What a spectacular year of reading! I rated 66 books as 8/10 (a real standard of excellence) or higher. Two books impressed me beyond belief, with perfect 10/10 scores. The Top 10, comprising those two and eight 9/10 triumphs, amount to an eclectic banquet. Last year half of the Top 10 were nonfiction books, this year there are only two (which doesn’t mean I didn’t read many outstanding nonfiction books). Of the eight novels, four are literary fiction or general fiction, and four are genre novels (two science fiction, one spy thriller, one mystery). (The links below take you to my review.)
Bewilderment (10/10) by genius novelist Richard Powers—a haunting tale of a father and his troubled son,
Michael Lewis’s The Premonition (10/10)—a riveting, illuminating tale of a group of analytical American officials and analysts who understand Covid-19 as soon as it hits their shores.
Garry Disher’s The Way It Is Now—the crown of top Australian crime fiction author rests on Disher’s head and this deeply satisfying standalone mystery, featuring a young cop on the Mornington Peninsula pursuing his mother’s disappearance long ago, follows hot on the heels of the propulsive and haunting Consolation.
Mick Herron’s Slough House—buckle up for a brilliant ride with the seventh in the Jackson Lamb spy thriller series.
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins—a moving epic about a mother and her son fleeing Mexico to Los Estados Unidos.
Amor Towles’s The Lincoln Highway—as stunning as A Gentleman in Moscow (one of my favorite novels of the last half decade), a grand tale of two brothers’ quest to drive on the Lincoln Highway from New York to San Francisco in 1954.
Joanna Glen’s All My Mothers—a brilliantly written saga of a woman finding her place. Reader, I wept.
Peter Stott’s Hot Air—the most revealing and compelling insider story of climate science heroics that I have read.
Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanderMeer—a glorious, deep thriller set in a near future of species’ extinction.
Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future—hard science fiction addressing near-term climate change. Stellar story-making to boot. You won’t forget the first chapter.