I’m moving my booklist to this site this year. It’ll be updated as I read. My reading goal this year is hmmm…a little more non-fiction mixed in with all the delicious novels I can’t resist. I wonder if I should decide to read less this year (like get a life?!)…but reducing my reading probably won’t happen, so I won’t decide that. Let me know if there’s a book I absolutely must read but have missed! Okay then, thanks. By the way, these chatty little blurbs after the titles are so I don’t forget what the book was about. If you want a real review, go to Amazon.com.
January: On a roll, can’t stop reading.
1. Eclipse, by Stephanie Meyer. This is the third in the Twilight series. I’m addicted to them, it seems. Even though I can hardly wait to be done with the one I’m reading, I just go right to the next one. In this one the vampires and werewolves band together to protect Bella from a vampire who wants revenge on her.
1b. Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer. I finally finished them all. I found this one to be pretty gross. I don’t want to give anything away to those interested, but I will say that I don’t think it’s really appropriate for middle schoolers. Sex, pregnancy, childbirth none of which in a normal setting. Enough.
2. Rococo, by Adriana Trigiani. The story of a decorator who is commissioned to renovate the town church. This author always provides a good, not especially challenging, read.
3. A Complicated Kindness, by Miriam Toews. I haven’t decided if I like this book or not. It is a story about a young Mennonite girl’s coming of age. I wonder if she has researched the Mennonites, if this is true to form or not. The language is so enticing, yet the book kind of dragged for me.
4. Milk Glass Moon by Adriana Trigiani. I know, I’m on a roll with this author, but I think I’ve finished everything now. I like her. This was the third in a series, I think and she left it open for another. No raving about deep literature, but it was a very satisfying read. And that’s enough for me at the moment.
February: It’s all about the library. I take books back and then find others that I can’t resist checking out. Then I have to hurry and read them before they are due.
5. The Wasted Vigil by Nadeem Aslam. After finishing this book, I”m still not sure I get it. I enjoyed reading it, and didn’t want to quit, but somehow I never made all the connections. It’s like I almost think I should reread it, except that I think I got enough of it. It is a story of convoluted relationships, fairly unbelievable connections, certain karma, death. Poignant sadness. Not sure I recommend it.
6. The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry. This is a pretty compelling book which carries the reader along under one assumption until the end, when you realize you were looking through the eyes of an unreliable witness. It takes place in Salem Massachusetts in approximately 1996 and involves lots of psychic and perhaps schizophrenic phenomenon. It’s a good read.
7. Attachment by Isabel Fonseca. This book is about a man and woman who live on an island in the Indian Ocean. He is British and she American (I think). He works from home, with an occasional trip to London. The wife discovers an email from a (supposedly) lover and how she deals with that is what the book is about. I don’t want to spoil it. It is a surprisingly forgettable book.
8. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah. Have you seen or read Beaches? This is that story to a “T” but with a more contemporary setting. Books like this make me mad because once I start I can’t stop reading them, even though I’m all but sobbing by the end. So read at your own risk, knowing that.
9. The Red Scarf by Kate Furnivall. This story opens in a Labor camp in Siberia in 1933, when Russia is living under the rule of Stalin. The main characters are two women, one of whom is very ill, and will surely die without help. It is an adventure, a love story and something of a mystery. I loved it.
March – did I really only read two books this month?
10. The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan. This is our bookclub selection for this month. It is an easy and quick read, I’ll give it that. It’s a true story of a woman who is extremely attached to her parents, her father in particular. She gets breast cancer and her father gets bladder cancer at about the same time and the book chronicles that experience. At the same time it explores the state of being someone’s daughter and someone’s parent at the same time. I didn’t especially like it. I thought she was spoiled and overly doting. She really bugged me, in fact.
11. Somebody Else’s Daughter by Elizabeth Brundage. The story of a private school in the Berkshires – ugly secrets, danger, romance. It has it all. It gets a little slow in the middle and then suddenly races screaming to the end. Pretty good read.
12. Between Lovers by Eric Jerome Dickey. I thought this was going to be a mystery, but it isn’t. It’s the story of a love between an man and a woman and a woman. Lots of sex but not gratuitous feeling, and a really good story. It took me by surprise at the end. I recommend it.
13. Spare Change by Robert B. Parker. A murder mystery by a prolific author. Very quick read – I actually just read it at B&N because I got so far into it the first day that it wasn’t worth buying it. What I’d call a “TV book.”
14. Bulls Island, by Dorothea Benton Frank. This was good. A fast read but because it was compelling. Enough intrigue to keep you turning the pages from beginning to end. Maybe call this one a “Movie book” because it has more to it than a TV show!
15. Friday Nights, by Joanna Trollope. The story of a multi-age group of women who get together every Friday night. When one of them meets a man everything changes. It’s okay, thoughtful, not too fluffy. But I’m not raving about it.
16. Belong to Me, by Marisa de los Santos. This one I’ll rave about. I love this author. She writes like my favorite friends talk. I want her books to last a really long time. I want to write one like she writes. If you take my recommendations at all, just read this one. It’s great.
17. Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez. An American woman from Michigan joins an NGO to go help out in Kabul, Afghanistan. She is surprised to find that her skills as a hairdresser are in huge demand there, both from Afghanis and Westerners there. She helps set up a beauty school and ends up running it for 5 years. It’s good. Better than I expected, for some reason.
18. Made in the U.S.A. by Billie Letts. This is the author who wrote Where the Heart Is and The Honk and Holler Opening Soon. I love those two books, and I enjoyed this one as well. Just not as much. The first two seemed a little more complex than this one and its immediate predecessor. I like a book to take more than a couple of days to read and this one was really fast. Compelling, couldn’t put it down fast. It’s a good read, I’m just saying.
19. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. This one I highly recommend. I know it’s been a big bookclub hit lately, so maybe you’ve already read it. If you haven’t, do so. It’s a novel that takes place in London and Guernesy immediately after WWII. It’s all in the form of letters and telegrams which make the chapters short and clear. Nothing typical about it. It’s just great.
20. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. The story of an ancient Jewish text, a Haggadah which is being restored by a young Australian book restorer. She finds a few clues as to its past in the binding of the book and the reader is taken through the history of the book. As the story develops the restorer herself becomes on eof the book’s people. It’s compelling and complex. I liked it a lot.
21. World Without End by Ken Follett. This is more like Book Without End. It’s good, extremely readable, but man, is it ever long. I think I’m getting a strain just holding it up so I can read it in bed. Do they make paperbacks of books this huge? It’s good though. If you liked Pillars of the Earth you’ll like this one. Same thing, different century.
June: Summer vacation, at last! I have a pile of unread books that is almost as tall as I am. I can hardly wait to dig in!
22. Moon Shell Beach by Nancy Thayer. Story of two best friends who grew up together and grew apart. The story of their coming together again. Good for reading at the beach.
23. Remember Me by Laura Hendrie. Interesting story of a small Native American village in New Mexico. The locals make a distinctive type of embroidery to support themselves. The story revolves around a young woman who has been ostracized by the locals. I enjoyed this one.
24. The New Yorkers by Cathleen Schine. The story of a neighborhood in NYC, not a particularly fashionable one. Just a neighborhood where it seems like everyone has dogs. I finished it, although toyed with the idea of stopping partway through, something I never do. So, it’s okay but I’m not putting it on a recommended reading list.
25. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell does it again. Very interesting book about why some people are successful and others aren’t. He debunks the idea that extreme success is possible for anyone if they just work hard enough.
26. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach. This is a pretty scientific look at sex and sexuality by a very tongue in cheek author. She makes it pretty funny, even though she is relating the results of a great deal of research.
July: After those last two nonfiction reads, I’m ready for some novels. And I do have a number of them waiting for me!
27. Morality for Young Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith. This is one of the series of books about the Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency, taking place in Botswana. The books are pretty light and frivolous. There are a couple of mysteries to solve, no violence or sex as in many detective novels. The thing I like about these books is the language. He is good at portraying the way a Southern African would speak English, so you get a feeling about the people and their values through the way they speak. A fast and enjoyable read.
28. Diary of a Beatnik by Diane DiPrima. This book was loaned to me by a friend, who lent it with the caveat that it contained some pretty graphic sex. When I first began the book I was a little grossed out, and decided I wouldn’t read it. After a few days I went back to it and actually ended up enjoying it. It reminded me of the seamier side of the sixties, which I lived through, and because of that background knowledge, I believe that it is pretty accurate of the beatnik era, in the 1950s. I was surprised by the similarities in the two “movements.” Like Nathan, I recommend it with the caveat that it does contain a lot of pretty graphic sex. But after the first two chapters that part kind of settles down, and you get to the story.
July has been a not so good reading month for me for some reason. I seem to pick up a book and put it down, then pick up another one, on and on. I hope to lock in on something soon and I’ll tell you all about it! Stay posted…
29. Playing with Boys by Alisa Valdez-Rodriguez. This book completely qualifies as a “summer read.” It doesn’t require much thought, doesn’t bring up anything too thoughtful, is a page turner and what else? Oh a little well-placed but not too graphic sex. It’s a story of three different women in Southern California, how they become friends and fix up their personal, professional and love lives. I’m not saying go out and buy it, but it was fun to read.
August, September…what happened to the time? I’m not sure I can remember everything I read while in this slump, but here goes:
30. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. I really liked this book. The protagonist was interestingly placed throughout this story. She is older and looking at life through eyes that have seen a lot of things. She manages to still impact quite a few people’s lives in beneficial ways. At times you can kind of forget about her and then she is back. I really enjoyed this one.
31. Paper Towns by John Green. This book was a gift from Sarah Ward, a young friend of mine. The author is a dependable one – I’ve loved both of the book I’ve read by him (both gifts from Sarah). This one is kind of a combination love story and mystery. Very contemporary, YA book. Highly recommended. I’ll read anything Sarah suggests! Her track record is perfect so far!
32. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly. This is another YA book – at least I guess it is. It certainly held my attention. It is kind of a period piece/mystery. It involves a mysterious drowning of a young woman. Excellent.
33. Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea. This is a story of a northern Mexico town from which all the men have decamped to the north and not returned. The young women who remain worry that they will never find anyone to love, to marry and have babies with. One young woman, Nayeli, decides to go north to find seven men to bring back to their town, including her father who left long ago. It’s a little funny, a little heart-rending. Really a beautiful read.
34. The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff. As you might have guessed, this is a novel about a Mormon Fundamentalist group. What you wouldn’t guess is that it is so different from the others I’ve read. This one is told through the eyes of a young man who was kicked out of the compound for being male and teenaged and the master’s thesis of a young woman who is interested in the history of the group for her own reasons. This was so well researched, and had depth that I found fascinating. I’ve bene hitting the jackpot lately, haven’t I?
35. Astonishing Splashes of Color by Clare Morrall. This novel is one I bought at the used bookstore because I liked the title and the cover and it didn’t disappoint. The protagonist is highly unusual, teetering on the edge of mental illness all the time. She veers into crises on several occasions, and eventually learns some things that might save her. I liked it.
36. The Soloist by Steve Lopez. I think I jinxed this one by seeing the movie before I read it. I began it and it so closely followed the movie, I didn’t see the point in reading it. I hate when this happens and I really should not permit it again. Just read the book first and then go see if the movie measures up. I’ll still probably try to finish this one before the author comes to town, as I have tickets to see him. So yeah. I think it’s worth a read if you haven’t seen the movie.
October: It must just be the time of year, because every book I lay eyes on looks delicious to me. Better books than chocolate chip cookies. Here’s the list.
37. The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall. The story of a Russian woman who goes to China with her daughter. They are very poor and the daughter learns to be quite street-wise, while the mother resorts to boyfriends to support them (or not).
38. The Girl from Junchow by Kate Furnivall. this book is the sequel to The Russian Concubine. In this volume the daughter goes to Russia to try to find her long lost father. I”m a Kate Furnivall fan. There is always lots going on in her books.
November: I keep forgetting to add books to my list. I know I read more than two books in October. Must not be all that memorable as I don’t remember what they are! Let’s see what I remember of November:
39. Meet Me in Venice by Joan Adler. This is a forgettable page turner that is easily finished and difficult to put down. Library book.
40. Finding Nouf by Zoe Farris. This murder mystery is set in Saudi Arabia and is an interesting look into women’s lives in that Muslim culture while being a captivating read.
41. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbury. This rather elegant book is a little hard to stick with. So much thinking compared to the action. Yet I’m enjoying it great deal. Just thinking about it makes me write more formally!
42. A Cup of Light by Nicole Mones. This book failed to deliver for me. It’s about an American expert in Chinese pottery. There’s some intrigue and a little tension, but I think the author forgot to put in the climax. So just so-so. Good enough to read it all but not good enough to recommend to others.
43. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffeneggar. Weird. This book by the author of The Time Traveler’s Wife is a little over the top on weirdness for me. I was going along and getting it until about the last page or so, when I was left scratching my head. I see why it has not appeared on any best seller lists and it is not even to be found at Costco any more.
44. The Interruption of Everything by Terry McMillan. This was a quick read, pretty fun, with an ending that is so predictable as to be a surprise. I liked it but don’t say to run out and get it.
45. The Girl with No Shadow by Joanne Harris. This is the sequel to Chocolat. I really like this author and enjoyed the book immensely. Wonder why her books always seem to be remaindered.
Well, the year is over and I remain convinced that I missed a few books. But ni modo, if I missed them they couldn’t have been all that memorable. Usually I like to choose twelve top books, one for each month. Let’s see, what shall I choose this year?
The Lace Reader, The Red Scarf, Belong to Me, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, People of the Book, Olive Kitteridge, Paper Towns, Into the Beautiful North, The 19th Wife, The Girl With No Shadow, The Russian Concubine and The Girl from Junchow. Big year for Kate Furnivall. All of these titles are detailed above. Thanks for reading my book list. I’m starting a new one for 2010. Come back and check it out if these interest you! The list for 2008 is on my other blog: http://lynnjake.wordpress.com.
If you’d like to recommend any books you think I’d like, hit me up. I love recommendations.