5 Authors I Discovered This Year (And you should too!)
One of the benefits of reading and reviewing so many books each year is that I’m continually introduced to new authors and genres.
Because 2020 was so challenging, I not only read more than ever before, I also stretched myself to find new, interesting (ie. distracting) reading material that kept my spirits up.
Here are five authors I discovered this year and fell in love with. They’ve all been around for a while, which is exciting because it gives me a lot of material to get through!
5 Authors I Discovered This Year (And you should too!)
1. Penny Reid
During the National shut-down, I hosted a couple of Zoom calls for general book discussion with friends. My pal Maria was absolutely gushing about a romance series she’d just finished about six brothers. She’d read the entire series twice in a row! I was skeptical but trust her so I jumped into the Winston Brothers series.
Maria convinced her sister Monica to start them at the same time, so every few days as we’d finish a book, we’d have a group video call to discuss. These calls were some of the only socialization I got during the stressful days at the start of the pandemic. Not only were the books funny and sexy, and brilliantly written, I got to know my friends better as we discussed them.
We have since decide to co-read all of Penny Reid’s books and are currently in the middle of her Knitting in the City series. We read one book at a time and have a call every other Sunday morning to discuss.
Here’s what I love about Reid’s novels that make them special: Her characters are complicated in the best, most realistic ways. Some of them have shady pasts or make questionable decisions. She addresses mental illness, domestic violence, racism, and other heavy issues without bogging the reader down in despair. Her novels are full of hope, and feature characters who are learning they are worthy of receiving love. This is my favorite thing about the romance genre, the idea that everyone is deserving of love no matter what. Penny Reid nails it every time.
2. Rufi Thorpe
Thorpe’s newest novel, The Knockout Queen came out in April of this year. My friend Adam heard about it on the radio and bought a copy from his local bookstore to support them during the shutdown. His recommendation to me was so strong and positive that I bought the book and started it without ever even reading a blurb! I’m certain that contributed to my epic reading experience, and The Knockout Queen is hands down my favorite novel I read in 2020.
I loved it so much that before I was even finished, I ordered her previous two novels! The second one I read was, The Girls From Corona Del Mar, which was Thorpe’s debut novel. It had a similar feeling and I loved it. The third, Dear Fang, With Love has a different vibe. While it’s set in modern day, it’s about a teen girl learning her family history so it feel like hisorical fiction at times.
Thorpe’s novels feature unique friendships and take place in what I like to call the seedy underbelly of hte American suburbs. Her writing is blunt and her characters are realistic in the way that you think That would never happen, yet you know it absolutely does. Her novels make me consider my life and relationships in new ways.
3. Ross Gay
I’d had Gay’s essay collection, The Book of Delights, on my To Read List since it came out last year. I was mostly drawn in by the title and the concept. One year on his birthday, Gay decided to write one essay per day for a year, focused on the delights he encountered in his daily life. I think reading these during COVID gave them extra meaning, as I’m struggling to be grateful in each day.
It turns out Ross Gay is actually a poet, which explains a lot about the rhythm of his essays. His writings focus on the joys of being alive, on the things that bring us delight and life, like trees and flowers, and other people we encounter in our days. I’m looking forward to getting through more of his works.
4. Jonathan Trooper
I had a copy of This is Where I Leave You on my shelf for a few years and never felt compelled to get to it. When I finally did, I kicked myself for waiting so long, then I immediately added the rest of his books to my To Read List! Trooper’s writing is sharp and funny, with characters who feel familiar. They are all doing the best they can with the circumstances they face. He writes about family dynamics with honesty, perfectly capturing the ways people who love each other don’t always like each other.
5. Beth O’Leary
I read O’Leary’s romance novel The Flatshare in May, after winning a copy in a giveaway. I’ll admit I found the first half slow, but I ended up liking it a lot. What I appreciated most was the unique approach to storytelling O’Leary took here. These two characters get to know each other and care about each other at first through sharing notes.
I decided to give the author another try when I received a copy of her new book, The Switch this fall. It has become one of my top reads of the year. It’s labeled as a romance noveel and I suppose it meets the criteria, but it’s about so much more. A young woman and her grandmother trade lives in attempt to get them out of their grief filled ruts.
O’Leary is able to find humor in heavy situations. Her characters show their feelings and act on them. I especially love how she’s able to keep several threads going throughout a novel, such as grief, romance, and personal development.
Have you read all these authors yet? If not, make sure they go on your 2021 reading list!
I’d love to hear about any authors YOU discovered this year!