Here we go again. Due to my overwhelming need to keep an archive and maybe due to some resolve of the laziness previously shown here, I’m back. I still read a ton in 2013 but it would have been nice to have the record. If anyone continued to follow this blog after I said I would keep writing then didn’t then bless your heart. I can only assume that my one post about the Maya Angelou Prank Show is what kept you entertained for the year. If you fall into that category, don’t worry. I just re-watched it and it is indeed still hilarious. The good news is that not only will I now continue to write about the books that have meant something to me, I’ll also probably continue to be grumpy about the stuff everyone seems to love. It’s a real treat over here in the internet and I’m glad to be back. Let’s get started with some poor quality phone photos of my new electronic reading device!

#1: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt - Is it too early to have a favorite book of the year? I make the rules here and I say it’s never to early. Wolves is about a 14 year old who discovers some family secrets in the midst of New York in the 1980’s. I love, love, loved this one because it showed the complications of adolescence without cliche. It was able to construct a story about family that acknowledges how hard it can be to see one another through the lens of assumption. I don’t want to tell you too much other that if you are like me and sometimes have all the feelings at once, this one will hit you hard.

#2: Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois - Readers, be careful with your second book of the year. Don’t make my mistake and think “Oh yeah, after the feelings I’ll just read something cool.” Nope. Cartwheel is touted as the next Gone Girl which should have been my first clue that I wouldn’t like it. Y’all, this book is the EXACT story of Amanda Knox just with different character names and takes place in Argentina. There isn’t suspense if you already know what happens! Get out of here, Cartwheel.

#3: The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman - And then I got to this? I didn’t know very much about the book except that it had a pleasant cover but my goodness what a load of barf. I realize “load of barf” isn’t a kind thing to say about a novel one worked hard on, it is just the one phrase that kept coming to me the entire time I read it. Sure one could say the sentences were clever but I’m team Jennifer Weiner on this one in that I’m at a point where I just want to read a book with at least one likeable character. Simply, I like to root for someone. No one in this story showed the depth that could have made it better. And can Brooklyn writers please stop writing about the Brooklyn literary scene? There are so many better ways to use the imagination. 

#4: The Love Song of Jonny Valentine by Teddy Wayne - Speaking of imagination, I’m torn here because while the protagonist is an eleven year old, floppy haired, pop star based on someone we love to hate, it does make the reader wonder if we are all just as vapid as the celebrities we follow. I had a hard time getting through the book but also hate to admit that I’ve thought of it often since. Contradictions everywhere! What I’m even more interested in today is Teddy Wayne’s profile of Taylor Kitsch. Texas forever.

#5: If I Stay by Gayle Forman - So much teenage angst going with this one. Basically what we have here is a YA novel that takes the dramatic phrase "I might as well just DIE!!" to a whole new level. A young girl is in a car accident and has to decide in her comatose state whether or not she should will herself to live for her boyfriend, friend, and her cello. Although it used the usual plot techniques I fell for them all with tears in the end. Take a break from your fancy books and go back to the feelings for a bit.

#6: In Praise of Messy Lives by Katie Roiphe - I’m know I’m late to the party here. I understand people have OPINIONS about Katie Roiphe’s essays. I’ll simply state that I very much enjoyed her thoughts on books, feminism, and motherhood. Sure I didn’t agree with everything but that’s not the point. The point is that I kept thinking I wanted more books where women visibly work through and coherently articulate their reaction to the world around them. Take a look at Jess McCabe’s interview at the Toast for a better explanation of my reaction. Or just google Katie Roiphe because it will probably lead you to an evening of more questions than answers.

There you have it, friends. Send me your recommendations, your disagreements, and all the other good stuff that comes from your world. Let’s talk books.

January 31      46 notes     Comments     

Hello. My name is Jonathan Franzen. I’d like to order 50 pizzas. It is for a prank.

April 1      78 notes     Comments     
Morning commute.

Morning commute.

January 30      18 notes     Comments     

This post concludes 5 years of ye old blog. I know, I can’t believe I didn’t get a real life in that time period either! My time here has been spent with roughly 260 books, some music here and there, more than a few grainy iPhone pictures, plus a lot of grammatical errors. I may be getting lazy with updates but I love having an archive to see what was good and what could have been left out. Guess that means I’ll have to just keep going. I’m excited to see what 2013 will bring and keep sending me your recommendations!

December 2012

I think this was the first month in the history of forever that I only read books published this year. 2012 had some real winners so I’m glad they made it into the final tally.

#49: How Should a Person Be by Sheila Heti - Now I loved the first half of this book then became disengaged in the second half. I’m still not sure why that happened because I very much liked Heti’s writing style. It has been compared to Miranda July which I found to be accurate. What I still don’t understand, however, is how exactly a person should be.

#50: Broken Harbor by Tana French - There was a new Tana French novel available at the library so I had no choice but to check it out. This is number 4 in her loosely connected mystery stories and I would have to rate this one my 2nd favorite. It was dark and weird enough to keep me engaged without being too dramatic. Plus, I love the way French writes about Irish detectives. They’re so intense and unintentionally hilarious!

#51: Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple - While I was home for Christmas, my sister heard my mom and I talking about Bernadette as if she were someone we actually know. I don’t know any real life Bernadettes but she sure felt real to me in this book. It was probably my favorite book in the 2012 category of WHERE-DO-ALL-THESE-LADIES-GO-OR-HIDE-OUT novels. The characters were well developed, all had a funny streak, and I honestly thought none of them were crazy. This is also a great book for a sing-a-long, an activity I’ve never been able to resist.

#52: An Everlasting Meal  by Tamar E. Adler - Can I just say that it is very difficult to read about eating without having actual food in front of you? It makes one very hungry. As soon as I read the chapter on scrambled eggs, I made scrambled eggs because it seemed like the right thing to do. There was so much important information in An Everlasting Meal but I think my take home message was that you should always finish a dish by adding freshly grated Parmesan. I mean, it’s important to have goals for 2013 so…

#53: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters - As you can see, our family cat Otis was really pumped about this book. I was too but doesn’t really matter as much. Otis’s opinion is what really counts. I read Beautiful Ruins during a cursed attempt to get to Texas for Christmas and it really helped relieve the stress. The book weaves old Hollywood with modern love and then adds a hint of mystery. Thank you, internet, for telling me to read this one!

#54: The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman - Similar to the previous book, I read this one in it’s entirety on my way back from Texas. I’m beginning to find that I love digesting a book in a day then not reading at all again for a week. This obviously won’t work in real life, but it’s fun anyways. But back to the book! The whole time I was reading it, my eyes were wide because I just could not believe what was happening. Basically, a baby shows up for a couple who has been trying to have one but they don’t know what to do when they find it. Look for it’s parent’s or pass it off as their own? I’ll leave it to you to read the book and decide if you agree with their decision. This would make an excellent book club choice if that’s your thing.

January 1      48 notes     Comments     
#48: City of Thieves by David Benioff
This morning I was trying to come up with some of the best books I read this year and kept thinking of this one. When I tried to look back to see what I originally said about it I realized I had somehow forgotten it in my monthly lists this autumn. I’m not sure what I did with my brain this year, but my head was clearly not in the documentation game.
Anyways, I really did love this book and it’s a testament to the writing that I woke up with it on my mind. It’s about friendship in unlikely places, the need to have a kindred spirit when trying to survive. Maybe I thought of it in the spirit of simply finding hope during a time of trial. Whatever it was that made it come back to me, I’m glad I thought back over City of Thieves because I guess it’s one of those stories that sort of weaves itself into your life rather than being a showy display of power. I’m so glad I didn’t forget it.

#48: City of Thieves by David Benioff

This morning I was trying to come up with some of the best books I read this year and kept thinking of this one. When I tried to look back to see what I originally said about it I realized I had somehow forgotten it in my monthly lists this autumn. I’m not sure what I did with my brain this year, but my head was clearly not in the documentation game.

Anyways, I really did love this book and it’s a testament to the writing that I woke up with it on my mind. It’s about friendship in unlikely places, the need to have a kindred spirit when trying to survive. Maybe I thought of it in the spirit of simply finding hope during a time of trial. Whatever it was that made it come back to me, I’m glad I thought back over City of Thieves because I guess it’s one of those stories that sort of weaves itself into your life rather than being a showy display of power. I’m so glad I didn’t forget it.

December 17      40 notes     Comments     

Four Tops - Bernadette

I can’t even look at the book I’m reading without internally (or usually externally) screaming along to this song. I also like to add the snaps when appropriate, but it turns out that’s all times.

"BERNADETTE!"

December 13      16 notes     Comments     

Oh hey, look who’s kind of on time here. Over the last few weeks it seems I’ve only read crime or family dramas, but luckily not family crime novels. November was a good month for reading and as it gets toward the end of the year, I’m left with a little hope of piling on some more good stuff. 

November 2012

#43: Seating Arrangements by Maggie ShipsteadOh how I wanted to like this! A wedding, some antics by an erratic father, New England, it all seemed great. It was not great however, when I realized that all of the people in this book were insufferable with only a few redeeming qualities I had to hunt down. The plot changes that were supposed to move the book forward just seemed superficial. This may sound harsh but you know that blog White Whine? They should just blog this entire book. It was that painful. 

#44: The Face Thief by Eli Gottlieb - You know why I picked up this book? Because it’s called The Face Thief and that’s an awesome name. The story is told from the perspective of those who have had an encounter with said thief who is able to essentially make a few people around her self destruct. It is one of those books that moves quickly and doesn’t actually require much input from the reader. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) no faces actually get stolen here.

#45: The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg - This is the part where I’d like to stand on a chair and yell “This is how you write about family! More of this please!” It was such a pleasure to read this after Seating Arrangements. The Middlesteins is about how family relates to multiple stresses including food, divorce, loneliness, religion, and one another. Attenberg gives each character their full due which includes their flaws but also their underlying hope. Not one single aspect of the book seemed forced. It felt as though this could have been any of us at any time rather than some grand novel for the pleasure of a happy ending. Perhaps it felt personal because as we grow up it’s easy to see the layers of what’s happening around us and it’s nice to know that change is shared.

#46: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn - I wasn’t thrilled by Gone Girl but I was sort of bored and wanted to see what else Flynn had to offer. If you don’t like super dark, gritty, and sort of grotesque crime, don’t read this. It’s a doozey. There is of course a big twist at the end, but I thought it could have been written better. Now that I’ve read a couple of books by her, it seems that Flynn is really really into the first 80% of the books she writes and then sort of putters out in the last 20%. Like Gone Girl, I still left with conclusion of “Welp, crazy people still do crazy things.” That’s just the way it is.

#47: Carry the One by Carol Anshaw - If it tells you much, I finished this book last week and I’m still thinking about it. I started it before I knew it was on the NYTimes Notable Books of 2012 but now I know it absolutely deserves to be there. It follows a group of people involved in a car crash by winding through their next twenty years. The funny thing is that the book is more about change instead of an actual event. The accident is written into the background of a relationship or a birth or even a painting. Anshaw’s characters were all simple human beings no more or less. They felt absolutely real, as if maybe I’ve already come across them. If you’re looking for nothing but fantastic writing, this and The Middlesteins are an excellent place to start.

December 3      32 notes     Comments     
#42: The Boneshaker by Kate Milford - So, um, somehow I forgot to add this one into the September collection. But that’s not too say it wasn’t great! The kind bookseller at McNally-Jackson recommended it when when I was having trouble choosing and because I hadn’t read a young adult book in awhile, I was pretty excited. The book is about a young, smartypants girl (so of course I liked it) who helps her town negotiate with an evil magic medicine man. It has just the right amount of wit and emotion that works well for anyone who loves an adventure. Can’t believe I didn’t tell you about it sooner…

#42: The Boneshaker by Kate Milford - So, um, somehow I forgot to add this one into the September collection. But that’s not too say it wasn’t great! The kind bookseller at McNally-Jackson recommended it when when I was having trouble choosing and because I hadn’t read a young adult book in awhile, I was pretty excited. The book is about a young, smartypants girl (so of course I liked it) who helps her town negotiate with an evil magic medicine man. It has just the right amount of wit and emotion that works well for anyone who loves an adventure. Can’t believe I didn’t tell you about it sooner…

November 26      7 notes     Comments     

Remember October?? It was filled with Hurricanes and scary presidential candidates but also good friends and weddings and travel and food. Looking back, it was also a mixed bag of books.

October 2012

#39: Sammy’s Hill by Kristin Gore - Stephanie let me borrow this when I asked for something light and fluffy. I got exactly what I wanted here. It was so cheesey and full of exactly what you’d expect twists. Not to mention, there’s the political drama with which Gore would obviously have plenty of experience. This one is recommended if you too want a break from the serious.

#40: The Pharmacists Mate by Amy Fusselman - I bought this book on a whim at Dog Eared Books in San Francisco and as I checked out, the clerk said “What a phenomenal book.” Quite an accolade for something so small, but he was certainly right. There is so much punch packed into just a few pages. It’s autobiographical about losing a parent while simultaneously trying to get pregnant. If you’re like me and have too many feelings sometimes, you might end up crying about it on the bus on the way to work. But it’s okay, I can tell you it’s a happy cry.

#41: Aerogrammes: and Other Stories by Tania James - It’s nice to pick up a book based on it’s cover (this one is lovely) and have  the writing beat even the lion on the front. James’ stories are about India and the people inside are full of longing, hope, and wonder. I connected with each one in a different but meaningful way. Tania James now might now go into my collection of favorite female short story writers along with Danielle Evans and Susanne Rivecca.

**I would like the record to show that I actually spent most of October attempting to read Memnoch the Devil by Anne Rice. It has been a while since I’ve so strongly disliked a book, but I just could not bring myself to care about it at all. On the surface the plot of eerie vampires, questionable theology, and New Orleans seemed like something I should enjoy. That just wasn’t the case however and 3/4 of the way through I finally gave up. No regrets here!

November 23      19 notes     Comments     

Well we’re more than half way through October so I figure I might as well tell you what I read in September. Maybe one day I’ll get to these sentences quicker…

September 2012

#35: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - What??? I wasn’t surprised by anything in this. The internet, the blogs, the real life people all said Gone Girl would be nuts but I guess it just wasn’t for me. Crazy people do crazy things, that’s just the way it is.

#36: Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman - Y’all, please go read this. It is so simple yet so perfect. The story is of a young girl who wants to be a girl scout when there are no others around her. But it’s also more than that. It’s also about Nevada, and family, and growing up, and hurt, and survival. So much good here.

#37: The Words of Every Song by Liz Moore - Liz Moore, if you ever read this (and I hope you do), consider this my fan note. As someone who loved your second novel, I was excited to go back to the beginning. The added bonus of the New York music scene only made me more enthusiastic about your work. Please keep writing so I can keep reading.

#38: This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz - What is there to say that hasn’t already been said? I’m not sure. All I know is that it’s the perfect book to read entirely on a 3 hour flight. It is no more or less than that. Diaz clearly knows what he’s doing and I will probably buy whatever he writes. It seems that plenty of other people feel the same.

October 18      59 notes     Comments