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.

In progress: October, Harry Potter 3, Little Bee and Kindred Spirits…yes 4 books at once.

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

February 2018 books

6. The Girl With All The Gifts – This was recommended to me by someone, and I had the author wrong, so it took me a while to find it for some reason. I had no idea what it was about, but turns out, it’s a post apocalyptic zombie novel, focusing on some last remaining “normals” and a 2nd generation zombie child. Definitely my kind of book, enjoyed it quite a bit.

7. Turtles All The Way Down by John Green – I think I’ve read all his work, and while this wasn’t my fav, it was readable and it went quick. A teen with extreme ocd/anxiety/germaphobia tries to navigate life and friends. It was fine.

8. Touch by Courtney Maum – I need to start making notes of why I add books to my wish list, or where they came from, because I never remember why I was drawn to them. This one focuses on an over reliance on technology, and the ways it dehumanizes us. The main argument is whether a company should go down the road of making even more integrated tech products, or follow the main characters suggestion that personal interaction will start trending again. It’s a little preachy sometimes, and the end felt like a cop out, but overall it does make you think about how much we use tech to avoid others.

9. How To Build A Girl by Caitlin Moran – Oh my, this was great. Coming of age story of a poor British girl in the 90s who is trying what all teens do, to invent themselves. She invents herself as a cynical music journalist and gets a job with a London music magazine at 17 years old. She joins the scene and the debauchery, and starts to realize who she should really be. The writing was beautiful, it was funny and entertaining. Recommend.

10. A Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell – A memoir about a British couple who moves to Denmark for a year when the husband gets a job with Lego. Helen, a freelance writer, investigates why Denmark is constantly voted the Happiest country in the world. Funny, entertaining and enlightening to what a country can do to take care of their society.

January 2018 Books

1. Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt – This book was great. It surrounds a teen girl in the 1980s whose uncle/godfather dies from AIDS, and the things she learns about him, his life, and her family as a whole. It was a good story that made you want to keep reading to find out what was going on with her sister, and her mom, etc etc etc. It wasn’t an exciting adventure page turner, but it was a page turner. I just think it’s fantastic.

2. Wild by Cheryl Strayed – Last year I read Walk In The Woods about the Appalachian Trail, this year, the Pacific Crest Trail. Obviously it’s a memoir, and it covered the hike as well as her life, which led her to escaping to the PCT. It’s an uplifting story, worth a read.

3. Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man by Fannie Flagg – This is one of my favourite books ever, and this was my 3rd read. I seem to read it every 10 years or so, last time was in college. I had forgotten so much, and it’s still funny even if I wasn’t LOLing like the very first time. It’s so much fun, I don’t understand how it hasn’t been made into a movie. I almost want to learn to how to write a screenplay and do it myself.

4. Rage Against the Meshugenah: Why it Takes Balls to Go Nuts by Dan Evans – a book borrowed from a coworker when I requested a funny book. You wouldn’t think a book about clinical depression would be funny, but it actually was. He writes in such a way that you didn’t feel bad for his experience, even though he was in a pretty bad place. It was a good look at the disease, without it making you feel terrible too.

5. Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All by Jonas Jonasson – I enjoyed his book about the 100 year old man so I thought I’d try this one. It was similar in it’s comedy of errors esque feel, and it’s…dryness? Bluntness? It’s hard to explain the style, but it’s distinct. It was amusing, and alright, but I found I just wanted it to end for most of the book.

In progress: A Year of Living Danishly and The Girl With All The Gifts

December books

44. Dead Presidents by Brady Carlson – Lots of books focus on Presidents’ lives, this one focused on what happened to them after they died (their funerals, ceremonies, and how we remember them historically). Informative and interesting, and it featured several pages about my favorite bar in Buffalo – Founding Fathers – and it’s owner/bartender Mike Driscoll. Buffalo is awesome. (and I got some Calvin Coolidge and Zachary Taylor trivia right since reading)

45. The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg – Again, no book can approach the hilarity of her Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man, but this is another good offering from Fannie. It tells the tale of a midwestern town and it’s inhabitants from founding through the current day, through their lives, and after their deaths. Sometimes it felt a bit politically preachy (the idea that the old days were better, almost approaching “make america great again” territory) but it didn’t get that into any particular interesting. It’s just an overview of how times change, and the life and death of a town.

46. I’m Dreaming of a Black Christmas by Lewis Black – not as funny as I was expecting.

47.  Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore – quite amusing but I wonder if I would have gotten more funnies out of it if I was at all schooled in the actual story of Jesus.

 

Since I don’t think I’m going to finish either of the 2 books in progress in the next 36 hours, this is it for 2017. Onto 2018.

 

In progress: What Happened by Hillary Clinton and Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

November Books

40. All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg – eh, I’m indifferent. It’s fine, it was a quick read about a woman in her late 30s who feels she hasn’t made anything of her life. It’s not a linear story but each chapter highlights some different episode of her life, but they do all work together.

41. The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel – I actually started this book on the plane to Ireland, but couldn’t “check it out” again when it expired. Non-fiction biography of a man who spent 20 years in the woods in Maine, having no contact with the rest of the world. Very interesting, makes me think about being a hermit (I think I could do it, tho I do love the internet). 

42. The Nix by Nathan Hill – when I saw I had read 41 books, I wanted to make it to 50 for the year. Then it took me most of the month to read this one. Guess that’s not going to happen. Anyway. It took me a while to get into this, but once I did I wanted to know the rest of the story. A man is researching his mother’s past in the 1960s. It’s interesting enough to make you want to read more, but not too crazy. Hard to explain, but I enjoyed it.

43. The 14th Goldfish by Jennifer L Holm – a very quick read with a cute story about a young girl and her scientist grandpa. A little bit coming of age, but not heavy.

 

In progress: What Happened by Hillary Clinton and Dead Presidents by Brady Carlson

October Books

36. The Daily Show (The Book) – I love the Daily Show, I love Jon Stewart. I cried when he left, and I cried again when he left in the book. If you like(d) the show, it’s a good read about the history and behind the scenes activities that went into producing the show during Jon’s years.

37. The Antiques: A Novel by Kris D’Agostino – this might have been another book off the funny book list I mentioned before, or it could have been another list of books everyone should read…Whichever list it was, I disagree. It was not funny and all the characters were hateful. There were some slightly amusing moments once the entire family got together for their father’s funeral, but as a whole, not funny. It wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t recommend it. So many other books to read.

38. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – I’ll get this out of the way – I was reaaaaallly annoyed that he made the underground railroad, that factually exists, into an ACTUAL UNDERGROUND TRAIN. It constantly bugged me, because people are dumb enough to believe that it’s true (case in point, J’s mom has an actual slave hidey hole in her house, it was a stop on the UR, has a memorial in the yard etc. She talked to someone who stopped at the memorial and the guy didn’t believe in the UR because “they never found evidence of the trains”). The era of fake news and all. So I feared that people will read this, and treat it like an actual history book. J, the english major, pointed out how the actual train is a literary device that allows Cora to experience a variety of different slave experiences blahblahblah lit stuff. And he’s right. And we both agreed people dumb enough to believe it was an actual train are unlikely to read this book anyway LOL *elitists* ANYWAY beyond that, I enjoyed it, it was a good story and gave a good/sad look at the slave life.

39. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon – recommended by a friend who mentioned the play was coming near me, and 2nd by another friend, I put it next on my reading list. A story told by a high functioning kid with some kind of learning disability (assume autism). It was a good story, but a little depressing and I don’t really know how it would translate to stage (esp if it’s a musical, which I’m not sure if it is or not). Worth reading for sure.

In progress: What Happened by Hillary Clinton and All Grown up by Jami Attenberg

September Books

32. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer – loved it. At first I was put off by the fact it was told through letters, but once I got into the story you didn’t even notice. It was cute, and sad, and uplifting, and super enjoyable.

33. Star Island by Carl Hiaasen – an alright tale of a spoiled pop singer with a drug problem, and a paparazzi trying to take advantage.

34. Chomp by Carl Hiaasen – back to a more humorous story, about a reality show star from a survivalist show who is actually an idiot, and a father and son hired to help him in the Everglades for the show. Amusing and quick.

35. 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher – a girl’s story about her suicide told through cassette tapes to one of the people she “blames”. It’s sad, but it’s interesting, and sometimes you don’t like her that much because she seems super self centered, but then you remember they’re teens, and teens are self centered. A good read.

In progress: The Daily Show (still)