2020 Reads: June

  • The Confessions of Frannie Langton, Sara Collins: Well-paced, and the elements of the plot slowly builds up to the ending.
  • Recipe for Persuasion, Sonali Dev: This is being billed as a rom-com but for me, it wasn’t as funny as I expected. Still good, but set your expectations appropriately.
  • Small Days and Nights, Tishani Doshi: Quiet and introspective. The writing definitely puts you in the mood for the story.
  • Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, Deepa Anappra: A sad story lightened only by being told through the eyes of a child.
  • Waste Tide, Chen Qiufan (translated by Ken Liu): The concept and main plot points were really interesting, but overpowered by the level of technical detail the writing went into at points. This was a struggle to get through and I almost didn’t finish it.
  • The Glass Hotel, Emily St. John Mandel: I will absolutely be re-reading this at some point. Her writing is so absorbing and the story weaves around itself in a satisfying way. If you never picked up her last novel, Station Eleven, definitely give this one a try. (Now is maybe not a great time to read Station Eleven for the first time.)

If you only read one: Hands down, The Glass Hotel. Worth buying if your library’s holds list is too long.

2020 Books: April & May

  • Circe, Madeline Miller: I absolutely loved this. I didn’t know much about Circe but by the time this was wrapping up, I didn’t want it to end.
  • Network Effect, Martha Wells: Murderbot makes a friend! And rescues other friends!
  • The City We Became, N.K. Jemisin: So good. Is the hold list intolerable? Just buy a copy, you will not regret it. Plus you’ll want to reread it at some point, it’s the first in a series.
  • Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Kate Atkinson: I didn’t like this as much as some of her other stuff, but still a good read.
  • The Unfinished World and Other Stories, Amber Sparks: Collections are always hard to blurb here, but I did enjoy this.
  • MEM, Bethany C. Morrow: Very cool concept.
  • How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, Charles Yu: I didn’t like this as much as I would have thought.
  • City of Girls, Elizabeth Gilbert: Do you like broadway, and also historical fiction? Read this. So fun.
  • Little Weirds, Jenny Slate: I’m still not sure what I thought of this.
  • An American Marriage, Tayari Jones: So, so many “what ifs” in this one. Would be a good book club pick I think.
  • With the Fire on High, Elizabeth Acevedo: Fun YA cooking-themed coming of age story.
  • The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck: Took a bit to settle in, but once I was used to the voice it pulled me right along.

If you only read one (uh, for each month) make it City of Girls and The City We Became. Plus Circe. And if you’ve slept on Murderbot, go back and start with the first one, this is a series and it’s great.

2020 Reads: March

2020 Reads: January & February

January

  • An Ocean of Minutes, Thea Lim: Time travel + post catastrophe novel, A+ combination.
  • Here and Now and Then, Mike Chen: More time travel. Slightly predictable plus but really interesting concept driving it.
  • Ninth House, Leigh Bardugo: This is what might happen if you though frats were toxic, and set The Secret History at an Ivy League where all the students had gone to Hogwarts.
  • Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng (audiobook narrated by Cassandra Campbell): What happens when your parents can’t see who you really are.
  • Wanderers, Chuck Wending: This and Severance are what you should be reading right now if you’re into horror.

February

December 2019 in Books

I don’t feel like doing a big breakdown of 2019 books – but according to Goodreads I read 92 books and 31,000 pages.

December had a lot of time for reading:

November 2019 in Books

  • The Gone World, Tom Sweterlitsch: Crime procedural plus alternate timelines. Maybe a little too much going on, though.
  • All the Names They Used for God, Anjali Sachdeva: Short stories with an air of the fantastic.
  • Magpie Murders, Anthony Horowitz: A story-within-a-story murder novel.
  • Bowlaway, Elizabeth McCracken: Supposedly about a woman who runs a candlepin bowling alley in Massachusetts. Mostly about the men in her life.
  • Providence, Caroline Kepnes: Another one of those sci-fi stories where the sci-fi is beside the point – it’s about the people. Really enjoyed it.
  • The Time Traveler’s Almanac, Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer, eds.: A great (and huge) collection of short stories abotu time travel. Highly recommend if that’s your thing.

October 2019 in Books

Didn’t finish much this month thanks to a cold and some late nights.

  • A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World, C.A. Fletcher: A post-apocalypse book that doesn’t really look much at all at the catastrophe. I really enjoyed the POV of this one.
  • The Testaments, Margaret Atwood: A glimpse into the inner workings of Gilead.
  • The Luminous Dead, Caitlin Starling: A sci-fi novel where the sci-fi part just is. Ultimately this is a psychological thriller about caving and extreme solitude.

If you only read one, it’s a tossup between A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World and The Luminous Dead.

The Month in Books: September 2019

    • Because Internet, Gretchen McColluch: So much fun! If you’ve ever wondered what emojis are all about, or if you’re interested to learn more about how the Internet is changing language, this in the book for you.
    • Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik: This takes some elements of Rumplestiltskin and makes an incredible story about them. What I especially loved was how the main character had so much more agency than the miller’s daughter in that fairy tale.
    • Trick Mirror, Jia Tolentino: Tolentino is a wonderful essayist – these were all interesting to read and really compelling.
    • The Current, Tim Johnston: Another really compelling read – in this one, a terrible accident starts to unravel a crime from a decade ago.
    • White Tears, Hari Kunzru: Without getting into spoilers, there is a weird thing going on in this book and I kept waiting for it to get just the tiniest bit clearer and become a bit more interesting. I kept going, thinking that it would shift and I’d be more into it but it never happened.
    • The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper, Hallie Rubenhold: (Unfinished) This really wasn’t keeping my attention. I think if you’re interested in the lives of people of the era, it would be interesting. But I was looking for something brought the women’s stories more to the forefront, and this didn’t seem to be doing that.

If you only read one, look at the first four and pick the one that most speaks to you. Better yet, if you’re up for keeping two books on the go, pick one each of the fiction and nonfiction. That’s how I read most of these – nonfiction during the day, and fiction at night. Worked out beautifully.

 

August 2019 in Books

Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance (The Southern Reach Trilogy), Jeff VanderMeer: Less disorienting the second time through. Still weird though, and it held up on a re-read.

Paper Girls Vols. 2, 3, 4; Brian K Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson: Not sure why but I was less into these than the first volume.

Parable of the Sower, Parable of the Talents (Earthseed), Octavia Butler: My bookclub chose Parable of the Sower, and we had a good discussion of it. I don’t think I got anything new out of it on the re-read, but it did hold up. I re-read Parable of the Talents as well.

Record of a Spaceborn Few, Becky Chambers: I love this series. This one was a really interesting look at what a homeworld might be like if that homeworld was actually a ship, and you had to assume you’d never be able to resupply.

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors, Sonali Dev: A wonderful take on Pride & Prejudice, using elements from it rather than a straight retelling.

What If This Were Enough?, Heather Havrilesky: This would be an excellent book club pick – lots to discuss in these essays.

Golden State, Ben H. Winters: Start picking at a little thread and the whole thing unravels. This was really great.

Bluebird, Bluebird, Attica Locke: Texas noir – really interesting characters and setting.

If you only read one. . . it’s hard to say which it should be. If you like mysteries and don’t mind a small element of sci-fi, Golden State. If you like reading about humans in space, Record of a Spaceborn Few. If you need a nonfiction palate cleanser, What If This Were Enough?

July 2019 in Books

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, Hank Green: Super fun sci-fi meets social media novel.

Unmarrigeable, Sonia Kamal: A modernized version of Pride & Prejudice, what’s not to like?

Started Early, Took My Dog, Kate Atkinson: Really enjoyed how the mystery is slowly revealed rather than solved.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue, Melanie Benjamin: This was fine but I wouldn’t necessarily seek it out.

Bunny, Mona Awad: Psychological thriller or magical realism? Or both? Either way, made me want to re-read The Secret History.

Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, Sara Gran: More about the people, less about the mystery. Kind of like a lot of the Jackson Brodie series, but Claire DeWitt is a little less introspective, at least in this one.

Rosewater, Tade Thompson: As I said, weird and wonderful. Took a while but it grew on me.

If you only read one, make it either Started Early, Took My Dog, or Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead.