Monday, December 26, 2016

2016 Reading Round Up

Thanks for reading my blog this year! I hope I've put some fun books on your radar screen!

Again, I always appreciate your book recommendations.

I hope that you and your family have a happy holiday season. And that you have lots of good books to read. 

As I always do at the end of the year, I thought about all of the books I read this past year and my reading experiences, and here are the most notable.

Most Favorite Fiction of 2016:

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

This book consumed me. Loved everything about it, except for the loss of limbs.

Most Surprising Read:

My Life in France by Julia Child
I had no idea that this book was going to be SO good. Thanks to Grace for lending me her copy for years until I finally read it. :)

Other Favorite Fiction of the Year:

One Day by David Nicholls
I read this back in 2012, and again during the summer of 2016. Loved it both times.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Love Sittenfeld's writing, and love Jane Austen. And it's set in Cincinnati. I think it's the first book I've read set in Cincinnati.

By the way, have you heard of the card game, Marrying Mr. Darcy? It's a Pride and Prejudice role playing game! Just played it with Boomer the other night and looking forward to playing it with a bigger group of people. 

The Assistants by Camille Perri

 A super-fast one day kind of read.

Book That Changed My Home: 

The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith
My house looks different after reading this book. More quirky, plus I have a picture of Abraham Lincoln in the entry way now.

Most Ambitious Reading Experience:

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
A very intense reading experience because of the subject matter and the looming library due date

Friday, December 23, 2016

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

It's the end of 2016, and I have a bunch of books I need to write posts about so I can close out this reading year! So I'll make this short!

This, along with being a riveting memoir, is an examination of the culture of poor, white Americans.

If you've wondered how Trump was elected, this book will probably be of interest to you. I encourage you to read it!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Re-read - Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

I first read Tiny Beautiful Things back in October 2012. (You can read my first review of it here.

Since then, I've also been listening to the Dear Sugar podcast that Cheryl Strayed hosts with Steve Almond. If you haven't checked it out, I highly recommend it. It's one of my favorite podcasts. They answer letters together on a whole range of topics.

I felt like it was time again to read Tiny Beautiful Things. Once again, I read this book very slowly. The way that Strayed responds to these letter writers seeking advice is so brilliant and emotionally truthful.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic For a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist

I have one friend back from my college days who I've heard others describe as "very efficient." She is! She gets things done! And she makes it look easy!

I thought of her often as I read this book because sometimes I wonder how happy she is under all of the efficiency, busyness, and running around.

In this book, Niequist shares her journey going from being busy and disconnected to slowing down and being okay with more mess so that she could be more present with herself, life, and her family.

Short essay-like chapters make this book easy to ready slowly so you can savor it. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

The premise of this book is so sad. Raymie Clarke's dad has run off with a dental hygienist. She believes that if she wins the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, her picture will be in the newspaper, her dad will see her, and he'll come home.

So she enrolls in a baton twirling class. She meets two other girls who are also dealing with their own things, and they all become friends.

Sad and touching.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You by Peter Cameron

James is eighteen and living in Manhattan. His parents are divorced, and he's decided that college is not for him.

I loved James' take on the world and his observations about life.

Excellent, unassuming, and super easy to read.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Podcasts about Reading

I love listening to podcasts while I am cutting vegetables or hanging out the laundry. Today, I wanted to share a couple of my favorite podcasts that are about reading.

What Should I Read Next is hosted by Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy. She talks with folks about their favorite books along with what books they've hated. Based on that information, she recommends three books that they should read next. From this podcast, I've heard about a lot of books that were not on my radar screen. It's also helped me define more for myself what I like and what I don't. The episode with Gretchen Rubin (episode 52) and children's literature was especially noteworthy.

The Babysitter's Club Club is hosted by two friends, Jack and Tanner. They are reading through the Babysitter's Club series chronologically and each week they talk about one book. Listening to men in their 30s talk about this series that I adored when I was in the fifth and sixth grade is super amusing. They take the books very seriously and discuss the themes they see. Laugh out loud funny. But language warning here if you have sensitive ears.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Black and Blue Magic by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

In my quest of "gentle reading," I've been picking up more books from the Young Adult and Junior Reading sections of the library.

I heard about Black and Blue Magic when Gretchen Rubin was on Modern Mrs. Darcy's podcast.
(It's episode 52.)

Harry Marco thinks that it's going to be another boring summer until a mysterious traveling salesman moves into his family's boarding house. Magical, adventurous, and sweet.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

This was the most ambitious reading I've done in 2016.

Team of Rivals is a 754 page book. I checked it out from the library mistakenly thinking that I could renew it twice, and that would give me nine weeks to finish it. No problem!

Well, four days before the first due date, I tried to renew it, and whoops, there was a hold on it so I couldn't renew. I had read 120 pages. 634 pages to go.

I wanted to finish it because this was a couple of weeks after the presidential election here in the United States. I was finding so many parallels and differences between the politics and leadership of Lincoln and what is going on here right now.

So I went into turbo reading mode. Yes, I pounded out 634 pages in four days. And this was not easy Nicholas Sparks on the beach reading. This was heavy, dense history reading.

Yes, heavy and dense, but so intriguing! Lincoln appointed all of his rivals to his cabinet because he wanted the best and brightest and smartest men leading and serving the country with him. He did what he thought was best for the country. These were not men who had been loyal to him or supportive of him. But they were the smartest, and so Lincoln wanted to be surrounded by them.

I learned so much about Lincoln and the nuances and the human costs of the Civil War.

Highly recommended if you're interested in Lincoln, the Civil War, or tired of hearing about politics in the US (isn't that all of us?).

Table Manners: How to Behave in the Modern World and Why Bother by Jeremiah Tower

"The most important thing to know about manners is that they're not about you. The more you think about those around you and the less you think about yourself, the more likely you are to behave well. And the better you behave, the more likely you are to be invited back" (p. 137).

It has happened more than once now that I've been at dinner parties where everyone (except me - no data on my phone, whoops!) is on their phone. I've looked around, wondering if anyone wanted to have a conversation, but no, so I just focused on eating my food.

Tower addresses cell phone and social media use in the chapter on Techiquette. Thank you! I am now wondering if I should use a basket at the front door to collect cell phones when friends come over. Think they will comply?

Tower also discusses all sorts of manners when it comes to hosting, being a guest, and eating out at a restaurant.

If you need a refresher course on manners, this is a sweet, little book that will get you up to speed.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Fall Guy by James Lasdun

Matthew joins his cousin, Charlie and Charlie's wife for the summer in their mountain house. Charlie's family is wealthy, and Matthew is just barely making it. As the summer goes on, Matthew learns a secret about Charlie's family and struggles with knowing what to do with it.

Suspenseful and creepy, but just a so-so read for me.