Nobody could have predicted where 2020 would take us or, rather, not take us. All this time at home, though, hasn’t been all bad, and books were — once again — a constant companion. I’m incredibly thankful for the characters who became friends and the narratives that granted me an escape, and of course, I’m forever grateful for the authors whose creative minds told stories and enabled my imagination.
But let’s get down to the nitty gritty and see how all 30 books rank for me in the year 2020 (with my super cool artwork I created on Canva).
Since we were sprightly little teenagers, my cousin Kaitlyn Wibbenmeyer and I have bonded over our shared love of books. And in particular, we’ve been fond of (re: obsessed) with one author in particular: Emily Giffin. So I knew when Giffin’s latest novel, The Lies That Bind, was released early this year, Kaitlyn and I would have to discuss. And boy, did we have a lot to say.
In the latest episode of The Biblio Files, Kaitlyn and I chat about Giffin’s amazing and relatable characters; how she brought 9/11 into her fictional tale in such a sensitive yet powerful way; and how her writing has matured and improved over the years. (Yes, somehow it’s possible to keep getting better when you are already so good.) We even make the claim that The Lies That Bind has set a new Giffin standard. And yes, we fangirled … hard. We left our love for Emily Giffin on this recording, and we are not afraid to admit it.
(We’re currently accepting applications for the EG fan club as we speak.)
Listen to our conversation about The Lies That Bind on your preferred podcast platform. Don’t forget to share and subscribe and to also visit Anchor where you can become a supporter of The Biblio Files. Enjoy!
Y’all should know my love for Emily Giffin by now. I’ve never tried to hide it since I first read Something Borrowed when I was 15. In a way, I’ve grown up with Giffin’s writing, and I’ve seen a change in her books just like I’ve seen a change in myself. But there are some aspects of Giffin’s work that have never altered, and for that I am grateful.
From her first book to the her 10th, she’s showcased an incredible ability to write great and relatable characters, and she excels at telling stories that thrive in that gray area that makes literature so wonderfully complex. These same attributes are ever-present in her recent novel, The Lies That Bind, which might just be her best work yet.
This year contained many ups and many downs, so it’s hard to say how I really feel about 2018. One thing I am positive about though is that this year was full of fantastic reads. Twenty-six books fell into my hands these past 365 days, and it’s time I share with my loyal readers the definitive ranking of every book I read this year. Now let’s get down to business!
We all know wine gets better with age. Emily Giffin’s following that mantra. Don’t get me wrong, the OG, Something Borrowed, still ranks high on my list of Giffin greats, but there’s no denying that her writing has become more skilled — and her themes deeper — over time. Her newest novel, All We Ever Wanted, illustrates that point, and it’s something she echoed in a Q&A on June 26 to celebrate the release of her new book (also the place where I committed some massive fangirling while meeting her).
In her latest, Giffin tackles the most pressing matters that families face in today’s world. By broaching issues such as rape, sexual assault, social media, technology, etc., she demonstrates that they’re all related and can exacerbate one another. All We Ever Wanted gives us a world where everyone carefully documents their lives through a lens, aka 2018, and where that can have detrimental consequences.
Quality is the most subjective characteristic when it comes to literature. Sure, every reader loves great symbolism, those masterpieces that speak to cultural moments, thorough and exact research about a time or place, those books that really hit home and move you. Sometimes, though, you need a break from the real world. You need something that will make you laugh or cry irrationally and believe that fairy tale love actually exists.
As someone who reads about overcollateralization, subordination, and tranching all day, while trying to parse legalese that makes you want to stab out your eyes, I know firsthand the importance of a feel-good and easy read. So it’s with great honor that I present to you my case for the novels that give you the best of feels (despite some of the harshest criticisms): chick lit.
(Originally published in July 2017 and updated in November 2020.)
Emily Giffin is a major source of ebullience for me. She loves college football and the British royals, has a killer Instagram, and plays mom to one of the cutest Golden Retrievers to ever exist (who also, it’s worth noting, has her own killer Instagram).
Emily and I have been together since I was 16 years old. I don’t exactly know why I randomly picked up her first novel, Something Borrowed, at Barnes and Noble one day before volleyball practice, but I’m sure glad I did. Her books have brought me more laughter than most people in my life (and I know some funny people), and she’s the only author to make me cry. Her characters feel like friends, in both relatable and unfamiliar ways, and she paints a badass female lead like nobody else. Her books are topics of conversation among my closest literary ladies, and I truly idolize her work. With 10 published novels (yes, TEN), it’s time to rank the baddest biblio babe around.
I can’t exactly describe when it happened, but at some point in the past 12 months, books sort of became my life blood. I’ve loved reading as long as I can remember. There was the first story, Dick and Jane, that I read in preschool, and I firmly remember my mom telling my kindergarten teacher that I’d already finished multiple books halfway through the school year. My teacher was ecstatic upon hearing this news, and even though I was proud of the triumph they exuded, I didn’t think it was all that exciting. Reading was a part of my life. It was that simple.
Dick and Jane–my first book!
Next came Little Golden Books, which I devoured, and then I had my “Ah ha!” moment with Harry Potter. (I don’t think I need to explain this. I mean, I was the kid who played Harry Potter at recess and fought with her brother about who got to read the newest book first and what the reading increments were.)
From there I discovered the 50 state books that my elementary school library owned. Around this same time I also read nearly every Bailey School Kids book (any and all fans HAVE to check out this list), and all of this resulted in me completing more book reports than any other child in Mrs. Wrigley’s third grade class. Children’s fiction shortly gave way to my Nicholas Sparks phase. This preceded an intense fascination with chick lit, which still exists by the way, and Emily Giffin, my favorite author. And during my college days, I discovered my love for historical fiction, still my favorite genre.