Morning Buzz

Buzziest Reads in 2021 (so far)

Cindy Burnett
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The Chanel Sisters and Hamnet

Multiple people rated The Chanel Sisters and Hamnet as their favorites so far for 2021. 

As I am sure everyone knows, I love to talk about books – what people have read and liked, what they have disliked, why they chose a book, and pretty much anything else book related. But I particularly love to talk about books that really resonated with people and then hear why. 

I decided this week to poll some of my reader friends to hear what they have loved so far in 2021. My own favorites that I have read in 2021 are The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, Come Fly the World: The Jet-Age Story of the Women of Pan Am by Julia Cooke, and Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner.

Here are what the Buzz residents and other Houstonians have read and loved so far in 2021:

Lori Fisher

Lori Fisher shares her favorites reads of 2021.

Laura Torgerson - My favorite book this year is probably Anxious People by Fredrik Backman because it was so quirky and odd, but it was a reminder that we all have more in common than not. I will say that at the end of the book where he thanked those who contributed caused me to lose it – it just broke my heart where he wrote that he was sorry he could not save that friend. Like Nora Ephron said, “Everything is copy” - including all the heartbreaking stuff.

Adrienne Vanderbloemen - My very favorite book so far was The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little.

Lori Fisher - My best books for 2021 are The Midnight Library by Matt Haig - great, unusual story and The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little - so fascinating!

Kelly Hogan - My recommendation for everyone is to not just read Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, but listen to it as well. They have different speakers for each character and it’s read like a documentary. Familiar voices from real trained actors made it so interesting. I kept googling because I couldn’t believe the story wasn’t real. 

Chris Cander - Best book so far is Zorrie by Laird Hunt. This gorgeously written story of one woman’s quiet life is like Marilynne Robinson (Gilead) meets Robert Goolrick (Heading Out to Wonderful) meets John Williams (Stoner). An empathetic and propulsive look at life against the events and challenges of the 20th century.  

Mary Anne Stoner - Best books read so far this year were The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Chanel Sisters was an amazing look into the creative genius of women despite enormous obstacles, and The Great Gatsby is so beautifully written that you didn't want to rush through a page. Fitzgerald's characters were so alive and tragic.

Lynn Detrick - There have been so many distractions in early 2021, not the least of which was tracking down vaccine appointments, that I have read just two books: The Promised Land by Barack Obama and Maggie O'Farrell's Hamnet. Obama's memoir is strikingly well-written and candid. It is filled with personal detail as well as insightful profiles of the many players who helped shape events during his first term. He shares his thoughts, his frustrations, his doubts, and hopes as he dealt with crisis after crisis and sought to implement his agenda in a very partisan Washington. And he talks frankly about what it meant to be the first Black President. Hamnet, which is subtitled a Novel of the Plague, is a book about grief and loss and about a troubled, complicated, but loving marriage. Working with the few facts known of Shakespeare's life, O'Farrell explores how the death of his 11-year son Hamnet fueled the creation of one his greatest plays. But the heart of the book is Shakespeare's wife, who in O'Farrell portrayal, is a forcible, dauntless woman with unusual gifts of healing and insight. The book is filled with vivid, sensual details, intense emotion and extraordinary dream images.

Ruth Bauer-Garcia - My two five-star reads were The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison and Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, but my favorite is definitely Hamnet.  Some people prefer to escape with lighter reading, but I love to escape with literary fiction. Unfortunately, I find that many recent releases are full of trauma. Although there is death in Hamnet, because it takes place centuries ago and it's so beautifully written, I found myself being carried away by the beautiful writing.

Kristen Flores - My favorite book so far this year is The Guest List by Lucy Foley. Reading it with no electricity or heat really brought the dark, cold and rainy setting to life!

Thanks to everyone who shared their favorite reads of the year so far – I really enjoyed seeing what people recommended. I was thrilled to see The Chanel Sisters by Houstonian Judithe Little mentioned repeatedly because it was one of my favorites of 2020, and she and I did a Q & A in early January for Page Turners. Moreover, her Thoughts from a Page podcast interview is my highest listened-to episode!

Drop your favorite read of 2021 so far in the comments below – I look forward to seeing them.

For more book recommendations and bookish thoughts, see Cindy’s monthly Buzz Reads column, her Thoughts from a Page Podcast or follow @ThoughtsFromaPage on Instagram. Find upcoming Conversations from a Page events here.

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