An Unkindness of Ghosts, River Solomon: A story set in space that’s mostly about the societal structure of the ship where the story takes place, which is very much like the antebellum South. Intense.
84K, Claire North: The Company controls everything, including the government. Interesting writing & structure.
Transcription, Kate Atkinson: A WWII story with spillover effects later in the main character’s life. Not enough time spent on the ending.
The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal: Disaster strikes, the space race heats up, and some women try to become astronauts in the 1950s. I really want to see this made into a miniseries.
Bitter Orange, Claire Fuller: Slow-burning story of two women who are both trying to escape their past.
Unfinished: Melmoth, Sarah Perry.
If you only read one, make it either 84K or Transcription.
- Commonwealth, Ann Patchett: Big focus on the people in this one, less on the plot.
- Planetfall, Emma Newman: Slow and then a little too fast towards the end. First in a series I’m not sure I’ll continue.
- Saladish, Ilene Rosen & Donna Gelb: Cookbook full of gorgeous salads I could tell I’d never make.
- Race, Class, and Politics in the Capuccino City, Derek Hyra: Focused on gentrification of the Shaw/U Street corridor. Definitely pick this up if you are into city politics, there’s a big section on that.
- From Here to Eternity, Caitlin Doughty: A look at traditions and rituals of death around the world.
- Tell the Machine Goodnight, Katie Williams: A book about Big Happy.
- Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman: Happy and sad, with wonderful characters.
- Severance, Ling Ma: A post-apocalyptic story that’s about loneliness instead of survival.
- Design for How People Learn, Julie Dirksen: An easy-to-read guide on designing learning experiences.
- Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi: Young adult fantasy. I liked the overall story but the YA bits were a little too melodramatic for me. (But, I do think they were fairly true to actual teenage life.)
- The Refrigerator Monologues, Catherynne M. Valente & Annie Wu (illustrator): Linked short stories with an illustration for each. I really, really wish this had been a graphic novel!
- Friday Black, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah: Intense & intensely horrifying short stories.
If you only pick up one, I’d make it Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
- Snap, Belinda Bauer: This is a backwards mystery – you pretty quickly learn who the culprit is, most of the story is about collecting the evidence.
- The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, Becky Chambers: Reminded me of Firefly, get on it! This was a really fun read.
- Convenience Store Woman, Sayaka Murata, Ginny Tapley Takemori (Translator): Quick and quirky. If you’re not sure about it, Longreads has a big excerpt.
- City of Thieves, David Benioff: Character-driven and really well-written.
- How to Get Dressed, Alison Freer: There were a lot of tips in this that were not new to me, but it was easy to skim and I think would be a great resource for anyone who wants to dress better, but isn’t quite sure how to make their wardrobe do that for them.
- The Lowland, Jhumpa Lahiri: Beautifully, beautifully written. “Lyrical” does not feel overblown here.
- Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube, Blair Braverman: For some reason, I thought this book was about something else. Still enjoyed it though!
- The Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker: You have to read this. I can’t wait to discuss with book club in a couple of days.
- The Water Cure, Sophie Mackintosh: Fascinating. Lots of things aren’t explained, but some things are just inexplicable.
If you only read one from this list, it’s a toss-up between The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and The Silence of the Girls.
I made this Baked Feta with Chickpeas & Kale tonight for dinner, and it was delicious! If you like tomatoes, cheese, and chickpeas this is definitely worth a make. I found it very easy to scale (I made a half batch) and it came together quickly. I have a bunch of tips and thoughts on this recipe.
First of all, here’s what I read in December:
- Pachinko, Min Jin Lee
- Educated, Tara Westover
- Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions, Amy Stewart
- A Judgment in Stone, Ruth Rendell
- Indian Horse, Richard Wagamese
- Man Eaters #1, Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk, & Lia Miternique (Illustrators)
- Spoonbenders, Gregory Daryl
- The Radius of Us, Marie Marquardt
- Monstress, Vol. 1, Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda (Artist), Rus Wooton (Letterer, Designer), Yoshi Yoshitani (Illustrator),
- Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado
This year I read 101 books, slightly up from the 97 I read last year. That count includes the 6 I didn’t finish, which I’ll omit from here. Of the 95 that I finished, all but 3 were ebooks, and 57 of them came from DCPL’s ebook holdings.
As ever, I remain much more of a fiction reader, but I read 16 works of nonfiction this year. My favorite was Educated, by Tara Westover. Brutal at times, but it showed me a very different perspective, and I found it to be quite thought-provoking. In retrospect, it would have made a great book club pick.
One of my goals for 2018 was to read more new releases, which I defined as within 3 months of release. I read 8 that counted for that goal, and another 10 that were published in 2018. This was a really fun goal that I plan to stick with – of the 18, I managed to get 11 of them from the library. The best trick I figured out is that if you recommend the book, you’re automatically put on the hold list if the book is acquired. The most fun part of this goal was starting Tana French’s latest, The Witch Elm, within a few days of release.
I read 7 books for bookclub this year; the best of them was Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing.
I gave 30 books 5 stars this year. Aside from the ones I’ve already mentioned here, I’d absolutely recommend Seveneves (Neal Stephenson), The Library Book (Susan Orlean), and Pachinko (Min Jin Lee).
After suffering through Islands in the Stream (go figure, a Hemingway novel about men drinking & fishing) I gave up on the Read Harder Challenge. I was spending a lot of time trying to identify books to read for each category, and I got tired of it. I read 13 of the 24 categories, so not bad.
I have kept up with reading new releases (I count that as within three months of publication) and more recently-released stuff in general, which has been really great. I also signed up for Book Riot’s Tailored Book Recommendations service, and will get three recommendations each quarter. I got the first set recently and was pleased to see that none of them were already on my radar, and they all sounded interesting.