Gays Reading

Most Memorable Books 2023, Season Finale

December 19, 2023 Brett Benner and Jason Blitman Season 1 Episode 32
Most Memorable Books 2023, Season Finale
Gays Reading
More Info
Gays Reading
Most Memorable Books 2023, Season Finale
Dec 19, 2023 Season 1 Episode 32
Brett Benner and Jason Blitman

In the season finale of Gays Reading, Jason and Brett share not the "favorite" and not the "best," but their most memorable books of 2023. What makes a memorable book? Do any overlap? Check out this episode and prep for the new year by adding a whole bunch of books to your TBR. 

**BOOKS!**
Check out the list of books discussed on each episode on our Bookshop page:
https://bookshop.org/shop/gaysreading | By purchasing books through this Bookshop link, you can support both Gays Reading and an independent bookstore of your choice!

Join our Patreon for exclusive bonus content!

Purchase your Gays Reading podcast Merch!

Follow us on Instagram
@gaysreading | @bretts.book.stack | @jasonblitman

What are you reading?
Send us an email or a voice memo at gaysreading@gmail.com

Show Notes Transcript

In the season finale of Gays Reading, Jason and Brett share not the "favorite" and not the "best," but their most memorable books of 2023. What makes a memorable book? Do any overlap? Check out this episode and prep for the new year by adding a whole bunch of books to your TBR. 

**BOOKS!**
Check out the list of books discussed on each episode on our Bookshop page:
https://bookshop.org/shop/gaysreading | By purchasing books through this Bookshop link, you can support both Gays Reading and an independent bookstore of your choice!

Join our Patreon for exclusive bonus content!

Purchase your Gays Reading podcast Merch!

Follow us on Instagram
@gaysreading | @bretts.book.stack | @jasonblitman

What are you reading?
Send us an email or a voice memo at gaysreading@gmail.com

Jason Blitman:

I cannot believe we are at the end of our inaugural Gaze Reading season.

Brett Benner:

It's pretty crazy. This is one of those things where it feels like we've been doing this longer than six months. And I say that in the best way. I can't believe it's just been six months, but it's really just been six months.

Jason Blitman:

And it's also crazy to me because we have already recorded multiple episodes for season two,

Brett Benner:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Hey,

Jason Blitman:

behind the scenes, a little BTS.

Brett Benner:

BTS. No rest for the wicked.

Jason Blitman:

I feel like at the beginning there was a lot of Pitching to even just explain what we were trying to do and crossing our fingers that people would be interested in talking to us. And it's just been really overwhelming than the amount of positive feedback we've been getting, from our listeners, but also from people in the book industry. We have publicists who are telling us that authors are having such a good time. It's one of their favorite stops on their book tour. And I think we love authors so much and we love books so much that it's a testament to, our love and care.

Brett Benner:

And thank you to all of those publishers and publicists. It's been great. Thank you for this. Thank you for the support and thank you to our listeners for all the support as well. We really appreciate it and hope to continue bringing you great guests and new types of shows in the new year. We have some stuff in the works. I

Jason Blitman:

To all of the authors who have participated already, thank you for having fun and being vulnerable and being open to talking about whatever. I think people came on board being like, all right, I don't know what we're going to talk about, but let's have some fun.

Brett Benner:

bet it's going to be crass.

Jason Blitman:

No.

Brett Benner:

And

Jason Blitman:

So today we have our let's call them most memorable books of 2023. As always, all of these books that we talk about will be on our bookshop. org page that you could purchase through there. The link is in our show notes. Follow us on social media. We're@gaysreading. If you want to shoot us a note, gaysreading at gmail. com. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts so you will be the first to know whenever our soonest episode drops, especially now that, you don't know when we're coming back in the new year. So make sure to subscribe so that way it'll just pop right up

Brett Benner:

They can also join our Patreon and where they'll get it, where you'll get things like advanced knowledge of who's coming on before everybody else and things of that sort, as well as stuff that didn't make it into episodes, as well as things that we haven't even shared before. So check it out.

Jason Blitman:

Exactly. And giving us five stars on especially Apple podcasts is so easy. So maybe while you're listening to our cute intro music, you just like quickly pan over. And click the little five star button. That way we can populate for, more people when they're curious for book

Brett Benner:

Not if you're driving, pull over first.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. Not if you're driving, do it when you're,

Brett Benner:

At a stoplight

Jason Blitman:

All right, I'm Jason

Brett Benner:

And I'm Brett

Jason Blitman:

and enjoy this

Brett Benner:

Season one finale.

Jason Blitman:

finale. Of Gaze Reading.

I'd like to thank

Jason Blitman:

So this is our most memorable of 2023 episode. I have a lot of feelings when people say top or best. Because who's to say?

Brett Benner:

It's also subjective.

Jason Blitman:

That's what I'm saying, right?

Brett Benner:

better. Yeah. So how do

Jason Blitman:

Maybe they're verse.

Brett Benner:

Okay. And so for you, how do you come up with your, for you, what is it? What signifies the most memorable book?

Jason Blitman:

I we talk about this a lot on the show, but so much of it is about feeling it's about remembering key moments. Sometimes it's maybe it's as simple as remembering how a book made me feel. Maybe it's as simple as thinking about a book and frankly, remembering multiple plot points, and even if I didn't Love it in that moment. I might think, Oh, wow, I've that book really stuck with me in a way. I didn't think in the moment. Let me reflect on that.

Brett Benner:

I had a lot of that.

Jason Blitman:

Why did it stick with me? Or there are also like some books where I remember I have pictures. in my brain. Like the first that comes to mind, not from this year, but just in the past, this is so random. But like the, when I was thinking of images, the first thing that came to mind was there was a kitchen fight between the husband and wife in Jonathan Franzen's Crossroads.

Brett Benner:

Okay.

Jason Blitman:

And there's a, how that scene played out. I don't remember the details of it at all, but how it played out in the book physically, I remember so specifically in my head, like where the characters were positioned in my imagination of that scene. And so little moments like that, like there was a I don't know why that book has become my example of the moment, but there's like a scene between the father and son in a car and like that, like very specifically I have in my brain. Yeah, I don't know. So it's sometimes it's things like that, that just stay with me, that are memorable and make me feel a certain way. And if someone says, can you recommend a book, what are the first three books that pop into my mind without even thinking about it? And why are those the first three books that pop into my mind? What about you?

Brett Benner:

think it's very similar to me. It's It's not something that's always immediate. Although I make the mistake of sometimes I'm in a book being like, Oh my God, this is going to be one of the best books. And jumping the gun a little bit before the end. But I do think it's what evokes a feeling. It's what I will look back on and say, be thinking about weeks, months, years. After I finished it and it somehow made a mark, it's also sometimes I find it's the book that I remember where I was when I was reading it. I remember like a little life, for example, and I remember sitting in the car with chip and turning it and sitting in the car with my taking Ryan to Astro camp. And that those kinds of things, I remember how it's seared into my mind. So that's what it is for me. Although I did have a really Hard time with this year because I felt like I was splitting some hairs between 10 and 20 like I could have done a 20 books, and they all were really memorable books to me for different reasons. But alas, I did pare it down. But,

Jason Blitman:

alas, or,

Brett Benner:

it doesn't diminish any of those. And I would still give it any one of those books. I could be, it could be interchangeable. And I could say, this is great. It's just, as I went through, I was like, okay, these are the, it's also a kind of look as you start to diminish your shelf space. And I'm like, what am I going to keep? What am I, it's something that I want in my library forever, or at least until I can't, have

Jason Blitman:

That's interesting. What do you want to keep in your library forever or for me, what do I want to keep in my library forever or pass on to a friend or pass on to someone I care about versus putting it in the little free library or putting it on Pango or, it's the idea of I want to share this book with someone I know. Yeah, that's a really interesting way to think about it, too.

Brett Benner:

It's little free library worthy. It is. Personalized, friendworthy. Do you know what's so funny? I just thought of this. I remember getting books years ago. I haven't got one in a long time, especially like this, but people used to inscribe something in the book to you. Like they'd say Jason, I hope you love this as much as I do. This blah, blah, blah, blah. Now I think I'd be like, why would you do that to the book? Put a note inside it.

Jason Blitman:

I know

Brett Benner:

But then I was like, Oh my God, that's so lovely. Yeah All right. So do you want to go first? Okay. Or do you want me to?

Jason Blitman:

so I like, don't have them in an order yet, so I feel like I need

Brett Benner:

I'm happy to go first. Do you want me to

Jason Blitman:

Okay. Yeah. Good.

Brett Benner:

You could two order? This is something I, and this is something I struggle with as well, because some people do I'm like, this is the best thing you've read this year. Or is it the best thing written this year is the best this year. And I've always done that.

Jason Blitman:

that's interesting, right? So like this conversation, what we're talking about is we're highlighting books that came out in

Brett Benner:

It was published in 2023.

Jason Blitman:

I think, there were books, like I read Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi this year, and it was wonderful, and Homegoing by her is one of my favorite books but it isn't, I didn't include it because

Brett Benner:

Cause you follow the rules.

Jason Blitman:

it doesn't count.

Brett Benner:

Okay. One of my first books is the reformatory Okay. I thought this was great. It's basically based on the Dozier School for Boys. It's classified as a horror novel, but it's really not a horror novel. There are horror elements to it, but it's a brother and sister and one young boy who gets beaten up. Pulled into the school. I'd never read her before there was it just I was so in it right from the beginning I couldn't put it down She's a fantastic writer and I cannot wait to dive into her backlist should I just keep going and then you can cut it?

Jason Blitman:

No, hold on one second. So I, it's funny that you, how do you decide what order to put them in? Is it just a matter of feeling?

Brett Benner:

yeah, here's what it really is. The final five for me were really the things that I was like, Oh my God, they are the books that really resonated the most with me. And I just thought were extraordinary books. The other ones, the bottom five, not as much. I just liked them all. I'm just yeah.

Jason Blitman:

Interesting.

Brett Benner:

Funny thing is when I get to my top five, you're going to be like, that makes sense for you. That makes sense for you.

Jason Blitman:

Does this, I'm so frustrated with myself. I like have my list, but I didn't put them in an order. I'm going to attempt Alphabetical

Brett Benner:

Okay.

Jason Blitman:

by author last name.

Brett Benner:

Oh, Jesus Christ. Okay.

Jason Blitman:

What other way? How do you do alphabetical?

Brett Benner:

Yeah. No, you're right. I worked in a bookstore. Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

So I think that would be The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng. this is the first where it was a gaze reading guest.

Brett Benner:

Oh, okay.

Jason Blitman:

I, we could talk about this later, but I have such a fondness for all of the books that we had on our show, and all of the authors that we talked to. And it would almost be cheating to be like, all of the gay's reading books, but I, but there's something about really each of them, each of the stories left a mark on me, and they're ones that I'll be thinking about for a really long time. And part of it is probably because. We had the opportunity to talk to the author. But also so many of them were just like, the writing is so beautiful. Anyway, we'll talk about that later. But this is the first of a couple that are gaze reading slash my most memorable overlap. I have not read a book this year where I was reading it and my husband was sitting next to me and I stopped and just read out loud more sentences because they were just so gorgeously written and the story is compelling. The language is so beautiful. And if you're looking for. Classic literary fiction.

Brett Benner:

Hmm.

Jason Blitman:

just so compelling, and it has really stayed with me.

Brett Benner:

I agree with you. I agree with that. Okay. My my next book, I guess my number nine book. I want to just, so I'm counting down. So I'm keeping it is Brett Easton Ellis The Shards. I, Look, I'd never read any Brett Easton Ellis before ever. I picked up American Psycho once in a bookstore and I read about some homeless person having their eyes slit like a grape and that was enough for me. buT this thing, part of it is I think because it was, I was curious because it was set at my kid's school and that's where Brett Easton Ellis went as well. So there was that element to it. I was so sucked into this thing. It was so compelling. It is dark. It scared the crap out of me. I loved it. I absolutely loved it. And I really have not, it's one of these books when we talk about can't stop thinking about it. I read this a while ago and I, there's a sequence in there that I still is like, seared into my brain that takes place in Palm Springs. It's a, if you like a thriller, it's great. And it's soon to be a series on HBO.

Jason Blitman:

All right, so my next book is Maame by Jessica George. It's one of the, I think it's the book on the list that I read the earliest in the year. I think I read it in like the first week of January. And I, it's been on my mind ever since. It's a coming of age story. And that's all I got about that one. It's just really stuck with me.

Brett Benner:

I realized something that we should have done. I wish I would have thought of this earlier because it would have been fun to do. We should have guessed what each other's 10 will be and then held it up at the end to see how many we got.

Jason Blitman:

Oh, funny. Yeah.

Brett Benner:

But we're not a game show, but we'll do that next year. Yeah. Okay. I'm taking something from the Jason handbook for my next

Jason Blitman:

you, you have a combo.

Brett Benner:

one. Yes. Because I really thought about these two books and I was trying to decide which one of them, like I liked more and I liked both of them for different reasons. And yet they both fulfilled the same kind of thing to me, which was family stories that I found were moving that were both based on classics.

Jason Blitman:

I, we're a hundred percent on the same wavelength and I was gonna do the exact same thing as you. Except I, I wasn't gonna cheat this time, and so I have them as two separate ones on my list. But go ahead. I won't take away your thunder.

Brett Benner:

you can join in on the thunder since you do, which is hello, beautiful. I love that. I'm holding them up for you

Jason Blitman:

for me. Thank

Brett Benner:

Yes. Hello, beautiful by Ann Napolitano and Tom Lake by Ann Patchett. You can, since you said that you're going to talk about this, if you want to dive in here as well. I just thought they were both beautiful stories, really wonderfully told for me. I, really enriched the reading experience. I listened to both of these on audio and more Tierney read Hello Beautiful. And I think many people know that La Streep reads Tom Lake, which really took what were two great books and really turned them into a really wonderful experience.

Jason Blitman:

And it's interesting because I read the physical copy of both of them. Also Hello Beautiful was among the first that I read this year. And again, my sort of memories of it. It's uh, family story, mothers and daughters, legacy, just like words that sort of come to mind inspired by Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. And just really beautiful and really on that journey. And then Tom Lake, uh, of course, takes place at a Summerstock Theater. And, this woman is always doing these productions of Our Town. And there's something interesting about sort of identity and, again, family

Brett Benner:

And memory

Jason Blitman:

and memory. Yes, they're both

Brett Benner:

connected to Our Town.

Jason Blitman:

Memory pieces, yeah. okay, so that was, you counted those as one, so

Brett Benner:

That was one.

Jason Blitman:

yeah, that's okay. So my next one is the many lives of mama love by Lara Harden. And I think not only was it beautifully written and made me think about things that I hadn't really thought about before, but I also felt like I, I learned, I checked my own privilege, I and was really moved, and it's a redemption story, it's a story about identity and it just, there are moments from that book that will just stay with me forever, I don't, why do I need, I don't need to keep saying that, obviously, these books are memorable, but yeah, Many Lives of Mama Love.

Brett Benner:

Awesome. Okay. I'll just preface this to say this is the first of this block of books. The one thing I

Jason Blitman:

We have so many Prefaces,

Brett Benner:

I know because the one thing that I came away with this year was I love a big book. And this is the first of the big books,

Jason Blitman:

like big books and I

Brett Benner:

and I cannot lie. Yeah, so

Jason Blitman:

Oh, now you're gonna do an Instagram video with that song on it.

Brett Benner:

No, not at all. Cause no which is the bee sting by Paul Murray. I just, I love a family, a big messy family, Allah, Jonathan Franzen, who I know you were just talking about. And this is absolutely that. And this actually felt like the Irish Jonathan Franzen. I thought it was geniusly constructed. The way that the story is told of this family, how he took on each chapter that really encapsulates each character so distinctly. I think it's a truly terrific, amazing piece of literature.

Jason Blitman:

Um, you're, you said having a list of books that we think the other one might pick. I feel like we also should have had a list of books. that we like, that might, that if we were able to read it before the end of the year, we could imagine it making it to that list. And The Beasting, I feel is one of those for me.

Brett Benner:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

haven't had a chance to read it. I'm very much looking forward to reading it. And I imagine if I

Brett Benner:

Yeah. I don't think you're wrong.

Jason Blitman:

it, it

Brett Benner:

So if you love it, you can't put it on next year's list per the

Jason Blitman:

no, I can't. No, I can't. You're right. Them's the rules.

Brett Benner:

but maybe next year we'll do an episode of like great reads from little other years that we read this

Jason Blitman:

I know I was thinking that too. And even just once every couple of months, do a little backlist check in. Because I have so many backlist books that I want to read and I need a reason to read them. So we should do an episode about um, so my next book is wellness by Nathan Hill. And I think, you talking about big books, it's a big book, but it's about small ideas that like takes those small ideas and really extends them. And I think it made me think about. My own relationship and other relationships and the nuances of relationships in general across the board, romantically, parentally and otherwise. And it doesn't hurt that Nathan himself gave me a lot of close reading compliments, she's.

Brett Benner:

but you know what, because I will tell you this now spoiler alert, it's one of mine as well. And

Jason Blitman:

so then you jump in, because I did

Brett Benner:

no, I, no, but I agree with everything you, what I was originally just going to say is ditto back to you, Jason. But no I felt the exact same way. Listen I'm a, I was a huge, the Knicks fan. So for me, I was so anticipating this book. I couldn't wait to get it. When I think about the fact, this is what I marvel at with a writer, and I do that with all writers. I think about it so much more when you go into the fact that Nathan Hill doesn't have kids, and yet he speaks so incredibly insightfully about that experience of being a parent, but also generational trauma and how we look at our parents and how our parents view us and how that, I don't know, I just thought it was You know, the tangents that the book goes into about social media and other things that it just nails so many of it. I think it's a brilliant book. And I agree. I loved it.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. And he's so great and so insightful and, um, so that doesn't hurt either. My next, which this one, I think surprised me because It made it, it was an, it was a quote unquote afterthought for both of us in our best books of 2023 so far, but the more I look through what I read and the more I really thought about it solidified itself as one of my most memorable books of 2023, and that is Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor.

Brett Benner:

Mm.

Jason Blitman:

I just kept thinking of and for me, this book is not a genre that I would typically read, thinking like, India, Mafia, Page Turner, uh, Sword of Mystery, Sword of Thriller. Heist is not quite the right word, but there are heist vi Like, when you get a, the feeling of reading a heist or watching a heist that's the feeling you get reading this book. And it just was so different. And I really felt immersed in that world in a way that it was just so visceral. And I really, I like, I'm remembering how quickly I wanted to turn the pages and I mentioned being somewhat disappointed in the ending in the earlier episode, and I still agree with that but I'm very much looking forward to reading the next in the series and being back in that world, but yeah, Age of Ice.

Brett Benner:

I get it. I get it. I sometimes wonder too. It's award seasons with movies with something comes out so early. Do you forget it? So I love that you, it's stuck with you. Cause I, I. I almost forgot that it came out at the beginning of this year. It seems like it. And I think I went out, I

Jason Blitman:

I also read it in November of

Brett Benner:

That's yeah I remember being so excited to get that thing and was like, Oh my God, what a fricking ride. There you go. Yeah. okay. My next Johankin book. Is the covenant of water by Abraham Vergees.

Jason Blitman:

That is on the list of beasting for me.

Brett Benner:

You're like the big books, the Chunkies. Yeah,

Jason Blitman:

Oh my god, that's, we should, Gay's Reading should start an award called the Chunkies.

Brett Benner:

Chunkies because I like sweet so much.

Jason Blitman:

know, me too. I'll be the first winner of the Chunkies.

Brett Benner:

We have two winners. Yeah. Covenant of Water. What a journey. Total commitment, but in the best way. I had a great experience reading this with a bunch of people over on Instagram. And for those of you who haven't read it, who are thinking about it, I would highly suggest doing it because breaking it down and reading it over like a month to really savor it. Or maybe you can find, Oprah's but it's a, but it's a really wonderful story. Generational story. Can't, I think he's just an incredibly talented writer at the way he brought everything together at the end. I cried multiple times and I love a book that makes you cry. So yeah, loved it.

Jason Blitman:

Amazing. I know, I need to get on that. Okay, my next one is Happiness Falls by Angie Kim. And, not dissimilar from Hello Beautiful, but you've got A family story, family drama a little, a pinch of mystery and cultural differences and we're learning new things. And yeah, it really,

Brett Benner:

And a mystery.

Jason Blitman:

I know I said a pinch of mystery.

Brett Benner:

pinch of mystery. I'm sorry. I missed that.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah, a pinch of mystery. It was like, it's like a Paige Turner family drama. With richly developed characters, and the story is from a young person's perspective, which I always find interesting, and a different way of engaging in a story too.

Brett Benner:

Amazing.

Jason Blitman:

happiness falls.

Brett Benner:

Okay. Every time I bend over to pick up a book, I feel like it's Christmas morning and I'm about to hand like the next person, their next gift. Like we,

Jason Blitman:

Also, you have literally no reason to pick it up.

Brett Benner:

I know again, I don't know why I feel like I'm sharing it with everybody. Like I got to

Jason Blitman:

Just tell me what it is!

Brett Benner:

All right. The next book is Northwoods by Daniel Mason. Yes. I know you had real feelings about this book. I, absolutely loved this book.

Jason Blitman:

10 most memorable books for Brett. Wow.

Brett Benner:

I did. I have to say someone early on had made a comparison of it to David Mitchell and I think it's a very apt comparison. I loved the idea of taking this house and this land and following it over. the hundreds of years, all of the people who became a part of it. I loved the reemergence of people that come back. I loved the ghost element of it. I don't know. I, it,

Jason Blitman:

You're allowed to have loved

Brett Benner:

Oh no. I loved it. I it all completely worked for me. I thought it was structurally really a genius book. Loved it.

Jason Blitman:

we could have a whole other conversation about what you just said, but now is not the time.

Brett Benner:

Sure. Sure.

Jason Blitman:

if anyone has read it or reads it and has different opinions about the

Brett Benner:

wants to hear from

Jason Blitman:

feel free to slide into my DMs. Feel free.

Brett Benner:

To feel his fire.

Jason Blitman:

no, not even, I don't have I'm, I don't ever wish ill will on a book. And I, we talked about this in our Broadway episode, books, Broadway and beyond. If you haven't listened, go take a listen. But everyone has different tastes. And Kate Kerrigan goes on to say that. She had a professor in college where they talk about, different books or like different kinds of food. And sometimes they're not, you need to eat them slowly, or you'll get a stomachache, or you need, or they're okay to eat quickly, or it only takes you, a bite, or whatever it is. And I think that's a really interesting way to think about books. And it just wasn't necessarily to my taste.

Brett Benner:

It's also, it also can be where you are at that time when the book hits

Jason Blitman:

100 percent and expectations that you have and I know people that are reading books that I recommended last year now and they're not liking them because they were overhyped or, whatever it is, like a great examples. I read tomorrow and tomorrow months before it even hit the bookshelves, let alone had any of the accolades that it got. So I was able to really form my own opinion about it and fall in love with it before anyone knew anything about it.

Brett Benner:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

Okay. So my next one is People Collide by Isle McElroy. And similarly, it just was really it took me by surprise. I can really see it as a book that is not going to be to everybody's flavor or to everybody's taste. But there was just something about when I read it and the moment for me and it talking about the complexities of identity and of relationships told in a relatively simple yet complex way that deeply stuck with me. In fact, I just saw on Goodreads that One of my best friends just finished reading it, and I texted her and I said, I'm surprised you read it. I would have never recommended this book to you. And yet it's one of my top 10 memorable books of the year. So it's very interesting, just because they're memorable, just because they've stuck with me, doesn't mean that I'd recommend them to everybody. Doesn't mean that if somebody came to me and said, I want something quirky and fun. But, it really depends on what someone's in the mood for, or what someone's taste level is, or not taste level, what someone's taste is that you'd recommend a book. And, but, People Collide just hit me at the right place at the right time, and I loved it.

Brett Benner:

Did she like it?

Jason Blitman:

She did not.

Brett Benner:

Oh, interesting.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah.

Brett Benner:

Okay. My next again, don't need to bend over is the heaven and earth grocery store by James McBride. I'm so happy to see so many people responding to this. You know what it is for me, this story about a community video. In Pennsylvania of black and Jewish residents who all come together to save. this boy who's been put into a home, a boy's home. I just love the messaging of this book, besides the construction of it. And he's a master of character. I loved the fact of this town coming together and what it says about community and what it says about human nature. And that really, I want to believe like Anne Frank, in spite of everything, that people are really good at heart. And that's the kind of messaging that this book does. I think this is the perfect book for the holidays. I think this is the perfect book to give to people as a gift. I, because of all of those things, I just think it's a really great book. And I think James McBride is just an amazing author.

Jason Blitman:

I, yeah I, as I said, the last time you shouted out this book, I got about a hundred pages into it, really was enjoying it, but I think it just was a moment for me where I wasn't quite ready for it. I literally had just finished fourth wing was on vacation and was like, let me crack open this book. And I was like on the journey, but then I was, I like put it down to, continue on my vacation and I never quite

Brett Benner:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

Pick to pick it back up again which again is nothing to say about the book. Okay. So my next ones you've already talked about the hell of beautiful and Tom Lake. So the one that I have left to share um, which is maybe apt because it circles back to one of the books that I've been shouting about from the very beginning of the year. So It's so appropriate that it's my last one that I'm shouting about right now. But that is The Rachel Incident by Carolina Donahue.

Brett Benner:

have

Jason Blitman:

And I, it is quirky, it is funny, I don't remember the last time I've laughed out loud so many times reading a book. It's very I think Rachel and I are roughly the same age, Rachel the character and I are roughly the same age, so it really felt like I could have been living in this story simultaneously with her and James Devlin, her BFF, yes, exactly and I just I, I will shout about this book forever and forever because it is not always common that you can find a book that is charming, but also literary and easy to read, but also doesn't feel like you're I don't want to say wasting time reading because I don't think anyone who picks up a book is wasting any time, uh, but I respect and understand that people have a difficult time. reading things that are too fluffy, or, it's not dissimilar from literally eating cotton candy. It's you're literally just eating sugar, and I respect that not everyone wants to eat cotton candy. And so while this book is nice and sweet and tasty, there is also some meat to there, to it as well. And that, to me, is is a really unique quality and is why it's something that I've loved all year.

Brett Benner:

I would agree. And not to mention the fact that Carolyn is such a delightful. We've both said how much we're obsessed with her and shout out to Carolyn, who was our very first guest this

Jason Blitman:

Caroline O'Donoghue, Gay's Reading Guest!

Brett Benner:

first guest. And none of that's been forgotten. And she helped us kick all this off. And so I, yeah, I really loved the book too. And And love her so that's not a surprise. It's I love that. Okay. They have two more then since I okay and actually, I will say that these were probably for me, the my most memorable of the year, I will say I maybe whatever. All right. So the first is probably no surprise to you. The deluge by Stephen Markley. Probably what I think is the most important book of the year. I think it's a book that it's about climate change and these number of characters, although at the heart of it, there's really only seven characters. At the heart, there's a lot of characters. It's an epic, massive chunkster of a book, but one that is terrifying in its that he wrote this over 10 years. And by the way, you can listen to all this from our episode with Stephen Markley, who is fantastic. But if you could stomach it and go through a 900 page book, I'd say this is the book and it's a great audio as well. So I won't go on about it enough because you can go listen to our episode about it, but Stephen Markley, the deluge, and my favorite, probably most memorable book for me this year that has really resonated and stuck with me is Alice Wins in Memoriam. I loved this book so much about, two young boys at a English boarding school during World War One who get caught up in the war, who are also finding themselves falling in love with each other. And what happens I thought it was, I keep saying the word beautiful and some of these books are beautiful to me.

Jason Blitman:

Hello, beautiful!

Brett Benner:

Yes, such like debut author, absolutely stunning writing. I was completely captivated by these characters. I was so invested. I couldn't wait to see where it went. I found it devastating yet just romantic and cinematic in scope. So yeah, that was for me, the book that also Waterstone's book of the year that I would press into hands and say, you've got to try this book.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah, I loved In Memoriam too. I think it would definitely be, uh, it was certainly on my list of frontrunners for books that I really loved this year.

Brett Benner:

Did I show you my Goldsboro? That's the Goldsboro edition.

Jason Blitman:

Oh, look at you, special edish!

Brett Benner:

Special edition signed by Ms. Wynn. Yes, also a great episode of Gold Gay's Reading. I almost said Goldsboro.

Jason Blitman:

I know. Stephen Markley, Alice Nguyen

Brett Benner:

Angie Kim.

Jason Blitman:

Donahue, Angie Kim, Nathan Hill, Laura Love Harden, Tan Tuan Ng, a bunch of people on our list we've had the pleasure and privilege of talking to, which is so amazing. And like I said at the beginning, or earlier in this episode I couldn't, I can't even It would be a disservice to all of our authors that we've talked to for me to start rattling off some of the people that have really stuck with me because truly, I could go down the entire list of books that we've I've read and in turn talked to authors about because there is something or another that stuck with me. And I can't remember if I've said this on this show or just frankly, privately to friends or just to you or whoever. But just because we interview authors doesn't mean we love the books per se, but we do understand that they're valuable conversations to have. That said, talking to authors, reading about them, doing a deeper dive on who these people are, why the books came to be, only makes an appreciation for a book that much greater. And so anyone who reads a book and maybe has mixed feelings about it or isn't so sure about it I do encourage I'm doing a little bit of homework for lack of a better word about the book and getting a little bit more insight. And that's not to say that your first feelings about it aren't valid and that you're not allowed to dislike a book or have medium feelings about a book based on, you know, it is a piece of art. And so you take it at face value and you either like it or you don't, that's okay. But there's something to be said. about enriching your experience even more. And if that happens to be listening to an episode of Gaze Reading, then terrific. Or,

Brett Benner:

go beyond the book, so to speak.

Jason Blitman:

But I do think that there are some books that we had on the show that under other circumstances, maybe would have been less for me, but because I had the privilege of talking to the author and Being intentional about my reading them knowing I would be talking to them, made me think deeper about them

Brett Benner:

I also think what happens is, and for me, in the course of even the six months, because of having to approach a book with intention and knowing the person's coming on, even the books that they're not going to be on, I'm viewing differently. I'm starting to read things differently. So that's been a really interesting thing that's developed, or even to be able to look at something and say, okay, this would work and work for us or not work for us, all of those kinds of things.

Jason Blitman:

work and not work or even just recommend,

Brett Benner:

but I agree with you a hundred.

Jason Blitman:

stakes feel a little bit higher in terms of recommending a book to somebody.

Brett Benner:

Sure. But I also agree with you completely that I may not have at the outset loved every book that was written on the show this year. However, I did have a tremendous depreciation for the process for the creation and for what the author was trying to do with that work and that. So I came off of almost every single conversation saying, wow, I wouldn't have thought of that or that's so interesting. And it, it makes me. aPpreciate and love all of these people even more and just in a broader spectrum of kind of what writers go through and what it is for them. Thanks, you guys.

Jason Blitman:

I know. Thanks to everyone, all of our authors, again, all of our listeners if you can give us a five star review so that more people could get to check us out in the new year, that would be terrific.

Brett Benner:

Yeah, we already have a great set of things. Great set of authors lined up. As Jason said earlier, some of them. have already recorded. So we can't wait to share that with all of you. And if you sign up on our Patreon, you'll get usually in advance before everybody else to know who's coming on. So you'll be in the know, if

Jason Blitman:

so you'll be in the know. And yeah, this was just a really humbling experience. This is the first year of my entire life, and I'm not saying this to be braggy. I'm saying this because it has just shocked me. Where I've read a hundred books.

Brett Benner:

Amazing.

Jason Blitman:

And thank you. And I, it was never like my goal was. Significantly less than that. It just so happened like

Brett Benner:

You had no choice.

Jason Blitman:

I just kept reading. I say this a lot in our earlier episodes, I was late in life and in terms of reading. And it really has changed my life and has changed the way I see the world and feel about the world and talk about things and think more empathetically. Yeah.

Brett Benner:

Absolutely.

Jason Blitman:

And, I had a friend text me the other day. She was saying, she just hit a reading goal. And I think it was like 30 books or something like that. And that's a huge number. And honestly, finishing any book is great. And so I think if people as you're ending the year, and as you're looking at best of lists, and I, first of all I have such strong feelings about best of lists, because what, best of what, it doesn't necessarily mean best all around, and I think it's really, it's not only so subjective, but people who don't like super literary books, they're not the best for them, and so find your own best of, find your own books that are most memorable, and that's what's most important And, your TBR, let it be as tall as you want your to be read pile

Brett Benner:

And whatever you want,

Jason Blitman:

and whatever you want. And if you hit your reading goal, congratulations. And if you didn't hit your reading goal, then that's okay. Who cares? It doesn't matter. It was a personal thing, and it's totally fine. But I hope everybody has. a readalicious holiday season

Brett Benner:

holiday season. Yes. And a happy new year.

Jason Blitman:

and a happy new year and we will be back with new episodes of Gay's Reading in 2024.

Brett Benner:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

I can't believe it.

Brett Benner:

crazy,

Jason Blitman:

All right. Happy new year and happy reading, everyone.

Brett Benner:

reading. Happy new year. We'll see you all in a few weeks.

Jason Blitman:

Bye.

Brett Benner:

Oops. Hold on.

You