Jodi Picoult has touched thousands of readers through her emotionally charged novels that plumb complex questions about identity, family, belonging, and breaking free. Her most recent novel, The Book of Two Ways, asks whether we would go back and change the path our lives have taken, if we could.
For years the Amazon Book Review has asked Picoult what she’s been reading and loving, and she always names the most interesting books. But 2020 was a crazy year—a year that upended so many things, including one of Picoult’s favorite activities:
“During this pandemic, the strangest thing happened to me—I couldn’t read. I couldn’t concentrate on a book long enough to absorb it. As a voracious reader, this was devastating—until I realized what I needed to ease back into a book was what was missing in real life: a happy ending. I started with romances, where I was guaranteed to be smiling when I finished, and eventually broadened my reading back into the wide range of genres I love. These days, we need to escape more than ever—what better place to do that then between the pages of a great story?”
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
This allegorical fantasy, about a woman who wants to die—and instead is shown all the alternate lives she might have had—was a perfect pick for a pandemic. I think we’re all wondering what life might have been like, if 2020 had gone differently. But as this brilliant book points out—if you live a different series of events, not only do you change, but so do the people you care for.
A Rogue of One's Own by Evie Dunmore
This was one of the romance novels that got me out of my slump—sharp and witty, with wonderfully crafted characters and a firm nod at historical feminism. And yes, I was smiling at the end…and all the way through.
Beach Read by Emily Henry
I call this “author porn” because it perfectly chronicles the arbitrary difference between commercial and literary fiction, as seen through two authors who each sport one of these labels. I laughed out loud so often reading this book that my husband would come into the room to make sure I was okay.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
I loved Brit’s first book, and I’m delighted to report that this is even better—by shining a focus on colorism. The subject matter is unique, but the way the story unspools between two sisters—one who chooses to highlight her Blackness and one who hides it...and how that plays through generations—is nothing short of brilliant.
Author photo by Rainer Hosch
The author of "The Book of Two Ways" and "Small Great Things" names the books that made her smile during a tough year.