Katie's Top 10: My Year of Zero Rest & Emotional Reading

This year I found myself gravitating to all different genres. From my two new favorite genres - science fiction and fantasy - to contemporary fiction plus a healthy sprinkling of cookbooks, I discovered books that had been sitting on my shelves for years. I found that what kept me reading during this year was to just read whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. In doing so, I discovered genres and authors I may have not read otherwise.

I read a lot this year, the most I’ve ready any other year despite being mentally and emotionally exhausted most days. Reading is what got me up each morning and helped me at the end of each day. Here are a few books I read that have continued to stick with me and got me through this year.

A Certain Hunger By Chelsea G. Summers Cover Image
ISBN: 9781951213145
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Unnamed Press - December 8th, 2020

This is the best book I have read all year! Food critic Dorothy Daniels apologizes to no one, not even the reader, as she narrates her quiet upbringing and begins a descent into desires of the flesh, a heroine you can’t resist even when things become bloody. A Certain Hunger is a story about how far our desires for success and love will take us. I could not put this book down, and it devoured me just as much as I devoured it. A bacchanalian feast for the senses. Chelsea G. Summers has written a truly visceral experience. Is it too obvious to say this book is positively delicious? 

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel (Vintage International) By Haruki Murakami Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679775430
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Vintage - September 1st, 1998

This was the first book I read during quarantine, and when I finished it I was like “ok that was good (obviously — it’s Murakami and he’s great).” Fast forward to about three months into quarantine and I noticed myself thinking about this novel a lot, the true sign of a very special book. It has continued to stick with me eight months later. A missing cat, a well, and a cast of truly unforgettable characters. It’s nearly impossible to describe Murakami’s novels because they need to be experienced. A true masterpiece.

Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky #1) By Rebecca Roanhorse Cover Image
ISBN: 9781534437678
Availability: UNAVAILABLE
Published: Gallery / Saga Press - October 13th, 2020

An epic fantasy set in the Pre-Colombian Americas with Indigenous Mythology. This novel blew me away, and I could not put it down. The characters are phenomenal! We follow a possibly reincarnated crow god and a kick-ass sailor with a secret. This novel balances epic fantasy, characters, and magic all while discussing the confines of society, individual pasts, who we are, and who we decide to be.

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1) By N. K. Jemisin Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316229296
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Orbit - August 4th, 2015

Though I was aware of N.K. Jemisin and her hugely popular and loved writing, I had never read any of her work. I picked up The Fifth Season and was immediately swept away and in awe of how wonderfully Jemisin has written her characters. I was completely blown away by her unique take on science fiction and magic using geology as her basis. Take your time with this one, because it’s a slow burn that’s worth savoring. 

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue By V. E. Schwab Cover Image
ISBN: 9780765387561
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Tor Books - October 6th, 2020

A sweeping and delightful fantasy novel that I went into thinking was being overly hyped up, and, boy, was I wrong! This story is incredibly original and stayed at 100% until the very end. Each time the story took a turn I was completely surprised. I couldn’t predict anything that was going to happen next, and that’s excellent writing! An immortal forgettable girl, a shy bookseller, and an old god. Just remember, “never pray to the gods that answer after dark.”

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Before the Coffee Gets Cold By Toshikazu Kawaguchi Cover Image
ISBN: 9781335430991
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hanover Square Press - November 17th, 2020

Patrons of a café in Tokyo have the chance to time travel in hopes of achieving various wishes. Each patron has something in their past that they either want to relive or experience for the first time, but with all good time travel there are rules. A touching take on time travel in a quirky café. I love time traveling stories and this little novel is perfect!

Normal People: A Novel By Sally Rooney Cover Image
ISBN: 9781984822185
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hogarth - February 18th, 2020

I will be the first to admit that I did not like Sally Rooney’s first book Conversations With Friends. I didn’t read Normal People until I decided to watch the Hulu series. I got one episode in and immediately bought the book and read it before continuing with the rest of the series. This book is all about two beautifully flawed characters Marianne and Connell.It’s about first love and friendship. Sally Rooney has this very sparse way of writing that has so much impact and absolutely guts you in the best way. I’m currently re-reading it, and I love it more the second time.

A Peculiar Peril (The Misadventures of Jonathan Lambshead #1) By Jeff VanderMeer Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374308865
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) - July 7th, 2020

Jeff VanderMeer can do no wrong! After Jonathan Lampshade’s grandfather dies, an orphaned Jonathan along with his friends begin a genre-bending quest to an alt-Earth called Aurora. Cue talking marmots, portals, and an occult dictator named Aleister Crowley. A wonderful and excitedly strange novel from one of the best.

Dessert Person: Recipes and Guidance for Baking with Confidence: A Baking Book By Claire Saffitz Cover Image
ISBN: 9781984826961
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Clarkson Potter - October 20th, 2020

Probably the most anticipated cookbook of the year! Claire Saffitz is the queen of sweet, and we finally get her stunning cookbook! This is the perfect cookbook for both the novice baker and that one friend who shows up to a party with the most perfect bakery-level confection. Full of step by step images and instructions that will take the intimidation out of your next baking adventure.

Midnight Chicken: & Other Recipes Worth Living For By Ella Risbridger, Elisa Cunningham (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Ella Risbridger, Elisa Cunningham (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781408867761
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - June 11th, 2019

I have no words for this cookbook! It’s beautiful, not just the recipes, which are extremely accessible even if you’re a bit tipsy! They welcome you to cook and create, to make something delicious even when life seems too difficult. Lovely illustrations and stories fill this cookbook, which is more than a guide, but a diary.

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