This Must Be The Place, by Maggie O’Farrell
There are only one or two books a year I can’t bear to see end, and this is one for 2016. Set in Ireland and…all over really, Daniel and Claudette (sigh) are just two of the flawed, charming characters trying to weather their relationship with their complicated blended families. Poor Daniel can’t catch an emotional break from life and Claudette is a stubborn recluse who ran away from fame. This extended family suffers the death of loved ones, alcoholism, infertility and ultimately a beautiful redemption. I admire an author that uses multiple view points. By the end of this one I felt like I knew these people intimately which, for me, is the ultimate beauty of any novel.
The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo, by Amy Schumer
Okay, I realize she isn’t for everyone, but hear me out. I am a sucker for the humorous essay (David Sedaris is probably my all time favorite writer because he can make me laugh out loud). So even if you don’t find her as hilarious as I do, her memoir is more than funny, it also gave me the feels. One chapter had me peeing in my pants as she critiques her teenage journals as an older, wiser adult and the next had me in tears about her tumultuous family life, especially when the focus is on her larger-than-life father struggling with MS. She is honest about money and fame and her tales of enduring the press junket for the movie Trainwreck are priceless. In a celebrity world of phonies she is all about girl power and letting your freak flag fly (pictures included). I heart Amy Schumer.
Vinegar Girl, by Anne Tyler
I was intrigued when I learned that Anne Tyler had taken part in the Hogarth Shakespeare Project, in which celabrated authors take on updating a work by the Bard. In this case, The Taming Of The Shrew. Kate is indeed a shrew (I pictured a grumpy Anna Kendrick) but by no means a un-likeable character (I hate that!!) She lives with her odd, but loveable, professor father and one very ditzy sister, in a clever tale about arranged marriage. If you hated Shakespeare in high school, relax, this retelling has no Olde English to decipher and stays true to one of the “comedies,” an amusing, quick read.