2021 Author Alphabet Challenge – Complete!

At the beginning of 2021, I set out to read a book by one author for each letter of the alphabet, and I have done it! This was such a fun challenge and introduced me to new books or authors I likely wouldn’t have picked up otherwise, which is always fun. There were some great reads in here, and some that weren’t exactly my cup of tea, but I had a really great time with it and I can’t wait to go through the alphabet again with book titles next year!

Now, since there are 26 to go through here, my reviews/descriptions aren’t going to be incredibly in-depth, but you can always find all of these on Goodreads or drop me a line or a comment below for more detail!

Here’s a quick look at my journey through the alphabet:

A – Atwood, Margaret (Hag-Seed)

In this Tempest retelling, an ousted theatre director becomes a producer in the clink, rallying an array of inmates to put on the works of Shakespeare — until his chance to seek revenge finally arrives.

B – Bieker, Chelsea (Godshot)

Gritty and darkly humorous, Godshot is a look at cult life mixed with environmental devastation and a small slice of real-world dystopia thrown in. If you don’t mind being lightly unsettled and you like stories of solid female friendship, give this one a (god)shot.

C – Crouch, Blake (Recursion)

Holy moly, this was one of the best books I’ve ever read. Amid an outbreak of False Memory Syndrome, questions of identity and reality come into play. Recursion is mind-boggling to boot and one you won’t easily be able to put down.

D – Dolan, Naoise (Exciting Times)

Big Conversations With Friends vibes here but without so much of the punch. A pretty good look at millennial ex-pat life but a little disjointed at times.

E – Engel, Patricia (Infinite Country)

This one’s hard to write about… The themes and perspectives are so important but some of the narrative is a little messy. BUT, there are some poignant looks at the stories behind immigration.

F – Flynn, Gillian (Sharp Objects)

Another pretty unsettling one — a Chicago journalist returns to her hometown to investigate and report on some pretty grizzly disappearances and murders, and the culprit will definitely surprise you!

G – Garvin, Eileen (The Music of Bees)

A sweet story of unlikely characters crossing paths and bonding over the nuanced and intricate art of beekeeping.

H – Hawkins, Rachel (The Wife Upstairs)

Another retelling! This is a cool, suburban mystery twist on Jane Eyre with a really fast-paced plot. If you need a quick and easy read, this is it.

I – Igharo, Jane (Ties That Tether)

This one was kind of a let-down….what was billed as a deep look at interracial or intercultural relationships in a Nigerian family kind of turned out to just be a mid-level romance novel.

J – Jones, Jenny B. (There You’ll Find Me)

I read this because the movie looked super cute, and the book kind of was, too, except for a lot of really problematic language around weight and body image. But there’s some geat Ireland imagery!

K – Kubica, Mary (The Good Girl)

A twisty story of a one night stand gone super wrong. A slow burn and not always spectacularly written, but it was definitely entertaining.

L – Leitch, Will (How Lucky)

Great, great, great. Humorous and intentional, How Lucky is the story of a homebound, wheelchair-using young man with speech complications who witnesses an abduction right outside his front door and tries to help solve the case.

M – Martinez-Belli, Laura (The Empress)

So, the novel itself was a bit moderate, but I learned so much in this one about the Hapsburg occupation in Mexico in the 1800s. Who knew?!

N – Nunez, Sigrid (What Are You Going Through)

A short but full book about life, death, companionship, language, honesty, expression, and so much more.

O – O’Donnell, Paraic (The House on Vesper Sands)

Set in Victorian England, The House on Vesper Sadnds is comprised of brushes with the supernatural, a series of mysterious disappearcances, and a cohort of unlikely characters here to solve the case.

P – Pooley, Clare (The Authenticity Project)

This was really fun! One travelling notebook is passed among six complete strangers, linking them together — and there’s no going back.

Q – Quindlen, Anna (One True Thing)

An NYC journalist returns to her small town to take care of her ailing mother — and winds up accused of causing her mother’s death. A promising plot line, but it felt a little slow.

R – Royce, Deborah Goodrich (Finding Mrs. Ford)

I LOVED this book, and particularly recommend it to my metro-Detroit pals! When a mysterious man emerges from Mrs. Ford’s past, her carefully crafted life begins to come into question.

S – Schwab, V. E. (The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue)

Addie LaRue can live forever, but no one can remember her — except for one man. If you like time travel, slow burns, and YA fantasy, you’ll like this one!

T – Toole, John Kennedy (A Confederacy of Dunces)

Equal parts Quixotic and Dickensian, A Confederacy of Dunces follows Ignatius J. Reilly on a farcical journey among the New Orleans (faux-)intelligentsia.

U – Unsworth, Emma Jane (Grown-Ups)

This was described as “Fleabag meets Conversations with Friends”, which had me so intrigued, but didn’t quite live up to the billing. Some good takes on social media and its pervasiveness, though!

V – Valdez Quade, Kirstin (The Five Wounds)

Five generations of a New Mexico family converge over the span of one year to navigate relationships of all kinds: broken, familial, unrequited, forbidden, and beyond. A hefty read, but well worth the investment.

W – Wang, Kathy (Impostor Syndrome)

A tech startup exec risks being outed as her true self: a Russian spy. Will she follow orders and cash in the long game she’s been playing, or will she defy her training in order to protect herself, her family, and her company?

X – Xu Zhimao (Selected Poems)

Gorgeous poetry reminiscent of Auden or Hardy, with a few other classic English poets thrown in. This was an exciting find this year, as I likely wouldn’t have ventured into Chinese poetry without this challenge!

Y – Young, Samantha (Much Ado About You)

I realllllly did not like this book, but instead of talking about it more here, you can just read about it in my review here!

Z – Zevin, Gabrielle (The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry)

A heartwarming story of a lovable curmudgeon and the joy and — dare we say it — love he finds in a very unexpected companion.

As I mentioned, these are just brief little reflections, but I am happy to talk more about any of these! Drop a comment below if you want to know more, and let me know how your reading goals have been this year!

Xx.

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