You already know by now that we’re completely obsessed with books at AdBiblio. We’re a team of devoted bookworms, and while we don’t get a chance to read everything that we promote (IF ONLY!!), we do try to read as many as we can devour each year. Here is a small sampling of a few of our personal favorite books that we were lucky enough to help promote in 2020:
The Great Realization – Tomos Roberts
2020 has been a year of unparalleled challenges for our lifetime, and this illustrated children’s poem takes a hopeful (and colorful!) approach to discussing the Covid-19 pandemic with youngsters and optimists of all ages. Beautifully illustrated by award-winning artist Nomoco, this picture book offers small moments of peace and reassurance about humanity’s collective future.
Afterlife – Julia Alvarez
From the author of How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, this heartfelt page-turner follows recently-widowed Antonia who is trying to find her footing in the midst of grief and a chain of personal emergencies that upend her life in unexpected ways. Afterlife is a story of resilience, hope, and healing that also confronts issues like mental illness, immigration, race, identity, and trauma. It will break your heart but also teach you how to put yourself back together again.
Creatures – Crissy Van Meter
This stunning debut from Crissy Van Meter tells the unique coming-of-age story of Evie – a young woman who reckons with her complicated upbringing on the eve of her wedding. With her fiancee (possibly) lost at sea and her estranged mother’s unexpected return to the small island where she abandoned her daughter years ago, Evie is overwhelmed with family dynamics and confronted with issues of trauma, abandonment, identity, friendship, and parenthood. Poetic, lyrical and quite strange, Creatures is filled with memorable characters and heartfelt observations about life’s messiness and beauty.
Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea – Meena Harris
Written by Kamala Harris’s niece, Meena, and illustrated by Ana Ramírez González, this beautiful picture book tells the story of young Kamala and her sister, Maya, as they take on a big and wonderful community project. The apartment building they live in doesn’t have a playground for the children, so the sisters decide to get organized, and with the help of friends, family and neighbors, the playgound begins to take shape! This inspirational story will remind readers that great things can be accomplished by working together and building strong communities. Lending (and accepting) a helping hand can go a long way.
The Magnolia Code – Joan Brooks Baker
When Joan Brooks Baker was growing up in post-WWII NYC, her upbringing was dictated by “The Magnolia Code” – an unspoken but clearly defined set of rules for how young ladies should behave. This code served as a behavioral model for her southern family for generations, but the buck stopped with Joan! Baker rejected these classist, elitist, and patriarchal standards and dared to forge her own way, inspired by the rebellious women in her life who she admired. Her compelling and fascinating story (complete with beautiful photographs from her lifelong photography career) is documented here for the first time, ready to inspire a new generation of feminist, photographers, and dreamers alike.
Piranesi – Susanna Clarke
From the New York Times bestselling author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Piranesi is a magically strange and wonderful novel set in a dreamlike reality. Piranesi’s house is a labyrinth of infinite halls surrounded by oceans and filled with marvelous statues. It’s a place where waves thunder up staircases and rooms are flooded within seconds. There is only one other person in the house – a man called the Other, who is on a mission to find more about A Great and Secret Knowledge. Piranesi is happy to explore the house for The Other, but the more he documents the labyrinth, the more he begins to question his own existence. Piranesi is a richly-imagined fantasy that once again puts Susanna Clarke in a league of her own.
Women Talking – Miriam Toews
Based on real events, Women Talking covers the full range of human emotion, moving seamlessly between humor, horror, and heartbreak. Will this group of isolated and illiterate Mennonite women make their escape before the abusive men of their colony return? Or will they decide to stay in the only world they’ve ever known? After flying through this book in only a couple of days, I’ve been recommending it far and wide.
My Name is Lucy Barton – Elizabeth Strout
I absolutely loved this subtle and complex slow-burn of a novel. When Lucy Barton’s mother comes to visit her in the hospital after an operation, their conversations center primarily around lighthearted gossip. But lurking under the surface is a haunting history of childhood trauma and a deep yearning for family, love, and connection.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V.E. Schwab
It’s France, 1714, and Adeline is dreading her wedding day. In a desperate attempt to escape this mundane fate and live a life of free will, she makes a deal with a demon called the “darkness.” But, like any deal with the Devil, there are strings attached. She may live as long as she wants, but will be remembered by no one. As Addie spends 300 years traveling from Paris to Venice to Munich to New York City, she soon learns the true pain of this curse – the world is a very lonely place when you are easily forgotten. That is, until she finally meets someone who remembers her. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a modern day fairy tale and a fantastic tribute to a life fully lived.
With or Without You – Caroline Leavitt
This compelling novel tells the story of Stella, a nurse in NYC who is in a faltering relationship. Before she can have the “we need to talk” discussion with her boyfriend Simon (who also feels less of a spark in their romance), Stella has an accident and slips into a coma for two months. When she wakes up, everything is different. Aside from the usual cognitive complications and her newfound ability to draw incredibly intimate portraits of people that capture their emotional auras, Stella also must grapple with the feelings she left behind, and the new feelings she didn’t expect to face. A story about the resilience and adaptability of the human body and the human spirit, With or Without You is a heartfelt page-turner with a philosophical edge.