My reading year has started off intensely with ALL the library requests coming in at the same time (naturally) and some really long books (because, why not?) and just life, but here’s the start of the list, what I’ve read to the children, and what I hope yet to read in 2019. As always, titles to add are welcome!
- Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty — I go back and forth with Moriarty’s books. Some I love a lot and others not as much. This swung to the loved side for me. It was a fun, easy read that didn’t seem as cloying as some of the others. Plus it had me laughing out loud at times throughout the whole book which was fun. Nowhere near as solid as What Alice Forgot, but a quick, light read. (finished 1.2.19)
- The Echo Maker by Richard Powers. Holy Hannah. My first Powers novel and does he ever give you a lot to chew on in one book. Good. Ness. Overall, I enjoyed this first foray, but one observation about the landscape of NE as a character of sorts within the book: not everyone who visits or lives here finds it to be the desolate drag the novel implies (thanks).
- The Winter of the World by Ken Follett (book club) — We upped our reading timeline and decided to finish all of book two instead of just half of it by the end of January, so I had to hustle and read a LOT (all 940 pages to be exact) in less than two weeks’ time. I liked Part Two of the triology quite a bit and enjoyed getting to know the second generation of characters. And, to follow up on my critique of KF’s writing after reading the first installment, this one is thankfully slightly less teenage hormonal when it comes to sex. Slightly.
- Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman (book club pick) — None of us knew what we were getting into with this one and I’m here to say, don’t do it. Ever. This book is terribly and porny and nothing like the romance the back cover and blurbs claim it to be. I finished it only because I read too many pages to abandon it and the time I spent on it (it’s short but dense) , so damn it, I was going to finish and add it here, if only as a warning not to bother with it (finished 1/26/19)
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens — Oh, this book! One of my dear reader friends suggested it and she was totally right: I loved it! Oddly, birds and nature featured as another dominate character, much like they did in The Echo Maker, but a totally different setting and tone to this one, which was essentially a murder mystery.
- Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman — When OverDrive from the library rains, it pours, so another one of my Must Reads came dropping down in the midst of due dates, but I got it done and I adored it. Such a different story with some twists and turns I saw coming and others not. Would make an excellent book club selection. (finished 2/4/19)
- Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan — I feel like I’ve met my quota of WWII books, however, this one was a good addition to that large pile of books read under the same category. The twist here? Based on a true life story and set it Italy. I don’t know if I just got tired or impatient, but the end of the book dragged on for me quite a bit, even though the first 400 pages were captivating.
- Boy Erased: A Memoir by Garrard Conley — This was tough on many levels. I’ve obviously heard of conversion programs, but never read about someone’s account of having gone through ex-gay community. When you add assault and the mental distress of Conley, it is all just painful and heartbreaking to read. On a picky, literary note, I also struggle with memoirs containing overly descriptive passages/dialogue and this contains a lot of all that, too.
- An Unrestored Woman by Shobha Rao (book club read) — I’ve read about the partition that created the separate states of India and Pakistan before, but this collection of short stories knocked the wind out of me. First, it’s one of the best SS collections I’ve ever read in that the stories are so different and yet so interconnected in smart but less than obvious ways. Second, the subject matter and abuse and struggle is just grueling. Not very much uplifting to share out of such a tumultuous boarder/political/religious split. (finished 2/17/19)
- Dumplin‘ by Julie Murphy (book club pick) — this was a fun listen (in my case) and is such an interesting look at body image, high school, family relationships, friendships, love, etc. I realize it’s not the most serious book ever, but I think there is a lot that a lot of people can relate to in it. Looking forward to discussing with friends at book club. Also, the Netflix version is fun, but of course different and not quite as good as the book.
- This Blessed Earth by Ted Genoways — (One Book One Nebraska pick) Being a farm girl from SD, this subject matter is not foreign to me, however it was never the plan for succession to happen in my family, so reading about the passing from one generation to the next and all that farmers, the markets, and the planet must endure because of our current Ag situation/climate in this country was fascinating. My only contention with the book is that Mr. Genoways claimed that Milford, NE (my hubs’ hometown) is “just outside” Omaha. Y’all, it’s an hour and a half away from Omaha. Just sayin’. (finished 2.28.19)
- Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett (Book Three, Century Trilogy) (KFC book club read) — holy moly cow. At 700 pages, I thought I was getting close to the end. In reality, I still had 400 to go. In some ways, the storytelling in this, like the other two, is fantastic. In other ways, the history of it all is a damn slog (and I’m still super annoyed by his portrayal of women and sex. I mean, UGH/gross/stop). Also, I’m not going to miss trying to read these great big heavy books in bed at night without injuring myself or Ben with them. I loved the group of women who comprised the book club that took on this challenge, but I’m pretty sure I’m done with Follett books for a good, long, maybe forever while. (finished 3.17.19)
- You Are a Badass Every Day by Jen Sincero — totally cheated and read this “read in bits and pieces book” in one sitting. Was loaned it by someone who gets it, and I’ve already ordered myself a copy of it so I can indeed have it on the shelf to pick up for now and then reminders and prompts of badass-ery.
- A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline (book club read) — I am so sad to be missing the discussion on this one later this month. It was such a pleasure to read and holds so much potential for discussion. The book is at our library as a book kit for clubs and I can totally see why, as it is captivating and full of considerations. (finished 3/20/19)
- A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult — Whoa. Added this to my library request queue simply because it was the newest Picoult title, and although I struggled a bit with the narrative structure, she once again managed to blow me away with a novel centered on an issue that divides us in so many ways. I admire the humanity she shows in the last few books of hers that I’ve read and she manages to keep me guessing (for the most part) to the final pages as she does so.
- Overcoming Trauma through Yoga by David Emerson and Elizabeth Hopper. I have been putting off reading this in full because trauma work is WORK and hard work at that, but I’m glad to have finally gone through this title. Some stuff I’m already doing in my own teaching is there but there was also much to learn, as is always the case in this life.
- Becoming by Michelle Obama — everyone needs to read this book. That is all. (finished 4.6.19)
- A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (book club read) — my friend A picked this for book club because it is her favorite book but she hasn’t read it for age and wanted to see if it stood up to time. It was a first time read for me and a slog at that. It wasn’t that I disliked the book, but it was slow, slow going for me. Over 500 pages, long, there were lots of little parts that seemed like maybe you could skim over them, but then they’d be referenced later and sure enough, the last five pages brought together so much of the seemingly small bits from earlier in the book. Curious to discuss this one (finished 4.22.19).
- The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden — this YA book was good in that it was quick and thought provoking, and I could see where it would be a helpful read for its intended age range (8-12 yr-olds). It’s about a girl living in poverty also dealing with domestic violence and issues at school and it beautifully latches on to (pun intended) the imagery and superpowers of the octopus throughout the text.
- The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant — although it was not the stand out of Diamant’s The Red Tent, this was an easy, enjoyable read that took on some slightly different points of an already much discussed time period and spoke to many taboos that have started to lessen with time.
- “The Deal of a Lifetime” by Fredrik Backman — I don’t normally include short stories on my Read list, but I also don’t normally read shorties, sooooo….this one landed here because of my quest to read everything and anything by FB. I tend to Love or REALLY Love all of his work and this one again landed in the oh my gosh, I want to read it multiple times because it makes me think and feel so much category, so the streak clearly continues.
- Miss You by Kate Eberlen — grabbed this one off OverDrive because it was available. Turned out to be a slightly different take on chick lit that I enjoyed reading.
- Surprise Me by Sophia Kinsella — I am in the mood for fluff, so I’m running with that, and this one sort of redeemed itself in the second half, but the main characters and their “dilemma” at being faced with a long healthy life of being married to each other annoyed the crap out of me.
- The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms — Happened to be at the lib with RL and saw this on the New Release shelf; nabbed it because it looked fitting based with my recent reading trend. Turned out to have more meat to it than the Kinsella (thank goodness) and I enjoyed the characters and storyline quite a bit. (finished 5.27.19)
- The 7 1/2 Deaths of Eveyln Hardcastle by Stuart Turton — I think I was in the wrong frame of mind to follow/enjoy this book when I started it. The first part was too slow for me, then it got creepy, and then I just got plan old confused. LOL. I’ve heard good things about this one, but it was apparently not my cup of (novel)ty.
- One Second After by William R. Forstchen (book club read) — while I appreciate the concept behind this “thriller/dystopian” novel, the writing drove me nuts. There were so many sentence errors I about lost my mind in the early chapters and the flat way characters were written made it hard to keep going. (finished 6.13.19)
- Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan (book club read) — this was my pick for book club and after it got going, I wished I had chosen differently. I felt ashamed at the end when reading the author’s note because that made the story behind the novel sound much more interesting and worth reading than the actual book itself. I found the main character to be so annoying that it distracted from just about anything else. I will say, however, that it has inspired me to read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe to the Big 3 once baseball ends this month.
- Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser — dubbed “THE definitive biography” this book taught me a ton about LIW and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane. It was a slow 500 pages of non-fiction, but still interesting and insightful. I totally grew up idolizing the Little House books and this showed so much more truth and history, not to mention relationship dynamics, behind the stories. (Finished 7.8.19)
- The Spirit Catches You and Then You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman (book club pick) — Non-fiction read about being an immigrant family/navigating the US medical system and how language and cultural and religious differences turn into barriers. This was dense but so good to read. I learned a ton and appreciated how the main story was presented in such a way that as an outsider, you the reader could really see how and why these messages got mixed and problems ensued.
- Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner — So good! This was a current popular read I managed to snag from the library with minimal wait time on the hold and I’m so glad I read it. It’s such a great look at what (white) women have had to endure and have come through (and are still working through) in the last 70 years in America. I don’t know why I think of JW as a fluff writer because she’s really not. There were some predictable bits along the way, but this book was a well done look at womanhood, sisterhood, motherhood, and so much more. (finished 7.15.19)
- The Adults by Caroline Hulse — a fun. quick read. This one looks at relationships both marital and parental as well as dating and social, but in a quirky, intriguing way. I’d liken it to a Liane Moriarty book in terms of clever suspense/narration.
- Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane — one of those “must read” summer books that turns out to be right! A great look at family, personal, and relational drama and trauma, this is a compelling read.
- Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris (book club pick) — this one felt predictable and cloying at times, but it was a quick read and tackles a tough topic (desperate families in the Great Depression) though an interesting lens (newspaper reporting). finished 8.5.19
- Less (book club pick) — in progress
Read Aloud Books:
- Crenshaw by Kathryn Applegate — my first Applegate book, about an imaginary friend helping a 5th grader go through some hard times with his family as they find themselves without enough money for food and housing. This one caused some good conversations with my kids about recognizing that others don’t always have the same living situations that we do. This one I read to the 9, 7, and 5.
- The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DeCamillo — again, read this to all three of the bigs and they seemed to enjoy it, even though we got behind and strung it out over too much time. The chapters are short and the vocabulary done in an entertaining yet educational way, and the message of light vs. dark is of course age old and always good. (finished 2.24.19)
- The Wishing Tree by Kathryn Applegate — so good. SO good. My big three loved it and I loved it, too. Gave me hope, made me cry, made me laugh. Highly recommend!
- The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis — loving revisiting this childhood read with three of my own children! I am impressed at how they hang in there and follow along/make predictions even though this book (and the British slang within it) is pretty dated by now. Even though the language gets a bit high level at times/British, my kids enjoyed it and got way more out of it (in terms of understanding the story) than I originally thought they might. I don’t know yet if we will continue with the whole series, but this was a good one to do with them.
- * Upside-Down Magic series by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins — I put the * on this because technically I am not the one reading these books to my children – Hoopla audio is from my library/phone – but dang, I love them and so do they. Super fun, appropriate enough, and some good underlying lessons/messages, all in an entertaining package with five books in the series. So good.
The Overstory by Richard Powers
The Antidote by Shelley Sackier
Less by Andrew Sean Greer
Sticks & Stones, The Dorito Effect, Delivering Happiness, Shoe
The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh
A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline
There There by Tommy Orange
The Witch Elm by Tana French (crime)
The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen