6. Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead
I know this book was on every best of list of 2021, but I just could not get into it. Colson Whitehead is a good writer. I just don’t care about what he is writing about. He does an excellent job at setting the scene. I could very much picture the setting and the characters he described, but I could not get into the story he was telling. I did not care about the capers or the crimes or any of it. I give it a 5 out of 10.
5. The Sentence by Louise Erdrich
I don’t know if I would have appreciated this book if I had read it say a decade from now, but as it is I did not enjoy reading it at the height of omicron. It was much too soon for me to want to relive the start of COVID or the death of George Floyd. Obviously this book was Louise Erdrich’s own effort at processing recent events, but I really did not want or need to read it. I only finished it because I was reading it for a book club. I give it a 5 out of 10.
4. Seeing Ghosts by Kat Chow
Seeing Ghosts is Kat Chow’s memoir in which she tries to process the death of her mother. Her mother died when she was thirteen and her family never really talked about her mother’s death. In this memoir she explores her memories, digs into what actually happened to her mother, and explores how it has affected her family. It’s not a straightforward memoir. It’s told in little bits and pieces that circle around each other in time and space. As a result it did take me a little while to get into the book, but on reflection the structure made sense to me. Neither grief nor memories present a straightforward narrative and in a book that deals with both it makes sense that the book would mirror that. I give it a 7 out of 10.
3. Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
I feel like I saw this book on a lot of best of lists the year it was out plus just a lot of people I know’s favorite books of the year. I don’t know why. I did not really care for it. The characters felt very one note to me. The conflicts felt manufactured. I also did not particularly find the sex scenes sexy even though it was a pretty erotic romance novel. I obviously did not see whatever it was that made everyone else love this book so much. I give it a 5 out of 10.
2. I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuisten
I keep chasing the high of Red, White, and Royal Blue because I loved that book so much, but not only have I though Casey McQuisten’s subsequent books are not as good as that one, I have actively disliked them. I did not like these characters. I found the plot entirely ridiculous. Since this is a YA novel, maybe if I was the age of the people it was actually aimed at I would not mind the implausibility of Shara’s whole disappearance scavenger hunt thing, but as an adult I couldn’t get past it. Not to mention that the premise felt like somewhat of a ripoff of 13 Reasons Why. I was really hoping this book would bring me the same pleasure as Red, White, and Royal Blue after I didn’t like One Last Stop, but alas it was not to be. I give it a 4 out of 10.
- Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
It took me awhile to read Project Hail Mary even though I enjoyed The Martian and Artemis because I felt like I saw a lot of not great reviews of it. I’m glad I finally read it because I did really like it. Ryland wakes up a space ship hurtling through space with no memory of who he is, how he got there, or what he’s doing there. As he pieces back together his memories he realizes that he is the earth’s unlikely last hope to save humanity. Eventually he encounters someone from another planet and together they team up to try and save their respective worlds. It’s a very processy sci-fi book with lots of actual math and science about how things work and the two characters trying to interpret how things work for each of them. Andy Weir is very good at writing books heavy on that kind of information and making them compelling. I give it an 8 out of 10.