As of my last update, I had completed 22 books on my quest to read 52 this year. Since then, I have read thirteen more. I have seventeen more to go- seven of which I plan to read between Thanksgiving and Christmas when I complete my yearly tradition of reading The Chronicles of Narnia. So for those of you who are not former mathletes (don’t worry- I was in fact both a mathlete and an Academic Decathlete), I still need to read ten books.
1, 2 and 3. Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, Dress Your Family in Corduroy, Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
I have fallen head over heels for David Sedaris and his wit, his charm and his spot on descriptions of living among the French. I read these at night and several times woke Josh up by laughing out loud at a short story.
4. Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
I listened to this one over the past month and found it absolutely charming. The story of a young man who takes a job in a bookstore only to discover it is the front for something far more exciting. I don’t want to give away the plot but I will say I loved this book for its quirky characters much like I loved Where’d You Go Bernadette and The Pilgirmage of Harold Fry.
5. The Cuckoo Calling by Robert Galbraith
I’ll admit it- I did pick this up because the media revealed that Robert Galbraith is the pen name of J.K. Rowling, of Harry Potter fame. The premise, the murder of a successful and famous model, was intriguing and I was not disappointed. Much like Harry Potter, the characters are lovable, well developed and the story keeps you guessing until the end. Well worth a read, especially good for vacations.
6. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
This novel was heartbreaking. About a young man paralyzed after an accident and his young caretaker, a woman who can’t seem to get a lot of things right, this was a page-turner. I was particularly touched by the ways people either kept or lost hope and the ways that hope was not tied to current circumstance. How do we maintain hoping for someone who has given up hope on improving? How do we remain faithful to loving them well when he or she has no desire to be loved? Lots of questions, lots of humor- this book was wonderful.
7. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
This book kept showing up on my recommendation list from Amazon. Living in a French speaking country, I rely on my Kindle almost exclusively for new books (except for the amazing selection sent by Courtney Kampa). They are not so bad at guessing what I would like. This book was beautiful and the stories woven together in a compelling narrative. This was also a favorite because we were planning a trip to Cinque Terre shortly after I finished it.
8. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Somehow I missed this Pulitzer Prize winner in English class and happily read a real copy of it (i.e. not my Kindle) last month. Set in a New York before anyone lived above 40th and more specifically in Gramercy Park (my favorite neighborhood in the city), The Age of Innocencewas interesting in the same way a Jane Austen novel is interesting. It introduced me to a society, a set of rules and a life that I will never experience. Even though she wrote it almost a century ago, I felt it was relevant and still amusing to this 21st century woman.
9. The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
An entertaining look at the diamond engagement ring tradition, how it was created and marketed. While the book is fictional, weaving the stories of various owners of the same ring, it was also enlightening to read about the real marketing campaigns, the strategies used to drive up the cost of diamonds and the way our “traditions” were shaped by a few ad executives. Somewhat Mad Men like with romantic and tragic stories of proposal and marriage throughout.
10. Threat Vector by Tom Clancy
I was so sad to learn Tom Clancy passed away recently. I have loved everything I have ever read by him. I’ve started to listen to his books because the stories and plot twists are so captivating, I find myself wanting to drive to the store or the kennel or anywhere just to hear more. One of Clancy’s most unique gifts was his sometimes prophetic almost-warnings about future dangers. Threat Vector is about the internet, privacy and surveillance, situations of which we should now all be wary.
11. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
I will not lie- the hand lettered cover and illustrations first drew my attention to this book. My former roommate Kristen is an eighth-grade English teacher and one of the things I learned from her is the beauty and value of Young Adult fiction. She taught me that the YA genre is not one to be ignored as it frequently holds the most relatable and poignant stories. This one was about a group of misfits who are called upon to save humanity. One part The Justice League, one part Pippi Longstocking and one part Wendell Berry, I loved this book and its fable about technology.
12. The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
Another Amazon suggestion, I liked The Chaperone though it did get a little soap opera-esque at times. While I promise I do not only read books set in New York, this one is about the trip Louise Brooks and her chaperone (hence the title) took to the city in 1922. I love reading about the city (much like I’ve mentioned before) but the personal dramas became a little much at times. I finished it because I started it but it was not my favorite.
13. No Other Gods by Kelly Minter
This book, a Bible study, was handed to me by a wise mentor who heard I was interested in modern day idolatry. The book was a God send, especially at at time when I found myself idolizing easy living, America and being known. I know not everyone is looking for a Bible study but if you are, you should pick this one up.