May 2019 in Books

Florida, Lauren Groff: Short stories where the land is a character.

Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret, Craig Brown: Wasn’t my cup of tea. Also I somehow did not put it together that some of the glimpses were fictitious.

Severance, Lin Ma: Yup, a re-read already, for book club. Holds up and we had a great discussion.

Ghost Wall, Sarah Moss: Weird/glowering look at what happens when an abuser takes his family on a camping vacation with strangers.

Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit, Amy Stewart: I didn’t like this one quite as much as the others, but it was still delightful.

A Closed & Common Orbit, Becky Chambers: Very fun story that picks up wiht one of the characters from A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, but isn’t really a sequel.

The Overstory, Richard Powers: I loved the writing, and the combination of a nature story with something very character driven.

If you only read one, make it The Overstory. There’s a reason why it won the Pulitzer.

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March 2019 in Books

  • 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.

February 2019 in Books

    • 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.

January 2019 in Books

  • Paper Girls, Vol. 1, Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang (Illustrator), Matthew Wilson (Colorist), Jared K. Fletcher (Lettering): This was great, I immediately picked up the other volumes available.
  • Word by Word, Kory Stamper: Have you ever wondered who writes dictionary entries? No? Read this anyway.
  • What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, Helen Oyeyemi: Short stories where the characters from the first turn up here and there in the rest.
  • The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock, Imogen Hermes Gowar: I found most of the story in the last third of the book.
  • The Dreamers, Karen Thompson Walker: Super compelling undercover sci-fi. Beautifully written.
  • The Forgotten Hours, Katrin Schumann: The protagonist finds she needs to unravel a trauma from her past before she can move forward into the rest of her life.
  • Hey, Kiddo, Jarret. J. Krocoszka: That feeling when you are suddenly reading something that’s set where & when you grew up. Lovely illustrations & collages.
  • Future Home of the Living God, Louise Erdrich: Unspecified apocalyptic disaster. Echoes of The Handmaid’s Tale so brace yourself.
  • Snap, Belinda Bauer: Character-driven with a dash of police procedural.

2018 in Books

First of all, here’s what I read in December:

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).

Fall 2018 in Books

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.

November

October

September

This Summer in Books

Sometimes I wonder why I still have a blog. Anyway, still working on the Read Harder Challenge and also trying to get to more new releases more quickly. I’m aiming for about 3 months after publication, and while I haven’t quite made my self-imposed limit I have read a few things within a few months of publication, which is unusual for me.

Also, guess which month I didn’t travel.

May

June

July

August