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.

The End of All Things, Scalzi (I think I need to read the others in this universe first, this might be on hold.)

Almighty, D Zak

Vinegar Girl, A Tyler. This book is by Hogarth press, which specializes in Shakespeare’s works, retold by modern authors. This story is Taming of the Shrew, retold as a modern tale. It is really good! It’s a great way to get your literature on, without the pain of enduring Shakespeare’s language. Read it! It’s good to read literature!

Within These Lines, S Morrill. This is a love story set in WWII San Francisco. The girl is Italian and the boy is Japanese. The story is told by alternating points of view between the two main characters. The author delves into the internment of Japanese citizens during the war and the deep racist roots of America. The conditions of the internment camps were deplorable, but the wartime propaganda machine spat out stories of now happy the Japanese were to be there and how great they were. LIES. I suppose reading this right this minute is not the best timing with the bullshit that is happening in the US, but OTOH, now is a GREAT time to remind ourselves that America is deeply racist and it is going to take a LOT of work to rid ourselves of it. Anyway, the book is a great read and you’ll learn a lot about how propaganda, suspicion and racism can combine with terrible results. The story is very good and I was misty eyed at the end. I felt deeply ashamed to that this country is still just as racist as it was in WWII – EIGHTY YEARS AGO. Perhaps when the remaining Boomers are gone we can begin to heal. Read this book to remind yourself that there is work to do and it is worth it.

The Way We Were, Paul Burrell. A memoir by Princess Diana’s butler. His second, got to milk that cash cow! Both his books made the best seller lists, strictly because Diana was on the cover. He is a dismal writer and his whole perspective is how important HE was to Diana (doubtful) and how he was her BFF and confidant (I’m certain he was NOT). The tone is preachy, self important and stodgy. Ugh. I abandoned this book. Don’t waste your time.

The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama. Very well written and I’m also learning about how Congress works, from an insider view. The section I’m reading is exposing Obama’s VERY WIDE religious streak, which to his credit, he kept OUT of his politics. I respect him for that. He walks his talk. The last few chapters veer into family affairs and such, so less interesting to me, but overall, a good read.

Sous Chef, Michael Gibney. This edition is the large print edition, so it looks longer than it is. I picked this up on a whim, because of the title, of course. It was a quick read and I liked it. It’s a day in the life of a sous chef, written from the reader’s point of view, which is kind of odd. But if you’ve ever wondered what a sous chef does, this is a nice little read, complete with a glossary of the various kitchen terms in the back. Fun!

My Life in France, Julia Child. This is the book on which the movie Julie & Julia was based. It’s written by Julia’s grandnephew (on Paul’s side), who interviewed her and took notes during her last years. It is PRECIOUS. It has inspired me to again attempt some of the recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. If you read nothing else of Julia’s, read this. It is endearing and encouraging and I just loved it. //end fangirling

Broken Music, Sting. I am enjoying this memoir! Sting is an interesting guy and his story is a good read. This is an excellent read! I love learning about the histories of people, places, bands. I did not know much about The Police, but this book certainly fixed that and I learned a lot about Sting, too. Highly recommend.

Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, Robert O’Brien. It’s a classic! Read this one in a coupla days. GREAT story! MUCH better than the animated film.

Ladder of Years, Anne Tyler. Rarely have I despised a main character as much as I do this one. She is a sniveling, immature, ignorant KAREN who got married as a teen to a clone of her father and still lives in her childhood home. She is stupid, weak, childish and narrow minded. Did I mention ignorant? She embodies the type of woman that so many of my HS peers became. Despite this, I am going to finish this novel. Either I’ll BAN Anne Tyler’s shit from my sight forever or she’ll turn this around and show me that she deserves the many kudos she’s gotten in her career. She wrote The Accidental Tourist and Breathing Lessons (both became hit movies). I know her from Vinegar Girl, which is a modern retelling of Taming of the Shrew – which was great! SEE review above. I did manage to finish this book. It did get better and the main character did improve, but it was still not very interesting. It’s a story about a 40 something woman who has a midlife crisis. Meh. It’s just OK.

The Almost Moon, Alice Sebold. Wow, this one starts off DARK. Sebold wrote The Lovely Bones, which I read a while back and loved. The movie was good, too. But this novel seems to be all about a daughter murdering her aged mother and staying in the house with the body… I had to move this to treadmill reading. I can’t read that shit before bed! We’ll see how this one goes; I’ll try to finish it.

Chum, Jeff Somers. This is an odd little book. It’s written all first person, but from ALL the characters. The book doesn’t have much of an overall theme, it’s more like a collection of vignettes AND they are not in order. It’s a good study of character writing, however, because you know immediately which character is speaking, so I’d recommend it if you like to write. But otherwise, it’s not cohesive at all and then it just ends. ? It’s just ok.


The Garden of Letters, Alyson Richman.
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, Gayle T Lemmon.
Jasmine, Bharati Mukherjee.
The Queen’s Lover, Vanora Bennett.
Bring Me Back, B.A. Paris.
The Paris Wife, Paula McLain.
Then She Was Gone, Lisa Jewell.

Went to Ollies and got four more for the stacks:

The Distance Between Us, Reyna Grande.

ANOTHER Ollie’s!

Skinner Luce, Patricia Ward
We Walked the Sky, Lisa Fiedler

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!
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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!

2005 Book List

Ok, I’m going to try and keep a running list of the books I read this year. I’m starting the count with How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci, which I’m still reading. I’m not counting periodicals or comics, just full length books. Everything I read will be counted, even if it’s a re-read such as Atlas Shrugged. If anyone else is interested in joining this endeavor, please let me know and perhaps I can do something like a bulletin board or something.

I finished The Time Traveler’s Wife last night and lemme tell ya, it’s a GREAT read. Yes, it’s a love story, but it’s also all about how someone can become a time traveler via some genetic mistake. This is NOT a scifi book. I don’t want to get into a review or anything to avoid spoilers. Trust me: get it, read it, pass it along. :-)

I don’t have a place for the book list yet, so I’ll post when I figure out what I’m going to do about that. Again, if you’re interested in doing a board or some other list with me, shoot me an email or comment here.