Welcome to the 2023 Reading List!
As always, I’m pulling over the books I didn’t get to last year and I’m full out dropping a couple that I just could not finish. In process or finished reads are in BOLD. They are not really in any particular order.
I read 31 (and 3/4) books in 2022, a number I’m very happy with. I hope to meet and/or top that this year.
After reading the synopses of these, they are dropped for 2023:
Land of Big Numbers, Te-Ping Chen
Empire of Pain, Patrick Radden Keefe
Things We Lost to the Water, Eric Nguyen
Intimacies, Katie Kitamura
As of Sep 8, I’ve read 23 books (not counting GNs or comics) and I’m reading Crush and Memories of the Future and The Road Home is the treadmill read. :)
Goodwill hurl! (late Aug)
On Gold Mountain, Lisa See. I always get her books.
Wake, Lisa McMann. Some creepy story about people invading your dreams.
A Cat Is Watching, Roger A. Caras. Author is a wildlife authority and this is a book about cats!
Preserving the Harvest, cookbook with tons of canning/preserving info.
Chinese Cuisine, cookbook of authentic Chinese recipes, directly translated from the Chinese. Cool!
Born Standing Up, Steve Martin. His autobiography/memoir. I’ve read some of his fiction – he’s a good writer.
The Revenant, Michael Punke. Yes, the book that the movie is based on.
Drowning Ruth, Christina Schwarz. I think I may have read this long ago? Looks interesting even if I have.
Teachings of Zen, Thomas Cleary. Just curious about Zen.
The Rules of Magic, Alice Hoffman. As I’ve said, I like her writing, so I picked this one up, too.
Ollie’s Graphic Novel HURL Aug 6!
Memories of the Future, Siri Hustvedt. Sounded interesting. Started this (9/6) and while it’s called a novel, it is actually a memoir!! And a GOOD one, too! She’s got a conversational tone rather like Mary Karr and I am IN LOVE with this book!
Get Jiro!, Anthony Bourdain. I think I’ve got the comics of this? It’s Tony, I’m IN.
Fables: Farewell Last of the series, will hold on this.
Fables: Happily Ever After
Fables: Snow White
Fables: Storybook Love
All Fables GNs/collections are done by various writers and artists, but ALL these are Willingham, Buckingham and Leialoha.
Books brought forward:
Fear, Bob Woodward. Yes, THAT Bob Woodward. Nick picked this one, but I’ll read it, it’s about T****.
A Country Road, A Tree, Jo Baker. WWII historical fiction set in Paris. VERY English, which to me, means rather dry and boring. I’ll probably get through it. See next!
To The Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf. I didn’t count this as READ in 2022, I’m about 1/4 into it… Probably won’t finish. VERY English. Blech.
Paper Son, S.J. Rozen.
Fifth Chinese Daughter, forgot about this one, it’s my treadmill book. Finished this one. It’s dry, but OK. You really have to remember it’s written in the 40s and in the Chinese way: third person – even tho it’s an autobiography. It’s odd.
Jasmine, Bharati Mukherjee. This is a short novel and a fast read. The story is pretty good, nothing special. It’s a story about an Indian girl’s journey from a poor, remote Indian village to New York, then to Iowa. The pacing is good, I’d recommend for a good summer read.
The Distance Between Us, Reyna Grande.
The Good Demon, Jimmy Cajoleas.
The Silver Star, Jeannette Walls. This is NOT a memoir, unlike the two books of hers I read last year. I like her voice, I hope it carries into fiction. 8/7 Almost finished. It is a retelling of her rather terrible childhood with different characters. It reads well, but has not much new to offer as far as her stretching her writing abilities.
The Interior, Lisa See. NOT a Chinese historical fiction, more of a mystery. Just started this one Dec 20, so it won’t be finished this year. It’s pretty good. It’s a mystery within a historical setting.
Island of Sea Women, Lisa See. This historical fiction is about the island of Jeju, a Korean island where the women open dive into the sea for food and products to sell. It is a matriarchal society, which is interesting in itself. I picked this one up randomly at Ollies. It is typical See, except for being Korean rather than Chinese. This novel starts during the Japanese occupation of Korea and the island of Jeju (1930s-40s) and covers the decades into the 21st century. It’s a good read.
OLLIES HURL Jan 23!
Fairest: Return of the Maharaja Graphic Novel, various writers and artists. This is an offshoot of the Fables series, which I LOVE for the art! The stories are usually pretty engaging, too. This one is really good! It’s a collection of the comics series for this story line. Excellent!
The World That We Knew, Alice Hoffman. Picked this up because I generally like Hoffman’s work.
Crush, Cathy Alter and Dave Singleton. This is a collection of essays from famous people and their first crushes. It’s pretty interesting. Not a page turner, but good!
Burn the Place, Iliana Regan. This is a memoir by Michelin star Chef Iliana Regan. It’s about her life and how she ended up being the renowned chef she is today. It’s a good read! It is about growing up queer AND being a chef, so a great twofer.
The Road Home, Richard Paul Evans. I was hesitant to start this one when I discovered it was the third of a trilogy AND it had a whiff of religion to it, but I started it today and it’s oddly good – no religion so far. Perhaps I resonate because I am familiar with Route 66, but the author also has a conversational tone that reminds me of Stephen King a little bit. It’s my treadmill book and will be a quick read!
Christmas Book Hurl!
Crying in H Mart, Michelle Zauner. A memoir I’ve been wanting to read for a while now. Finished Jan 2. This is a well written memoir, especially for a first effort. Zauner has a good voice in writing. It was ALL about her mother dying, however. The first 1/3 – 1/2 of the book is intimate details of her mother’s illness and death, so I can’t really recommend this book for everyone. Clearly the author needed to unpack a lot about her mother’s death and her relationship with her mother, so if this is not your bag – IT IS NOT MINE – skip this book. I have zero relationship with my mother and therefore any book about how much you love your mom will not do much for me. I will say it was good enough to finish and it was a fast, easy read.
The Holy Shit Moment, James Fell. Recommended by Nana Visitor – I HIGHLY recommend you follow her IG.
Unwinding Anxiety, Dr Judson Brewer. DITTO.
Preacher, Books 1 & 2, Ennis and Dillon. Graphic novels, since we liked the TV series so much. YES, the TV series was very close to the GNs. Good reads!
Peach Blossom Spring, Melissa Fu. Gift from Heather! This is a family story with a decades long arc. It’s fairly well written, but only medium engaging. The story is good, it’s just not engrossing.
Dying of Whiteness, Jonathan Metzl. This is a sociology book on how guns, racism and eliminating social programs (education) are destroying America. The 3 focuses of the book are the 3 places he has lived: Missouri (guns), TN (racism) and Kansas (defunding education). Being from TN, I can already confirm his initial assessment of the people who live there and support the refusal to support ACA or any healthcare. This is a research book, not really a fun read, but a very important one. Finally finished it! (Aug 23)
Raising the Horseman, Serena Valentino. Valentino’s take on the Headless Horseman. She also does a full series of Disney Villains books. They are in YA (young adult), but very readable.
Goodwill and Xmess Set!
Sabbat Essentials, Llewellyn. Informational books about each sabbat with recipes, rituals, lore, etc. I am trying to get back to my more intuitive self with these and the new Tarot deck I got, which is already reading my beads! LOL
High Fidelity, Nick Hornby. He wrote About a Boy, which was made into the movie of the same name. This book is from 1995. This book is a definite MEH. VERY English, mostly just observational. No ending. Not great.
The Circle, Dave Eggers. This is the guy that founded McSweeney’s! Written in 2013, about computers taking over. Turns out, I’d watched the movie a while back…it made little impression. The book is OK. Creepy. The ending is too enigmatic for me.
The Mermaid Chair, Sue Monk Kidd. I liked The Secret Life of Bees, so thought I’d give this a go.
What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding, Kristin Newman. For obvious reasons… Started this one to interleaf with Dying of Whiteness. I can’t read sociological research EVERY night, yanno? This author is a TV writer, which gives her the money and time off to travel A LOT. This is a collection of tales of her travels and the wild times that come with them. Very fun read, albeit a little bit of a downer at the end. Yep, she gets married and has a kid. Meh.
Eight Hundred Grapes, Laura Dave. A family and love story. She is a “Best Selling” author, which means FORMULA. It’s a light read, definitely a chick book.
Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer. We have a collection and this is not in it, soooo…
Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass, Isak Dinesen (aka Karen Blixen). Have not read this, but adore the movie. The second story is under 100 pages.
Seabiscuit, Laura Hillenbrand. I’m glad I picked this up! It has lots of photos of Seabiscuit. Looks like Hillenbrand did a LOT of research! There are extensive notes in the appendix. Just started this one (mid July) and I’m really enjoying it. The movie was pretty close to the actual events, but of course, there is a LOT more detail in the book. It’s very well researched! Good read, I recommend – especially if you’re a racehorse nerd!
Mind Game, Iris Johansen. OMG, I’ve not read a truly shitty “Best Selling” novel in a while. WOW. Talk about ADVERBS! Everyone talks “drily” or “curtly” or “fiercely”. All lips “twist”. As Stephen King would say, crappy writers rely on adverbs because it’s easy. The phrase “he (or she) said drily” appears almost every other page. The story is pretty good, but OMG the writing. SO BAD.
Heartfire, Kate A Boorman. Well, here is another formula novel, no doubt. It’s part of the “Winterkill” series. Sigh.
One Happy Tiger, Catherine Rayner. This is a cute kids’ book. I got it because I like the art. The author does the art and text. It’s VERY cute! I sent this to my niece’s son.
Mercury Points FREE Hurl from Amazon:
Taste: My Life in Food, Stanley Tucci. I really loved his food show In Search of Italy, so I think I’ll enjoy this book! WELL, my dumb ass has already bought this book AND READ IT! LOL SO, I’m giving it to a friend!
Bitter in the Mouth, Monique Truong. Just started, it’s a bit odd, but intriguing. To this girl, words are associated with foods. Kind of up my alley! This condition is known as synesthesia, which is when one sense links to another. In this case, words are linked with tastes. The way the author does this is by writing the words like this: Kellycannedgreenbeans. I liked this book and plan to read the others by Truong.