Kat’s 2023 Book List

Fiction

  1. Where We Belong, by Catherine Ryan Hyde. This was the fifth book I’ve read by Hyde, an author I like for her old-school style and heartwarming subject matter (e.g., kids, dysfunctional families, animals, curmudgeons). In this one, 14-year-old Angie is the glue that keeps her struggling family – an immature mother who depends too much on Angie and a sister on the autism spectrum with severe behavioral issues – together. A Great Dane and retirement-age man with his own issues (though not quite a curmudgeon) play roles. I always know I will enjoy Hyde’s wholesome and engaging storytelling and am glad she has many more books in her oeuvre for me to enjoy. Reading her books feels like wrapping myself in a soft, warm, cozy blanket.
  2. Fleishman Is in Trouble, by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. I became obsessed with the TV series based on this book and figured the book would be similar since Brodesser-Akner plays a major role in the show’s production. Though the series hews closely to the book, the book offers many choice writing tidbits that might have been difficult to depict on TV. The writing is witty and wonderful. I enjoyed picturing the two central characters as the actors who played them in the series (Jesse Eisenberg and Claire Danes), although the book’s description of Toby Fleishman was not much like Eisenberg.
  3. Honor, by Thrity Umrigar, is the sixth Umrigar novel I’ve read. While she often tells tales about “women of a certain age,” the protagonist of Honor is younger, and a journalist. Honor is a good follow up to The Parted Earth (not by Umrigar), which I read last year. In that novel, I expanded my knowledge of partition of India in 1947, which divided British India into India and Pakistan along religious lines, with Muslims in Pakistan and Hindus in India. Honor deals with the journalist’s reporting of Hindu brutality toward a a mixed Hindu-Muslim couple and about the journalist’s own experience growing up of Hindu cruelty toward her Muslim family. While I’ve liked some of Umrigar’s books more than others, I find all of them reliable for their storytelling in a genre that has become one of my favorites – Indian and Indian-American Women.

Nonfiction

  1. Spare, by Prince Harry. Lots of Harry Haters seemed to emerge when this memoir came out; I haven’t read any positive reviews. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Harry because he was born just a couple weeks before my daughter was. I liked the book. Harry’s intense, life-long pain from losing his mother the way he did at age 12 permeates the book, and I’m sure has colored all his emotions and actions since, as well as his roller-coaster relationship with the rest of the royal family and the institution of the monarchy. His lifelong hatred of the media needs no explanation. I found it especially enlightening to listen to Harry read his memoir via audiobook. I was surprised/not surprised he used a ghostwriter because he sounded so natural and conversational reading his saga. Like we were friends and he was telling me about himself. It’s certainly an unprecedented glimpse into royal life in the 21st century – and almost exclusively the 21st because he says very little about his life before Diana’s 1997 death. How else could I have learned of his princely frostbitten penis from his trek to the North Pole?

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