It’s hard to believe we’ve already ready ten books as part of book club this year, but somehow we blinked and our shelves are beautifully dotted with all of them. When you add these to the books we’ve read while traveling, sitting at the pool, curling up on the couch, lounging in the grass, and wasting away in a few waiting rooms, it really starts to add up.
Now here’s what they don’t tell you: One of the most fun parts of reading so much is deciding on your yearly top picks, and this tradition of list-making is one we’ve enjoyed both individually and as a group every year’s end. This week, we asked our book club hosts and members of the GNI team to answer this question: What was your absolute favorite book of the past year? Here’s what they picked.
Normal People follows the relationship between a boy and girl in Ireland as they navigate high school, college, and beyond. The book will have you rooting for and against both of these characters at different points in their relationship as they love, hurt, and learn more about each other. You will be transported back to the intense emotions of high school and the difficulties of finding your people and your place in college and post-grad life. The entire time I was reading this I was wishing I was in Ireland, so I recommend timing it with a trip to the UK, or curled up on the couch on a rainy day. — Shannon, GNI Reads DC Host
2. The Immortalists
I haven’t stopped thinking about The Immortalists since we read it for January’s GNI Reads pick this year. This story, about the four Gold children who all learn the dates of their respective deaths, travels through the decades from the ‘70s. It explores how each sibling approaches their life and death, and how each mortality affects the surviving siblings. The story is engrossing through its exploration of universal themes of loss, growth, intimacy, and choice—all so penetrating in each sibling’s perspective. Be prepared to cry, and take the time to understand different characters experiences. — Euni, GNI Reads Toronto Host
Enter the world of helicopter parenting in an affluent Colorado town where you’ll discover the lengths parents will go for their kids to get them into the prestigious public gifted school being built in the community. Through the twists, turns, and crazy lies you’ll ask yourself if these parents are doing it for their kids or for themselves. Pour yourself a glass of something yummy, slip into some PJs or sweats, and dive in! *— Jordan P., GNI Reads Boston Host *
This book hurts, in the best and most heart-wrenching way. A Woman Is No Man follows the stories of Palestinian immigrant Isra beginning in 1990, and Brooklyn native, Deya, in 2008, as they both navigate controlling and closed cultural worlds just parallel to each other - or so it seems. Personally, this book has a place in my heart because as I read it, I realized that this is also my story, just 5 generations back. Read if you’re prepared to cry and feel extremely grateful for every woman in your life who has paved the way for the life you live now. * — Jameson, GNI Reads DC Host *
5. Fleishman is in Trouble
Brodesser-Akner has somehow written a book full of seemingly unlikable characters in a delicious way that leaves you captivated by their complexities and unable to look away from the shambles their lives are becoming. The book is narrated by a late-in-the-game revealed narrator and follows the life of Fleishman, an affluent NYC doctor who is left to care for his two children - and navigate life as a newly single father, dating in the post Tinder-world - after his soon-to-be-ex-wife takes off without any warning or any indication of when she’ll return. The stories that unravel leave you completely unsure about whose side you’re on as you place yourself in their lives and empathize with how long and damaging the fall from the top can truly be. Read this one and then look around and be thankful for your own (hopefully) less intense life. *— Mallorie, GNI Reads NYC Host *
The Woman in the Window is one of my all-time favorite reads. With Gone Girl thriller energy, the story has so many twists and turns it’s impossible to put down. No, seriously, I read it in 7 hours straight on my couch. There’s not much I can say without giving away the excitement but there’s a murder, an unreliable narrator, and a plot twist that’ll blow your mind. — Jordan M., GNI Team
I LOVE NICOLA YOON. She has an incredible knack for writing love stories that aren’t cookie cutter and make you feel all the feels. This book takes place over the course of one day and follows the journeys of Natasha and Daniel. Today is a big day for both of them for very different reasons yet they somehow keep finding each other. The story is fun, romantic, and even emotional at times. Grab a copy of this one and then go back to read Yoon’s first book, Everything, Everything. *— Cara, GNI Team *
Gail Honeyman didn’t write Eleanor to be likable, and that’s half the charm of this wonderful book. An antihero of sorts, Eleanor is not your everyday protagonist. At first, her life seems simple – a slow, humble crawl – but it’s through our persistence with Eleanor, in sticking with her matter-of-factness and what appears to be a wildly isolated life, that we see eventually see a payoff. When Eleanor meets Raymond, her office IT guy, her life changes is noticeable ways. While Raymond plays somewhat of a bumbling fool, he provides emotive contrast to Eleanor, and helps her unlock more within herself than she could have ever imagined. - Tyler, GNI Team