Kathleen’s Favorite Books of the (Half) Decade

I’ve been scanning the lists popping up recently of favorite books of the decade. I can’t do a full decade because I didn’t “reclaim my reading life” and resolve to read 52 books per year until 2014. But, since then, I’ve been recapping my reading in a series of year-end blog posts.

I thought it would be fun this week to choose the five novels from my own personal “best” lists that still stand out as favorites. I do also review non-fiction, but it seemed too daunting to choose just five overall faves, so I narrowed things down to fiction.

So, here we go! In alphabetical order by author, my favorite five works of fiction since 2014:

 

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

Cecilia’s husband is on a business trip when she discovers a letter from him in the attic, to be read only in the event of his death.  Tess, meanwhile, escapes to her mother’s house after her own husband confesses that he’s in love with her cousin-slash-best friend.  Finally, Rachel has been mired in grief for the many years since the murder of her daughter.  The stories, all humanizing and ultimately hopeful, intersect and morph. Moriarty is an auto-buy for me, and this is my favorite of hers.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

This is an exquisite family drama that covers 45 years and excavates five perspectives, the perspectives of people who live together but lack a fundamental understanding of each other.  It’s sad and hopeful at the same time, and it has my favorite first line of all time: “Lydia is Dead. But they don’t know this yet.”

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Offill’s is a slim and genre-bending novel about a marriage. The wife (she’s nameless) narrates the story of her partnership – the early flutterings, the endless days of parenting a baby and then a toddler, the fraught landscape of betrayal, and the spiraling nature of the ordinary. I read it in a couple of hours, and then I started over.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Two stories intersect – the story of a teenaged Japanese girl and the story of the middle-aged woman who finds the former’s diary on a beach in Canada. Somehow, they actually affect one another across time and space – influencing each other by a kind of cosmic magic. I found this novel to be mind-bending and reassuring. Basically, fabulous.

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

Madeline is an eighteen-year-old kid with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, a rare disease that renders its sufferers allergic to the world. Her mom, a physician, keeps her enclosed and safe. Things are going reasonably well for Madeline until she watches Olly, a handsome guy with his own problems, move in next door.  Suddenly the world that was more or less enough, falls vastly short.

 

And that’s my five! Of course, already, I’m mourning the books that I didn’t write about and second-guessing my “favorites.” Isn’t it great that there are so many books that can become the fabric of your all-time bests? Just in case you like this review format–quick blurbs– I’ll add that every-other week, I send book recs to my newsletter subscribers. It’s a quick and easy email–one newer book, one older book, and something else cool. If you want it, you can sign up here. I hope you and yours are having a great holiday week if you celebrate!

 

 

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Kathleen West

Kathleen West is the author of the forthcoming novel, Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes, out 2/4/20 from Berkley. She lives in Minneapolis with her family.