually marries those two things in the most brilliant damn way. It almost feels like Simone created a new genre and I’m so here for it. Plus, it has a wicked powerful lead that you’re rooting for from page one. I was deeply invested. Also, if you want to try out Book of the Month, use this link to get your first month for only $5! You can easily cancel at any time or choose to skip for up to 3 consecutive months. I live by this for new reads I wouldn’t read or know about otherwise.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson is having a moment. Sadly, she’s been dead for almost 60 years and has no idea! Her book The Haunting of Hill House has resurfaced thanks to the show that was released two years ago. I have to admit that the show is very loosely based on the book, but it was a huge success. Then actress Victoria Pedretti (who played Eleanor in the show) was cast as Love on You and the show is popular all over again. However, that’s not even the best of her books! We Have Always Lived in the Castle is where it’s at! It’s understated creepy, is fun to read and always keeps you guessing. It’s truly brilliant, as are all her stories. She also wrote a short story called The Lottery that Stephen King himself claims to be one of the creepiest stories ever written. You can find that in her collection of short stories. Hell, buy all her freaking books! She just had this way of creating that underlooming creep factor in the most subtle way and grasps the human condition and character unlike any other. She can create a character and personality so vividly that you feel you really KNOW that person. She was an incredibly talented writer far ahead of her time.
Fashion Climbing by Bill Cunningham
We all know Bill Cunningham, but did you know he used to be a milliner? I sure didn’t! This autobiography walks you through the life of the late Cunningham and how he landed as one of the world’s most influential fashion photographers. His life was inspired, his hats peak couture and far before their time, and his insight into the world is legendary. The world was not ready for Bill and though he has passed, he has left a beautiful mark on the industry. I loved this book so much that I bidded on Ebay for an original negative and contact print from one of his early hat lookbooks shot by Richard Avedon. It’s now one of my most prized possessions. I also recommend you watch the documentary about him. I would watch the documentary first if you’re not familiar with him to get acquainted and so you can understand what a big deal he is.
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
I wouldn’t be Lynzi if I didn’t add at least one piece of classic literature! This is one of my favorite novels of all time. It’s the epitome of what I love, which means it’s really strange, masterfully written and full of parallel meanings about Soviet society. I love me some Russian literature! Nothing compares to this novel for me. I also feel like it’s newly relevant as Margarita is such a strong female role. There’s actually been a lot of debate about how you can interpret Margarita’s character, her motivations, her actions, etc., but for me, I think she’s fierce and does whatever the fuck she wants, damn what society says. There’s also a mad powerful scene with her and another woman that I don’t want to give away, but it lives in my head like a cinematic fucking masterpiece.
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
I literally bought this book on a total whim and didn’t bother to read the synopsis. I hate spoilers! I also bought it in a bookstore and spent twice the price of this link, but I feel like it’s worth it to discover a book organically over a cup of coffee at my favorite Denver bookstore. I digress. This was an unexpectedly powerful read. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll give a few tid bits. I learned a ton about bogs and had no idea about their power to preserve human remains for many, many moons. This book sent me on a tirade of research that was both cool and kept me awake at night in thought. Not to mention the life of early Britons in the Iron Age. Second, this book touches on some deep issues of abuse and really dives into the mental processes one experiences after a lifetime of dealing with it and what their mental state inside the time of said abuse. It really made me stop and think about how I relate to others who have dealt with this. Third, it’s a super quick read, which I love to have as a break after a very long book.
You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
I fully realize I have harped on this book before, but it’s worth refreshing. I’m not a fan of the self-help genre. Generally they force me into deep eyerolls and fits of nausea. However, this is the exception to the rule. Jen Sincero’s quirky, rock-and-roll attitude makes this a fun read and you know what? You’ll actually learn a thing or two about yourself in the process of reading this page turner. This has honestly helped me and anytime I’m feeling a severe wave of self-doubt, I pick a chapter to revisit and repeat the exercises. It’s a book you’ll turn back to again and again.
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