As in 2016, I’ll be posting what I am reading with my short reviews, complete with my Verdict. Be sure to check back often for updates! Also, be sure to friend me on Goodreads.
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17. Gift from the Sea: 50th-Anniversary Edition by Anne Morrow Linbergh
Eerily insightful for today’s modern woman and society despite its publish date. A worthwhile read, but not life changing.
16. Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between) by Lauren Graham
Verdict: Read if you like her otherwise skip
This was a fun book to listen to and, honestly, it was because it was fun having Lorelai talk to me for so long. Because that’s who Graham is: Lorelai. Her affectations, humor, metaphors, pop culture references…they are the same person.
You have to be a Gilmore Fan to enjoy this, I believe. And even I could have done without the chapter where she walks us through each season of GG (the original) discussing fashions and what she loved. But I did enjoy hearing her discuss the reboot.
Overall, what impressed me the most was Graham’s work ethic and how much time and scrappiness went into her becoming an actor. I think we forget that when we look at Hollywood. It was a fresh reminder that she’s been successful because she has worked really, REALLY hard.
15. Dead Man Walking: The Eyewitness Account Of The Death Penalty That Sparked a National Debate by Helen Preejan
Well, yes, you will know going in what side this argues for, but you will be surprised by the complexity of the entire situation. This is a well-reasoned and intellectual look at the death penalty as taken with a massive dose of reality. This isn’t a paper or philosophical narrative. It is thoughts formed from true accounts and events. Agree with her or not, this is a book that should be read.
14. Middlemarch (Penguin Classics) by George Eliot
Timeless. A complex look at marriage and the role of women in a society far beyond what we can imagine. Long, not action-filled, yet I kept returning to it, looking forward to my time in the world.
13. Primates of Park Avenue: A Memoir by Wednesday Martin
The real travesty of this book is that a lot of these issues are somewhat universal for the stay at home mom crowd, just in lower levels, and it would have been a better book if that had been explored and blown open. Instead, I had the same feeling most r adders did that the author wasn’t at all a sympathetic character who was hard to relate to – she kept saying she was apart. But apart is someone who really cannot afford the Birken.
12. 27 Views of Wilmington: The Port City in Prose & Poetry by miscellaneous authors
As always with a compilation, some of these were stronger than others, but there was a surprising amount of exhilarating freshness and creativity in here. I liked the essays that dealt more with Wilmington and seemed less, “how can we squeeze this author in here.” But overall, a quick and enjoyable read.
11.Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Truthfully, Noah’s comedic style doesn’t do much for me. It feels a little too self-conscious BUT this book? This raw Noah? This man who shares an amazing life story with experiences I could never begin to comprehend? So moving. I listened to Noah’s voice read this and it was remarkable. Hearing him do the characters, speak the various languages, made post-apartheid South Africa come alive. This is worth reading (or listening to) but don’t expect a laugh. At the end, I was a little weepy.
10.You Will Know Me: A Novel by Megan Abbott
Not for me. When, in the opening scene, I already found myself detesting the mother and father, I had a hunch I wouldn’t be on board. The fact that none of the characters have redeeming qualities may be true to the gymnastics world, I dunno, but it makes it hard to feel invested in anyone or want to root for them. I didn’t much care what happened to them. Plus, as a professional ballerina at the age of 13, this triggered a lot of old memories and feelings. But my parents weren’t dysfunctional and kept my head on straight by reminding me what is truly important in life…thus, we didn’t have to murder anyone. Just sayin’…
9.The Pillars of the Earth: A Novel (Kingsbridge) by Ken Follett
When a book can completely transport you, when you feel like you know the characters as real people, when you return to modern life after reading and feel dazed, that’s the magic of a good book. I couldn’t give this 5 stars because I detested some of the characters, which made it hard to read at times, and there were characters whose stories never finished. (What is the deal with Martha, please tell me Walter dies?) It took me a long time to get around to reading this and it was intimidating to start, but oh so worth it. It completely ruined my Goodreads reading challenge this year (I feel like this should count as 3 books towards that) but so glad I read it.
8. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafazi
7. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Lifeby Mark Manson
The language was such a publicity stunt and totally not needed – it actually distracted from the amazing message delivered. We rage against the attitude of entitlement. Life is hard, and sometimes just acknowledging it permits us to move forward. When we pretend that everything is glorious and a perfect Facebook post, that is when we compete and are limited in life in by our own mind. Happiness isn’t far away. And, by the way. this isn’t about not giving a f*ck – poorly named! It is about how to care and what to care about.
6. Confronting the Controversies: A Christian Responds to the Tough Issuesby Adam Hamilton
A gentle read given the whopper topics dealt with. Mingling compassion with Biblical teaching, sprinkling in relevant political issues, the book is a great starting point for Christians to figure out what they believe and why. While the book does guide the read to what Hamilton feels is the ultimate Christian response, it is respectful. Christians need to be thinking beings, not blindly following a leader, and this book is a great addition to any thinker’s repertoire.
5. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel by Robin Sloane
This book could have been ridiculous and an utter failure but it was saved by the hyper-consciousness of the narrator about how ridiculous it all was. Having the main character be the person that he was made this book work. I was intrigued throughout the reading and propelled forward, even if the Harry Potter-like portions were a little hard to get on board with.
4. Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Anne Lamott
I just adore her writing. While there were some repeated essays in here, and it hardly had a cohesive theme, it was still a wonderful read.
3. The Dream Lover: A Novel by Elizabeth Berg
2. The Summer Before the War: A Novel by Helen Simonson
I was quite taken with the book. If you love Downton Abbey, sweeping historical snapshots of England, with a focus on aristocracy, this is for you. I appreciated that many different topics from the time were touched without laboring on one issue in particular (because that’s how society is, after all). I also, surprisingly, didn’t mind the over-dramatic death scene. It seemed appropriate.
Overall, the book did a great job of evoking a time, place and era, with characters who simultaneously felt real yet indicative of certain class representations.
1. Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution by Michelle Moran