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Water Cooler: Books you might have missed in 2020

UPDATED: Tue., Dec. 29, 2020

“Red Dress in Black and White” was one of 2020’s best books.  (Courtesy photo)
“Red Dress in Black and White” was one of 2020’s best books. (Courtesy photo)

Before getting caught up with 2021’s book releases, here are some of the highlights from 2020 that you might have missed.

“All Adults Here,” by Emma Straub – Warm insights into the flaws, struggles and joys of parenting that spans generations.

“Latitudes of Longing,” by Shubhangi Swarup – The weaving of interconnected stories between a range of remarkable characters that captures the magic of the world and its inhabitants.

“Red Dress in Black and White,” by Elliot Ackerman – Catherine is an American who has been married to Murat, a Turkish real estate developer, for many years. They have a son together where they live in bustling, modern-day Istanbul. Catherine decides to return to the States with her lover, but Murat takes a stand and subsequently becomes ensnared in deception and corruption.

“Long Bright River,” by Liz Moore – Two sisters who once used to be inseparable are now at odds, divided by addiction and commitment to the law. Mickey is a dedicated police officer and when her addict sister Kacey disappears, she goes headlong into finding the culprits and recovering her sister. As her search commences, the tale is interwoven with stories from their childhood.

“Topics of Conversation,” by Miranda Popkey – A story of conversations between women – what things they tell each other and what they tell about themselves. It flows between topics of self-destruction, success, motherhood, loneliness, love, shame, infidelity, anger, desire and more to paint a sweeping portrait of womanhood.

“The Girl With the Louding Voice,” by Abi Daré – A triumphant and heartbreaking tale that follows a teenage girl living in a Nigerian village who fights for an education so she can find her “louding voice” to speak up for herself. Her determination helps her build the future she envisions for herself and speaks to the power of never giving up on your dreams.

“The Glass Hotel,” by Emily St. John Mandel – Pure storytelling fun with the exhilarating story of a massive, collapsing Ponzi scheme and it’s suspicious convergence with the disappearance of a woman from a container ship between ports.

“Luster,” by Raven Leilani – Edie, a Black 20-something, is stumbling her way through a subpar living situation and a mundane admin job, meets Eric, a white family man and digital archivist from New Jersey whose wife has agreed to an open marriage. This absorbing and sexually charged portrait of a young woman illustrates her attempt to make sense of life and believe in herself.

“Homeland Elegies,” by Ayad Akhtar – This deeply personal work blends fiction and fact to tell a story of identity and belonging to a nation and people that seem to be tearing apart. Attempting to make sense of it all through the lens of a story that follows one family, the author analyzes the consequences of having or not having access to the American dream.

“Leave the World Behind,” by Rumaan Alam – A slow-burning, apocalyptic suspense that explores the bonds reshaped and forged through moments of crisis, with class, parenthood and race all in the mix. Amanda and Clay head out to Long Island for a vacation and quality family time, but a sudden citywide blackout interrupts their plans. They wonder if their rural and isolated vacation home is safe to stay at.

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