7 Reading Suggestions in 2021

Often, I don't have enough appreciation for the feeling of reading a great book. We all get so busy in our day-to-day lives that we often brush this activity to the side. 


And who could blame us? We have kids to get off to school, lunches to pack, jobs to do, houses to run, errands, chores, and many other tasks. But as we preach here at Noche, it's essential to take time for yourself and do things for yourself that are acts of self-love. 


Reading is a great way to show yourself some love. A great idea to try and incorporate it more into your life is to instead of waking up or going to bed first thing in the morning and checking your phone, take that time to read a chapter of your book or read for 30 minutes before your day begins or ends. 


Here are some tops books of 2021 that are highly suggested and should be on your reading list as you incorporate them into your life.


1. Milk Fed by Melissa Broder 

Melissa Broder has crafted a dizzily compelling story of love, lust, addiction, faith, maternal longing, and...frozen yogurt. In Milk Fed, a young Los Angeles agent’s assistant battles her obsession with weight loss while simultaneously trying to bury her attraction to the zaftig Orthodox Jewish woman who works at the local fro-yo shop. The stealthy passion between the two women is given room to shine on the pages. This isn’t a book to pick up casually, particularly if you’ve struggled with food issues, but it will linger with you long after you’ve finished the final page. —Emma Specter


2. But You're Still So Young: How Thirtysomethings Are Redefining Adulthood by Karen Schaefer

“What you haven’t done by 30 you’re not likely to do,” John Updike had the nerve to write in his 1971 novel, Rabbit Redux, making a mockery of the idea of moving out of one’s 20s and into the decade when everything is supposed to magically fall into place. Half a century later, up against a gig economy and mounds of student debt, 30-somethings are finding the brass rings of adulthood harder to grasp than flying sticks of butter. Add to the mix a pandemic that, at best, freezes people in place and has done so much worse to millions upon millions. Upward mobility has been a pipe dream for years and years, as Kayleen Schaefer reminds us in her work of milestone myth busting, But You’re So Young. She interviewed her subjects before and during the coronavirus outbreak, and as time passes, the similarities in their stories emerge. Crippling uncertainty weighs on all of the 30-somethings she followed, from the stay-at-home dad and the pair of Los Angeles stand-up comedians to the workaholic founder of a New York–based startup. Clearheaded and full of heart, You’re Still So Young offers a gentle indictment of a broken system and also a soothing message: Nobody’s got it all figured out. —Lauren Mechling


3. Love Like That by Emma Duffy Comparone

At the top of the list of books that have sucked me in without me really knowing why is Emma Duffy Comparone’s debut collection of sharp short stories. The stories in this reminded me of early Mary Karr, with subtly female obligations—of caregiving, career, the ever-present need to cater to the male ego—woven through each tale as sometimes sinister forces, and then picked apart with Comparone’s edgy wit. Her protagonists are jagged, hard-edged women and girls, but they are also, in their unique and quirky way, quite lovable. —Chloe Shama


4. Are You Enjoying? by Mira Sethi

The stories that make up Mira Sethi’s debut collection are set in Pakistan, but that is about where the similarities among her protagonists end: A young actress negotiates power dynamics on and off the set; a divorced man strikes up an affair with his diplomat neighbor. A portrait of a diverse and varied country, told through the emotions and exploits of her characters, Are You Enjoying is a powerful book with a light touch, marking the arrival of an assured storyteller. Sethi, a former journalist and an actor, feels as though she’s operating in a rich tradition of South Asian storytelling, but also, with the distinct and vibrant perspective she offers, making it her own. —Chloe Schama


5. A Bright Ray of Darkness by Ethan Hawke

A Bright Ray of Darkness is Ethan Hawke’s fifth book, yet it reads like a crackling debut: ruminative, raw, and seemingly pretty personal. In it, a film actor named William Harding does his first Broadway show—an ambitious production of Henry IV—while his marriage to a pop star very publicly falls apart. (As photographs of Harding with another woman saturate the tabloids, he can hear the public’s incriminating murmurs wherever he goes.) Divided, like a work of drama, into acts and scenes, the book wrestles with love, lust, fatherhood, and fame, but what it’s mostly about is the occasionally life threatening but ultimately redemptive hard work of making art. If you’ve seen or read Hawke in interviews, you’ll recognize his voice on the page: He’s written characters who speak of craft and ego and character in lengthy, scenery-chewing monologues, even during their off-hours. From another writer, it would be completely exhausting, but from Hawke—who has been a working actor since he was a teenager, and a fine one at that—you can’t help but bend your ear. —Marley Marius


6. Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews

Twenty-something Florence is floundering, making decisions that result in unequivocal emails from the HR department at the New York publishing company where she works. But when our hapless protagonist takes an assistant job with the renowned author who publishes under the pseudonym Maud Dixon, she finds herself tantalizingly proximate to the life she desires. This literary thriller takes on exotic dimension when Florence travels with her patron to Morocco and, following the disappearance of her employer, assumes her identity. This is a rare book that combines a rapid-fire plot with larger questions of authenticity and authorship, creating a distinct work that is as compelling as the mysterious figure at its center.—Chloe Schama


7. Second Place by Rachel Cusk 

A friend once described a Cusk novels as a glass of Sancerre: very dry, very cold, totally perfect. To (perilously) extend this metaphor let’s call Cusk’s new novel Second Place a weird wonderful glass of orange wine, unfiltered, even funky. It takes place on the tidal coastline of England, where a woman (a novelist of “little books”) invites a once prominent painter to come and stay with her and her husband in their guest house (the “second place” of the title). She does this out of an inchoate need to invite disorder and chaos into her life—and perhaps kick off a love affair? No dice. The painter, called L, a wonderfully narcissistic and entitled creation, arrives with a young mistress and proceeds to wreak havoc on everyone’s life (the narrator’s grown daughter and her boyfriend are in residence as well). If the above sounds like a comedy, it’s not: the stakes in Cusk’s slim, erudite novel are too high. Second Place is about how to survive the perils of middle age, how to find both security and freedom in equal measure, and how human longing shades, all too easily, into self-destruction. —Taylor Antrim


Give us some other book suggestions in the comments!

Some more great suggestions can be found here.

1 comment

  • Thank you!

    Cathy A Skutley

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