Sunday, March 18, 2018

february: 4, 5 & 6

getting (sort of) caught up on blogging about my reading - in february i read:

the immortalists, by chloe benjamin (four siblings visit a psychic, who tells each of them the date they will die.  is the psychic right?  what effect does this visit have on their lives?  i really enjoyed this book, with four fully-formed characters who live very different lives.  thumbs up!  i'd recommend it.)

world war z, by max brooks (i listened to this audiobook, with tons of narrators so each new character had a unique voice.  that is the best thing about this book.  i did not find the story line particularly compelling, nor this post-apocalyptic world particularly interesting.  you can continue to pass on this one.)

men explain things to me, by rebecca solnit (my local independent bookstore recommended this to me when i bought a chimamanda adichie [spelled that correct on the first try - please be proud] book, and i really enjoyed it.  it's a book of essays on feminism from the woman who coined the term "mansplaining."  now that i've read this i see solnit's name around a fair amount - she seems like someone we should all read at some point, given her prominence in the feminist essay-writing field!)

Saturday, March 3, 2018

january: 1, 2 & 3

a little behind in posting, but in january i read:

moxie, by jennifer mathieu (great young adult feminist fiction by a local author!  buy this for all the middle school girls in your life.  big thumbs up.)

american heiress, by jeffrey toobin (i listened to this audiobook, about the patty hearst kidnapping.  before i read the book i knew that patty hearst was somehow related to william randolph hearst, she was kidnapped by the symbionese liberation army, and then maybe she got stockholm syndrome because she robbed a bank with her kidnappers.  now i know a TON more, and i found the story fascinating.  right down to the fact that she hated being called patty (she preferred patricia) - the only person who called her patty was her father, but because he was the one who did the news conferences while she was kidnapped, that's what the public knows her as.  great audiobook!)

sing, unburied, sing, by jesmyn ward (i read this for a book club, and we picked it because the book (and the author) was getting SO much press that we literate ladies needed to know what the fuss was all about.  i liked this book a lot - lyrical, at times tough to read, and it painted a beautiful picture of the world in which it was set.  but i didn't lose my mind for it like the media attention had led me to believe i would.  so by all means, read it, if only so we can discuss our impressions of it.)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

2017 in books

a recap (mandatory):
2010: i read 15 books.
2011: i started my book challenge with the goal of reading 25 books; i read 38.
2012: 34 books
2013: 34 books again
2014: 32 books
2015: 35 books
2016: 58 books (fluke/who have i become?)
2017: 57 books (the new normal?)


2017 broken down:

30 books written by women
27 by men

38 fiction books
19 nonfiction

11 diverse books (as in, the main character or the author is not white)

my favorite books of 2017?  milk and honey, by rupi kaur (nonfiction/memoir) and the hate u give, by angie thomas (fiction).  read this books immediately.

december: 52, 53, 54, 55, 56 and 57

so. far. behind. in. posting.  sorry, world.  here's what i read in december:

evicted, by matthew desmond (i listened to this book, which might be my favorite nonfiction book of the year.  it follows tenants and landlords in low income parts of milwaukee as a fascinating look into low income residents' lives and the real housing crisis that many face.  if you like audiobooks, the narrator of this one is fantastic.  highly highly recommend.  obama read it this year, too, so trust his recommendation if you don't trust mine. :) )

dear ijeawele, or a feminist manifesto in fifteen suggestions, by chimamanda ngozi adichie (i'm now buying this book for every new mom i know.  advice on how to raise your child to be a feminist in adichie's clear and thoughtful and compelling style.  love her.)

an abundance of katherines, by john green (i love john green and i enjoyed this, but there's a reason this isn't his most famous book.  i absolutely want you to read a john green book if you haven't already, but don't start with this one.)

the light in the ruins, by chris bohjalian (listened to this, which was fine but not great.  a light read where it wasn't hard to keep the characters straight in the audiobook (which is sometimes hard for me when i listen to fiction), but i hated the narrator's fake italian accent and that almost did me in.  read this one on a beach vacay.)

a piece of the world, by christina baker kline (loved this book - really love kline's historical fiction in general.  not a tough read, but for something relatively straight forward there was some real nuance there.  made me glad i didn't live in that time and place, given the strictures around dating and the opportunities for women - there was a lot of pain this book but it was beautifully written.)

what unites us, by dan rather & elliot kirschner (dan rather's facebook posts are one of my favorite things about trump's america, and i saw him speak in houston in december; the price of admission was buying a copy of his book. there's nothing revolutionary here, but this is a beautiful little book with some fold-down-the-corner-of-the-page bits.  a quick read - would be a great gift!)

Thursday, December 14, 2017

november: 49, 50 & 51

in november i read:

the invention of wings, by sue monk kidd (i'm teaching this book during interim term at my school.  definitely worth a read - historical fiction that alternates between two narrators: a white southerner named sarah grimke (a real person who became an abolitionist and women's rights activitist) and her slave (also a real person).  my mom and sister recommended it to me and i found the story quite compelling and the book very well-written.)

homegoing, by yaa gyasi (i loved this book, which we read in the diversity book club i'm running with faculty at my school.  it tells the story of eight generations (from the 1700s to 1900s) within two branches of the same family tree; one branch lives in africa and the other begins with a family member who is sold into slavery and goes to the united states.  our book club had a great conversation about this book and i would highly recommend it.  i think we're all better off if we read books by authors with experiences and backgrounds different from our own.)

eleanor oliphant is completely fine, by gail honeyman (oh, i loved this book.  uplifting, a quick read, a really well-developed and complex main character, and i couldn't wait to see what eleanor would do next.  heart-warming, though tough to read in parts.  highly recommend!)

Monday, November 6, 2017

october: 43, 44, 45, 46, 47 & 48

this month i read (and listened to):

metamorphosis, by franz kafka (i listened to the [free] audiobook of this one - i had to read it in high school and clearly appreciated it more as an adult than i did when i was a teenager and struggling through required reading, though i missed having an english teacher to explain to me the deeper meaning behind everything that was happening.)

milk and honey, by rupi kaur (GO BUY THIS BOOK.  poetry plus drawings by the author who is incredibly talented - this really spoke to me and i tore through it.  there's a reason everyone has been talking about this book.  read it!)

incendiary, by chris cleave (this is a book that had been sitting on my shelf - and i'm trying to read things (when i have time) that are already in my house (free!  sense of accomplishment!).  i loved little bee and this was not quite little bee for me.  it's told as a letter to osama bin laden, after the narrator's husband and son were killed in a terrorist attack.  i'm glad i read it and it was really different in tone and scope than anything else i'd read, but there's a reason you've heard of cleave's other books and not this one.  it's skipable.)

things we lost in the fire, by mariana enriquez (this is a book of short stories - apparently this author is very popular in her native argentina but this is the first of her books to be translated into english.  if you're into latin american/south american literature, you definitely need to read this.  it was the perfect book to read on a vacation (costa rica!!) because it was very easy to pick up and put down.)

a little history of the world, by e.h. gombrich (Q gave me this book a long time ago and i've read it off and on and FINALLY finished it after (seriously) several years of reading it occasionally.  this is the translation of a book written in german in the 1930s, where the author tells the history of the world to an elementary school-aged audience.  i was totally charmed by it and would recommend it to anyone with a kid this age - it would be a perfect read-aloud before bed.  glad i read it and have it on my shelf!)

dolores claiborne, by stephen king (i listened to the audiobook of this one, on veronica's recommendation - non-scary, kind-of-creepy story told entirely by a woman who is being questioned in the murder of her employer, set in the police station questioning room.  the plot is slow-moving - as she recounts parts of her life to explain that she didn't kill this woman - but that made it perfect for an audiobook where you don't have to worry about missing something because you get distracted.  (i get distracted during audiobooks because i'm always doing other things (driving) - does this happen to other people?)  i really like stephen king's books...when they aren't scary.  a few years ago i read and loved 11/22/63, and after this one i'm definitely planning to read more.)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

september: 40, 41 and 42

more than a month behind on posting this.  gotta get my shit together!

in september, i read:

imagine me gone, by adam haslett (this was on a lot of independent bookstore lists this summer and i really liked it - intriguing story inside a family struggling with mental illness.  that makes it sound very depressing and it was not!  as far as i can remember.  since i finished it two months ago...  thumbs up, though not the best book i've ever read.)

born to run, by bruce springsteen (i listened to the audiobook of this, which springsteen reads, and i was proselytizing about it left and right in august.  i really enjoyed it.  it led me to listen to more of his music - i knew the hits but nothing beyond that - and goes down as a similar book for me to patti smith's just kids: parts of it were relevant only to super fans, but parts of it really spoke to me.  and i love a memoir.  if the only thing i get from the book is appreciation to bruce for writing 41 shots, that would be enough.  i mean, people.  bruce was #blacklivesmatter in 2001.)

spoonbenders, by daryl gregory (i read this for my book club and it's one of those books that you're enjoying as it's going - but you know there's a layer beyond the one you're reading - and then at the end it just all comes together and your mind is slightly blown about the way all the pieces fit together.  family drama plus paranormal activity...i'd recommend it!)

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 artificial....in 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 because...how 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!