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!
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!