What to Read in 2021


In celebration of Pride Month, I took a bit of a detour in my reading. You could argue that this is a Women’s Fiction book, but it is in Amazon’s top 100 of LGBTQ+ Literary Fiction. It also ranks high in Black & African American Literary Fiction. I liked the book, regardless of how you categorize it. 

June’s Pick: 

June’s read, Modern Lovers is by Emma Straub. This is another recommendation from a fellow writer. This well-crafted story weaves the lives of seven characters together. It was especially interesting to me since the children in the book are getting ready to go to college, and I’m sending two of my own off in a few months. That, and I’m pushing fifty as are several of the characters.

As a reminder, my reading plan for 2021 is to sample a book from Women’s Fiction sub-genres and see if they match the overall expectations for Women’s Fiction. You can read more about the plan here. 

Back to June’s book, Modern Lovers. 

Book description from the author’s website.

Friends and former college bandmates Elizabeth and Andrew and Zoe have watched one another marry, buy real estate, and start businesses and families, all while trying to hold on to the identities of their youth. But nothing ages them like having to suddenly pass the torch (of sexuality, independence, and the ineffable alchemy of cool) to their own offspring.

Back in the band’s heyday, Elizabeth put on a snarl over her Midwestern smile, Andrew let his unwashed hair grow past his chin, and Zoe was the lesbian all the straight women wanted to sleep with. Now nearing fifty, they all live within shouting distance in the same neighborhood deep in gentrified Brooklyn, and the trappings of the adult world seem to have arrived with ease. But the summer that their children reach maturity (and start sleeping together), the fabric of the adult lives suddenly begins to unravel, and the secrets and revelations that are finally let loose—about themselves, and about the famous fourth band member who soared and fell without them—can never be reclaimed.

Straub packs wisdom and insight and humor together in a satisfying book about neighbors and nosiness, ambition and pleasure, the excitement of youth, the shock of middle age, and the fact that our passions—be they food, or friendship, or music—never go away, they just evolve and grow along with us.

My take:

This book waded into what happens when you’ve known people for so long that you start to assume things. Three of the main characters went to college and played in a band together. They have memories of the same events but have interpreted them differently. It felt authentic and reminded me of a game of telephone.  

The teenaged characters seemed true to life as well. They flexed their muscles, like teenagers do, thinking they know as much, if not more than, their parents. And we all know how that works out. 

The main issue I had with the book is the font. I know that is a crazy thing to say, but the paperback book is formatted with font so small it was hard for me to read. This wouldn’t be a problem if I had been readying on an e-Reader of some flavor, but I like to read with a book in hand when I can. That being said, I wouldn’t buy the paperback. Go for the digital version. 

Another aspect of Modern Lovers I enjoyed was how the book compares different kinds of love. It explored the inner workings of marriages as well as how new love starts. But it also addressed obsessive love, the boiling-a-rabbit-on-the-stove kind of love. Having all three types of varieties in one book highlighted the contrasts for me. 

Straub has several other books out: All Adults Here, The Vacationers and Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures. I plan to check those out – in the digital version this time!

Until next time…

Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash