December 2018 books

I might make it to 52 this year!

50. 2am At the Cats Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino – 24 hours in Philadelphia as a group of characters lives intertwine, sometimes in big ways, sometimes small. They all converge at a jazz club who is struggling to survive. Cute story, quick read.

51. The Immortalists¬† by Chloe Benjamin – this book was on a ton of “to read” lists. It was fine. I liked it. But I expect books on must read lists to be mind blowing, and it wasn’t. The story follows 4 siblings after they visit a gypsy who tells them when they will die, and who was accurate. It’s interesting enough but I wouldn’t tell everyone on earth that they need to read it.

52!!! The Professor, the Banker and the Suicide King by Michael Craig – a non fiction poker book about the biggest stakes game(s) in the world. Between a group of Vegas poker pros and a Texas banker. The story is good, but the book is repetitive in it’s telling. It could have been half as long and still told the story well. But alas. You get little bios of all the pros, and Andy Beal the banker, and a good deal of talk of all their matches. A poker game is a poker game is a poker game, and they didn’t aaallll need to be discussed haha.

53. The Music Shop by¬† Rachel Joyce – If you like music you’ll like this book. A very cute story beginning in the 80s, about a man who owns a record store and is able to always find the music a customer needs at that moment. Romantic without really being a romance, and great reverence for music and what it gives you if you really listen.

I’m still in the midst of HP5 and started a new one but I’m unlikely to finish either in the next 5 days. 53 though, a new record! I think I need to also start a list of books I want to read and the reason why, so I can remember when I’ve completed a book and was left wondering what interested me in it in the first place.

November 2018 books

47. You Can’t Be Neutral On A Moving Train by Howard Zinn – a historical memoir of Zinn’s involvement in the civil rights movement in the south, as he taught in Atlanta and then Boston. I bought it after the election to feel inspired, but I didn’t realize it was a memoir, so it didn’t have that exact result. But a great read.
48. Blackout by Connie Willis
49. All Clear by Connie Willis – these 2 books were excellent. The future discovers time travel and historians use it to get first hand knowledge of events in the past. These 2 focus on WWII, but something goes wrong and the historians get stuck in the past. The books follow them as navigate their current situation and try to figure out how to get back to the future. That might not seem super fantastic but they are. The characters are likable and you care about what is going to happen to them as they face challenge after challenge.

In Progress: HP5, some poker book, The immortalists

October 2018 books

42. Less by Andrew Sean Greer – a book that was on yet another list of funny books that wasn’t funny. There was the odd amusing bit, the irony of Mr Less’s life, but it was not funny. A story of a gay author who goes on a world tour to escape the fact that his ex is getting married. A comedy of errors happens from time to time, but as a whole, he’s reviewing his sad life, and it’s just sad. It has a happy ending, but…I only kept reading because I kept thinking it would get funny.
43. The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke – a teen historical fiction, and the most recent historical fiction book I’ve read – Berlin 1988. There is a bit too much teen drama/love story in it to be ranked against some other teen classics, but it’s a good quick read, with a good connection between the main characters history and her current situation.
44. Forever Barbie by M.G. Lord – I watched the Toys that Made Us on Netflix and the Barbie episode mentioned this book. I looooved Barbie, I still love Barbie. The book is a history of Barbie’s beginnings and history, sociological theories, and controversy. It’s interesting if you like Barbie.
45. The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian – another book from some list that sounded interesting. I don’t remember why. It was alright, an action thriller. Made me want to find out what happened, but not “high literature” by any means.
46. The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker – from a list, again I don’t remember why it was appealing, but it was a good read. 2 women meet in college and end up working together in animation. A lot goes on, it almost feels too much, but then again I don’t know what could have been taken out. Friendship and family, life and death, a bit sad, but enjoyable.

In Progress: Harry Potter 5

September 2018 books

38. I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle Macnamara – True crime on the Golden State Killer, published right before he was actually caught. Reads like fiction, until she died mid-writing and associates had to finish it. Unbelievable at times, and paranoia inducing haha.
39. Shrill by Lindy West – about feminism and fat, great book for women to read about being women.
40. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh – I loved this book when I was a kid so I wanted to reread it and see why. I learned to play Town, which I did all the time. But the story itself is kind of sad. I still enjoyed it but I didn’t at all remember the sadness.
41. The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews – enjoyable read, a road trip story surrounding a slightly screwed up family. A mother with severe mental illness goes into the hospital, and her sister takes her kids to find their dad. Sounds sad, but is actually funny and amusing with good characters, and not a depressing ending lol

In Progress: Harry Potter 5, Forever Barbie, Girl with the Red Balloon

August 2018 books

32. I know I am but what are you by Samantha Bee – very funny “memoir” of her early life in Toronto. More of a collection of personal essays than a day one to present true memoir.
33. True Confections by Katharine Weber – a story of a dysfunctional family and their candy business in Connecticut. Told as a long winded court deposition/affidavit, it’s an amusing tale.
34. In The Woods by Tana French – police detective novel around the death of a young girl. It’s the first in a series, and it was good enough to read more.
35. Harry Potter 3
36. Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything by Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen – super great overview of all the horrible and hilarious ways humanity has tried to treat disease. Funny and interesting.
37. All The light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – Historical fiction set in WW2, two very different stories and perspectives that entwine for a short period of time. Very good.

In Progress: Harry Potter 4, Shrill, I’ll Be Gone In The Night

July 2018 books

27. Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson – a very amusing travel log of a journey from the one end of Great Britain to the other.
28. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders – I wasn’t sure about this one when I started. The way it’s told, like a screen play almost, with each paragraph attributed to a different speaker (or source material), bothered me. But I pressed on and I learned to ignore the format and just enjoy the story.
29. The Wonderous Brief Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Dias – this was on my to read list for a long time, for whatever reason. I found it in a bar that also sold books for $5 so I picked it up last year. It tells the story of a Dominican family through the 1900s, and there was a lot of untranslated Spanish in it. I’m not sure I missed a ton by not knowing the Spanish, and some you can kinda assume the meaning, but it might bother some people. I guess I liked it, but I don’t know that I find it as amazing as others did.
30. Mindhunter by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker – non fiction of Douglas’s career in the FBI, starting their Behavior Science (profiling) unit. I love true crime and serial killers, so I enjoyed it greatly.
31. Calypso by David Sedaris – I want to love Sedaris, but after reading almost all of his work, I don’t. It’s occasionally amusing but I want it to be hilarious. I think he needs to be heard, and not just read.

In progress: Harry Potter 3, I Know I am But What Are You? by Samantha Bee

June 2018 books

22. Armada by Ernest Cline – a decent outing from the author of Ready Player One which I loved. It took me a bit to get into it, I had to get past the descriptions of gaming setups and game playing, to really get into the plot. You kinda know what’s going to happen, it’s almost the opposite of Ender’s Game, but it’s still really entertaining and enjoyable.
23. October by China Mieville – a history of the Russian revolution. Yes it took a while to get through this and I’m not sure I will retain any of it. There are far too many people and too many groups, who all seem to really believe in the same things, all fighting or not fighting for control. And we know Lenin wins in the end haha.
24. Little Bee by Chris Cleave – wonderful and sad story of a refugee fleeing to the UK, and the story behind why she had to flee, and why she sought out a particular couple in London. Sad but you didn’t want to cry, and it doesn’t have a happy ending, but you still didn’t want to cry, and it was written beautifully.
25. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
26. Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell – a very short book (novella? short story?) about a Star Wars geek spending days in line for the new movie and the people she meets. Very relatable to me, since I’ve spent a lot of time in lines with other fans of *fill in the blank*

2 more books started and will not be finished: The Elegance of the Hedgehog and Rich People Problems

In progress: Harry Potter 4, The Road to Little Dribbling, The Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

May 2018 books

19. Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan – charming book about a secret society and the big mystery they’re dedicated to. It’s funny, it’s cute, it’s interesting. Great story.
20. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – reviewing for trivia
21. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – again, reviewing.
21.5 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – again, for trivia. Got through half of it before trivia day. Which, we won, btw.
21.5 This One Is Mine by Maria Semple – I had read 2 of her books last year and loved them so I picked up this one, which was her first. Wow it was completely different in tone, subject and style. And it was not good. The characters were all pretty heinous, and I paused reading it to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. When I went back to it, it was almost time to return it to the library and I decided I didn’t care enough to take it out again. So I got half way through.

In progress: October and Harry Potter 3 and Armada

April 2018 Books

15. Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett – another book about a young girl struggling with the death of a family member (this time her mom), a sister with mental issues, and the secrets she learns as she grieves. Cute story, not super sad, and well written. Enjoyable.
16. Flat broke with two goats by Jennifer McGaha – a internet book club pick, with goats in the title, I was in! After getting through the beginning of the memoir where you get to hear the background story of how a rich family screws up their finances, and you get over the anger you feel when you hear about rich people screwing up their finances the rest of the book is amusing and interesting.
17. Mosquitoland by David Arnold – yet another book about a young girl finding herself while running away from her dad and stop mom, to go back to her mom. A quirky main character who meets some other quirky characters along the way, I really enjoyed it.
18. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – a young girl has an accident while spending the summer with her family on their private island, and has to put events together to remember what happened. Interesting enough to keep me reading, and even though I had a fleeting thought about something in the story, I didn’t quite predict the twist.

In progress: October

March 2018 books

11. The Lost Girls by Robert Kolker – True crime book about a possible Long Island serial killer targeting prostitutes/escorts in the mid 2000s, who is still not caught. He goes into the stories about each of the girls found buried on a beach in burlap, and the girl whose disappearance led to the discovery of the bodies.

12. I am, I am, I am – Maggie O’Farrell – A memoir told in stories of brushes with death. Another book from a list of books to read, and I don’t remember why it intrigued me. The initial story hooked me, but not remembering what the book was going to be about, I thought it was going in a very different direction. Regardless, it was an enjoyable read, although it seems like Maggie has had a stressful life with all these brushes with death.

13. The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr – A YA novel about a teen girl with amnesia who kisses a boy and suddenly can remember that one event. At first it seemed like it might be kind of lame and just a romance, but it’s not. It’s sad, it’s sometimes annoying because it’s repetitive (because she can’t make new memories, and it’s told from her perspective she has to “remind” herself of what’s happening), and it’s got a bit of a twist that I wasn’t expecting. I enjoyed it. It’s a fairly quick read, and worth a shot.

14. Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk – Oh God where to start with this? Chuck quickly became my favorite author after seeing Fight Club and the mindfuck it provided. I bought the book (which is very close to the movie), then Invisible Monsters, which utterly blew my mind. I wrote him a letter, because these were the days when his address was still available through one of his fan pages. And he wrote back! What? Amazing. I bought Survivor and read it in a day, also fantastic. I was caught up on his books at that point, and eagerly anticipated more of his work, and I bought and read every one the day they came out. I told myself I liked them, but if I’m honest, every one after that got worse and worse. Or was more and more of the same – the theme of salvation through self destruction. Then I got to Haunted, which was terrible. It was the first one I truly admitted that I did not enjoy. But still, I bought each book on release day and read them ASAP. Underwhelming book after underwhelming book I finally stopped buying them, and started on ebooks from the library. The first one I didn’t buy was Tell All. And I was so glad I didn’t pay money for that one. It’s an intriguing story, if you’ve never seen that EXACT SAME PLOT on THE SIMPSONS! Seriously. If the recycled plot didn’t bother you, the writing style would. It was just not good. Doomed and Damned were both fairly decent, and I though they redeemed him a bit. But they didn’t make me continue, or return to being a rabid fan, and I really stopped following any future releases.

A friend recently mentioned him, which led us to looking up what he was doing and I saw he had a book called Beautiful You from a few years ago. To the library I went. I did not know the premise of the book, though I did see someone say the twist blew their mind. I was going in blind, but the first scene – a woman in a court room, where there are no other women because they’ve all dropped out of society – was interesting! I like post apocalyptic stories, women issues are huge right now, maybe this will be a fantastic look at society. Wrong. It turns out it’s a story about a man creating a line of sex toys to enslave women around the world. A story about female pleasure, written by a gay man, who seems to hate women. As a straight woman, I would never deign to write anything about men’s pleasure, especially not gay men’s pleasure, because I know nothing about it. And neither does Chuck. Assuming he researches what he’s going to write about, who did he speak to about orgasming someone to death? He clearly read an anatomy text book, but beyond that, the 200 pages of pleasuring women to near death is just absurd. Because yes, this thin line of plot could be condensed into 50 pages among 200 of unnecessary garbage. And it’s not even sexy smut garbage. It’s just stupid. And maybe it’s nit picky, but you know what’s also stupid? The main character climbing a Himalayan mountain, to find the sex guru, unassisted – and then have the mountain turn out to be Everest. Because yeah, that’s totally possible and extremely likely. And even more proof Chuck knows nothing about women – the main character puts on lingerie, and while her boyfriend who she is going to anally sodomize for no real reason is climbing the stairs, she has time to curl her eyelashes, WAX HER LEGS, and dab perfume behind her ears. SO REALISTIC! And while it’s amusing to think of men burning sex toys in Yankee Stadium, and sure, maybe some of them would explode, but some of them turning into rockets shooting through the NY sky and making it look like a war zone…stupid. Then the twist, because every book he writes has a twist ending, is not even interesting. I’m sure some pretentious lit major could make some argument about how it’s some amazing post modern look at blah blah blah bullshit, but in sum, this book is trash, and should not be read by anyone. I officially declare Chuck to no longer be my favorite author, and I doubt I’ll read anything else he releases.

In Progress: October