We’re hurtling towards the end of the year, and so it’s time for my annual lookback at what I read this year and for me to try and pick my favourite things. Today we’re looking at the new release fiction that I’ve loved this year. And trust me when I say it’s been tough! And it doesn’t happen often, but for once some of the books that I loved have made it onto a bunch of best books of the year lists. Oh and I should add that this only looks at standalone books and not later instalments in series.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin*
I’ve already recommended Gabrielle Zevin’s novel to a bunch of people – and it’s been named Amazon’s Book of the Year, as well as being voted Fiction book of the year in Goodreads Choice Awards as well as Book of the Month’s favourite of the year in their vote and it’s on The Atlantic’s Most Thought-Provoking Books of the Year too. It’s a hard one to describe – even Zevins says she struggles! – although I did give it a go in my BotW review but it’s a story about friendships and opportunities missed and love all set in the world of computer games development. I think there’s something here for most people, even if they’re not expecting it. It’s being turned into a movie – so read it now and be ahead of the game!
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
And another of my favourites that other people are picking too is Bonnie Garmus’ novel about Elizabeth Zott. It also won a prize at the Goodreads Choice awards – this time best debut, but it’s also on the Good Housekeeping list, and she’s also Waterstones’ Author of the Year. Elizabeth is a chemist turned TV chef who uses her platform to try and improve women’s lives, all while bringing up her daughter alone. I read this the same week that I read The Unsinkable Greta James (see below) – so this ended up in Quick Reviews rather than as a BotW – but it was in my best books of the first half of the year – and I’ve kept recommending it since, but do please bear in mind the warning for sexual violence and death early in the book. This one is also getting an adaptation this time into a series – Brie Larson is starring in it and it’s going to be on Apple TV+ next year apparently.
Book Lovers by Emily Henry*
I’ve actually done quite well in the Goodreads Choice awards this year – because Book Lovers won Best Romance – beating out TikTok favourite Colleen Hoover, even if you add her two nominated books together! This is big city literary agent in a small town for the summer where she discovers a professional enemy is also in residence. It’s a delight – I love enemies to lovers romances as you know and add a twist on the small town trope and it’s just a delight.
The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E Smith
Now this got a whole lot less attention than the picks above, which is a shame because I adored it. I picked it as a BotW over Lessons in Chemistry partly because it was lesser known, and it really annoys me that more people haven’t heard about it. Greta is an indie popstar with a problem – she has writers block after her mother’s death and a meltdown on stage. She finds herself accompanying her father on the Alaskan Cruise that he was meant to be taking with her mum and things happen. It’s wonderful if sad at times, but the ending is perfect.
Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn
Now this was nominated for Best Crime and Thriller in the Goodreads Choice, but lost out to Nita Prose’ The Maid, which I read at the start of the year and enjoyed, but I think this is more fun. It’s about a group of women who have spent their lives working for an elite agency of assassins, but upon retiring find that they are now the targets. If you like Raybourn’s historical mystery series, you’ll like this. And if you’ve read the Richard Osman Thursday Murder Club books and are looking for something sort-of similar (The Bullet that Missed was also nominated in the same category) this might well scratch that itch.
That’s my five fiction picks. Honourable mentions should go to Carrie Soto is Back – which won the Historical fiction prize in Goodreaders choice (beating Lessons in Chemistry) – Thank You for Listening, Mad About You and Something Wilder.