So way back on Day 1of this blog, I wrote a long explanation of why I read so obsessively. I won’t rehash all of that again but feel free to check it out if you missed it. And then on this day I showed you Part 1 of my reading adventure for 2012. And now today I give you part 2! I originally thought my goal for 2012 would be 50 books but I passed that and now am striving for 75. We'll see...my tracker says I'm 2 books behind...
* indicates a favorite
** indicates a super favorite
32. St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell Short Stories
I was so intrigued by Swamplandia! that I wanted to read some more of Karen Russell. This is a collection of her short stories—one of them being a short story that inspired Swamplandia!. It is very strange going from reading a fully fleshed out story to then going back to the original sketch of it. The stories themselves were unique and intriguing…just didn’t quite have the finesse that I was expecting. I loved the title story, though, and also the one about the sleep disorder camp.
33. *Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai Young Adult Fiction/Poetry
My sister-in-law let me borrow her copy of this book and I took it home and read through it that very night. It is a very engaging story about a girl and her family fleeing from the Vietnam War and trying to adjust to life in Alabama. The book is written from ten-year-old Ha’s perspective in free verse poetry and really achieves that confusion and turmoil that she feels as she adjusts to her new life and deals with memories of the past.
34. **A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith Classics/Fiction
This is a reread for me as I first read it in high school. I liked it then but LOVE it now. It is such a quiet story—but so strong. Francie Nolan is such a great character as she is always trying to find the beauty in the broken world around her. I feel like I can’t articulate much more about it without confining it, so all I can say is if you haven’t read this one…read it!
35. Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You by Sam Gosling Nonfiction/Psychology
I was really excited about this book because I think that the subject is pretty fascinating! The author is a psychologist who pokes around dorm rooms, offices, and bedrooms to see what he can learn from them. The idea was there—but it just got to be a bit boring. It is such a FUN idea but I think he ended up trying to make the book more scientific/educational than I was expecting.
36. **The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie by Mary Ann Shaffer Historical Fiction
I felt so lost when I began reading this book because it immediately jumps into letters being exchanged from people who I had no idea who they were! The entire book is written in letters actually, but it surprised me how easily I picked up the storyline and the characters. After a couple pages in, I was hooked. The book is set in the time period of London trying to emerge from the destruction of World War II. It is about Juliet, a writer, who begins to correspond with a group of people who lived in Guernsey (a small island off of London) during their occupation by the Nazis. It is such a great story…both from a historical perspective but also from a reader’s perspective! It is so engaging—and what a cast of characters! Go read it!
37. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming Adventure/Fiction
So not my typical read…but my husband read it while we were on vacation and suggested it to me after I finished my own book. I decided to read through the first couple pages to see what it was all about…and low and behold, I ended up finishing it shortly after. It was fun to see James Bond in print and compare it with the James Bond of the 2006 movie version with Daniel Craig. It was a bit tough to put up with all of the 1953 stereotypes…lots of mentions on how women shouldn’t be in the professional world. Ugh! Not sure I’d be up for reading the next one, but who knows!
38. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? By Jeanette Winterson Memoir
What a great title! I could hardly pass this up with a title like that. I was really expecting a witty, gritty memoir but ended up being slightly confused during a lot of it. I never read her story, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, and in many ways this book seemed written directly for the Oranges readers. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had read Oranges first as the stories inside this one are very powerful—just a bit disjointed without having the base of the first book.
39. The Red House by Mark Haddon Fiction
This book was a little confusing at first because Haddon jumps not only from character to character but he also jumps to excerpts from the books that each character is reading—all happening within paragraphs of a chapter. As I got into that style and got to know the characters better, I could settle into it a bit better. The book was a lot darker than I was expecting. I was expecting it to be a bit like This is Where I Leave You—but in a hard way to describe, it was heavier. The story of the book is about an estranged brother and sister spending a week together with their families in a house. The characters of the book seem pretty normal but somehow it seems like every possible struggle is being dealt with—insanity, affairs, sexual orientation, guilt, manipulation, and lots more. A book that made me think about it after I finished, but not necessarily in a good way.
40. The World to Come by Dara Horn Historical Fiction
I’m having difficulty writing about this book. When I finished it, I gave it a 4/5 but as I look back on it…I’m not sure I really did like it that much. It was a good read and I enjoyed the folklore, layers, and characters of the book. It just didn’t stick with me as much as I thought it was going to. The beginning was strong, but it just sort of petered out a bit.
41. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker Science Fiction
This was a book that was really strange to go from reading it then back to reality. Whenever I put it down, I had to reorient myself to days that were still 24 hours long, birds still flying in the sky, and strawberries still being readily available. This is a coming of age story of girl who deals with normal stuff like boys, not being popular, and her parents fighting. Yet, there is nothing normal about her world as the “slowing” has begun. Nicely written and definitely thought provoking.
42. Big Sur by Jack Kerouac Classic/Memoir
I think this is a book that intrigued me more in the idea of it than the actual book. Here is Jack Kerouac, the king of the Beatniks, growing older, darker, and more depressed. He got this wild fame from On the Road, and you see him trying to keep up with it. He runs himself ragged with alcohol and wild nights. There is a darkness in this book and it leads right into a breaking point of insanity. Few can write in his style—but the raggedness and sincerity of it only added to the heartbreak of the story.
43. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte Classics/Fiction
What a dark and moody story this is! It is a story of a passionate love that makes them and everyone around them miserable. It is nicely layered and could definitely be read over and over and still pick up new angles. Just not sure it will be me who will reread it…
44. **Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin Classics/Fiction
I was poking around on my mom’s ipad one day when I stumbled upon the e-books that she has on there. I was interested to see if I could tell a difference between reading on an ipad compared to my nook. So I started rereading Pride and Prejudice. And then pretty soon I didn’t care at all about my experiment and was completely absorbed in reading it. The only thing that jolted me out of the spell was when the low battery alert came on. Then I ran downstairs and got my nook and finished it on there! I’m convinced that this book is more fun to reread than it is to originally read it. I knew that the good stuff was coming so I was pulled right through it. Ahh, what a great book. Ever since I read it, I just want to reread it, watch the movies, and then reread it again.
45. *Villette by Charlotte Bronte Classics/Fiction
I have to admit—this is one of those books that probably a third of the way in, I wasn’t sure if I could finish it. I had loved Jane Eyre so much and this was...much harder to read. It was slow, I didn’t know if I liked/could trust the main character, and it kept refusing to give me all of the details that I wanted. BUT, I went online and started reading about the book to give me a little bit better understanding. As people raved about it, I decided to give it a 2nd chance. I learned to appreciate the artistry which Bronte writes—that she chose to represent Lucy that way so we could see how restrained she is and how fearful of opening herself up to the world. As the book goes on, we start to see and understand Lucy better but she still often refuses to really show how she felt. Bronte deals with some heavy theology and philosophy in this book which gives it a rich feel to it. I’m glad that I stuck with it—but I wouldn’t recommend it to the faint of heart!
46. Mr. Darcy’s Diary by Amanda Grange Fiction
My sister-in-law is the biggest Pride and Prejudice fan that I know of. For her birthday I gave her this book which is the story told from Mr. Darcy’s perspective in diary format. I then borrowed it from her to read it myself! It started off and I thought it might be too hokey for me…like it was just not going to work. Then soon enough, I just got sucked right into it. It is a light, fun read. Having just read Pride & Prejudice a few days before, it was a nice salve for the itch for more Pride and Prejudice! No, it isn’t Jane Austen, but it is fun to see things from Mr. Darcy’s perspective.
47. Emma by Jane Austen Classics/Fiction
My least favorite Jane Austen story so far. I usually appreciate when an author gives their characters faults, but Emma was just a little too annoying for me to really embrace. I did like the 2nd half of the book a lot better but jeesh, it was rough going there for a bit in the beginning!
48. *The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle Classics/Fiction/Mystery
I have to admit…the BBC miniseries Sherlock was what inspired me to start reading this. And I’m glad it did because the book is full of fun, short mysteries that reminded me of my love of Jessica Fletcher and Dr. Haledjian.
49. *Little Women by Louisa May Alcott Classics/Fiction
What a great story of a family of girls coming of age! I really was not expecting to really connect with this book as it is kind of simple and full of morals. But, it is a quiet and peaceful read that has depth to it. It is a book that had me thinking about it many times after I finished it.
50. *The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros Fiction
A great little book about a girl growing up in Chicago—trying to get a grapple on living in a house on Mango Street that isn’t everything her parents had dreamt and promised of. It is told from her perspective which gives it innocence. Cisneros gives the gritty but also the beauty.
51. *Persuasion by Jane Austen Classics/Fiction
I really enjoyed this book because it had a sense of maturity to it. No, Anne is not a feisty Elizabeth Bennett, but she has had heartache and has learned from it. She’s a relatable character who is more level headed and restrained than some of Austen’s characters. Plus, I think the story line is great—how awkward to be in such a close social setting with a former fiancé! I’m not sure I like it as much as Pride & Prejudice but maybe with a rereading I’d put it up there…
52. *The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd Spiritual Memoir
This book has been so thought provoking for me. The book is about Kidd’s journey of being a traditional Southern Baptist that begins to realize how so much of her religion is from a man’s perspective. It is her journey of beginning to unlearn and relearn who she is and what she believes. Throughout her own journey, she weaves fantastic quotes and stories throughout. I couldn’t always connect with every part of the book, but I do feel lucky to have read this book at this time in my life.