Monday, October 18, 2021

Five Memorable Books For 2021


Liquid [Hip] may have been on hiatus, but that doesn't mean we aren't reading books and listening to music. While we're working out some kinks to resurrect how we can share more music again, you can always find a fresh selection of songs sent to us for consideration by following Liquid [Hip] on Twitter

Books are another matter. With only one person really reading books, I can only cover ground on about 45-50 titles a year. And since I'm also a Goodreads author, I tend to post all my reviews there. The reviews are more personal than the full-length writeups we've shared on this site, but the collection is still cool. You can take a look at all of the books I've read this year on Goodreads or scan the list below for the five more memorable reads between Oct. 2020 and Sept. 2021 (plus one bonus title).  

Keep in mind, I chose these books looking back over everything I've read in the last year. Looking at them through this lens, I omitted several favorites like Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike, Devil In A Blue Dress by Walter Mosely, and The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas in favor of books that felt more like surprise discoveries to me. Not all of them are new titles, but they were new to me. Not all of them were even five stars but were memorable for one reason or another. Maybe you'll feel the same.

Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby (9.4) - five stars

By turning his attention to one of his best-drawn characters of writing his career, S.A. Cosby delivers arguably one of the best crime noirs put out last year. Blacktop Wasteland is well crafted, tightly written, and carries a cast of characters with backstories miles deeper than what Cosby ever puts down on the page. As a husband, father, and car mechanic who finds himself on the edge of hard times, protagonist Beauregard “Bug” Montage is immediately likable.  [Full Review on Goodreads.] 


Spearhead by Adam Makos (9.2) - five stars

Spearhead is a compelling book that sheds light on the courage, sacrifice, and humanity of American and German tank soldiers during World War II. Told as an inspiring truth-life adventure, author Adam Makos paints portraits of the men forced to face each other in the liberation of Europe and into Germany. The book begins in occupied Belgium, 1944, as Corporal Clarence Smoyer — a 21-year-old from Penn. — shuttling a 75mm shell to the loader. The tension is set from the onset. [Full Review on Goodreads.] 

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank (9.1) - five stars (but not for everyone)

Alas, Babylon is one of the first apocalyptic novels of the nuclear age and there are plenty of reasons it remains popular. Pat Frank is set in a fictional 1959, with events that do not seem so fictional — two years of escalating tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union for dominance in the Middle East and in the Mediterranean Sea. He capitalizes on the temporary space supremacy the USSR obtained with the launch of Sputnik, but ups the ante to include a massive fleet of militarized Sputniks — casting a sinister foreshadow to what most people saw as a triumph for the United States. [Full Review on Goodreads.]

The Last: A Novel by Hanna Jameson (6.2) - four stars

Hanna Jameson surprises with an easily digestible and entertaining novel about conference attendee Jon Keller during the outbreak of a nuclear war. Two months before the start of the book, Jon is in the lobby of the Swiss L’Hotel Sixieme when he begins to receive push notifications on his phone: nuclear bombs hit Washington, DC, New York, London, and Berlin before the world goes black. [Full Review on Goodreads.]


Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu (4.0) - four stars 

Interior Chinatown is both darkly funny and painfully tragic in its portrayal of the plight of the generic Asian male. Through his protagonist, Willis Wu, Charles Yu tells the tale of Hollywood's penchant for promoting clich├ęs about Asians and Asian-Americans with a character who both plays the generic Asian male (hoping to be Kung Fu guy one day) and treats the narrative of his life in much the same way — as playing a role in a movie. [Full Review on Goodreads]

50 States by Richard R. Becker - your call 

50 States: A collection of short short stories is a bonus title. I wrote it so I won't review it, but I'm happy to say that purchases are moving closer to thousands instead of hundreds thanks to some growing word-of-mouth support and some solid reviews. Here is what Kirkus Reviews had to say: "A cleverly conceived, character-driven, if overstuffed, anthology sure to delight and enchant." [Full Review on Kirkus Reviews]


These are our picks for the year. Perhaps we'll move to a quarterly call out next year. But if you don't want to wait, then I would suggest following me on Goodreads. The site has been a great place for me to keep a book diary of sorts and, more than that, was extremely supportive when I became a Goodreads author. Maybe you'll have the same experience there too.