My Yearly Booklists

January, 2009:

I’m moving my book list 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

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:

If you’d like to recommend any books you think I’d like, hit me up.  I love recommendations.

Well, this year began with my taking 8 grocery bags of books to the used bookstore and garnering $150 credit towards my next crop of books. I still have a bookcase of unread books, so I’m ready to read. (Actually, on looking at this photo, only some are unread. I’ll soon have use for my bookstore credit!) This is my fifth year of keeping these lists. Last year I got offtrack, and forgot to list some of what I read. I also didn’t read all that much last year, so there’s that too.

January, 2010: Here we go again!

Okay, here goes another year. Welcome to my book
list. I began keeping such a list in about 2006, when I
noticed that I was reading a lot. I decided I wanted to see
just how many books I really read in a year. I read fast so
tend to forget what they are about, so I started writing little
reviews about them, to jog my memory and help me decide if I’d
recommend them to anyone. Now it’s just what I do each
year. I hope you find something you like here.

January: This has turned into “chick lit” month for some reason.
That’s not a bad thing, just not what I
expected. I guess that life was pretty challenging this
month, so there was no reason for my reading to be as well.
Something like that!

1. The Last Song by Nicolas Spark.
Can you believe I’ve begun the year with a book by Nicolas
Spark? My friend Bill asked if I’d like to read it, and at
first I adamantly said NO! Because I really dislike reading
books that leave me clogged up with crying. I think this
auth0r really makes the most of his ability to do that. But
Bill assured me that this one isn’t like The
, so I agreed to give it a try. I really
liked it. It is surprising that it’s written by this sports
coach looking guy. I wouldn’t say he is really a good writer,
but certainly has a knack for capturing one’s attention and holding
it until the end. It’s a quick read and only calls up tears
in one chapter. And I never got completely clogged up so I
couldn’t lay on my back while I read! So I suppose that is a

2. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. Excellent story of a very sad episode in
French history in which the French police sent thousands of Jewish
children to Auschwitz. Well written story. Highly

3. The Dewbreaker by Edwidge Danticat. A collection of connected short stories
about Haitian immigrants. The connection is a man who was a
prison torturer in Haiti and is also an immigrant, believing no one
recognizes him.

4. Twenty Wishes by Debbie Macomber. This author has written a series of books
that all take place in a village. Each one focuses on a
different business in the town and hence a different character or
two, but all the characters eventually show up in each book.
Fast and enjoyable read. See the top of this month’s
list. Definitely “chick lit.”

5. Angels by Marian Keyes. Page turner, not because it’s
scary. It isn’t. An Irish woman separates from her
husband of 15 years and goes to L.A. to visit a friend for a
month. The story of that month. I liked it a lot.

6. Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan. McMillan is pretty compelling to read. While
she doesn’t exactly attack deep subjects, she does a good job of
what she does write about.

For some reason I have quit reading before I go to sleep this
month, so my reading may drop to a new low.

7. Tea Time for the Tradtionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith. Another
volume of the Ladies Detective Agency series, set in Africa.
Light reading, good. Not overly compelling. I don’t
quite remember what it was about, so maybe I forgot to finish
it. It’s like that.

May: Well, I’m not sure what happened to the rest of February and March and
April and most of May. I’ve been reading but for some reason
I completely forgot to write anything down here. Let’s see
what I can remember:

8. The Help by Kathryn Stockwell. This one was great. Really. It
is a novel written from the point of view of the African American
women who work in the homes of Southern women. It is set in
the 1960s or thereabouts. Highly recommended.

9. Flying Changes by Sara Gruen (author of Water
for Elephants). This is Gruen’s first novel, the one she
wrote before the big successful one. It’s a quick read and a
little too pat in the satisfying ending, but I liked it
nonetheless. I mean quick and satisfying fills a need, right?

10. Revenge of the Middle Aged Woman by
Elizabeth Buchanan. This book and the one that follows are a
twosome. I enjoyed them. The first one is written from
the viewpoint of the woman betrayed by a straying husband.
the second from the viewpoint of his paramour (and second
wife). I thought that was an interesting thing to do.

11. Wives Behaving Badly by Elizabeth
Buchanan. See above. I enjoyed these.

12. The “Clique” series. So far I’ve read 12
of them. Two to go, and then I’ll have to buy a few more I
guess. This is a series of YA books about a clique of rich
seventh grade girls. It’s almost horrifying, but manages to
present kind of a caricature of young girls desperate to be
accepted. My granddaughter is reading them, so I decided I’d
read them with her. In a way it’s better than a sociological
study. That’s what I have for now. Honestly, I’ve been
playing Words with Friends with my friends on my iPhone at night
lately, and it’s seriously cutting into my reading time. I
think I’d better change that. See you later.

June: School is out now, so maybe I’ll
get to more reading. The truth is I finally finished those
dumb Clique books so now I can do some grownup reading. Those
are okay as a window on something middleschoolish, but man, I got
sick of them. But once I began I couldn’t quit, for reasons
of book addiction as well as sharing in an activity with
Mayaoel. So, at last I’m moving on. Here goes:

13. Not Much, Just Chillin: The Hidden Lives of
Middle Schoolers
, by Linda Perlstein. This is a
sociological study of middle school kids. I’m learning some
things that might help me teach them, such as their attention span
is about 14 minutes and then they have to MOVE. That’ll
help. The parts about their engagement in sexual activity
puts me into denial. It is very readable which is a big plus
in my book.

14. Knit Two, by Kate Jacobs. This is the sequel to The Friday Night
Knitting Club
, which I really enjoyed last year, and it
was just as good. Strong storyline, maybe a little
predictable or a little too pat in its ending, but a satisfying
book nonetheless.

July: I can’t believe I have come halfway through the year and am only on book
#15. Something is seriously wrong with this picture.
Another month has begun, and I just bought a clock-radio-iPhone
docking station that is nowhere near my bed, so maybe I’ll catch up
pretty soon.

15. The Quilter’s Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini. This was a
novel that involved stories from times past and present and the
making of quilts. I liked it a lot and read it really
fast. I’m going to read a few more of this “Elm Creek Quilts”
series. That’s how literature-oriented I am right now.

16. The Runaway Quilt by Jennifer
Chiaverini. See #15. I’m not done with these books
yet. This one was about the Underground Railway.

17. The Quilter’s Legacy by Jennifer
Chiaverini. Yet one more in the series. This one was
about a quest to find some old family quilts. I like them –
it’s kind of like reading one really long book, with different
episodes. Stay tuned for more!

18. One Amazing Thing by Chitra Bannerjee
Divakaruni. A group of 9 people are trapped in a
basement passport office when an earthquake occurs. Over the
course of a few hours they each react in different ways. They
end up telling each other stories of “one amazing thing” that has
happened in their lives. I loved it until the ending when it
seemed she forgot to finish it. I was so disappointed by the

19. Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman. This is a memoir of a
trip to China in 1986 written by the author of Hypocrite
in a Pouffy White Dress
. She’s a compelling
author. I couldn’t put it down until I finished it.
Highly recommended.

20. The Rice Mother by Rani Manicka. This is a two generational family saga that
takes place in Malaysia. It’s a great read, and I found it
difficult to put down. Recommended.

21. The Lost Quilter by Jennifer Chiavarini. There are a
lot of these books. This one was the story of a runaway slave
who became a free woman and started a colony for other former slave
women. It’s good. I just really like these books, obviously!

August: Another month is born. Usually I have read a lot more books by now.
I’m just kinda slogging along this year for some reason. Oh  well.

22. The Virgin’s Lover by Phillipa Gregory. Elizabethan England. This is a well researched (if
the bib at the back is any indication) story of the young Queen
Elizabeth and her married lover. It’s so compelling.
Gregory writes a good story. (She is the author of
The Other Boleyn Sister that they made a movie
of a year or two ago.)

23. The Boyfriend School by Sarah Bird. Sappy title, I know. Good
book about a journalist who goes to a romance novelist convention
to write a probably sarcastic piece on it, and it turns out
different than she expects. Recommended!

24. Susanna’s Garden by Debbie MacComber.
This is truly the year of chick lit for Lynn Jacobs. I
liked it a lot.

25. Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner.
See above comment, then think about Elizabeth Edwards or the myriad
of other cheated on political wives. Enough said. Recommended.

September: Really, it’s September and I’m only on
book #25? I take back the post about Farmville. It may
be evil incarnate. Ahem, not incarnate, exactly. More
like evil onlineate. Yeah.

26. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah. Really very good.
Captivating in fact. Russian mother never showed a bit of
love to her daughters. Father dies, his last wish (command)
is that the mom finish telling her (supposedly fairy tale) story to
her daughters. What a story unfolds!!! Great read.

November Update:  Oh my gosh! I can’t believe I’ve forgotten all
about this list this fall. And I’ve been reading, too!
Here goes (Not month by month because I don’t really remember when
I read what…

27. Little Bee by Chris Cleave. On my, this was a good one. The book starts
with a horrendous event, and ends dramatically as well. They
ask that I not reveal much about it, but it is so worth reading. Go
get it.

28. Day After Night by Anita Diamant. Four women in an Israeli prison camp, all survivors
of the Holocaust in one way or another. They are all
Jewish, and are in the camp because they have arrived in Israel
without visas and the Israelis are acommodating the English
rules. I wasn’t too excited about reading another Holocaust
book, but Diamant is very reliable, in my opinion, and in
this case she delivered. This was such a good book.

29. I Left My Back Door Open by April Sinclair.
You know how some authors (like Jodi Piccoult) manage to
coach an important issue in a really readable novel? Well,
unfortunately April Sinclair isn’t one of those authors. The
book is readable, but lacks character development and depth.
She does get her message out there, though. I’ve kind of
forgotten what it was though, because the story was so shallow.

30. Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah.
I am now a Kristin Hannah fan. This is a book about a
psychiatrist who is discredited in a very public way, who returns
to her small hometown because of a child who needs help. The
book combines all the things I like in a novel and I recommend
it. In fact I”m going to the library today to chekc out some
more of her books!

31. The Best Day of Someone Else’s Life by Keri Reichs. For some reason I
always slightly discredit those books you find on Barnes &
Noble’s bargain table. This was one of those, but was really
enjoyable. It’s about a young woman who is a bridesmaid in a
lot of weddings, and finds that she doesn’t believe in
marriage. Light reading, but really pretty enjoyable.

32. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William
Kamkwamba. This is the Chico State Book in Common this
year. It’s the story of a boy in Malawi who after living
through famine and extreme poverty makes a windmill out of junk and
spare parts, with which he creates electricity. It’s an
inspiring read.

33. Summer Island by Kristin Hannah. I can stay awake all night reading her
books. They go by quickly, and always are satisfying to
read. I get them from the library because they are so
fast. This one was about a woman who was an advice columnist
and her daughter who she had left with her father about 15 years
earlier. Things blow up and the two are forced to spend some
time together. Lots of truth comes out. It’s just a
good read. Recommended.

34. Sisters Together by Kristin Hannah. See above. This one was good too. It’s
about two sisters who are estranged by guilt over something that
happened 15 years or so earlier. One is a big city lawyer,
the other a single mom who helps her dad run a resort next to a
river. Another good read.

35. Water Ghosts by Shawna Yang Ryan. This is an interesting novel
set in the Sacramento River delta town of Locke. I visited
that town once as a teenager and have never forgotten it. One
tiny narrow street alongside the levee, steakhouse with picnic
tables and red checkered tablecloths. The novel I am writing
is set in this area, and after reading this book I want to visit
there again soon. The book is written in an interesting
way. No quotation marks around the conversations, lots of
back and forth in time, lots of connecting the dots. And I
like it, a lot. I recommend it. That’s all I remember.

36. Red Glass by Laura Resau. YA book about people immigrating from Latin America to the U.S. Lovely story, engaging characters. Recommended!
I took the rest back to the library and have forgotten their

The Top Twelve this year are:

1.Sarah’s Key, 2. The Help, 3.  Flying Changes, 4.  One Amazing Thing, 5.  Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven, 6. The Rice Mother, 7.  The Boyfriend School, 8. Little Bee, 9.  Day After Night, 10. Water Ghosts, 11.  Red Glass.  Only eleven this year.  I guess as a final one I could say I liked all the chick lit I read, a lot.  They are sort of interchangeable.  Just comforting reading, which at times is all I want!  Goodbye 2010, Hello 2011!

January, 2011

Okay, here we go again. Let’s see what sort of books I’m up for this year…

Will I read these spiritual/feng shui/home remodeling and redecorating books? And why are they stacked together, as if spirituality and home redecorating were the same category?

Or maybe these teacher and art books? And these are together because?

What about a bunch of children’s books? This one isn’t too likely unless I get a new grandchild really soon.

What about all those novels I have stored up, waiting to be read? There are many more of these upstairs. I forgot to even go there.

The ones that are stacked on the stairs? How many of them have I read? Shall I read them or lose them? Hm…

My granddaughter, Mayaoel has learned of this book list and has decided we should have a competition to see who reads the most books in a year. She thought 50 or 60 was a little pitiful, so she challenged me. The only caveat was that our books have to have more than 100 pages. Said and done! We’ll see where this year goes…


1. Model Home by Eric Puchner: This is about a family who have left their peaceful life alongside a lake in Wisconsin to follow the father’s dream of being a developer in California. It is sort of depressing, but a pretty captivating read. I recommend it, even though it’s not very hopeful.

2. Dune Road by Jane Green. Chick lit. The protagonist is divorced from a finance banker – has learned to like not having to keep up with the other wealthy young mothers. Goes through a period of being deceived by a friend, a lover and a new-found sibling. Interesting look at someone deciding who to trust or not to trust. Pretty good, and totally readable. I recommend it, as long as you go into it knowing it isn’t terribly complicated.

Mayaoel is on book 11.

3. The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson. This story is about a woman who is awakened by a ghost who leads her out of her bed to the window, where she sees a body floating in her swimming pool. It doesn’t seem like a mystery or a thriller, but it is a little bit of both of those things and more. I liked it.

4. The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai. This one will overlap into February. The story of Sai, a young orphan who is sent to live with her old widower uncle, a judge in India. The other main character is Biju, a young Indian man who goes to live in the Unites States. He is the son of the cook for the judge.


5. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. What great book! I couldn’t put it down. This one is about to sisters from Shanghai. It begins in 1937 and goes through to the 1950’s. It’s a well-told story and an interesting look at a period of history that I don’t hear much about. Read it!

6. Hannah’s List by Debbie MacComber. This book surprised me by its lack of depth after reading Shanghai Girls. It got my attention and I read it all, but it definitely lacked depth. I don’t especially recommend it. The plot: man’s wife dies, she leaves him a letter recommending three women for him to date. He receives the letter from her brother a year after her death. He complies, dates them all, falls for one and they live happily ever after. Really, that’s about it.

7. The Things We Do For Love by Kristin Hannah. This was a good Hannah book. I can sit down and read any of her books cover to cover in a day, which is what I did today. This one is good, as I expected. No point in going into the plot – it doesn’t matter, really. Oh, okay. Since you ask…a woman from a large Italian family comes home after a long painful time of having and losing babies, both born miscarried and mis-adopted. Her heart heals, she meets a needy teenager and takes her in. Said teen has a baby, almost gives it up for adoption except doesn’t, but they all are going to be okay anyway. Sound trite? Maybe, but it’s so good.

Mayaoel is on book 22. Doesn’t look like I’ll catch her, does it? Oh well!


8. Angel Falls by Kristin Hannah. See Book #7. This one was about a woman who falls off her horse and hits her head, is in a coma for a month or so, during which time her husband learns that her first husband is a famous movie star. Etc. The woman learns the difference between love and obsession. Again, see Book #7.

9. Testimony by Anita Shreve. The story of a sex scandal at a private high school, from the viewpoints of all the people it impacted. Shreve is a good story-weaver.

10. Clique #14: A Tale of Two Pretties by Lisi Harrison. The last book of this pre-teen series. It’s a short read, all the girls finally begin to grow up and come around. Glad this series is done – I’m only counting it because Mayaoel will. So it adds a quick book to my list!

11. Italian for Beginners by Kristen Harmel. I don’t remember these books, but evidently I found them entertaining as I read two of them, probably one right after the other.

12. French Kissing for Beginners by Kristen Harmel. See above.

April, May, June:

My mom passed away in April. I have done a little reading, but have barely written anything anywhere. Certainly not in this book list. I wonder if I can remember some of the books I’ve read in the past couple of months:

13. Little Bee by Chris Cleve. I enjoyed this one a lot. The protagonist is from an African nation and finds herself living as an undocumented refugee in England. The book starts and ends with a horrific event. Enough said. It’s good.

14. Day Into Night by Anita Diamant. This one is about some women who are taken into custody in an Israeli Camp, right after World War II. They Stay there an inordinate period of time. It’s a really good book.

15. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Jantzen. I thought this would be a memoir in which a young woman who has left the culture of origin makes fun of her family. And she does a little, but it is much more than that. It is actually lovely. Her reflections at the end are beautiful.

16. I read something at Mom’s house, but I have no idea what it was. 6/22: I remembered. It was A Reliable Wife, which was nothing like the cover..not terrible but obviously forgettable.

17. Anam Cara by John O’Donohue. I’ve only just begun this book about Celtic belief and wisdom. The term Anam Cara means soul friend. It is so beautiful, and I can only read a very little bit at a time because I have to think about it as I go. I’ll update about this one in a while.

I don’t know what book Mayaoel is on, but I think it’s about 30. Hers are shorter than mine. Still.

18. Dreams of Joy by Lisa See. this is the sequel to Shanghai Girls. Very good, and if you’ve read the first one you pretty much have to read this one. Riveting.

19. Entangled by . This book is the memoir of a love writen by the two people involved. They had been together for 20 years and were both in their sixties or more when the woman met someone else. This is that story. It’s a quick, beautifully written read. Quick mainly because it’s hard to put it down.

20. A Wife’s Tale by Lori Lansens. Interesting book. This is one that almost left me disppointed, because I wanted to know more about what would happen in the end. But in the aftermath of reading it, I find myself thinking about it again and again and I think the best part of it was the uncertainty of the ending. Masterfully done.

July Mayaoel has read 37 books so far. Can I catch up with her? Yeah, I think so. Do I want to? Not necessarily. She’s asking what the winner’s prize will be.

21. Thanks for the Memories by Cecilia Ahern. I’ll let you know when I finish it.

September Lordy, I’ve finally been reading again but haven’t updated this list. I wonder if I’ll remember them all…

22. U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton. Grafton is absolutely reliable. I hadn’t read an ABC mystery for a while. This one is better that the T one, I think. I couldn’t stop reading until it was done. Sort of like a Lifetime Network movie.

23. Sex on the Moon, by Ben . This is the true story about a guy who got an internship at NASA and ended up stealing some moon rocks for his girlfriend. He got caught when he tried to sell them. It’s good but I had a hard time reading the whole thing. I kept wanting him to change his mind and not steal them!

24. Zeitoun by Dave Eggars . This is the story about a man named Zeitoun who paddled an old canoe around flooded New Orleans after Katrina, helping people out. He was arrested and jailed for several months as a result. It horrified me, actually, to discover what our government did in a city in our country in their time of immense need. Sickened me. This is the Book in Common this year for Chico State.

25. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbach. This is a great read. I couldn’t put it down! It was written by a local woman who went to high school with my daughters (but they didn’t know her.) This book as been one of those phenomenons that goes crazy with successfulness. That’s kind of hard to imagine, but it really is a good book and I highly recommend it.

26. Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert. This is the sequel, sort of to Eat Pray Love. Only this one reads more like a diatribe on love and commitment than a story like her previous book did. I’m having a hard time getting through it.

27. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. This is the story of a woman scientist who works for a drug company who travels to the jungle of South America to find out what happened to a colleague of hers who has reportedly died there, and to check on the progress of another scientist who is working on an important drug. Patchett is so good. I just know I can count on her, no matter what off the wall subject she chooses to write about. Really good!

28. Changing Habits by Debbie McComber. Sort of a chick flick book about three women who become nuns in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and all end up leaving the convent. I was fascinated by the topic, and it was a fast read. I enjoyed it.

29. Juliet by . This is a fascinating book about a modern-day woman who learns that she was born in Italy (Siena) with a different name than she has grown up with. She goes to find a secret treasure that her mother/aunt have left her. The story jumps back and forth between modern times and the times of Romeo and Juliet. Very interesting.

At last, January 2012!


1. Lost and Found by Geneen Roth. Wow, what an eye-opener. I tend to have sort of a sick relationship with money, but I never associated it with my relationship with food. This was great for me to read.

2. A Turn in the Road by Debbie MacComber. This author is a sure-fire quick and yummy read. I always like her books, and they go fast. Kind of a movie read.

3. To the Field of Stars by Kevin A. Codd. This chronicle of the author’s pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago across Northern Spain was just perfect. It’s about my sixth or more book on the topic, as this pilgrimage has been on my bucket list for the last twelve years or so. This one was a nice blend of spiritual musings and story about the trip and people he met. I really enjoyed it, and am not taking this off my bucket list.

4. Seven Tips to Make the Most of the Camino de Santiago, by Cheri Powell. This practical guide to preparing for walking the Camino was fun for me to read. It made it seem more real and possible to me. Hm.

5. American Idol: The Untold Story, by Richard Rushfield. I know. I’m an American Idol addict, I can’t help it. I thought I was really going to get the dirt on AI with this little volume. Not so much. A little, but the book is really not one I’d recommend, although it did keep me pretty involved for about the first three-quarters.

6. A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard. Ick! Just ick. It’s unimaginable that this girl then woman lived through this for eighteen years. Even though I’ve read all that psych stuff about the mind of a hostage, it’s hard to imagine anyone staying around for what her kidnapper put her through.


7. Red Glass: I remember the cover of this one, but bsolutely nothing about the book, so there.  It’s been a while since I’ve read it.


February 2012 is when I quit writing in this blog, for some reason that I don’t remember.  I will restart the book list for 2013, I think, only just from today on.  Or from whatever’s on my iPad and from today on.

June, 2013:


5 thoughts on “My Yearly Booklists

  1. Anonymous says:

    Lynn, I’m also excited about reading this year. So far, 11/22/63, by Stephen King. The DASH Diet, Hiller. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Larsson. The Girl Who Played With Fire, Larsson. Paradise Lost/Regained, Milton (current). I also read those AAA travel booklets by state and Atlases. And it’s not Feb yet! Am going to Az. twice in March for baseball’s spring training…

  2. lynnjake says:

    Wow, you’re on a roll! How was 11/22/63? I am intrigued by that one. I never managed to get into the Larsson books for some reason. Spring training twice? Sound like fun, and a good time to read, too.

  3. bbutler627 says:

    I always like stumbling onto a fellow reader! This is quite the list. I’ll have to go back a peruse further once slice month is over. I have 5 sitting next to my bed just waiting!

  4. lynnjake says:

    Oh me too! For several years I kept book lists (They’re on both of my blogs), but this year I forgot to start one. I guess there’s still time. Thanks for checking out my list. Did it remind you of any books that I just HAVE to read? If so please share! Thanks.

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