Calypso by David Sedaris - I heard one of the stories from this collection, read by Sedaris, on The Paris Review podcast and then had the incredible fortune of snagging a highly-in-demand copy of the book from my local library branch not long after to read the rest. With sardonic wit and self-deprecating humor, mixed with razor-sharp assessments and observations (often specific to family and its unique dynamics) the stories are at once laugh-out-loud hilarious and heartbreaking, walking a beautiful balance between the two and reminding me to just love people where they are. (But perhaps spare no detail in writing about them!)

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro - This story of a captivating young woman who unexpectedly heads to Paris in the 50s after a mysterious request appears in the mail for her had me interested from the start. Her experiences intertwine with those of a young woman in Paris in the 20s and 30s, and the historical richness, beautiful descriptions, and intriguing unfolding kept me hooked every step of the way.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Steadman - I'll never look at lighthouses the same way again after this story of a lighthouse keeper off the coast of Australia and his young wife, who, in the mid-1920s, make a decision that changes everything in ways they never meant or anticipated. Grappling with overlapping and juxtaposed perceptions of right, wrong, duty, obligation, choice, and love, the characters and their interconnectedness are beautifully written and wholeheartedly compelling.

Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen - I've never read something by Quindlen that I didn't love or that wasn't incredibly insightful or wise, and this is no exception. I'm not sure what I enjoyed most: the New York City neighborhood setting, the main character's humor and strength, or the honest look at privilege that left me thinking long after I returned this one, reluctantly, to the library.


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