What We’re Reading is a column about readers and the books they love, in their own words. This month, three readers shared their choice for the best book they read this year and why it was their favorite.
Book: “When You Look Like Us” by Pamela N. Harris.
“’When You Look Like Us’ strikes a chord with me because it explores what happens when children of color go missing. I had a cousin go missing when I was in college, so I felt every bit of the protagonist’s pain as he tried to grapple with the pain of his missing sibling. Aside from the subject matter, Pamela crafts a brilliant story that flawlessly balances pacing, structure, and deep character development. I can’t recommend it enough!”
Book: “Strange Weather in Tokyo” by Hiromi Kawakami, translated by Allison Markin Powell
“Tsukiko is a woman in her 30s, who lives a very isolated life. One night she encounters a former teacher, many decades her senior, in a neighborhood bar in Tokyo, where they both live. Tsukiko and “Sensei,” as she calls him, embark on a peculiar, moving, food- and sake-filled friendship.
I am almost a decade late to this gem of a book. I’m so glad I found it this year, though. It’s beautifully written with almost no plot – I find plots, generally, to be pretty overrated; please read my novels – but with characters and dialogue and settings that draw you right into their small, intimate world.
The long, detailed, sensuous descriptions of food and drink – so much food and drink – make you feel as if you’re eating and drinking right there with Tsukiko and Sensei, as they challenge each other, and move toward and away from one another, navigating their aloneness with the affection they feel for each other. The book is both sweet and melancholy, and I just loved it. It helped take me outside of my own worries, and the smallness of my own world for a little bit, in this very odd year.”
Book: “Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions” by Marco Giordano
“My favorite book this year was a cozy mystery set in Sicily. Probably because we couldn’t travel due to the pandemic, I loved reading Mario Giordano’s description of the Sicilian people, the food and the countryside. Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions is a witty, bawdy cozy mystery, with no gore or on-page violence — but there’s plenty of sleuthing in this whodunit. The heroine is a 60-year-old woman who loves to drink and is in a bit of a funk, at least until she decides to solve a murder. This is definitely worth your time if you’re feeling a bit of wanderlust while cooped up inside.”