Book Reviews

Top 10 Favorite Books from Bookclubz' Staff

Dec 14, 2020

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Anna Ford

The Bookclubz Team loves to read. Here's a quick intro to who's working behind the scenes to keep Bookclubz up and running in support of all of the fabulous book clubs on our site and our favorite books from 2020. Olivia is Bookclubz Manager of Community Support and Partnerships. Erica is our Social Media Manager. Anderson is our Chief Impact Officer. Nancy and I are Cofounders. We hope our list of favorites - and why - inspires your reading into the new year. Happy Holidays from Bookclubz! 

 

Olivia Markowski

About the Book: This book is about two twin sisters who run away together from the black southern community they grew up in, and find themselves pulled apart as they indvidually embark on two very different life paths.

Why I loved it: This book made me really consider the importance of a person's roots, and how this affects our overall identity and the decisions we make in life.

Olivia Markowski

About the Book: This book entails a secret society of women whose sole purpose is to violate the rules put in place by a patriarchal society by reclaiming their space through their appetites.

Why I loved it: In a world where women are expected to do the opposite, I found this book about women actively taking up space very refreshing. As a woman, I could relate to the issues of over apologizing, compartmentalizing and shrinking oneself to fit in a box of what is expected, and so this book really spoke to me.

Erica Eliot

About the Book: A Little Life follows four college classmates as they move to New York. Their relationships deepen over the decades, and ultimately they are all held together by their devotion to their friend Jude — an enigmatic man scarred by childhood trauma.

Why I loved it: I read this book several years ago and returned to it early this year. A friend (actually, I think Anna!) once described it to me as "The best book I've ever read that I would never recommend to anyone," and that holds very true. It's so deeply moving, and such a beautiful depiction of family and friendship in the twenty-first century. It's difficult and traumatic and quite operatic. I don't think I've ever read anything like it.

Erica Eliot

About the Book: Writers & Lovers follows Casey, a 31 year old writer who is determined to live a creative life. More deeply, though, it's a novel that explores the terrifying and exhilarating leap between the end of one phase of life and the beginning of another.

Why I loved it: I began Writers & Lovers thinking it would be any easy, guilty pleasure read — and quickly realized that was not the case. I was surprised at how deeply I identified with Casey, the protagonist, in her desires to fulfill her creative ambitions at any cost (and sometimes, to her detriment). As artists, our work becomes our identity in ways we're not often prepared for, and we often are willing to sacrifice everything else in life because we believe so strongly in our craft. King beautifuly captures the vulnerable, terrifying feelings of living a creative life.

Anna Ford

About the Book: In her memoir, Power offers an urgent response to the question "What can one person do?" and a call for a clearer eye, a kinder heart, and a more open and civil hand in our politics and daily lives. The Education of an Idealist traces Power’s distinctly American journey from immigrant to war correspondent to presidential Cabinet official.

Why I loved it: I love a memoir that's even more enthralling than fiction, and Samantha Power's incredible life tale provides just that. I had followed Power's career as a human rights activist, humanitarian, and forgeign policy official, but learned so much more about her personal and professional experiences, some truly unbelievable, in her well written and fast paced memoir. Highly recommend!!

Anna Ford

About the Book: After Leila has been murdered and left in a dumpster outside Istanbul, she enters a final state of awareness in her last moments. She contemplates her mortal existence before eternal rest with sensuous descriptions of her difficult journey. Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life—friends who are now desperately trying to find her

Why I loved it: This was the most interesting book I read this year. It uncovers the injustice faced by many women in Turkey through the tale of Leila and her supportive and loving group of outcast friends. I read this novel at the exact same time women in Turkey began sharing black and white photos of murdered women and girls this summer with the hashtag #womensupportingwomen to raise awareness about injustices against women in Turkey. Millions of women across the world accepted the challenge, which gave my read of this novel enhanced meaning.

Anderson Smith

About the Book: The Alchemist is a tale of humanity, of a   protagonist on a journey of uncertainty,   guided by love, to find the greatest   treasure  of all, the self. Through Coelho,   we journey with Santiago, a dream-   chasing, ambitious shepherd, as he travels   in search of hidden treasure believed to be  in Egypt. 

Why I loved it: This book speaks to me on so many levels, and for the past few years, I've decided to make it an annual read. For me, The Alchemist is a reminder that what is essential in life is not money or material things; the true gift of life is the experiences that we have with one another.

Anderson Smith

About the Book: Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed is a hand book for people who are interested in linking education with social change. According to Freire, in order for the oppressed to receive absolute freedom, they must design their own pedagogy whereby they present their social experiences as themes for critical analysis.

Why I loved it: People learn through dialogue with each other. With our latest "Advancing Antiracism Through Literature Speaker Series" The reason why I love this book is becuase it is foundational to being an antiracist, and serves as a reminder that we are all connected.

Nancy Brown

About the Book: Know My Name is a memoir by American author Chanel Miller. Miller writes about being sexually assaulted in January 2015, as well as the aftermath and subsequent court case People v. Turner.

Why I loved it: This was a book that had been on "my want to read" shelf since it was published in 2019. I knew it would be tough to read, but I cracked it open in July. It shattered me in both painful and beautiful ways. It unlocked a new narrative on sexual assault, a narrative that is vastly complicated, nuanced and critical for us all to better understand. I'm grateful for Chanel's bravery and that she shared her experience with the world.

Nancy Brown

About the Book: Such a Fun Age is a story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.

Why I loved it: The combination of a skillfull storyteller and a national reckoning with race in America, made this book a 2020 standout for me. I believe the most illuminating lessons and insight exist in the pages of fiction and I learned more in this heartful story about the different worlds we walk through than any other text this year.

 

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