5 Stars is a rating that I hand out very sparingly; as of May 6th, I’ve read 62 books this year, and only 6 of those got a 5 star rating. Here’s a look at the best books I’ve read so far this year:
In 1922 Russia, Count Alexander Rostov is convicted of being an “unrepentant aristocrat” and sentence to house arrest in the Metropol hotel – for the rest of his life. The story chronicles the next tumultuous decades of Russian history, as seen by Rostov and the cast of characters who work in and stay at the Metropol. At 462 pages, this is not a short book, but I found myself not wanting it to end. I really enjoy Towles’ writing; I also liked his first novel Rules of Civility. Although I have heard other people say that parts of this book were slow, I didn’t feel that way. The ending was perfect, and I plan on rereading this one soon.
This book was a fantastic combination of historical fiction and fantasy. The two main characters are not human, but, as the title states, a golem and a jinni. Chava, the golem, is a creature made of clay in Poland and brought to life by magic. Ahmad, the jinni, is a being of fire, trapped in an old copper flask in Syria. Both of these creatures end up in lower Manhattan in 1899, where their lives intersect. This book was full of great descriptions of 1900’s New York City. In addition, Wecker created characters that you really end up caring about. This book combines everything I love about two of my favorite genres.
As a child of the 80’s and 90’s, this was such a fun book to read. Set in 2044, the world is an ugly place. Fortunately you can escape into the Oasis, a virtual reality comprised of pop culture references of decades past. Wade, the main character is attempting to win a contest hosted by the creator of the Oasis. But there are plenty of other people trying to win the prize too, and they’re willing to kill Wade to get to it. This is a great mixture of new technology and pop culture of the past.
This is the latest book in one of my favorite mystery series, Maisie Dobbs. You can read more about these books in my favorite mysteries post. I don’t want to give too much of a description about this book, because I think you should start the series with the first book, Maisie Dobbs. I will say that out of the 13 books in the series so far, this was definitely my favorite.
This was a reread for me; having first read this book in middle or high school, when I think it probably went right over my head. It is currently a TV series on Hulu, which I have not yet watched, but I’ve heard it’s wonderful. This is not a light and fun read. It’s thought provoking, upsetting, and necessary, particularly in today’s political climate. Set in the future United States, now called the Republic of Gilead, women have no rights and are not even allowed to read. The main character, Offred, is a handmaid, assigned to bear children for elite couples that have trouble conceiving in an age of declining birthrates. In the book, we learn what life is like in Gilead and also see flashbacks of Offred’s past, where she had a husband, daughter, a job, and a life she loved. Atwood shows us what life could be like, and even though this book was written in 1985, the potential for this type of future still exists today.
When the main character, Samuel was a child, he and his father were abandoned by his mother. Decades later, when Samuel is in his thirties, his mother reappears in his life, but not in the way you expect. She’s been arrested for attacking a governor and potential presidential candidate, and is about to stand trial. In order to help his mother and straighten out his own broken life, Samuel goes on a journey to find out why his mother left so many years ago, and what caused her to attack the governor. This book was a really interesting read, with an element of mystery to it. I found myself disliking the mother (how do you abandon your child?) even after I understood why she left. However, that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story. The historical fiction junkie in me enjoyed reading about his mother’s childhood and her involvement in the Vietnam war protests during college.
Loved, loved, loved this one! You can read my review on my Weekly Reading Fix page for May 8th.
I will update this post throughout the year, as I add more books to my 5 star collection. What are the best books YOU have read this year?