According to me!!
The books on my Best Books Of 2021 list are not necessarily books that came out this year, but just those I read this year. Keep in mind too that I have a terrible memory, and forget most books the minute I finish reading them, so one quality of these books is that I actually still remember them weeks later. Here’s the countdown:
Number three in my Best Book list is Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout. The first book I read by her, Olive Kittridge, could also be on my list, but I read it a few years ago. Strout is a genius at creating characters with broad brushstrokes. As you read more, however, you discover there is much more to each than you might have originally thought. Even when the character is not very nice, you can’t help but care about him or her. I read her books as slowly as possible because I don’t want to see them end. I fall in love with her characters, even Olive.
Number two appeared on Barack Obama’s list as well as my own: Matrix by Lauren Goff. This jewel of a novel is set in medieval times and tells the story of a young girl who is sent away from her royal cousins to live in a barren convent. The place is bitter cold, there is hardly enough food, and it is in financial trouble. It is a stunning contrast to the court from which she comes, but as she grows there, she remakes it into a place where young women like her learn their power. A great book about female strength.
Number one is a Pulitzer prize winner. I thought it was this year’s winner, but was telling my friend Julie that she had to read this book, and she told me that it won last year and that is when she read it. Nevertheless, it is still amazing. The book is Less by Andrew Sean Greer. The main character, Arthur Less is a gay man turning fifty who consistently underestimates himself. He is Everyman (and Everywoman) as he takes a trip around the world to distract himself from the disappointment of the impending wedding of his former lover. Bumbling Arthur is like all of us as he thinks he is lost, tears his favorite suit, and speaks hilarious German that he thinks is fluent. The book can be hilarious, but what stays with me is the quality of the writing.
Greer’s writing makes this slim volume sparkle. It is crafted with finesse and gives the impression of a piece that has been pared down painstakingly leaving any fat on the cutting room floor. Arthur Less is a flawed man, but he is certainly not as flawed as he thinks he is. Read it for sure if you haven’t already.