The Best Debuts I’ve read This Year

Every author has to start somewhere, but while some writers take a few books to find their stride, others manage to create incredible works straight out the gate. Or, perhaps, these authors haven’t even hit their peaks yet, and these debuts are that good but there’s something even more amazing to come. I can’t wait to find out. Here are five of the best debut novels I’ve read so far this year. 

Note: These are not all 2020 debuts, just my favourite first novels I’ve read so far in 2020.

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What I read in August

In August I did something I rarely do these days: I read a book I didn’t like. Between Goodreads, friends’ recommendations, and just having a very good sense of what I enjoy, I rarely start a book I’m not pretty certain I’m going to like. Which is good, because I hate to DNF (short for “Did Not Finish”) a book. I did finish this one, but I wish I hadn’t taken the time. Still, it was a great month for reading, with some quiet days and extra free time and a couple of long commutes and travel times meaning I read eight (!) books in August. And the others ranged from good to an absolutely incredible new favourite. Here they are:

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What I read in July

It’s time for my monthly what-I-read post! As always, you can follow me on Goodreads if you want my ongoing thoughts and reviews (sneak preview of next month’s blog: I’m about to finish a book that I’m giving a very poor review), but here’s my roundup of books I read in July. It was another good reading month with four books read, all of which I really enjoyed. I’ve just (as in, one second ago, scrolling through Lithub) found out that August is Women in Translation Month, so I’m going to make a goal to read at least one translated book by a female author (and ideally a female translator) in August—see below for my review of one I read in July!

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What I read in June

June was a great month for reading. Not only because I read quite a few books, but because I also discovered a new favourite book. Now, when I say “favourite” I don’t mean my number 1 favourite of all-time, because I don’t have one. I believe books are like friends, you don’t necessarily have a #1 best friend above all others (although to be fair, I happen to), but they’re more like a tier. Your favourite books can come to you at certain times in your life, and that doesn’t make them better or worse than the ones that come to you at other times. I wouldn’t consider the Harry Potter series the absolute best thing I’ve ever read, but I would still call them a favourite because they are special to me in a way no other books are. In conclusion, read Normal People by Sally Rooney.

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For your 2019 TBR

I always like to wait until as close to the end of the year as possible to determine my favourite books of 2018, in case I read something incredible in the very last days of the year. Sure enough, three of my favourites this year were books I read in the last two weeks. I’m even a bit hesitant to make this list now, with a day and a half still to go, in case I finish another book and realise it was one of the best, but I’ll chance it. Here are the top 10 books out of the 50 I read in 2018; I highly recommend adding them to your TBR (To Be Read) for 2019, and as I am busily shelving books to the “to-read” list on my Goodreads account, I would love if you shared your favourites as well!

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Stories You Should Read This Week (4/2/16)

It’s time for the latest edition of Stories You Should Read This Week. I’ve got six links to awesome things I’ve read around the internet recently. Read them at work, read them on the bus, read them in bed. Tell me what you think, tell the authors what you think, tell everyone what you think.

 

Burgers, Bitches, and Bullshit by Bethany Cosentino (via Lenny Letter)

I generally like to avoid most-things-Lena-Dunham, but this essay by Best Coast’s front woman Bethany Cosentino on Dunham’s Lenny Letter site is a must-read. Not because her experiences–being told to smile, being lauded for her looks over her achievements–will be unfamiliar to many (most) women, nor because should come as a surprise that success may only increase these sexist instances, but because Cosentino rightly joins artists like Cvrches’ Lauren Mayberry in loudly and boldly calling these assholes out.

 

A Chat About Diversity in Publishing by Nicole Chung and Linda Z (via The Toast)

Like the interviewee, who works in my dream career of publishing, I fit the majority demographic of the publishing industry: female, white, straight, cisgender, able-bodied, and from an educated, middle-class background. Yet books about people in this demographic are still so often pigenholed as “Women’s lit” rather than just “lit,” and books by women who are minorities in other ways (non-white, LGBT, and so on) are even further marginalized on the shelves. The current cultural conversation is about another media format (see #OscarsSoWhite) but it’s just as relevant in books.

 

Marcia Clark On What Episode One of The People v. O.J. Simpson Got Right and Wrong by Maria Elena Fernandez (via Vulture)

I’m a little too young to really remember the O.J. Simpson trial, but I still remember and know that it was a major event if not the major event of the mid-90s, so of course I was excited for the start of this miniseries, even if it’s helmed by Ryan Murphy. In this interview, Marcia Clark talks about her reaction to the premiere episode.

 

An Invitation Into the Shadowy World of Match Fixing by Ben Rothenberg (via NY Times)

Match fixing conspiracies seem to abound whenever there’s an upset, or a lot of betting on a match, or pretty much any time a sport is played. But it does happen, sometimes obviously and sometimes not. Tennis is the sport currently embroiled in the scandal, but this fascinating read could surely occur in any sport.

 

Alternatives to Resting Bitch Face by Susan Harlan (via McSweeney’s)

I’ll just post an excerpt from this perfect list:

I Would Prefer Not To Face

A Smidge of Self-Awareness Would Not Go Amiss Face

The Situations Are Really Not Analogous Face

Please Tip a Bottle of Bourbon Down My Throat Immediately Face

 

Stop Trying To Out-Feminist Each Other by Maya Kachroo-Levine (via The Financial Diet)

I’ve been reading The Financial Diet recently since my fellow Ithaca journalism alumna Maya is a writer there, and I enjoyed this piece she wrote about your earning versus your partner’s earning and whether it matters as a feminist. She says, and I agree, that it doesn’t. If you earn less than—or more than! or the same as!—your SO, your partnership and everything else in your life can empower you as a woman and a feminist, and just because you don’t shout about it doesn’t mean people can tell you otherwise.