I managed to read 40 books this year!! I’m so proud of myself! Gods know this will NOT happen in 2019, but I am pleased to have read the bulk of what I laid out for myself and even to reread a couple. :)
There won’t be a list for 2019 for obvious reasons, but I hope you’ve enjoyed my short reviews. Thanks for following along!
I’m moving over the few books I didn’t get to or finish from 2017. And it looks like I need to go to the used bookstore!! I read almost everything I bought last year! 27 books!
As it was last year, the books I have started are in bold. I’ll give my opinion and a short description of the books I read. Anything not bold is in queue. So far, I’ve got about 43 books lined up!
Close Range, Annie Proulx – Started this book Dec 2017. It’s a collection of short stories all having to do with cowboys on the range. Many are set in the early 1900s. Not what I usually read, but so far, they are so well written that I’m really enjoying the book! ** OMG! I just finished this book [Jan 24 18] and guess what the last story is?? BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN! Yep, this is the short story that the movie was based on. I love finding gems like this from a random book! I highly recommend this book. Really great characters and stories.
Ready Player One – Didn’t re-read before the movie, but the movie was great, will re-read Ready Player One this year. BTW, this audiobook is read by Wil Wheaton, who KILLS. If you like audiobooks, DO THIS ONE.
I picked up Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson at Costco and LOVED IT! It’s a slim book (cuz you’re in a HURRY, get it?) and you will read it in his voice. It’s great, you should read it for SCIENCE.
Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd by Mark Blake. It’s the out of print version, the new version is called Pigs Might Fly: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd. It’s just OK so far. Very English and very dry. This is my treadmill book. Abandoned. Too dry. Who cares where these people went to primary school? Not me. HARD PASS.
We hit Goodwill yesterday! I got 21 books for the queue!! I’ve included the books I’ve already read for this year in the stacks. As always, I count cookbooks and restaurant books, since they are relevant reading for me.
My Stroke of Insight, Jill Bolte Taylor – It’s the book that the TED talk is about. The TED talk is here. MEH. Just do the TED talk. The book devolves into some sort of lecture on how everyone should try to control their brain parts and feel the love. I stopped reading it.
The Nasty Bits, Anthony Bourdain – Started this one! I love Tony’s sarcastic wit! Finished 4/23/18. Pretty good, but not as good as Kitchen Confidential, IMO. [RIP Chef Bourdain 6/8/2018]
Lily and the Octopus, Steven Rowley – started 6/16/18. Interesting premise. OMG. This is one powerful book – especially if you’re a pet owner. Wow. It is really a great story, told in a poignant, fantastic way. I’ll warn you, though, I sobbed for the last, I dunno, ten chapters. They were short chapters, but still. Sobbing while trying to racewalk is not recommended. This book has coincided with the anniversary of Missy’s death, so it pretty much wrecked me. But it’s really good. Read it and be somewhere alone at the end. [FIN 8/9/18]
The Country of the Pointed Firs, Sarah Orne Jewett – Oops! I didn’t read the jacket well enough. This collection is from the late 19th century. It’s a collection of stories that scholars have decided is actually a novel by the various critics who have reviewed it since it was published. The foreword is an analysis of the work (done in the 1990s) and then there is the original foreword with the analysis of the mid 60s. It’s an important collection by an important author of the time period (early 20th century), but I just can’t slog through this. I do not care for writing of that period, so this is a hard pass. Win some, lose some! (4/25/18)
The Healthy Southwest Table, Janet E Taylor – Eh. Just ok. Not even a salsa verde recipe in there! LOL
New Orleans Chefs Cookbook, Johnson – Perused once. Will peruse again. It’s just a recipe collection.
Woman of the Dead, Bernhard Aichner (from last year) – just started. It’s his first work translated into English from German. And it feels VERY German. This one was just OK. It was weird and German and had twisted characters. Very Dexter-esque. (Fin 5/25/18)
The Dark Tower graphic novels, Marvel, two books
Bucky Katt’s Big Book of Fun, Darby Conley – Comic collection of Get Bucky. I love Conley’s strip, so this is a fun read. [Start 12/10/18 FIN 12.31.18]
Legal Guide for Starting & Running a Small Business – Just what it says. It’s a textbook.
ServSafe study book for ServSafe certifications – Picking at it. It’s a textbook. [July 18]
Gorgeous Lies, Martha McPhee – Starting this one 11.7.18 May not finish, it’s slow.
Leap of Faith, Queen Noor – This is a memoir, but it’s really a history lesson on Jordan and how the Middle East got so fucked up. Loving it so far! I’m a little over halfway into this and getting kind of tired of the constant list of Middle East problems, blah blah. It’s relegated to my treadmill book. HOWEVER, towards the end, when Hussein was ill, this became a true memoir, full of personal insights and a truly heart wrenching account of Hussein’s death. I cried. A lot. All in all, this is a good memoir that also serves as a lesson on the Middle East in the 70s, 80s and 90s. You’ll learn how things got so fucked up over there and you’ll also get a glimpse into the life of a very brave and smart woman. Despite the middle getting dry, I highly recommend this memoir. (Fin 4/24/18)
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn – About halfway through this one. I really like it! I like the two point of view style and I like the way the story unfolds. May have to try the movie after I read this. I really liked this book a lot. The end is NOT what you think it will be. Very twisted characters and engaging writing style. (fin 6/5/18)
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt – Started this one 6/3/18. It is reminding me of an Anne Rice book with the tone. It’s VERY Southern and told in a conversational story style. Great read. I shall now watch the movie! Fin 7.21.18
A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby
Sleeping Beauties, Stephen King and Owen King – Huge book and great story! I couldn’t tell which one wrote which section, but I’ll bet that Owen did the part about a revolver having a safety! LOL It’s a typical King fantasy tale with lots of characters and lots of action. All the women in the world suddenly go to sleep and drama ensues. Good read.
The Fellowship of Ghosts, Paul Watkins – Started Dec 2018. This is actually a collection of REAL LIFE stories (memoir!!) by the author. I love memoirs and didn’t even know that this was one! It is about his travels in Norway and so far is very good.
Heavy Water, Martin Amis – started 8.25.18. This is a collection of short stories. The author is English and quite odd. The stories are weird and, well, English! You know when you read something and it’s so colloquially English that you read in an accent? That’s how these are. And a bit on the dry side, which is an issue I have with many English writers. So far, it’s just OK. Finally slogged through the last three stories. I’ll admit I just skimmed the last two. :/ [fin 10/1/18]
Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff – Started Dec 2018. This is a really good book. The characters are complicated, the plot twisted. The book is two parts: Fates is the male protagonist, Furies is the female protagonist. It starts a tad slow, but once you get the rhythm, it is hard to put it down. GREAT READ.
Soup, A Recipe to Nourish Your Team and Culture, Jon Gordon – This is a small book and a quick read. Despite the cutesy parable type of story telling, this book contains some really strong, really good ideas about team building. Much of it I’d already figured out, but it’s nice to see it in print from a professional coach. I really want to give this book to every single manager and the district mgr at Kroger. They really could use a clue when it comes to dealing with employees. It’s not customers first, it’s EMPLOYEES first, customers second. Happy, engaged, empowered employees will give great service to your customers. Kroger needs to figure this out. Great quick read, I recommend it for anyone who manages people in any industry. (5/1/18)
Summerland, Michael Chabon – Started this one 9.13.18. It is rather King-like in its tone, sort of creepy and darkly magical. It is baseball themed, which also hearkens to King. 9/22: Yes, DEFINITELY very King-like. It reminds me of the storyline of the Breakers and the Low Men (Black House? Hearts in Atlantis?). Lots of fantastical creatures and other worlds that intersect ours. This is a compliment – this book is a VERY good read! This guy ALSO writes for many TV shows and movies. He’s working on the new Trek series RIGHT NOW!! [FIN 9/29/18]
Still Me, Christopher Reeve. This is his memoir of before and after his accident. The first part is rather dull, he had a very upper class upbringing. But after the accident, you can feel his despair – despite his trying mightily to put a positive spin on being a paraplegic. By the end, it was SO SAD. It was a fair memoir, but a little disingenuous.
Shanghai Girls, Lisa See – Start 10/1/18. I loved this book, of course. I adore historical fiction and Lisa See does a wonderful job with Chinese historical fiction. This book starts in Shanghai in the late 30s, right before Japan invaded. It follows the lives of two sisters as they flee China to Los Angeles (not San Francisco!). The story goes through WWII and up to the late 50s when China was taken over by Chairman Mao the Communist. One thing that you’ll ALWAYS see in these books about immigrants to the US is this country’s long standing fucking RACISM. We’ve ALWAYS been racist motherfuckers, it’s just that now (2018) no one is hiding it. It is a sad truth about the United States. Anyway, if you’re curious about China and the US during this period, this is an excellent way to learn about it. I think historical fiction should be used alongside textbooks to teach history. It’s a FAR more pleasant way to learn. FIN: 10.11.18
Laws of Migration, J. Suzanne Frank – Started 10.10.18. About halfway through and it’s reminiscent of Jennifer Weiner’s chick lit style. That is NOT a compliment. A privileged, brilliant, yet somehow incredibly idiotic, paranoid woman goes to a new land to have a life changing experience with a hot foreign dude. Meh. Writers like this annoy me because they ALWAYS frame their female protagonist as “brilliant yet incapable of adulting”. It’s chick lit. She is also repetitive with the protagonist’s OCD counting and bird descriptions. I’m still reading because I am a bird nerd, but even I am sick of all the bird comparisons crammed into every page. Ugh. Not very good (so far) [10.16]. Well, it did get marginally better in the last 6 or so chapters, so there’s that. But it was just OK. FIN 10.19.18
Above the Line, Shirley MacLaine – Starting this one 10.22.18. This is your typical Shirley book. Equal measure memoir and lessons on her version of spirituality. In this book, she discusses many aspects of Atlantis; the movie Wild Oats is shot at the Canary Islands, which is thought to be the remnants of Atlantis. It’s an easy read. I always like to read what she has to say about various subjects and all of her memoirs have a theme. FIN 11.8.18.
Dear Mr. You, Mary-Louise Parker (Yes THAT actress! She has apparently been writing for magazines for years! This is her first novel.) Started this one 6/4/18. It’s interesting in style so far. OMG! SO GOOD! Get this book! I can’t wait to read more from MLP! This is a collection of letters (essays) to various people from MLP’s life. It’s a memoir, but not written like one. Very witty and very real. LOVED IT. [fin 6/25/18]
Picked up a Trek book the other day: Klingon for the Galactic Traveler, Mark Okrand. Perused it a little, it’s a guide, so I’ll probably just pick through it on the treadmill. It is written in a verbose fashion, explaining all the nuances of various phrases. Not the style I’d pick, but these types of books are often strange. Started 6/7/18.
Picked up the companion book to Les Diners de Gala by Salvador Dali, Wines of Gala. It was on sale at Amazon for $8 (reg $60), so I snagged it. It’s, uh, different. Not much art in it and very odd. Shrug. But OK for $8. [6/23/18]
Oh, Goodwill! You really GET ME! Picked up five more today for $7! [6.30.18]
Nightly Specials, Michael Lomonaco – Started this one in Goodwill! LOL Great recipe ideas!
Open House, Rachel Ray – Started in Goodwill. Got it for some tapas recipes.
I, Elizabeth, Rosalind Mills – Historical Fiction. This author leans towards bodice rippers occasionally, but overall, this is a good read. It’s from Elizabeth’s POV, so it feels personal. If you like HF, I think you’ll like this one! [FIN 9.1.18]
How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You, The Oatmeal – Comics collection. OMG read this before bed last night and cackled like a laying hen. VERY FUNNY! “Goddamn right, Bob!” [FIN 7/21/18]
Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlossen – Started 8.20.18. It’s dated, but still an interesting read about the rise of franchises in the US. Make that VERY dated. I think this was relevant for its time, but it is far out of date now. This paperback does have one small update from 2001 about Mad Cow, but otherwise it’s old news. The good thing is, tho, that many of the issues pointed out in this book have changed for the better. Probably not the horrible conditions of slaughterhouses, but the food safety laws. The movie would be faster than reading this. [FIN 9.2.18]
Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads, Sylvia Lovegren – EXCELLENT resource! The author has collected the food fads from the 20s to the 90s. I got it for the 80s, of course, and the biggest help of all was the author mentioning that The Silver Palate cookbook was the go-to for the 80s. I HAVE THAT! So yay for some recipes and that recommendation. Happy I got this cookbook! 12/10/18: Actually reading this book, it’s a great study of how the American palate became so horrible. I see SO MUCH of my Granny’s cooking in the section on the 20s/30s. If you are even vaguely interested in the anthropological study of American cooking, GET THIS BOOK!
The Outsider: A Novel, Stephen King – King’s latest. I read this one pretty quick! This story has characters from Mr Mercedes, so it feels familiar. Not the most scary or suspenseful story he’s done, but a good read. [FIN 9.15.18]
Medium Raw, Anthony Bourdain – Came across this at the used book store. The girl at the register said that the price had doubled since his death. :( [Start July 25 18; FIN Aug 8]
The Chef Manager, Michael Baskette – Relevant to my interests, obviously! Started this one 7/20/18. It’s not what I expected. It’s like a dry textbook of various management theories and how they apply to hospitality. It’s weird, but interesting. There are some good bits, such as formulae for pricing and such. It’s worth the $10 I paid for it, certainly. [FIN 7/21/18]
Obasan, Joy Kogawa. This is a memoir of a Japanese citizen of Canada, who addresses the relocation to camps during WWII. Short and moving memoir.
Starry River of the Sky, Grace Lin – This is a lovely little YA book! It’s a sweet story of a Chinese boy, but the real stories are the Chinese folk tales told by the characters. Excellent! There is a companion book called Where the Mountain Meets the Moon that I’m sure is as fun as this one was. I love it when I find a YA [young adult] book that is well written. See also the Villain series by Serena Valentino! FIN 12/9/18
Cooking as Fast as I Can, Cat Cora – I’m a sucker for a memoir! This one is not bad, for a semi-celebrity. I’m not a huge Cora fan, I think she’s too full of herself, but this was a quick read and interesting. 11.04.18
Picked up Pretty Deadly Vol 1 GN at the comic shop opening coupla weeks ago. By Kelly Sue DeConnick, et. al. It is a Western with female leads. Good read! I like the series, but I am not a huge fan of the art by Emma Rios. It’s in the modern style that is hard to discern; everything is swirled together, upside down, etc. I find comics hard enough to read as it is, but crazy art makes it even harder. But the story is solid. [fin 12.15.18]