Four Books I Cannot Wait to Read This Year

Part of being a book critic is having an ever-growing stack of material that you need or want to read. Admittedly, some of these books you will never get to, mostly because there is only so much reading any one human can do in a day, even if reading is what you love. Not to mention that staying current with what books are coming out is always going to be a losing battle, for every book you finish, five more come out the next week. Meaning, you have to take a look at that stack of books by your desk or that list you have saved in your computer and find those that speak to you. With all that said, here are four books, either already released in 2020 or will be later in the year that I have designated must-reads.

Catherine Lacey: “Pew”

Catherine Lacey is on a steady path towards greatness, and in her wake is a collection of soon to be classics. First, there was “Nobody Is Ever Missing” in 2014, a book about a woman jetting off to New Zealand, leaving behind her husband, family and a deep sense of dissatisfaction in search of something to soothe her haunted past. The best way I could describe it is a millennial’s answer to “On the Road”, the seminal novel by Jack Kerouac, only “Nobody Is Ever Missing” feels more urgent and tragic. In 2017, Lacey followed up with “The Answers”, about a woman taking on a strange job as a man’s “emotional support girlfriend”. Then, in 2018, she published the criminally underrated short story collection “Certain American States”. Not too shabby for a 35-year-old.

Lacey’s latest novel, “Pew”, was released in January by publisher Macmillan. Chinelo Okparanta, a former writing teacher of mine, once said that there are only two types of stories, a stranger comes to town and a stranger goes on an adventure. From descriptions, “Pew” seems to be the former. Set in a rural, southern town in the U.S., “Pew” follows a titular character. One day, a family discovers a stranger sleeping in their church. They (the stranger) are genderless and raceless, they have no name, their age is unknown and there is no clear idea where in the world they came from. The family, believing themselves good Christians, take the stranger, who they later name Pew, into their home, and from there, the novel centers on Pew’s interactions with the small town.