I became a pandemic reader

Pages that say light hundreds of times

Being stuck at home was the perfect opportunity for me to rebuild reading muscles that had certainly atrophied as a result of smartphone usage. In 2020 I read 60 books, and in 2021 I’ve been shooting for 80. Along the way, I’ve become absorbed in so many different worlds, and really come to rely on the public library for maintenance of my sanity.

Below are all books that I would heartily recommend. In order to win a 5 star rating from me, the book has to either be worthy of re-reading, make me cry, or change my outlook in some way.

Naomi's bookshelf: 5-star-books

How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America
it was amazing
This book builds very methodically and culminates to great effect when he interviews his grandparents in the Epilogue. I appreciated how the author put himself in some rather awkward conversations with southern confederate historians/sym…
it was amazing
I can fully understand why this audiobook won a Grammy. 20 hours of Michelle Obama’s sublime reading voice in my ears made for a wonderful week on walks and getting stuck in traffic in my car was so much more bearable. It felt like she w…
Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood
it was amazing
This memoir is bursting with energy! Trevor Noah has a way of speaking/writing that always causes me to do a double or triple-take. I learned so much about growing up in South Africa pre & post apartheid. I had not realized how uncommon …
The Giver
it was amazing
I found The Giver surprisingly chilling, with an admirable economy of expression. I loved the initial focus on how the family unit functioned, with an emphasis on people sharing emotions and understanding each other. This set the stage f…
it was amazing
This blew me away and I want to read it again and again. I don’t even have the right words to convey why this resonated with me so deeply. So many sentences made me do double and triple takes. The power of the language just carried me al…
Lady Chatterley's Lover
it was amazing
Ever since last year’s Book Bingo, ("read a book written in the 1920s") I had been wanting to give Lady Chatterley’s Lover a try. Why wouldn’t I want to read a cultural bombshell that scandalized the English speaking world, that the auth…
Gone Girl
it was amazing
I don’t recall exactly what I was doing in 2012 when this book came out, or 2014 when the movie premiered, but am certain that I was NOT interested in this overhyped story. Well, almost 10 years later, I decided to give it a try since I’…
The Goldfinch
it was amazing
I loved everything about The Goldfinch—the fullness of the characters, the plot twists, the antiques, the deep themes about how we ascribe value to things. The symbolism of the chained-up bird speaking to us over the centuries. Because I…
The Fault in Our Stars
it was amazing
I knew I’d eventually get around to reading this book, but had been putting it off because I wasn’t ready to read something this tragic. When I happened upon it in a Little Free Library down the block, in early 2021, I decided that I fin…
Girl, Woman, Other
it was amazing
It built slowly, and I often had to refer back to review certain characters, but I absolutely loved all the aha moments, realizing how they were interconnected. The writing style reminded me a bit of Virginia Woolf, the way the narrative…
When You Reach Me
it was amazing
This was the perfect story for me—simply told, with wonderful details, and a supernatural element that really spoke to me. Relationships between preteens are given the attention and introspection that they deserve. Each character is pain…
The Overstory
it was amazing
It’s vanishingly rare that a book’s first chapter makes me cry, so this one stood out for me from the beginning. It feels like I lived inside this book over the past week. I was in awe of how the author could bring all those human storie…
it was amazing
This may be my fave read so far in 2021—a really unusually written story, that got my imagination flowing right from the start. I enjoyed the introduction to the narrator’s scientific method, and how my brain kept on leaping to get orien…
The Sparrow
it was amazing
I’ll leave the question of whether the physics of this story make sense and whether we should care, to the other reviewers, and report that The Sparrow both delighted and astounded me on many levels. I loved the exploration of the evolvi…
The Calculating Stars
it was amazing
I’m so glad I finally got around to reading this. Not only was the most-Meteor world fascinating to read about, but I also appreciated the depth of Elma as not just a shining heroine, but someone who struggles daily with debilitating men…
The Vanishing Half
it was amazing
I found this book beautiful and tragic, told in a spare, yet tender way. The flow and structure also felt really balanced. I really enjoyed Brit Bennett’s writing style and especially the dialog that moves the story often much better tha…


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