Do you use Goodreads? Goodreads is popular book recommendations and cataloguing website. It’s a great place to find book reviews and recommendations, and you can also use it to keep track of books you have read, owned, or want to read.
Goodreads also runs the annual Goodreads Choice Awards, one of the biggest popularly-voted book prizes around. There are 20 different categories, and winners are chosen in November each year. For your reading inspiration, here’s a selection of the winners from last year:
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (Winner for Fiction)
Margaret Atwood was inspired to write this sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale when its TV adaptation resonated so strongly with audiences around the world. The Testaments is set 15 years after the events in Handmaid’s Tale, and is ostensibly the story of how Aunt Lydia – the highest ranking female oppressor in Gilead – joined the Establishment. In doing so, Margaret Atwood has created a tense and riveting novel that challenges us to question the truth and value of testimony. Besides the Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction, The Testaments was also a joint-winner of last year’s Booker Prize.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (Winner for Mystery and thriller)
The Silent Patient of the title is Alicia, a famous painter married to Gabriel, an in-demand fashion photographer. Alicia adores Gabriel, and their lives seem perfect, until the day she shoots him and then stops speaking. Six years later, Theo Faber, a criminal psychotherapist, seeks out Alicia because he is fascinated by Alicia’s crime. He is determined to make her talk, and thus unravel the mystery surrounding her case. Alex Michaelides has cleverly built a modern psychological thriller around the ancient Greek tragedy of Alcestis, and his own extensive knowledge of psychotherapy. In tight, uncluttered prose, he slowly peels back the layers of Alicia’s past, skilfully building tension until the novel’s shocking denouement.
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (Winner for Fantasy)
Leigh Bardugo, beloved YA author of the Grishaverse, has extended her range with Ninth House, her first adult fiction book. She brings her immersive world-building into an urban fantasy setting, creating an alternate-Yale that marries the mystique of normal-life social privilege and traditions, with mysterious secret societies that practise powerful magic. Ninth House skilfully weaves together many elements, including noir, criminal procedural thriller, fish-out-of-water otherness, and personal growth, into a grungy, sinister and alluring story. Compulsively readable.
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (Winner for Romance, and best Debut Novel)
Casey McQuiston won both the Best Debut and Best Romance awards for her funny, upbeat romantic comedy, Red White & Royal Blue. Set in an alternate reality, it applies the classic enemies-to-lovers trope to a secret romance between the Prince of Wales and the First Son of the United States. Full of pop cultural references and a sweet optimism, its popularity exploded by word-of-mouth. Red White & Royal Blue is a great example of queer rom-coms that is adding fresh, diverse fun to the Romance genre. You can catch Casey McQuiston at this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival Online, later in August.
Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets and Advice for Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong (Winner for Humour)
Dear Girls is structured as a set of letters to Ali Wong’s daughters, but is definitely not for kids! Her writing is a direct extension of her raunchy, uncompromising comedy shows, and if you’re already familiar with her work, you’ll be hearing this book in her voice. Ali Wong uses her sharp, self-deprecating humour to tell wide-ranging, intimate stories about her life, from her sexual experimentation, failed gigs, drug experiences, her heartbreaking miscarriage and the impact of her father’s death. Dear Girls is also surprisingly inspirational – time and again, Ali Wong turns failure and vulnerability into personal strength and motivation for betterment.
Girl, Stop Apologizing: a Shame-free Plan for Embracing and Achieving your Goals by Rachel Hollis (Winner for Non-fiction)
There’s something about Rachel Hollis’ pithy, down-to-earth, just-between-us-girls voice that is both quote-worthy and has the urgency of a siren. She is inspirational yet totally relatable – a successful working mom of four who tells it like it is, is full of positivity and isn’t afraid to be vulnerable or to admit failure. Girl, Stop Apologizing is her clarion call to women to stop apologising for their desires, hopes, and dreams, and instead to go after them with passion and confidence. She argues that women are brought up to prioritise the needs of other people, and provide useful strategies to help change this mindset and start prioritising and investing in ourselves.