My “SMART” 2021

  • Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar. This book utterly blew me away. I had never read anything by Ayad Akhtar before, and his ability to parse human thought processes and emotional reasoning surpassed anything I’ve ever read before. The book — a novel which reads like a memoir & family history — creates a psychological profile that’s about as textured as you’ll ever find. Plus, the political-cultural subtext and half-outsider view of both American, Pakistani, and immigrant culture is as astute as anything you can find in a magazine. The book feels like an amazing composite of Dreams from My Father, The Corrections, and an article from The Atlantic. It should honestly be mandatory reading for every incoming college student.
  • American Pastoral by Philip Roth. This is a book I’ve intended to read for many years and always put off. It lived up to the hype. Harrowing is an overused word, but it’s the best one I can think to describe this novel. This book feels unrelenting, as the tension and sense of pending tragedy is unending. I thoroughly recommend it, if you have a stomach for unhappy events.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. I am biased to love Anthony Doerr’s writing since he graduated from my high school, and I can’t help but feel that sense of connection whenever I read his work. While this didn’t quite rise to the level of All the Light We Cannot See (one of my absolute favorite books), this is a similarly impressive work of imagination literally spanning centuries. Plus, he writes with a simple eloquence. His pages are easy to read, without ever feeling dumbed down. I thoroughly recommend it, especially if you don’t have a stomach for tragedy.
  • Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu & Hell of a Book by Jason Mott. These are two of the most surreal and unique novels I’ve ever read. There’s no way I can describe them in a couple of paragraphs, but both are incredibly funny and at times really sad and poignant looks at racial justice issues. I thoroughly recommend them, especially if you like novels that bend and experiment with form. Even if you’re not always sure what’s what or who’s who in these novels, there are scenes and moments that just blast you in your gut and burn a hole in your brain.
  • The Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead. This is just a really fun, easy read with a lighter tone than most of his work. If you want to read Colson Whitehead but don’t want to feel deeply shook before bed each night, try this. Someone should — and probably will — make a movie out of it.
  • Pappyland by Wright Thompson
  • The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
  • Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe
  • White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  • The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
  • Cuyahoga by Pete Beatty
  • Our Country Friends by Gary Shteyngart
  • Wow, No Thank You by Sam Irby
  • Frankly, We Did Win this Election by Michael Bender

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Sports fan. TV enthusiast. Tough guy.

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Chandler Goodman

Chandler Goodman

Sports fan. TV enthusiast. Tough guy.

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