Another year, another book list! Friends at book club recently asked me if I was going for another reading challenge as well, but after last year’s craziness, I just can’t do it. I’ve come across (and had shared with me) so many great TO READ lists, and someday I’ll make some challenges for myself based on them, but not today. Not this year, even. I just want my reading to be about whatever comes my way (two book clubs will do that to you) and whatever strikes my fancy (reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert will do that to you). Here’s a peek at some of my stack so far from 2016:
The pile is a compilation of library books, book club reads, randoms from my on-going/past To Read list, a book for our Financial Peace class, one Amazon purchase, and my accidental Kindle on which I am enjoying library e-books via the Nebraska OverDrive program. What is an accidental Kindle? One your husband purchases thinking it is a great deal on a kids’ KindleFire only to find out it is “just” a kindle and then hands to you with a “Here. You’ll use this right?” shrug. And while I’d still much rather hold a book in my hands, this is nice for the titles our library doesn’t have on the shelf.
I should note that even with some major gaps in my reading so far this year, and no actual number challenge goal, I am still up to eight books by the first week of March which isn’t too shabby!
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo — Oh. My. Lots I could do with this concept. Most I probably won’t. But I do appreciate the idea of keeping only (OK, mostly) what sparks joy. (book club read)
- After You by JoJo Moyes — no spoilers here, just the honest response that this sequel to Me Before You took a while to get into and even longer to appreciate, but that it was well worth it to know what happened to the characters beyond the first book.
- The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri — Fascinating in that everything and nothing happens in this family’s life-story telling. Not a fast read, by any means, because it felt easy to put down, but still good. (book club read)
- Hands Free Life by Rachel Macy Stafford — second book by a blogger I enjoy and it did not disappoint. Her “9 Habits for overcoming distraction, living better, and loving more” are so great. I dog-eared many a page in my copy (yes, I do that, and I tend to underline a lot, too, when I have a pen in hand) so I can come back to these tips again and again.
- People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks — I am a fan of historical fiction, and while this is total fiction, it was very insightful. It was entertaining the way the story bounced around the globe and the centuries, and it brought to my attention quite a lot about the persecution of Jewish culture over time. (book club read)
- The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister — so I’m pretty sure O magainze told me I should read this book and I am pretty sure I disagree. It’s written in decent page-turner fashion and is a quick read, and parts of it were entertaining, but it is no Night Circus and the tone doesn’t strike me as terribly true to the time period.
- The Hypnotsit’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty — Surprise! I loved a book by Liane Moriarty! 😉 I’ve put myself on a little quest to read all of her novels and this one was quite good. I actually think it would make for an interesting book club read because of the different POVs and dual story lines, not to mention the numerous discussion topics the book presents.
- Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert — my first Gilbert book, actually, and I adored it. It was quick, entertaining, inspiring, and fun to read. Focused on what it takes to lead a creative life, this is an excellent read for anyone. It also made me want to read a ton of other books that she mentions! (finished first week of March)
- My Notorious Life by Kate Manning — this has been on my To Read list for a while and it was so good (once I got past the first 75 pages with their vernacular/grammar craziness and Orphan Train similarities). It also brought up SO many issues about women’s rights and historical practices of midwifery that made for fascinating discussion. (book club read)
- Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall — loved this book! Set in 1963 and told from the perspective of a fiery red-headed little girl who goes on a life-changing journey with a black woman, this too brought up so many issues and perspectives that are, sadly, still facing our society in the present world. (book club read)
- Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter — took me a bit to get into/appreciate this book because wow, lots of characters and time jumps and narrative techniques happening here, but once I did, it was a very enjoyable read. And the way everything is resolved at the end is quite nice, too. (Finished 4.1.16)
- We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas — So when a 600 page book takes 300 pages to get into, it can feel a little excruciating, but glad I stuck with this one as I turned out greatly appreciating it in the end.
- The Meaning of Names by Karen Gettert Shoemaker — my pick for book club this month and a One Book One Nebraska pick, too. Although I got sidetracked by publishing issues (including printing too close to the edges of the paper and not putting hard returns between natural breaks in the story), the book was a good read that made me see WWI in a new light, not to mention all the similarities those times have to now.
- Aim True by Kathryn Budig — Oh.My. GOODNESS! This book! Love KB so much – for her yoga, for her take on body image, for her perspective of balance in all things. This book is so, so good. Narrative, yoga sequences, recipes, self-care DYIers – all SO GOOD.
- Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money by Dave Ramsey — finally finished reading the book that accompanied our FPU class that ended the first week of May. An excellent resource for going back to as needed as we continue our journey to financial peace!
- The Last Letter from Your Lover by JoJo Moyes — took me a while to get through this novel, even though it has many components I love (a little intrigue, shifting POV, etc.) but that may have been a reflection of my own schedule and not the book. This would fall into RomCom/Beach Read lit for sure, but that kind of book has its value and for that, this was a good one.
- Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert — so I have a dear friend and she is a book hoarder (self-proclaimed). I adore this about her because it means I can pretty much name any book and she can hand it to me to borrow. Because we both share a great love for books, though, I earned a great big stink face from her a few weeks ago when she discovered that I wanted to borrow EPL because I had never read it. She simply couldn’t believe it. Once I got my hands on her copy and started reading it, making it to all of the second paragraph, I couldn’t either! How have I missed this book for so long?! It is amazing. An Everyone-Must-Read Read! So if you are behind by a decade like me and haven’t read this book yet, get yourself a copy or borrow it from your book hoarder friend because, dang, so good.
- Committed: A Love Story by Elizabeth Gilbert — The Year of Gilbert continues, this time with her nonfiction offering about the history of marriage. It may not have been EPL earth shattering to read, but still had some beautiful points to make and intriguing thoughts to provoke.
- The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel — it is never good when it takes almost 200 pages of a 300ish page book to actually get into the story, and there is, I’m afraid, much about this that I did not understand or connect, and yet, I did ultimately enjoy this one (even though the first section with its droning on and on about a car made me want to poke my eyes out at times). Honestly – someone else needs to read this and then explain some of it to my sleep deprived brain.
- New and Selected Poems: Volume One by Mary Oliver — every time I read a poem by MO, I love it and I instantly know it is hers before I even see the byline. Her stuff is incredible. So naturally reading this whole collection was most enjoyable!
- Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (a mostly true memoir) by Jenny Lawson — super entertaining book by The Bloggess, and even better because it was an audio book and her accent was fantastic for listening and getting the real humor out of the stories.
- Life is Good: The Book (How to Live with Purpose & Enjoy the Ride) by Bert and John Jacobs — the 10 superpowers discussed in the book are so spot on and the stories, example to go along with them are great. So much of this aligns not only with my yoga practice but also seems like a salve for the current pain of our society. (finished in July)
- The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty — well on my way with the quest to read all of LM’s books and this one did not disappoint. The last page? Fantastic!!
- The Peacock Emporium by JoJo Moyes — Confusing at times because there are so many instances of not really being sure which character is narrating a given chapter/section, and a bit (as a friend would say) porn-y in places, too, but overall an interesting read about family secrets and dynamics and friendship (and oddly reminiscent of storylines from previous book read. So strange how that happens).
- The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo — Oh, man. Short and beautifully written early/easy fiction like this does my soul so good. The insight and the innocence of the child narrator is so well done in this one. Can’t wait to share DiCamillo stuff with my kiddos.
- Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo — Another short and sweet work of early fiction. I adore how a story written for and about young children can resonate so perfectly with life as an adult, too.
- Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner — Another WWII narrative (about sisters), but this time focused in England. Excessive description drove me crazy (probably because I had to listen to this and that made the listening much slower) at times, but interesting story told in parts, semi-mystery like. Almost too nicely of tied up endings here, though.
- You are a Badass by Jen Sincero — Oh my word. This is right up there with EG’s Big Magic for me this year – as in, will be asking for copies of both for Christmas so I can read them again and again. So in line with all of my yoga practices/learnings and just downright kickass. SUCH a great offer.
- The Signature of all Things by Elizabeth Gilbert — the Year of Gilbert continues to be awesome. This book was incredible! Did NOT feel like a 500 page read about a scientific topic. So interesting to read and entertaining, too.
- Yoga Nidra for Complete Relaxation and Stress Relief by Juile Lusk — am loving this new area of focus/study in my practice – that of Yoga Nidra. This book was very helpful and also interesting/accessible to read; it comes with three full Nidra practices, too, which also includes audio access online – perfect! (completed in July)
- Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty — OK, I love everything she writes, so no shockers here, but the newest book is great! So many things to consider – family, friendship, marriage, kids, career – very compelling read.
- 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts by R.J. Palacio — this is a branch off of the book Wonder and is meant to be like a “quote a day” thing but I read it one day’s time instead because, hi, I could. I love it. And I could totally see having a copy of it around my house not only for myself but for my kids to use someday — words to inspire kindness and growth and bravery and learning. All good!
- Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt — kicking myself a bit that I did not get this book club read read on time because now I’d like to be able to discuss it with my group because it definitely left me with some questions. Overall it was an easier read than I anticipated, in part because of the teenage narrator, but still, some elements were rather confusing and unclear, even by book’s end.
- Abe Lincoln at Last! by Mary Pope Osborne — OK, I don’t normally include books I read to my kids on the list, but this Magic Tree House book was hilarious because I was obviously reading mostly to HD and partially to RL (who tells me to tell her when there is a picture which happens every handful of pages or so), but it was Lincoln Thomas who made the whole experience so entertaining. Every time I read the name Lincoln in the book he had to chime in, from wherever he was in the living room, “That me? That me, Mama? That me!” EVERY! TIME!
- Love Warrior: A Memoir by Glennon Doyle Melton — was anxiously awaiting this one since it was announced earlier this year and G did not disappoint. I think I dogeared every other page in the last 30 pages. So very good and so very truthful in the telling of life and love and marriage. (completed first week of September)
- Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls: Essays, Etc. by David Sedaris — read by the author – I’ve finally learned that these are the kinds of audio books I actually enjoy. As always, this Sedaris collection was great.
- Fifty Shades Darker by E L James — because sometimes you need to read mindless fluff.
- Fifty Shades Freed by E L James – again, with the fluff crap.
- The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman — Oh, my. This was a heart wrenching and compelling read, start to finish. Definitely recommend.
- Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares — OK, this is the problem with being a quick, voracious reader. Sometimes you forget you’ve already read a book (I thought it was weird when I saw it on the shelf at the library and saw that it came out in 2011 and I still hadn’t read it), so when you come across a followup novel to one of your most beloved YA series of all time, you grab that sucker up and read like crazy. I read the whole thing last night. I realized about 100 pages in that I had probably read it before. By 200 I knew it to be so. But 300+ later, I was happy to have reread it, so there ya go.
- Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead — if I had a tween currently, I would make them read this book. I don’t know if the tech stuff will still apply when my kids are old enough, but keeping this one in mind in case they need help sorting out friend and phone and facebook issues come middle school.
- An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski — book club read about a young boy on the streets of New York and a woman who for some reason stops to help him. Made my head spin a bit at times, but was an interesting, heart-string tugging read.
- Leaving Time by Jodi Picoullt – Oof. If a book is going to include the paranormal, I would like to know that going in (because then I would not read it). That being said, I did enjoy this one, even though it messed with my sleep.
- Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and other concerns) by Mindy Kaling — audio book memoir checkout for the win!
- Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah — another tale about sisters but so different from The Nightingale. Story of young girl was compelling but almost too much closure by end of book to be a satisfying read.
- Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple — I am not fully sure what I think of this one other than it’s still got me thinking so I would say it is probably well worth the read.
- The Books of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez — This was a fantastic (book club) read. It was compelling and woven together in such a unique way (through focus on a few main characters and the rest as residents of the same apartment building). Highly recommend.
- Furiously Happy: Funny Stories about Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson — Oh my goodness, I love Jenny Lawson’s writing and I love listening to her read her writing. The audiobook versions of her stuff are so good and so worth the time, and incredibly funny, even when she talks about very serious matters.
- Myths of the Asanas: The Stories at the Heart of the Yoga Tradition by Alanna Kaivalya and Arjuna van der Kooij — a lovely gift from a lovely yogi friend and how I love this book so! These are short, digestible stories, but ones that I will read and read and read to let the layers and meanings really sink in to my brain. So good and a must have for yogis.
- A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara — Many thanks to DRH for the recommendation on this one. It is incredible. Over 700 pages and some seriously dark subject matter, but so very worth the read for the way it is written and for the connection you feel with the characters. Squezzed this in during the final week of 2016 and it is by far my No. 1 recommendation for the year!
Rising Strong by Brene Brown
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Bright Before Us by Katie Arnold-Ratliff
Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller
The Good Girls Revolt by Lynn Povich (MAW)
Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro (RO)
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear (AS)
We the People by Ayn Rand (KH)
Watership Down by Richard Adams (BK)