Saturday, September 23, 2017

august: 36, 37, 38 & 39

in august, i read:

six of crows, by leigh bardugo (this is a YA novel that i suggested for my book club...and it was not the best YA novel i've read...not sure i would recommend this to others.  six teenagers who live in a post-apocalyptic world and try to seek revenge and freedom by going on a journey.  this author has written a ton of books so she must have a pretty good following but this one wasn't quite for me.)

the dorito effect, by mark schatzker (i listened to this audiobook, about how the food industry manipulates us and promotes fake foods.  i found a lot of it really interesting - "natural flavor," for example, means nothing and is entirely the process of getting bigger fruits and vegetables and bigger cuts of meat we have sacrificed flavor...all things i suspected but now have some research backing up.  if you're interested in food ethics i would highly recommend this!)

shadow of the lions, by christopher swann (chris is a friend of mine from atlanta!  i read his book could i not.  i expected it to be pretty good - it was making a lot of "best of" southern author lists this summer, but i did not expect to love it quite as much as i did.  i would highly recommend this!  set in a southern boarding school both during the narrator's time as a student and then again when he comes back to teach.  it takes some pretty interesting twists and the writing is lovely.  two thumbs up!)

the hate u give, by angie thomas (okay, this is the best book i've read all year and if it doesn't win the printz award for best YA book then the whole thing is rigged.  highly highly recommend.  the main character is a black girl who attends a private school...and then watches her friend - a black teenage boy - get shot by police.  i LOVED the narrator's voice and the author's writing style and i found the topic incredibly important and relevant.  read this!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

july: 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34 & 35

this month i read:

the fall of lisa bellow, by susan perabo (two girls go into a sandwich shop - there is a robbery gone wrong - one girl is abducted.  we see the story from the girl who is left behind.  in the summers i always try to read a few books from a list recommended to the teachers at my school by a local bookstore owner who comes on campus in the spring for this purpose.  this is one - as are chilbury ladies and this is how it always is, also read this month.  i enjoyed this book - the not knowing what has happened to the abducted girl and how it affects the whole community.  thumbs up.)

theft by finding, by david sedaris (it took me a little while to warm up to literally entries from david sedaris's diary, but i did warm up to them and by the end i was reveling in the behind the scenes version of his life.  like, he published a book and continued to help people remodel their homes because he needed the money.  he worked as a seasonal fruit picker in california in his 20s!  you get to see him fall in love with hugh, which is adorable.  you get to read about the random conversations he overhears in the ihop where he writes daily for 9 years.  i was totally entertained.  be prepared, though, for this to be very different from the rest of his books.)

slow days, fast company, by eve babitz (are you single and in your 30s?  GO BUY THIS BOOK.  i already have four people for whom i will be purchasing this for christmas.  hilarious and so true to life - even though she's writing from los angeles high society in the 1960s.)

the chilbury ladies' choir, by jennifer ryan (did you like the guernsey literary and potato peel pie society?  you will like this book exactly that much.  which is to say, it will not be the best book you read this year but you'll like it just fine.  i enjoyed that the book is told in diary entries and letters.)

this is how it always is, by laurie frankel (the story of the raising of a transgender child.  sweet, sad, funny, anxiety-producing.  highly recommend, though parts of the dialogue felt a little too perfectly scripted.)

dear life, by alice munro (i wanted to read this because it seems like to be an educated american you ought to have read some alice munro.  except her stories are all so SAD.  beautiful writing, and i see why she's won the nobel prize, but i think this may be the only book of hers that i read.)

masterminds & wingmen, by rosalind wiseman (if you have a son or teach boys, you must read this book!  she's brilliant and gives excellent advice.  i recommended it to the parents that i work with in my back-to-school email.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

june: 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 & 28

summer vacation = lots of reading!

hamlet's blackberry, by william powers (i have been proselytizing about this book since i finished it; it's the authors thoughts on technology, along with seven great thinkers (plato, seneca, shakespeare, and others) talking about technology in their time period and how people reacted to it.  in plato's era, the big technology was writing down your ideas on a scroll and reading from it, as opposed to memorizing it.  in shakespeare's, they had invented little erasable tablets, so there was the idea of revising your thoughts.  i loved hearing how people across thousands of years have responded to technological changes - often in very similar ways - and thinking about how attached we are to our phones.  great to read as i embarked on summer and had much more time to just mess around thoughtlessly on my phone.)

shrill, by lindy west (i listened to this audiobook - body-positive, humorous, moving.  i was into it.  she got a smidge shrill (ha) for me at one point, but i still really liked it.  i hadn't realized that i knew this author - i listened to the book at the recommendation of my cousin, laura - but then realized i'd heard at least one story on a this american life episode, and had enjoyed it.  thumbs up!)

hillbilly elegy, by j.d. vance (so everyone was talking about this after the election - a book to read to understand trump's america...or something.  it got SO much press.  i listened to this audiobook on a long car ride, and i was intrigued by the story of vance's life.  i found some of it unsurprising, having grown up in rural appalachia myself, and maybe he did help me understand trump's america a little more.  but i wasn't blown away by it and i was surprised by how much press it had gotten.  glad i read it / but at the same time it wasn't revolutionary.)

vertigo, by joanna walsh (this was a pick i got in my monthly book subscription from a local independent bookstore.  a book of short stories - fine - nothing exceptional - good reading while on vacation and i was only able to read in snippets.)

the uncommon reader, by alan bennett (kate lent this to me - a fictional imagining of what would happen if queen elizabeth fell so in love with reading that she couldn't rule.  i was vaguely entertained but not blown away.  both this and vertigo were short and quickly finished.)

a gentleman in moscow, by amor towles (i read this for two book clubs (thanks, book clubs, for picking the same book and making my life easier).  it's a character study, really, of a man on house arrest in a hotel in moscow starting in the 1920s.  not much happens, which frustrated me, but perhaps i should have expected it since he can't leave the hotel.  my friends either loved it for how richly he and the hotel were depicted it...or they were slightly bored like i was.  i have to admit that i can still easily walk the halls of this hotel in my mind, but i wasn't as blown away by it as i wanted to be.  this book has gotten a ton of press this year, and our librarian at school said it was the best book she read this year.  so maybe i expected too much?)

modern romance, by aziz ansari (every person who has ever online dated MUST read this book.  so good.  so true.  it was really interesting to hear the research behind what i've experienced in real life.  i listened to this audiobook, too, and loved having ansari read it to me!)

Friday, June 9, 2017

comparing years...

i love to do this - look back through past posts on my blog. 

in the first five months of this year, i read 21 books.

last year at this time, i had read 25.

in 2015, 10 (!!).

in 2014, 12.

in 2013, 17.

in 2012, 15.

in 2011, 14.

wait, i've been recording my books since 2011?

see.  the magic of looking back through the blog history. :)

may: 17, 18, 19, 20 & 21

this month i read:

the bees, by laline paull (okay, so veronica recommended this to me and i was like, "um, a book where all the characters are actual bees?  no thank you."  but then several months later i heard about it again and then all of a sudden i was reading it.  but...actual bees as main characters is weird.  i made it through the book but wasn't rushing home to read it.  you are allowed to skip this one.)

midwinterblood, by marcus sedgwick (oooooh i loved this book.  young adult, mysterious island, odd characters, multiple story lines that aren't hard to keep separate.  our school librarian gave me a copy of the book and told me to read it and she was so spot on with her recommendation.  will definitely be reading more by this author!  title is weird.  book is tons better than the title would suggest!)

the circle, by dave eggers (another one i really enjoyed; i read this for one of my book clubs.  super creepy version of the future that is just a tiny bit less private than ours and a tiny bit more connected electronically...and it snowballs out of control.  i was totally fascinated by the world-building in this story and sped through it even though it was almost 500 pages.  highly recommend!)

and every morning the way home gets longer and longer, by fredrik backman (well, i freaking sobbed my way through this.  it's a novella that i read in one sitting while going through three kleenex tissues...a lovely way to think about aging and the relationship between multiple generations and definitely i'm glad i read it.  love this author!)

not my father's son, by alan cumming (i listened to the audiobook of this and cannot recommend it highly enough.  alan cumming reads the audiobook (a big plus in my world), and this is the story of his relationship with his father and grandfather.  fascinating, can't-believe-this-is-nonfiction stuff, and he is a lovely writer.  i like alan cumming as an actor and this made me appreciate him as an artist even more.)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

april: 14, 15 & 16

beowulf (i listened to the audiobook of this - which i hadn't read since high school - and totally loved it.  the narrator had an excellent voice, and i enjoyed the lyrical language and the easy-to-follow plot (i don't often do well listening to fiction, because my mind tends to wander a bit and then i get lost).  but i guess i shouldn't be surprised to have enjoyed it so much - beowulf was written to be read or recited aloud!  big thumbs up if you're into this sort of book.)

murder on the orient express, by agatha christie (i nerded out and read this along with a senior english class at my school, attending class once a week while they read it and participating in discussions (and taking reading quizzes!).  i hadn't read any agatha christie before, and this is such a popular book in our canon that i wanted to have read it; it was an easy read and i was definitely entertained by it, but it hasn't turned me into a christie or poirot devotee.  one agatha christie book might be enough for me!)

the little old lady who broke all the rules, by catharina ingelman-sundberg (this was my book club's pick for last month, and you can totally skip it.  it claims to be in the genre of a man called ove, but i loved that one and didn't much care for this one.  not sure if this one didn't stand up well in translation, or the swedish are into different things in their literature, or if i just didn't care for it.  really fun premise, but the book dragged for me.)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

march: 11, 12 & 13

with a spring break trip to france in the works, i planned my books this month to compliment the trip!

the paris wife, by paula mclain (i didn't love circling the sun, so i was slightly skeptical of this book, which has the same premise (take a real woman and create historical fiction around her life), but this book worked so much better for me than circling the sun did.  this book tells the story of hemingway's first wife, hadley, and the five years they spent living in paris together before getting divorced and moving back to north america.  if you are a hemingway fan - or a paris fan! - this is definitely worth a read.)

the nightingale, by kristin hannah (this book was recommended to me by becky a few years ago, and i finally got around to reading it.  an aspect of WWII that i really didn't understand until very recently is the perspective of people who lived in occupied france.  FASCINATING.  this book, though fiction, helped me understand that time in france very well - the nuances of how horrible it was.  again - so cool to read this while in paris, and i may or may not have cried on the plane ride home while finishing it up.)

a moveable feast, by ernest hemingway (so i had hadley's (somewhat fictionalized) version of things from the paris wife, and a friend lent me this book, hemingway's memoir of the very same time period: those five years in paris.  i loved this book, and would so recommend that people read the two books together like i did.  i hadn't read any hemingway since college and was reminded of how much i like his writing style.  it was interesting to see his (actual) perspective on the fictionalized events of the paris wife (hadley really did lose the manuscripts of all his early work by leaving it in a train station!).  i also loved the idea of 60 year old, nearing the end of his life hemingway reflecting back on his life when he was in his 20s.  it was a quick read!)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

february: 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10

this month i read:

family life, by akhil sharma (i would never have picked this book up if my book club hadn't chosen it for this month's selection, and i ended up really enjoying it.  apparently david sedaris has been talking up this book, which seems like as good an endorsement as you can get. the book is a coming-of-age story of an indian boy who moves to america with his family.  it grew on me as i read, and then when i googled the author after finishing the book i learned things that made me appreciate the book even more.)

the longest day, by cornelius ryan (i listened to this audiobook in preparation for my trip to normandy in a week.  it was published in the late 1950s, so i was skeptical that it would stand the test of time, but it turns out there's a reason people point to this as the definitive book on the d-day invasion: it is fascinating nonfiction that reads like fiction.  the book is split into three parts - the wait, the night (when the paratroopers landed), and the day (of the invasion from the sea).  i learned a ton and hope it helps me appreciate seeing the beaches in person.)

the wonder, by emma donoghue (i loved room but this one kind of disappointed.  interesting premise...but it wasn't a page turner.  skip this one and read room instead.)

seabiscuit: an american legend, by laura hillenbrand (another audiobook - this one i had to check out from the library three separate times to get through it all.  the ultimate question one should ask oneself before starting this book: how much do you care about horses?  did i learn some fun facts: yes.  was i charmed by the meteoric rise of seabiscuit: yes.  did i really want to listen to second-by-second accounts of horse races from 70 years ago when i was driving to work: no.  this is another one where you should read the author's other bestseller - unbroken - instead.)

the sun is also a star, by nicola yoon (ugh, a third i would put in that same category - i liked everything, everything better than this one, though i read this in three days and was charmed by it.  if you like YA fiction you should familiarize yourself with this author!)