All past reading lists can be found in this category cleverly called Reading Lists. Welcome to 2011! (NOTE: All links are Amazon Affiliate links which means if you buy a book after you’ve clicked over from here, I get paid a small percentage for sending you there. If that bums you out, just think, most of the time I use that money to buy books for libraries in need via their Amazon Wishlist.)
45. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (12/28/11) I read this while suffering through pregnancy and jet lag and it was a semi-entertaining way to spend the 3am waking hours, but it didn’t fully pull me into the world. Something about the main character rubbed me the wrong way and the way the author doled out information made me think I kept missing something. But it might be a good read for you Twilight fans out there.
44. How to Be An American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway (11/12/11) I wanted to like this but I found myself hating every character from the Japanese mother, to her GI husband all the way through her daughter, her son and her granddaughter. I feel like it was a good attempt but everyone rubbed me the wrong way.
43. Matched by Ally Condie (11/07/11) I liked this, I liked the world but I agree with a lot of the reviews I’ve read about it after the fact. The main characters are really under developed and while the world is interesting it is a little unbelievable. That said, I read it in one sitting.
42. What is the What by Dave Eggers (11/06/11) I didn’t like this as much as a lot of people did. By the end I found myself picking up just because I’d invested so much time into it already. It’s definitely a good jumping off point though for further reading about the Sudan and the wars there.
41. Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me: And Other Concerns by Mindy Kaling (11/01/11) I really liked this and several times found my self laughing so hard I was wheezing.
40. Enclave by Ann Aguirre (10/16/11) I read this in one day and I think I need a little break from the dystopic future YA genre, but it still had some good moments. Just a little predictable and not quite as developed as I like.
39. The Luxe by Anna Godberson (10/16/11) This is a total guilty pleasure read, but I really liked it. It’s sort of Downton Abbey meets Gossip Girl.
38. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (10/9/11) This was the first time I’ve read it, and it was so charming. My sister and her best friend Cassie LOVED this book when we were kids, but for some reason I never read it. I’m sorry I didn’t. I loved it.
37. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson (10/7/11) I really liked this book. It could have all felt very convenient, but I loved the way she weaved the stories. I think I read Behind the Scenes at the Museum years ago, but I don’t remember, so it’s on my to read list again.
36. The Fertility Diet by Jorge Chavarro (10/3/11) Another in my fertility education stack of books. It’s a good common sense read based on the Nurses Health Study and it kind of felt like I knew most of what was in the book before hand, but it was nice to hear it again and be backed up by science.
35. Divergent by Veronica Roth (10/1/11) I really liked this YA dystopic future novel, maybe even more than the Hunger Games. Not sure why, but it probably had to do with the love story and the main character being more tuned to my preferences. Tris is badass, but she’s also freaked out by some of the shit she has to do. I recommend.
34. The Infertility Cure by Randine Lewis (9/27/11) This is a good reference book for people interested in using acupuncture to supplement their infertility treatments or in lieu of doing invasive procedures. Sidestepping Western medicine isn’t an option in our case because of our diagnoses, but I think had our diagnoses been a little different, and had I not had a miscarriage earlier this year, I might try the acupuncture only route. As it is, I’m going with acupuncture supplemental route and am really happy Naked Jen convinced me to do it. It’s kind of like therapy without all the talking.
33. IVF: A Patient’s Guide by Rebecca Mathews(9/25/11) This should have been the first book I read about IVF. I know a lot now, and this book would have been a more neutral source for me to read. It marks the final book in my “Strictly about IVF” stack, so that’s a relief. I still have a few about diet to get through before this is all over.
32. One L by Scott Turow (9/25/11) This was really dated, and was a little sexist and a lot whiny, but I did appreciate the author’s brutal honesty about his experience and how he behaved and reacted to being in the most prestigious law school in the U.S. I preferred Ivy Briefs, though, maybe because it was written in this century and by a woman…
31. The Magicians by Lev Grossman (9/22/11) Harry Potter for adults is being too generous in the overall description. I think Grossman does a good job of world building, but the characters left me cold. I never felt like I could connect with any of them. It also felt too referential to C.S. Lewis and Harry Potter, it felt like the actual Harry Potter references were way too self conscious.
30. IVF: The Wayward Stork by Sarah Tursi and Lea McCarthy (9/20/11) Another entry in my “educate myself on this complicated medical procedure” reading list. This was recommended on some site as a good guide for women going through IVF, and I’d have to say those people have zero patience or low threshold for reading things, because while it does spell it out, it is very brief. Very brief. Please don’t tell me I’m going to have to write my own book on this.
29. The Passage by Justin Cronin (9/15/11) My chief complaint is length related. It’s good long in some parts, I really liked learning about Carter’s back story (I thought he could have gotten to the point about 50 pages earlier) but then why did we then spend another million pages with Babcock being the guy destroying everyone. Seriously, if there is a sequel, I’ll probably read it, but come on Justin, if I’m seeing a gun in the first act, it better go off in the 3rd. And if you use a damned crossbow instead, I will throw that book at your head. Consider yourself warned.
28. The Couple’s Guide to In Vitro Fertilization by Liza Charlsworth (9/14/11) I’ve been feeling really uneducated about IVF so I purchased about 8 books to help me understand the process and what I should be doing to maximize my chances of getting pregnant through this very expensive and very emotionally taxing process. This book has a few good chapters, and does a pretty good job of explaining all the steps, but there is a weird tone throughout about how women should treat their partners, reminding us (scolding us?) that they are having a tough time too. And we should make sure they pamper us, but don’t forget to pamper them. It felt like I was getting advice from some 1950s time capsule and it made me want to throw the book across the room a few times. That said, there are a few chapters I want to make Seth read, so he understands the process, because I don’t think he gets it yet.
27. Peeps by Scott Westerfeld (9/5/11) So good and fun. Great exploration of the vampire trope. Highly recommend for a guilty pleasure read.
26. 10,000 Steps A Day to your Optimal Weight by Greg Isaacs (9/2/11) This book should be about one page long and read, go outside and walk more you lazy slob. Seriously not worth the paper it’s printed on.
25. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (8/27/11) Super nerds, you guys are going to dig the shit out of this book. I really liked it. And I hope they make a kick-ass movie out of it.
24. Fledgling by Octavia Bulter (8/27/11) Uh. Hmm. Well. This book is a pedophile/polygamists paradise. I got the distinct impression Octavia was somehow defending the polygamist FLDS sects through her vampire novel and it creeped me the fuck out. The heroine is a 53 year old vampire but her physical body is about that of an 11 year old, and I feel like we’re expected to identify with the dude she mesmerizes and bonds to herself and fucks - even though he’s 23 and thinks she’s about 11. WTF? So weird. Also, I found it weird that there’s graphic hetero sex, but same sex sex is sort of a fade to white situation. So basically, Octavia, may she rest in peace, is cool with a dude getting down with an 11 year old, but if she gets down with a woman, fade to white. I don’t know, man, it’s a weird book. To top it off the edition I read has some serious typos. Just as some icing on the cake.
23. Bossypants by Tina Fey (8/25/11) I pretty much loved this. I think the only thing it was lacking was more of it. I wanted more. Also, I wanted her to talk shit about the hosts on SNL she hated having to work with.
22. Permanent Midnight by Jerry Stahl (8/23/11) At first I really liked it and Jerry, then I really despised both the book and Jerry, and by the end I was just exhausted.
21. The Help by Katherine Stockett (8/21/11) Ok. So I read this knowing that a couple of people I consider friends in real life LOVED it. And that pretty much every other review I’ve read of it called it racist and reductionist. So… yeah. It was a lot of things. To me, it was suspenseful, it had some laugh out loud funny moments and the characters were about what you’d expect. I found the concept of a white woman writing the stories of black (and white) women from an era she was on the outside edge of, pretty naive. But, I also think if you want to write something, you want to tell a story from YOUR perspective, please, by all means, do so, but then don’t also write in the voice of the women you think you know. Am I sad that there aren’t more novels written by black women that explore this complicated worker/employer relationship? Absolutely. Am I glad Katherine Stockett wrote THIS book, actually, yes, because maybe it will encourage women of all backgrounds to explore their stories and write them down.
20. The Coffin Dancer by Jeffrey Deaver (8/14/11) My sister gave this to me as a good guilty pleasure mystery, and it totally delivers. All of the characters are well drawn, the mystery has enough twists to keep you really surprised but not so surprised that you’re like, come on now… I recommend if you’re into this sort of book.
19. House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski (8/11/11) This was a re-read, and I have to say, the first time I enjoyed it way more. This time I felt myself sighing and groaning at some of the ridiculous footnotes and asides. Also, I’m concurrently reading Permanent Midnight and I found the Johnny Truant character sounding WAY too much like Jerry Stahl in some passages and I would get irritated that it was a complete ripoff. But all of the stuff in the actual house, when they’re actually exploring is still so riveting, and when I got up after I was done to put the book back in the library, I got freaked out walking down the hall. So, I won’t heartily recommend this book anymore, but I haven’t completely written it off.
18. Graceling by Kristin Cashore (8/5/11) This is a great YA novel sort of in the vein of the Hunger Games, but more towards Game of Thrones in the world it takes place in. Really liked the protagonist.
17. Charm City by Laura Lippman (7/31/11) I liked this one better than the first one in the series, it’s a slightly predictable mystery, but still a fun read.
16. Game of Thrones by George Martin (7/29/11) I tried to read this before the series finished, but life got in the way. I really liked it.
15. And Here’s the Kicker: Conversations with 21 Top Humor Writers on their Craft by Mike Sacks (6/22/11) I’m not normally labeled “comedy writer” but I do write for a comedic reality show, so I consider myself one. And this book has some great information in it, kernels of wisdom from people I absolutely adore (Jack Handey and Larry Gelbart (RIP), I’m looking at you!). If you write comedy, or you love comedy or you just like reading interviews, this is definitely something you should pick up.
14. Spoiled by Jessica Morgan and Heather Cocks (6/6/11) This would have been like crack for me in about 7th grade. Very frothy and fun.
13. Taking Charge of Your Fertility Toni Weschler (6/5/11) Well, I am now reeeeally familiar with cervical fluid and temperature tracking. Also, properly timed intercourse. If I don’t get pregnant this cycle, I’m going to start tracking.
12. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet (6/2/11) I have no idea why people are calling this book a masterpiece and Oprah is recommending it other than it is really, really long. It is also really, really trashy. Like Valley of the Horses trashy. And rape-y. I liked a lot of it though, and until the end thought it was decently written, but when he starts doing flash-backs to stuff, he does it really terribly and hackily. All that said, if you have a big beachy vacation coming up or a really long boring train ride to fill, it could be the perfect read. But get it on your kindle, because this book is effing HEAVY. 979 pages heavy.
11. Confections of a Closet Master Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado (5/23/11) This was a welcome relief to read after all the stuff I’ve been reading about lean protein and whole grains. Nothing like an injection of butter, white flour and pure sugar to cleanse your palate. The parts I think a lot of people will enjoy - her dishing about Hollywood and how much she hated every single thing about it (besides all of her insane perks) - are the parts I thought sounded like the lady doth protest to much-ing. But whatever, it’s a cute little memoir.
10. 8 Weeks to Optimum Health by Andrew Weil (5/22/11) I’m doing some of the things he suggests in this book, bringing fresh flowers home, eating more fruits and vegetables, and it’s inspired me to try to make time for cooking and taking a walk at lunch instead of just sitting at my desk all day.
9. The Body Fat Solution by Tom Venuto (5/20/11) I randomly found this when I was searching for information on metabolism and how to keep your body from slowing your metabolism down. It’s basically an embarrassing self help diet book, but ummm, I really liked it. It sort of took a lot of my fear about always being just a little unhappy with my weight and made me realize that yeah, if I want to look a certain way, I’m going to have to change what I’m eating. Paired with the Kessler book below, some good progress on my mental front has been made.
8. The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite by David Kessler (5/15/11) I think Linda recommended this and since I’ve been struggling with the office kitchen, the office cupcake and cake issue and the office food truck situation I decided read it. It goes on a bit too long about the food industry and the “solutions” section is a bit short, but it’s a good first look at what we’ve done to our appetites and therefore our bodies by eating processed food.
7. Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother’s Compulsive Hoarding by Jessie Sholl (2/9/11) This was recommended by Finslippy, and I really liked it. It was equal parts fascinating seeing the world of a hoarder through a daughter’s eyes, and also seeing the daughter’s own dysfunction through her own eyes. I recommend it.
6. Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane (The Underland Chronicles, Book 2) by Suzanne Collins (2/6/2011) I didn’t like this one as much as the first one. I thought some of the suspense and the misdirection was too obvious how it would all turn out, but I am not exactly the intended age group/audience… so there you go. This does not mean I won’t be finishing the series. Once I start something I finish it. Except for you Wheel of Time saga, except for you…
5. Gregor The Overlander (Underland Chronicles, Book 1) by Suzanne Collins (2/5/2011) My sister gave this to me for my birthday (another kindle edition) and I loved it. My 9 year old niece is really into the series and I can totally see why, it’s a mix of Alice in Wonderland, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM, Chronicles of Narnia, and maybe a little Harry Potter. Highly recommend for kids.
4. Baltimore Blues (Tess Monaghan Mysteries) by Laura Lippman (1/27/2011) My sister gave this to me for my birthday (kindle edition) and it’s pretty entertaining. I was expecting it to move a little faster, but maybe that’s because it was my first time reading on the kindle? I don’t know. It’s definitely pulpy guilty pleasure material.
3. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (1/21/2011) I adore this book. It’s very much Jane Austen with a more modern feel. I highly recommend it.
2. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami (1/3/2011) There is some fascinating insight into the mind of a runner and a writer. I learned a lot about his process and saw a lot of myself in him as a runner. Recommended for runners and people who live with runners.
1. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall (1/1/2011) I really enjoyed this. It’s entertaining, informative and made me want to get my ass out there and start running again. Recommended for runners.