2023 Reading List

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.

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.

From 2022:
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.

To The Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf. I didn’t count this as READ, I’m about 1/4 into it… Probably won’t finish.

Paper Son, S.J. Rozen.

Jasmine, Bharati Mukherjee.

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.

Books I hoped to acquire in 2022, they are from Obama’s reading list (still around, but mostly 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

Started in 2022, ongoing:
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. So far, it’s pretty good. It’s a mystery within a historical setting.

Christmas Book Hurl!

Xmess 2022 Books

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.
Peach Blossom Spring, Melissa Fu.

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.

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!

More books!
Xmess set and Goodwill


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.

The Circle, Dave Eggers. This is the guy that founded McSweeney’s! Written in 2013, about computers taking over.

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.

Eight Hundred Grapes, Laura Dave. Something about vineyards and family.

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.

2022 Reading List

Welcome to the 2022 Reading List! I read 35 books last year! I hope to beat that this year. :)  I am also happy to add that my voracious reading has inspired Nick to read more, as well! This pleases me! I’ve not beaten 35, but I’m at 31 on Dec 20, and I’m happy with that! 

Random additions: 

Fairy Tale, Stephen King.  This is an excellent story! I mean, of course, it’s King, but really, it is quite good. It’s a new realm with little to tie it to the bigger King Universe. I hope he will revisit this world again in the future! This story is about a kid who gets involved with an old dying man who has been keeping a secret world SECRET for his whole life. Good stuff! 

Nickel and Dimed, On (Not) Getting By in America, Barbara Ehrenreich. This author is an investigative reporter with a long list of books about various subjects (that I need to read!). This book is about her experience doing bottom rung, minimum wage jobs in various cities in America and the undeniable truth that these jobs are not only mind numbingly horrible, but you cannot live on just ONE of them. A very good read and as we know from personal experience, VERY TRUE. Every rich American should read this. 

Goodwill Hurl! June 2022

Cruising Attitude, Heather Poole. Picked this up for light reading – and it certainly was! LOL This is a collection of anecdotal essays about being a flight attendant. This girl is pretty dumb and overall, she doesn’t really raise the perception of flight attendants. My fave sentence went something like this: …and the motel I was in was in view of a big white building in DC. The White House? I don’t know. Wow. So, yeah, a lightweight trying-too-hard to be a tell-all, this book is strictly a palate cleanser between better reads.

The Light Between Oceans, M.L. Stedman. This was an excellent read! Set in SW Australia, it is a lovely story set at a lighthouse far from anything. Stedman’s descriptions of the SW Australia coast is exemplary. I did get pulled out of the story occasionally by the comments of a “blistering January” or a “chilly June”. It is really odd to think of the seasons as opposites! But the characters are pretty well written and the story, while sometimes slow, is compelling. I have the movie version of this book that I’ll watch once I’ve digested the book. I like to have space between reading a story and seeing it redone in visual form. If you run across this book, it is worth the read.

The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls. I just read Half Broke Horses, and it was EXCELLENT. This is Walls’s memoir of growing up with two mentally ill parents. It’s not as chilling as The Sound of Gravel (see below), but still pretty damned harsh. Her mother was bipolar and a hoarder and her father was an alcoholic (and probably bipolar, too). They drug their children all over the place in their car and regularly did not feed them. The parents ended up homeless in NYC – and liked it that way. There was a movie done in 2017 with the same name that starred Naomi Watts, Woody Harrelson and Brie Larson as Jeannette. It was pretty good, but of course, the book is better. The movie portrayed her parents – particularly her father – very sympathetically, which I don’t think they really deserved. The book is well written with a strong voice.

Fifth Chinese Daughter, Wong. This book was actually written in 1945!! I have a 2002 edition, with an updated intro from 1989. The author died in 2006 and was known for her ceramics work. The story is written in third person, which is a Chinese tradition, but makes it read a little dry. But still an interesting look into turn of the century Chinese immigrants.

A River Runs Through It, Norman Maclean. Yep, the movie was made from this. This is a short story collection with the title story being the first. Maclean has a very distinctive voice and a lovely, lyrical way of writing.

Half Price Books hurl!

ALL these are from the memoirs section. I’m on a memoir tear!
Ruined By Reading, Lynn S Schwartz. This is a short tome, which is to its benefit. It is a memoir of a life of reading and musing on various authors. The book was published in 1996, pre-internet as we know it. Which is why this quote is prescient:

“If those of us who live by language become superfluous in years to come, it will not be because of the advance of technology, but the loss of coherent discourse.” – p.24, Ruined by Reading.

OH, YES. She is right on the money. She is of the Silent Generation (b. 1939), so many references are a bit dated, but she certainly has a handle on being well read and dealing with morons who are not. Good read!

MORE BEHIND CUT!
Continue reading “2022 Reading List”

2021 Reading List

Welcome to the 2021 Reading List! The list is in chronological order of when I read the books, but the first SIX are the ones carried over from 2020. Photos of books below the list. Books are moved up into the list as I read them.

Bird Box, J Malerman. The book is very close to the movie, but in several ways I think the movie was better. The movie put events in more of a linear fashion, which is easier to follow. But I’d say a good 85% of the book is represented in the movie and the movie is more suspenseful.

Sharp Objects, G Flynn. I liked this book a lot. I think the book is complementary to the mini-series on HBO with Amy Adams. The book is written from the main character’s (Camille, portrayed by Amy Adams) point of view, so you get a LOT more context about her. I also like the tweaks that the series made with Amma – she had MUCH more depth in the movie than she did in the book. Overall, a good read and excellent companion to the mini series.

Dry, Shusterman. This is a what-if type story: what if Southern California’s water really did run out? That’s the backdrop, but the story is about a small group of teens who must survive the breakdown of society that occurs in short order once the water stops. It’s a good paced read and all the action is in the space of just a few weeks. It ends on a good note, so it’s not one of those disaster books that leaves you wishing you’d not read it. Which is important at this point in time, I think.

I read 35 books in 2021! More behind cut! Continue reading “2021 Reading List”

2018 Reading List

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.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by ND Tyson

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]

Continue reading “2018 Reading List”

Reading List 2017

I’m going to attempt to list every book I read this year. This includes cookbooks and graphic novels. I’ll give a rundown of each book as I finish it. No description means it’s in progress. [Updated Dec 18 2017, 27 books this year! NOT BAD!]

KINDLE! I don’t read much on Kindle but I am reading Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman and I just read Dead Trees Give No Shelter by Wil Wheaton. The Gaiman book is an entertaining collection of vignettes. The Wheaton novelette is a really great short read. Speaking of Wheaton, if you’ve not listened to Ready Player One read by him, DO SO. It is incredibly well done!

The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood – SLOW. OMG so slow. It’s very literary, you know, florid descriptions and language. But SO HARD to get through. And very long.

The Peach Keeper, Sarah Addison Allen – Short book, sort of a mystery/ghost story. Pretty good.

China Dolls, Lisa See – The 2nd book by her I’ve read. She’s kind of an Amy Tan knockoff (one of Tan’s proteges). I like her mix of history and fiction. I learned a lot about WWII treatment of Japanese from this book. The other book I read from her last year was Dreams of Joy, which was set in the late 50s when the New Society (Communism) took over China. This book had some VERY disturbing things in it about how the people of China suffered during this time. But again, historical fiction is a great way to learn history.

The Burgess Boys, Elizabeth Strout – This is a family history kind of story. It’s depressing and slow. Not very good.

The Language of Flowers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh – I didn’t think I was going to like this one, but I did. It weaves the story of an orphan girl’s life with the Victorian tradition of using flowers to convey messages. Every flower (and other plants) has a meaning and this book uses these meanings to tell the story. Clever and overall a good read.

Blackwood Farm, Anne Rice – This 2002 novel is more of the Vampire series but with a ghost story twist. It’s long and full of her usual verbose style. It’s written in first person as a story told to the reader, a style she’s used before. It’s long and just OK. Lestat makes an appearance, so there’s THAT.

The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook, Patricia Tanumihardja – Got this for Xmess, but read it in January. Awesome recipes of every kind of Asian comfort food. Tons of soups and noodle dishes.

Les Diners de Gala, Salvador Dalí – An art book that happens to have recipes. It’s a collection of the recipes that Dalí’s wife Gala used for various dinner parties. Some of the recipes are very weird. But I didn’t get it for the recipes, it’s a beautifully done large coffee table book. I love it!

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, Joshilyn Jackson – Eh, it was just OK. Kinda predictable, but it’s an ok beach read. I did like its Southern hillbilly roots and the insight into just how dysfunctional Southerners can be.

Carthage, Joyce Carol Oates – A twisted tale of family drama. I identified with one of the main characters, Cressida, in that we are both misunderstood by our families and we share a strong disdain for our families. Her escape and return resonated with me.

Hyperbole and a Half (hardback collection), Allie Brosh. A collection of her online blog/comics with commentary. LOL hilarious at times. A good read.

Haul from Half Price Books

Peony in Love, Lisa See – It’s a bit one note, but OK. It’s a story about a Chinese opera and a girl who dies and becomes a ghost that haunts the man she was supposed to marry. Not much history other than the practice of foot binding (“lily feet”) and the Peony opera.

Wildflower, Drew Barrymore – Meh. It’s a collection of short essays from Drew’s life. She is a lunatic. Poor thing. Pisceans are always weird, but she is OUT THERE. She had no discernible upbringing, so I guess it’s the outcome of that. And her father was nuts, too. It’s a good summer read.

Magical Thinking, Augusten Burroughs – A funny memoir! I think I’ve read it before, but it’s still good the second time!

Dreaming in Chinese, Deborah Fallows – I found this book fascinating. This lady spent several years living in China and it’s her description of what it’s like to try to learn Chinese. Very insightful and a good read if you’re a language nerd like me.

What Comes Next and How to Like It, Abigail Thomas – This is a delightful little memoir that is written a lot like blog posts. I identify with Abby and her take on the world is much like mine.

Waiter Rant, The Waiter (from the website) – This is taken from a blog, but the writing is very good. The author’s insights into restaurant culture is spot on. Good read.

Thai & South-East Asian Cooking (cookbook, various authors) – I’ve already perused this one, but not read it through. Nicely illustrated and lots of soups, which are my current obsession.

Haul from Ollies!

Moar Books!


Hungry Heart, Jennifer Weiner DELETED. NOT INTERESTED.

All Fall Down, Jennifer Weiner – UGH. This book is about some privileged white mom with a whiny brat of a kid. No wonder she’d addicted to Oxy. Had to abandon this one. Doesn’t bode well for the other Weiner book.

Woman of the Dead, Bernard Aichner MOVED TO 2018 LIST

The Japanese Lover, Isabel Allende – I’ve started this one and I love it. Allende has a beautiful way of writing. This is an exquisite novel. I cried at the end. I highly recommend this one!

Close Range, Annie Proulx (not pictured) – 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! MOVED TO 2018

Haul from Goodwill!


Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom, Julia Child – Great cookbook/cooking how-to. It’s Julia! Of course it’s good!

Out Stealing Horses, Per Peterson – This was a rather bleak book, set in Norway. It’s translated from Norwegian, actually. It’s a good, twisty story but a little slow. Worth a read, tho.

A Cook’s Tour, Anthony Bourdain – Great book! Written from when he was shooting his Food Network series. Very colourful and entertaining.

Willful Creatures, Aimee Bender – A delightful collection of strange short stories. Interesting points of view, interesting characters, just good, engaging short story writing. Loved it!

Something Chinese that I got because it’s pretty. No, I won’t be reading this since I can’t read Chinese.

Fugitive Pieces, Anne Michaels – A historical novel about a Polish boy who escapes the camps and is discovered by a Greek man who smuggles him out of Poland, back to Greece. Lots of history of the Nazis and their influence in Greece during WWII, which I really had not thought of. Also lots of history embedded in the narrator’s remembrances of his family and what they went through during the war. A dry and literary book, but still interesting for the history that you learn while reading it.

Tweet Heart, Elizabeth Rudnick – UGH. NO. This is a kids book. Geared for high schoolers. Couldn’t tell that from the description on the back. Did not read this, obviously.

Where the Past Begins, Amy Tan – OMG such a GREAT book! I really love Amy’s writing anyway, but her memoirs are always touching and this is no exception. I cried at the end. She is one of our best writers and you should read every word of every book she writes.

The Prudhomme Family Cookbook, Paul Prudhomme – This is from 1987 and it’s chock full of really great recipes! I’m glad I picked this up at a yard sale! It’s family recipes from all his brothers & sisters and parents and grandparents. Great collection!