Here we are again. Last year was a reading bust. Let’s just move on, and imagine this will be the year I get back in the groove, shall we? All reading lists can be found here. (All links are Amazon Affiliate links unless I made a mistake and forgot to use the right link.)
38. Unchartered TerriTori by Tory Spelling (11/28/10) I love Tori, and this is a really honest look at her marriage and her work ethic. I totally related. Which is weird because she is so different, but yeah, lots of good stuff in here.
37. Half Baked by Alexa Stevenson (11/26/10) The internet went nuts over this book this summer. Most of the blogs I read know the other either in real life or through her blog, and I wasn’t familiar with her story or her blog, but I’m glad I read this. She’s a great writer and it translates well into book form, I’m looking forward to more of her writing.
36. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (11/23/10) I liked this least of the three Hunger Games books. I think there were too many easy outs, and the closer didn’t work for me, but other than that, this is a fun trilogy.
35. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (11/20/10) I liked this one (second in the Hunger Games trilogy) enough, but it didn’t have quite the power of the first book. I got ahead of the character too many times, and I really hate when signs are planted too obviously. I’d rather things slip by a little more easily like they do in real life.
34. The Hunger Games: Book 1 by Suzanne Collins (11/17/10) This is a fast fun read that totally hooks you right from the very first page. It is a total rip-off of the general idea behind The Lottery, but despite that it’s well written, engaging and has great characters. If you’re one of the three people in the universe who hasn’t read it, I totally recommend.
33. The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy by Mark Sisson (11/16/10) I don’t fully subscribe to the idea that wheat is the reason for the downfall of human kind, but he does raise some good points. I like the idea of eating only meat and fruits and vegetables, cutting out bread and pasta and potatoes, but it definitely causes me a little anxiety thinking about never eating a warm piece of bread with cold butter on it. Which I think he understands, because he talks about the 80% rule. Eat primal 80% of the time, and the rest will sort itself out. After my cleanse, I’m thinking of trying it.
32. An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination: A Memoir by Elizabeth McCracken (11/14/10) I read this in a morning and cried a lot. It’s excellent, harrowing, heartbreaking and hopeful. I highly recommend it.
31. Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain by Portia de Rossi (11/13/10) I loved this book. It’s a painfully honest look at anorexia and one woman’s relationship to her body that will probably ring true to the experience of pretty much any woman who has ever considered herself less than for being more than a certain number on a scale or the tag of a piece of clothing. It doesn’t touch much on the story of her recovery, which I think is something still so personal to her she can’t put words down about it, while the disease now feels distant and controlled. I wanted to know more about how she maintains her life without the constant battle inside about her weight, but she doesn’t go there except to say she’s better now. After her wife, Ellen, read the book she said, “You were crazy. Make sure you tell them you’re better now.” Which, to me sounds hurtful and dangerous, but to her sounded sane and normal. I think maybe she is better now.
30. Mommywood by Tori Spelling (11/13/10) I liked this almost as much as I liked sTORI Telling, but I think a person who already has kids and is trying to raise them in Los Angeles whether or not they’re famous would love it.
29. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman (11/12/10) The first two books made me uncomfortable when the religious aspect was touched on, and this one really gets weird when the kids start to fall in love. It felt child-porn adjacent to read about a 12 and 13 year old falling in love and kissing passionately down by the river. So, yeah, I think the series is entertaining, the characters are fun and well written, but the religious overtones and the coming of age story line didn’t work for me.
28. Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself by Alejandro Junger (11/2/10) I read this for the cleanse I’m on, and recommend it if you’re interested in refreshing your intestines. It’s got some good information, and is kind of inspiring, and I’m sort of a member of the Clean cult now.
27. The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman (10/31/10) This seems to deal with such grown up themes that I worry about the kids reading it. I guess it’s no more children gone wild than Lord of the Flies, but wow, there were some violent scenes. Which is to say, if I were reading this when I was 9, I would have loved it. I loved it as a 34 year old, but as a 9 year old, it would have blown my mind. The religious stuff is still kind of hokey for some reason, can’t put my finger on why I feel that way, just always feels like it’s being brought up as a Lesson. Whatevs, totally loved this sequel.
26. sTORI Telling by Tori Spelling (10/29/10) I read this in one evening, I couldn’t put it down. She is funny and charming and smart in person, and she has managed to translate that to the page, which I don’t think people can fully understand how hard that is if they haven’t themselves tried capturing their own personality in the written word. It’s poignant, funny, and she doesn’t hold back with the hard stuff - her failed first marriage and her relationship with her mother. Highly recommend.
25. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (10/28/10) I needed some easy YA fiction to cuddle up to on my day off, and this did the trick. Well written, great action, good characters, if a bit weird on the religious aspect. I’d recommend it for a rainy day.
24. Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman (10/2/10) I bought this book about 10 years ago. It was recommended by someone in film school, a professor? A student? 10 years ago is a long time. I finally got around to reading it, and occasionally Seth would read a page here and there while in the bathroom. He and I both found it highly entertaining, inspiring and a great gossipy read about Hollywood, writing and the business. Goldman wrote one of my favorite movies (The Princess Bride), and this book is now one of my favorite books about show biz. Highly recommend if you want to know what we go through in this terrible company town.
23. ROOM: A Novel by Emma Donoghue (9/26/2010) Jennifer Weiner posted an interview with the author on her blog, and I was definitely interested. I had to go to the bookstore (a place I try to avoid because I’m always bringing home stray books…) to buy a baby shower gift and when I got to the counter I asked if they had it. Since it was an indie bookstore, I wasn’t sure if it would be available, but the helpful shopkeeper knew it and I bought it. In hardcover. And devoured it. It’s the story of a boy who has been raised in captivity by his mother (the victim of kidnapping and rape) in a secret room, like the Fritzl case in Europe. It’s told from the 5 year old’s perspective and it’s really captivating (oof, tough one…). Pick it up, you won’t put it down.
22. A Journey to the End of the Russian Empire by Anton Chekov (8/10/2010) Is it too obvious to say that Chekov is a master? I haven’t actually read much of his work, but this little tome of letters and non-fiction describing a journey to a prison island and the adventures along the way, is excellent. Highly recommend.
21. The Business: A Novel by Iain Banks (7/24/2010) I’m not sure what to say about this. It’s a fun read, but there is one personality/lifestyle flaw in the lead character that left me a little cold and made me dislike her as a whole, even though she was smart and kick ass. Then to top things off, I felt like the final twist wasn’t explained well enough. I didn’t get the connection with her lifestyle flaw and the twist, so it made me feel like and idiot. I don’t like feeling like an idiot.
20. Scoop by Evelyn Waugh (7/15/2010) This is on the Modern Library 100 Best Novels, and I had been wanting to read it for a while, because I loved A Handful of Dust. This is such a smart, timeless, clever novel. The characters, situations, and places all still ring true. His wit is unmatched for me, and his razor focus on the absurdity of the human condition is next to perfect. I struggled a bit in the middle section, partly because of what I’d just said. I wanted to feel a little heart and I felt mostly like he was making fun of everything - something I think we can agree is also hard to find in today’s smart and witty novels - and then there he goes and puts the heart in, when Boot falls in love. He happens to fall in love with a German con-artist who is completely using him, but he falls in love nonetheless, for the first time in his life. It’s such a charming moment. I highly recommend Waugh. If you’ve never read his work, you must put one on your list.
19. Walking on Alligators: A Book of Meditations for Writers by Susan Shaunghnessy (7/5/2010) It’s filed under embarrassing self help in my goodreads library, but I will say, it has helped. I’ve started journalling again, I started writing paragraphs of what might be a short story, it might be a novel, it might just be something to help me get something else going. The truth is it’s pretty inspiring in a very simple way. I recommend it if you’re struggling with getting to the place when you can just sit down and write.
18. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (7/4/2010) I’ve seen the movie about 10 times, but never read the book. It’s fantastic. Totally lives up to the hype.
17. Victoria by Knut Hamsun (5/30/2010) I really liked this. I like the way he describes the male/female relationships and the way we hurt each other intentionally. One downside, I read the short biographical blurb about Hamsun after finishing the book and saw that he was a German sympathizer (they don’t say Nazi, but… it’s hard to disengage the two) during World War II, and that in his autobiography he talks about his trial for being a traitor. I’ll be putting that on my to read pile, post haste.
16. Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl (5/30/2010) I loved this book. It’s an excellent read, and she’s a great writer. I loved reading the reviews, hearing about her disguises and how she went to extensive lengths to go unnoticed. I can’t wait to try the recipes from the book, and to read more from her.
15. Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis (5/27/2010) Like #13, I’m trying to read more sci-fi and Seth recommended this to me. I kind of hated it at first, too British, too Victoria-dude-esque, and was going to abandon it, but Seth convinced me to keep reading. Lewis certainly believes in God, but it wasn’t a preachy book about how humans are doing it wrong. I really enjoyed it and now the rest of the trilogy is on my too read pile (which if it was an actual pile, would fill a room).
14. Going in Circles by Pamela Ribon (5/21/2010) So this is weird. I donated a few books during the latest Dewey Book Drive and Pamie e-mailed me and said I won a signed copy of her book, and I was so excited, but it never came. And I was too, what? embarrassed? shy? socially awkward? retarded? to e-mail her and tell her I didn’t get it because I don’t want her to go to any trouble to get me a copy. So on Wednesday while I was waiting for my friend to meet me for a movie I bought it. And I raced through it. I can’t believe I’ve been reading pamie for 6 years. Hers was the first personal blog I read. I loved the book. I thought the characters felt full and realized and identifiable without being chick-lit charicaturey. And there was so much I could identify with, when she’s going through her split and everyone around is trying to make sure she’s ok, and she has to try to be ok, when really she’s anything but ok. It’s pitch perfect. Good work, Pamie!!
13. Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke (5/20/2010) I love science fiction, but recently realized I actually don’t read that much. And the stuff I do read is generally just re-reads of stuff I read before. Seth recommended this one to me. There were some weird details (Fey, the dog; George’s affair that’s mentioned only once, etc.) that were thrown in there without much reason, that kind of irritated me, but over-all I really liked it.
12. Tapping the Source by Kem Nunn (5/10/2010) It’s a good read. Good LA novel. But it has its problems. There is a plot twist (mystery revealed?) that feels a little lame and it kind of made me not like the end. Read it if you like Point Break and surfing and books about LA.
11. The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories (Scribner Classics) by Ernest Hemingway (5/4/2010) The title story, “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber,” and “A Days Wait” were my favorite of these collected stories. A few of the stories I didn’t connect with, but overall, I liked this collection. The edition I read, however, felt like it was self-published, the font was weird and the spacing was claustrophobic. I am itching for a Kindle.
10. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (4/17/10) I LOVED this collection. Highly recommend.
9. Dreamers by Knut Hamsun (4/11/10) Excellent. Fun characters, quick but satisfying read.
8. Sandman Slim: A Novel by Richard Kadrey (3/15/10) This is a fun read. Great characters, decent plot and just a good overall feel. I recommend if you like the “LA is an undead haven” genre. Think Buffy meets Christopher Moore.
7. Hungry: A Young Model’s Story of Appetite, Ambition and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves by Crystal Renn (3/9/10) She’s got an interesting story, going from unhappy straight sized model with anorexia to happy plus sized model with a better career. I think because she’s so young, the book reads a little blowing smoke up our collective fat asses with all of the “love yourself at the size you are” rhetoric. Call me cynical, I just found her story to be a little fresh to completely give her the credit for kicking her anorexia and being happy. It was a lot of ado for not much actual growth. She changes agencies and gains weight and now she’s fine? I think this isn’t the last we’re going to hear from this girl, this story is not over.
6. The Virgin Suicides: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides (3/7/10) This book is excellent. I think he got a little bogged down at one point without advancing story, but because the rest was so compelling I totally forgive it. I highly recommend.
5. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (2/14/09) I got hooked immediately, and then things went downhill. I felt like the female characters - Snowman’s mother, stepmother and Oryx - were all so simplistically drawn that I almost didn’t finish the book. It has a really unsatisfying end, and the stakes never get to a point where you actually worry about Snowman. You kind of want the pigoons to get him. It’s got problems, this book, skip it.
4. The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears in Paris at the World’s Most Famous Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn (2/7/09) I was close to hating this. It felt like it could have been a gossipy juicy memoir of the pain of going through an intense cooking program, but instead it felt like a sanitized news story that you’d see in the back of Parade Magazine. Might be good reading for a long wait at the DMV.
3. Magical Thinking : True Stories by Augusten Burroughs. (1/30/10) Loved this. I liked Dry, but I felt much more connected to the writing in this one. Just an excellent collection.
2. Just trust me, I read a book here. I don’t want to give the author’s name or the title because we’re friends in real life and I know he has a google alert for his name, and I don’t want him to read my blog. I loved his book. Adored it. I highly recommend it. I just don’t want him to read the other dribble I’ve leaked all over the web here, because he’s a real writer, and I find myself slightly shy and embarrassed about the shit I plop on this page. If you want to know the title, I’ll tell you. Just e-mail me.
1. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. (1/2010) I started reading this in 2009 so I’m tempted to put it on last year’s list, but then that would fuck with this year’s total, so, here it is. First book of 2010. I loved it. I think it’s well crafted, well realized and the only part I felt cheated on was Callie’s reveal to her peers that she was now Cal. But I forgive that. Highly recommend.