Asterisks denote rereads
Favorites: *His Dark Materials, The Chaperone, The House of Spirits, Where the Crawdads Sing, Story of Your Life and Others, Becoming, *The Goldfinch, Educated, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Amity and Prosperity
Some Selected Reviews:
1) Beautiful Country Burn Again—Ben Fountain
I didn’t love it. Not because it was bad, but because I was there. This is a rehash of the dumpster fire. If you want to go forward in time, ten years from now (if humanity makes it), this book can serve as a reminder on what went down. But if you are looking to learn something new, I’d say skip it.
2) Furiously Happy—Jenny Lawson
With maybe the exception of Catcher in the Rye, I don’t like the stream-of-consciousness writing style. This is a preference thing. I can see where Lawson would be hilarious to other people. Her observations and interpretations of mental illness are funny. I just never laughed. But I would love recommendations for more humor authors.
3) We Crossed a Bridge and it Trembled—Wendy Pearlman
Overwhelming. It’s a series of short personal stories from Syria prior to and during the rebellion. It’s excellent in that it takes you out of the statistics and the news surrounding Syria and puts you on the ground with its people.
4) The Very Worst Missionary—Jamie Wright
This is about a cynical Christian woman serving as Missionary in Costa Rica. I don’t read a lot of literature about religion, especially from the perspective of a devoutly religious person, so this was a fresh perspective. Furthermore it surprised me because, in spite of her faith, she calls out the crap in being Missionary. As non-religious person, I felt I wasn’t quite the target audience. She has long passages about her love for God that I just can’t identify with. But that’s personal bias and does not reflect the quality of the book. It was an interesting journey and I enjoyed it.
5) Simon vs the Homo Sapian Agenda—Becky Albertalli
There is a place for high-school based dramas. I’m glad they exist, especially if they address an issue. This one is about a closeted teen grappling with everything that comes with being a closeted teen. It’s clever. It’s fun. It has heart. But YA just isn’t my genre…. except for some fantasy YA here and there.
6) Milk and Honey—Rupi Kaur
My goodness. This was the first poetry collection I’d read since high school and I don’t think I could have picked up anything heavier. I recommend it as an awareness piece, but with great digression. It has graphic descriptions about assault, so if that’s a trigger for you, please skip it. I can’t say poetry is my genre, but I’m glad I read it.
7) Fear: Trump in the White House
Keeping up with politics is becoming and act masochism. Like many of you I teeter between being shocked by the bullshit….and not being surprised at all. If you crave more examples of how corrupt, heartless, and downright stupid the president is….and I guess part of me does?.....this is your book. But holy crap it’s exhausting.
8) Where’d You Go, Bernadette—Maria Semple
This book should be read because of its narrative structure alone. Much of it is told through emails, written records, etc. It’s done well and it’s a good story.
9) On the Come Up—Angie Thomas
It’s hard to read this book without comparing it to The Hate U Give. It’s by the same author and addresses similar social issues. Both are great, but I liked On the Come Up just a teensy bit more. The Hate You Give uses tragedy to explore the Black Lives matter movement. On the Come Up uses an incident that was less violent but salient in explaining the everyday fears of impoverished black communities. Plus I like the lead protagonist. She makes mistakes, she’s impulsive. She’s rocketed into a problem she isn’t emotionally ready to tackle and is resistant to the advice of her elders. You know, a kid.
10) The Bookshop of Yesterdays—Amy Meyerson
Do you like the “we have to save the small business just in time” trope? Do you like predictable love triangles? Do like brooding and mysterious sexy guys? I don’t. It has a decent twist and a scavenger hunt. I like scavenger hunts. But next.
11) Crazy Rich Asians—Kevin Kwan.
A little formulaic. I walked into this knowing it was a romantic comedy, I just thought it would be a little more avant-garde. But it’s enjoyable. I plan to read the sequel.
12) The House of Spirits
This is Ken Follett meets…… well, I’m not sure who it meets. It’s like Ken Follett but with a quirky twist. It has a smaller scope of characters with a spiritual bent. And the alternations between third person and first person with the villain is unlike anything I’ve read before. 5 stars. Read it.
13) Calypso—David Sedaris can’t write a bad book. He can’t do it. As always with Sedaris, if you can get it on audio, do. His delivery makes the stories better, 10-fold.
14) Where the Crawdads Sing—Delia Owens
This book is getting a lot attention….. and………yeah! It’s a solid story, and about an amateur ecologist. *wave hands*
15) If Beale Street Could Talk—James Baldwin
I’m not sure about this one. The author wasn’t clear about his attitude on abusive relationships. And this one had an intimate scene that got rapey. But it wasn’t framed as assault throughout the rest of the book. It was a little cringy.
16) The Tattooist of Auschwitz—Heather Morris
World War II dramas, especially true personal account like this this one, are always worthy of our attention.
18) There, There—Tommy Orange
It’s not a bad book but it has a thing in it (“thing” because I don’t want to get spoilery) that’s just hard to read. It succeeds in addressing multiple social issues, it’s just really brutal.
17) Circe--Madeline Miller
I’m not a Greek mythology buff. My knowledge ends at Homer’s the Odyssey which I read in school like everybody else. I can’t comment on the book’s faithfulness to source material, but it was alright.
18) Educated—Tara Westover
Excellent. This book will make you frustrated, almost unbearably, but without giving too much away, you will be satisfied by the end. Personally I just love accounts of people, especially impressionable young people, getting out of bad situations.