Sunday, January 8, 2017

To-Be-Read {2017}

*Indicates books added in 2017

41 False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers by Janet Malcolm
Alena by Rachel Pastan
*All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor
Americanah by Adichie.
Annie's Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret by Steve Luxenberg.
Aprons on a Clothesline by T. DePree
Arctic Dreams
by Barry Lopez
The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker
*At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider

At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen
Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead: The Frank Meeink Story as Told by Jody M. Roy, Ph.D.
*Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy 
Barefoot in Baghdad by Manal M. Omar (reviewed at Bookworm's Dinner)
Bastards by Mary Anna King
*Becoming Curious by Casey Tygrett
Before the Storm by Diane Chamberlain
The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler
Behind the Burqa by Sulima and Hala (reviewed by Semicolon)
Bellman and Black: A Ghost Story by Diane Setterfield.
*Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (read and reviewed 2017)
Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio
Blood of Flowers
by A. Amirrezvani
Blood Work
by M Connelly
Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me by Karen Swallow Prior.
Book of a Thousand Days by S. Hale
Book of Lost Things by J. Connelly
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
Bootletter’s Daughter by M. Maron
Born on a Blue Day by D. Tammet
*Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman
*The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
The Children Act by Ian McEwan
China Dolls by Lisa See
Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee. 
Close Your Eyes by Amanda Eye Ward
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
Coming Up for Air by Patti Callahan Henry
Commoner by J.B. Schwarz
Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman
A Country Doctor’s Casebook by R. MacDonald
*The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick (read and reviewed 6/17)
The Dawning of the Day: A Jerusalem Tale by Haim Sabato
Departed, The by K. Mackel
Digging to America by Anne Tyler
Dinner with a Perfect Stranger by D. Gregory
Dough: A Memoir by Mort Zachter (reviewed by Lisa at 5 Minutes for Books)
Ecology of a Cracker Childhood (The World As Home) by Janisse Ray.
Every Last One by Anna Quindlen (Reviewed at S. Krishna's Books)
Executioner's Song by Mailer
Extraordinary Journey of a Desert Nomad by Waris Darie (reviewed at Maw Books)
Far to Go by Alison Pick (Reviewed by Kristina at The Book Keeper)
Family Nobody Wanted by Doss
Fatal Vision by J. McGinnis
Father, Mother, God: My Journey Out of Christian Science by Lucia Greenhouse
*Firefly Lane by Kristen Hannah (read and reviewed 6/17)
First Wife by Emily Barr (recommended by Fleur Fisher)
Flowers by D. Gilb
Fortune Cookie Chronicles by J. Lee
Franklin and Lucy by Joseph Persico
Gentle Rain by Deborah Smith (reviewed by Leah at Good Reads)
Ghost Map
by S. Jackson
Ghost Moth by Michele Forbes 
Ghost Writer, The by J. Harwood
*Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair
The Girl in the Italian Bakery by Kenneth Tingle
The Girls by Lori Lansens
Giving Up the Ghost by Hilary Mantel
Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton
Glow by Jessica Maria Tuccelli:
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
Hava: The Story of Eve by Tosca Lee
The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent (reviewed by Gautami at Reading Room)
High House, The
by James Stoddard
*Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance
by John Hershey
Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow by Susan C. Bartoletti (reviewed by Natasha at Maw Books)
Hot Zone by R. Preston (reviewed by Semicolon)
The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons
*The House We Grew Up in by  Lisa Jewell (read and reviewed 6/17)
How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen (mentioned by The Magic Lasso)
Human Cargo by C. Moorehead
A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams.
*The Hypnotist's Love Story by Liane Moriarty (read and reviewed 2017)
I Am Scout by Charles J. Shields (reviewed by Becky)
I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
In My Father's Country by Saima Wahab 
*Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
Introverts in the Church by Adam McHugh
The Invention of Wings by  Sue Monk Kidd
Iris and Ruby by Rosie Thomas
by E. Southwark
Keeping the House by E. Baker
*The Known World
*The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty
Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones (reviewed by Bookeywookey)
Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger (reviewed at Thoughts of Joy)
Last Storyteller by D. Noble
Leave it to Claire
by T. Bateman
Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading by Maureen Corrigan (reviewed by Literary Feline)
Left To Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza (reviewed at Maw Books and Just a Reading Fool)
Liar’s Diary by P. Francis (reviewed by Semicolon)
Life Among Savages
by Shirley Jackson (reviewed at Dwell in Possibility)
Life Is So Good
by R. Glaubman
* The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian. 
Lila by Marianne Robinson
Little Altars Everywhere by R. Wells
The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life by Rod Dreher
Living End by L. Samson
A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka (reviewed at The Lost Entwife)
Lost Children of Wilder by N. Bernstein
Loving Frank by N. Horan
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri.
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Mad Girls in Love by M. West
Man without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut
Many Sleepless Nights
by Lee Gutkind
Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy 
Mariner's Compass by E. Fowler
The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok
Mercy Falls by WK Krueger
*Miller's Valley by Anna Quindlen (read and reviewed 1/17)
Miss Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Minding the South by J. Reed
*Mink River by Brian Doyle
Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee by Marja Mills
Monique and the Mango Rains by Kris Holloway (Reviewed at The Bluestocking Society)
Murder in the Name of Honor by Rana Husseini (Reviewed at Reading Through Life)
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier (Reviewed by Reading to Know)
*My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell (read and reviewed 6/17)
*The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
The Ninth Wife by Amy Stolls
Not without My Daughter
by B. Mahmoody
*The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood
* The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley
Perfect Example by John Porcellino (reviewed at The Hidden Side of the Leaf)
The Plague of Doves  by Louise Erdrich.
Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin (reviewed at Reader Buzz)
A Pool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler.
Prairie Tale by Melissa Gilbert
A Prayer Journal by Flannery O'Connor
Promise Not To Tell by Jennifer McMahon (reviewed at Missy's Book Nook)
Proof of Heaven by Mary Curran Hackett
Property by Valerie Martin (reviewed by The Magic Lasso)
Quaker Summer
by Lisa Samson
Quilter’s Apprentice
by J. Chiaverini
A Quilt for Christmas  by Sandra Dallas
The Quilt Walk by Sandra Dallas
Radiance of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah
Raising Demons by Shirley Jackson
Reading Lolita in Tehran by
Azar Nafisi
Refuge on Crescent Hill by Melanie Dobson (Reviewed at Reading to Know)
The Reservoir by John Milliken Thompson
The Rest of the Story by Phan Thi Kim Phuc.
Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen
Rises the Night
by C. Gleason
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
Ruined by Reading: A Life in Books by Lynne Schwartz (reviewed on Shelf Life)
by Shactman
Rush Home Road by Lori Lansens
Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall
Sailing Alone Around the Room by Billy Collins (reviewed by Just a Reading Fool)
Same Kind of Different As Me
by Ron Hall and Denver Moore (recommended by Stray Thoughts)
*Savage Beauty by Nancy Milford
Saving Levi Left to Die
by Lisa Bently
 The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins (Reviewed by Word Lily)
Seven Loves by Trueblood
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
She Got Up Off the Couch: And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana by Haven Kimmel
*The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain
*Sisters One, Two, Three by Nancy Star
Slaves, Women andHomosexuals by William J. Webb
 So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell
The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy (reviewed at Polishing Mud Balls)
Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill
Someone Named Eva by Joan M. Wolf (reviewed at Maw Books)
Some Girls by Jillian Lauren (reviewed by Book Club Classics)
Song of the Cuckoo Bird by Amulya Malladi
Song Yet Sung
by James McBride
Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford
Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture by Donna Partow
*The Spy by Paolo Coehlo
Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen
Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren F. Winner:
Stillwater by William Weld
by John Williams (suggested by JoAnn at Every Day Matters)
*The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
The Strange Case of the Broad Street Pump by Sandra Hempel
Summer Crossing by Truman Capote (reviewed by CaribousMom)
by M. Cabon
Teahouse Fire, The
by Ellis Avery
Stones Cry Out
by M Szymusiak
*Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Testament of Youth
by Vera Brittain (recommended at Musings)
There Are No Children Here
by A. Kotlowitz
Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself
by Alan Alda
Thousand Years of Good Prayers
by Yiyun Li
The Threadbare Heart
by Jenny Nash (reviewed at Maw Books)
Three Cups of Tea
by G. Mortenson
The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
Thousand Lives by Julia Scheeres
A Thousand Mornings: Poems by Mary Oliver
*Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty
Time Between by Mary Duenas
To My Senses by A. Weis (reviewed by J. Kaye)
Tomorrow, the River by D. Gray
Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur
by D. Hari (reviewed by CaribousMom and Maw Books)
Trauma and Ghost Town by P. McGrath
*Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
Unbearable Lightness of Being by Kundera
* Under the Lilacs by Louisa May Alcott
Uprising by Margaret Haddix (reviewed by Semicolon)
Undress me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman (reviewed by Book Zombie)
The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan
Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
Well and the Mine, The by Gin Phillips (reviewed by Semicolon)
Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez (read and reviewed 2/17)
What I Though I Knew by Alice Eve Cohen
What Is What by D. Eggers (reviewed at Maw Books)
What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage
What Peace There May Be by Susanna Brarlow
What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn (Reviewed at Big A, Little A)
When I Lay My Isaac Down by C. Kent
When We Were Strangers by Pamela Schoenewalt
Wherever you Go by Joan Leegant (reviewed by Bibliophiliac)
Whistling in the Dark by L. Kagen
Who Killed My Daughter by Lois Duncan (Reviewed at Nonfiction Lover)
Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
*Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley (read and reviewed 1/17)
Winter Seeking by V. Wright
Winter Walk
by L. Cox
Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (recommended at Rebecca Reads)
Women of the Silk by G. Tsuriyama
Year of Living Biblically
by AJ Jacobs (reviewed by Andi Lit)
Years of Grace by Margaret Ayer Barnes  

Monday, January 2, 2017

2016 in Review

I read 48 books in 2016—17 more than I did in 2015! I feel like I'm back on track with my reading. This was a terrific year in books. I probably have way more than 10 favorites, but I'll try to narrow the list down:

Top 10 Books Read in 2016

All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr)
Inside the O'Briens (Lisa Genova)*****
Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy (Rachel Joyce)
Man Called Ove (Fredrik Backman)
Nightingale, The (Kristen Hannah)
Ordinary Grace (William Kent Krueger)
Rosie Project (Graeme Simsion)
Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (Rachel Joyce)
Burgess Boys (Elizabeth Strout)
Commonwealth (Ann Patchett)

I'm having a lot of trouble picking my favorite book of the year, but I think I'm going to have to go with All the Light We Cannot See. But really, all the books in my Top 10 were incredible!

Book Club Review

One of the books on my Top 10 list was a book club book (The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry), and four of them were books that didn't make this year's book club list! Other book club reads this year were:
Day the World Came to Town (Jim DeFede)***
Death at Wentwater Court (Carola Dunn)*
Geography of Genius (Eric Weiner)****
Lake House (Kate Morton)****
Learning to Swim (Sarah Henry)***
Me Before You (JoJo Moyes)****
Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Alan Bradley)**
War That Saved My Life (Kimberly Bradley(***)
Wild (Cheryl Strayed)****
World War Z (Max Brooks)**

TBR List 
I apparently only crossed off 11 books on my TBR list… although I probably didn't add very many this year. I've been adding more in Goodreads and forgetting to add to my blog's TBR. I also pin a lot of new titles on my "I Cannot Live Without Books" board on Pinterest. I have a huge stack of books that I bought over Christmas break at used book stores/thrift stores, but I've mostly been reading on my Kindle whatever TBR books are available on the E-Reads program from our library.

I liked how I reviewed books each month in 2016 rather than reviewing each book. I felt less stressed about getting reviews done. I set a goal of reading 50 books this year, and I'd like to add a few more nonfiction titles in this year. I think I only read a couple of nonfiction last year.

The Whole List
Below are all the books I read this year. My star-ranking system is as follows: 5 stars--absolutely must read; 4 stars--highly recommended; 3 stars--enjoyable; 2 stars--ick; 1 star--no, no, no.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Books Read in December

Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
The story: This is Strayed's memoir about "finding herself" on the Pacific Coast Trail. Strayed was a recently divorced woman in her mid-20s whose mother/best friend had died a few year earlier, completely unhinging Strayed. She found herself in a dangerous cycle of sex and drugs and decided to free herself by backpacking the trail. The memoir details her life before the trail and then her hike itself, including the cast of characters she meets along the trail.
Me: I've had this on my reading list forever and am grateful that it was picked as one of my book club's alternate reads for this year. I really loved it. Strayed wasn't exactly a likeable or even necessarily relatable person to my 50-year-old self, although I am sure my mid-20s self would have said something entirely different. Regardless, I am totally jealous of Strayed and her amazing journey. To think that she set out on this journey with so little knowledge of the how-to's of backpacking, without ever even taking a practice hike-- that just amazes me. I'm so proud of myself when I finish an 8-mile hike! She has utterly inspired me to set some major hiking goals and to really test my own abilities. Also, she's a great writer. I loved her anecdotes and her candid, no-holding-back style. Highly recommended, although there is a lot of language and sex.

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue.
The story: A nurse trained by Florence Nightingale herself is hired to be part of a 24-hour watch on a young girl who might just a the newest miracle in her tiny Irish village. Anna is a wonder, and people are coming from far to pay her homage. She hasn't eaten in 4 months, existing only on "manna from Heaven." Nurse Libby Wright's job is to verify that Anna indeed isn't eating: is someone sneaking food to her, or is she truly one of God's chosen?
Me: Donoghue's Room was absolutely stunning, so I was super excited to read The Wonder. I was initially surprised by how utterly different this novel was from Room—the subject matter, the setting, the characters. The first part of the novel was extremely slow moving and even rather repetitive. I honestly was a little confused by what was happening, but I think  that had to do mostly with my lack of focus and initial interest in the topic. But the second part of the book picked up and I was excited about reading it as the characters became more fleshed out. I ended up enjoying the novel but it definitely wasn't a favorite of the year.

The Husband's Secret by Leane Moriarty
The story: One morning Cecilia Fitzpatrick, owner of a perfect life, finds a letter from her husband to be read after his death. She can't get the letter out of her mind but promises her husband she won't read it. In another household, Tess is blindsided by her husband and her best friend/cousin by the announcement that they have fallen in love with each other. She takes her little boy and heads to her mom's, enrolling her son in the same school where Cecelia's own children go. And Rachel is an older woman who had the unthinkable happen to her nearly 30 years ago: her teenage daughter was murdered and the killer never found. Their stories all come together ultimately in a way I didn't see coming at all.
Me: I loved this book! I read it over the course of a day (yay for holidays!) and was completely satisfied upon finishing it. The characters are wonderfully rich and relatable; their stories were compelling enough on their own, but put together—wow! I was completely wrapped up in the novel and really hardly came up for air. It's not a happy book but so worth reading. Highly recommended.

Books Read in November

 The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson
The story: Beatrice's father has recently passed away, leaving her—a well-educated, well-traveled young woman— to fend for herself in pre-World War I England. She is hired as the first woman teacher in a village school and taken under the wing of the Kents, an influential family in the village. In her first year there she experiences successes and losses as the country heads into war and refugees pour into the village. A self-proclaimed spinster, Beatrice also discovers that perhaps she isn't destined for a life of loneliness without her father.
Me: I liked this novel. I didn't love it nearly as much as Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, Simonson's debut novel, but I did really enjoy it. There is a mixture of innocence and a quest for knowledge in Beatrice, who is on the cusp of an old world, ready for the new one. And I love the historical context of the novel. Recommended.

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion.
The story: This is the sequel to Simsion's The Rosie Project, the story of Don Tillman's "scientific" attempt to find a wife who fulfills his 16-page questionnaire. Don and Rosie have moved to NYC and are completely enjoying their new life together— until a series of misunderstandings and surprises nearly destroys their marriage.
Me: I liked this OK, although it didn't hold a candle to The Rosie Project. I think most of that has to do with the sheer enjoyment and surprise of Don's character in the first novel; by the sequel, we know Don and aren't as intrigued by his quirks. Still, this is a must-read if you loved The Rosie Project, and everyone should love The Rosie Project.

The Good Earth by Pearl Buck.
This is a multiple re-read for me. I teach this whenever I teach World Literature, and I re-read whatever books I'm teaching right along with my students. I love this one—but it's never one of the students' favorites.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett.
The story: An uninvited guest shows up at a christening party, and nothing will ever be the same again in the lives of the Keating family or the Cousins family. This novel spans fifty years, exploring the intertwined lives of the two families who are bound by blood, marriage, secrets, tragedies, and, most of all, the stories behind everything.
Me: Well, Ann Patchett is incredible. State of Wonder — wow! The Magician's Assistant and Bel Canto? AMAZING!! Patchett is consistently a powerful storyteller. How in the world does she come up with these incredibly diverse storylines? I have no idea—I'm just happy she does. Highly recommended!