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2015: A Year of 100 Books

2015: A Year of 100 Books

In 2014, with some effort, I read over 50 books. My goal for 2015 was also 50 books. Somewhere along the way, I discovered the wonder of Overdrive audiobooks from the Carnegie Library and also got myself an Audible subscription (because I couldn’t get enough audiobooks from the library alone).  On December 28, I realized I was in the low 90s. Being SO CLOSE to such a nice round number with only a couple days to go left one obvious solution– graphic novels. So with a combination of eBooks, audiobooks and yes even good old fashioned paperbacks sometimes too, I read a grand total of 100 books this year.

These are the things that happen when you read 100 books in a year:

  • You listen to books all the time. When you’re getting ready in the morning, driving in the car, doing laundry, walking around downtown, grocery shopping. You also realize how much time you previously spent not having headphones in your ears, because suddenly you’re clocking in an hour or two of audiobook reading every day, when you previously weren’t listening to anything at all during that time.
  • You come to appreciate excellent audiobook narrators. And you ditch a book PRONTO if you don’t like a voice.
  • You get really excited for O Magazine and Real Simple every month, because their book recommendations are always excellent.
  • Your recall is terrible. Reading this many books is like binge watching TV, except not binge watching the same show the whole time, more like binge channel surfing. I can generally remember what is going on in the book while I’m reading it (although sometimes if the plot lines are too subtle, I may have to look up some notes online), but usually once I finish a book, the whole thing falls out of my head and I remember barely anything.  This is due to both the number of books I read (I only have so much space in my brain), but also because, with the exception of pre-bedtime reading, I am usually multitasking during my reading time. That is the glory of audiobooks– why do one thing at a time when you can do two or three?
  • You inadvertently find yourself in theme-streaks.  I don’t know why, but I end up reading lots of books with similar qualities all at once. I had a streak of literature set in Afghanistan in 2014. I read several books dealing with life in North Korea this year.  Every now and then, I read a whole bunch of YA books back to back.  It’s not intentional, but it’s interesting to go back through my lists and see these clusters.
  • Your husband gets sick of hearing “Wait– I need to turn off my headphones” every time he goes to tell you something.

My favorite books I read in 2015:

I tend to like very dark, dramatic literature, but sometimes go for things that are lighthearted and funny. I’m not interested in WWII literature, romance, so-called chick lit.  Sometimes I like sci-fi-ish type books, but not consistently enough to say I’m big into the genre.  I also really like books about ordinary life in other parts of the world, I’m curious about people’s everyday lives. So this is a completely subjective list of the books I liked the best this year.

Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

The First Bad Man, Miranda July (this book was so strange but so captivating)

From the acclaimed filmmaker, artist, and bestselling author ofNo One Belongs Here More Than You, a spectacular debut novel that is so heartbreaking, so dirty, so tender, so funny–so Miranda July–readers will be blown away.

Here is Cheryl, a tightly-wound, vulnerable woman who lives alone, with a perpetual lump in her throat. She is haunted by a baby boy she met when she was six, who sometimes recurs as other people’s babies. Cheryl is also obsessed with Phillip, a philandering board member at the women’s self-defense non-profit where she works. She believes they’ve been making love for many lifetimes, though they have yet to consummate in this one.

When Cheryl’s bosses ask if their twenty-one-year-old daughter Clee can move into her house for a little while, Cheryl’s eccentrically-ordered world explodes. And yet it is Clee–the selfish, cruel blond bombshell–who bullies Cheryl into reality and, unexpectedly, provides her the love of a lifetime.

Tender, gripping, slyly hilarious, infused with raging sexual fantasies and fierce maternal love, Miranda July’s first novel confirms her as a spectacularly original, iconic and important voice today, and a writer for all time. The First Bad Man is dazzling, disorienting, and unforgettable.

Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West, Blaine Harden

A New York Times bestseller, the shocking story of one of the few people born in a North Korean political prison to have escaped and survived.

Men We Reaped, Jesmyn Ward

In five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five young men in her life—to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: Why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth—and it took her breath away. Her brother and her friends all died because of who they were and where they were from, because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle that fostered drug addiction and the dissolution of family and relationships. Jesmyn says the answer was so obvious she felt stupid for not seeing it. But it nagged at her until she knew she had to write about her community, to write their stories and her own.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, Gabrielle Zevin

A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner of Island Books, has recently endured some tough years: his wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and his prized possession–a rare edition of Poe poems–has been stolen. Over time, he has given up on people, and even the books in his store, instead of offering solace, are yet another reminder of a world that is changing too rapidly. Until a most unexpected occurrence gives him the chance to make his life over and see things anew. 

Gabrielle Zevin’s enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books–an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

How Did You Get This Number, Sloane Crosley

The hilarious New York Times bestselling literary essay collection from Sloane Crosley, the author of I Was Told There’d Be Cake and The Clasp.

Sloane Crosley, the brilliantly funny “fountain of observations” (Boston Globe), now takes readers from a bear-infested wedding in Alaska to a run-in with clowns in Portugal in a new collection of essays about the messiest and most unexpected dilemmas life has to offer.

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth, Christopher Scotton

After seeing the death of his younger brother in a terrible home accident, fourteen-year-old Kevin and his grieving mother are sent for the summer to live with Kevin’s grandfather. In this peeled-paint coal town deep in Appalachia, Kevin quickly falls in with a half-wild hollow kid named Buzzy Fink who schools him in the mysteries and magnificence of the woods. The events of this fateful summer will affect the entire town of Medgar, Kentucky.

Medgar is beset by a massive mountaintop removal operation that is blowing up the hills and back filling the hollows. Kevin’s grandfather and others in town attempt to rally the citizens against the “company” and its powerful owner to stop the plunder of their mountain heritage. When Buzzy witnesses a brutal hate crime, a sequence is set in play that tests Buzzy and Kevin to their absolute limits in an epic struggle for survival in the Kentucky mountains

The Execution of Noa P. Singleton, Elizabeth L. Silver

An unforgettable and unpredictable debut novel of guilt, punishment, and the stories we tell ourselves to survive
 Noa P. Singleton never spoke a word in her own defense throughout a brief trial that ended with a jury finding her guilty of first-degree murder. Ten years later, having accepted her fate, she sits on death row in a maximum-security penitentiary, just six months away from her execution date. 
Meanwhile, Marlene Dixon, a high-powered Philadelphia attorney who is also the mother of the woman Noa was imprisoned for killing. She claims to have changed her mind about the death penalty and will do everything in her considerable power to convince the governor to commute Noa’s sentence to life in prison, in return for the one thing Noa can trade: her story. Marlene desperately wants to understand the events that led to her daughter’s death—events that only Noa knows of and has never shared. Inextricably linked by murder but with very different goals, Noa and Marlene wrestle with the sentences life itself can impose while they confront the best and worst of what makes us human.

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath’s shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity. Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.

Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys and the Dawn of a New America, Gilbert King

Devil in the Grove is the winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. Arguably the most important American lawyer of the twentieth century, Thurgood Marshall was on the verge of bringing the landmark suit Brown v. Board of Education before the U.S. Supreme Court when he became embroiled in an explosive and deadly case that threatened to change the course of the civil rights movement and cost him his life.

In 1949, Florida’s orange industry was booming, and citrus barons got rich on the backs of cheap Jim Crow labor. To maintain order and profits, they turned to Willis V. McCall, a violent sheriff who ruled Lake County with murderous resolve. When a white seventeen-year-old Groveland girl cried rape, McCall was fast on the trail of four young blacks who dared to envision a future for themselves beyond the citrus groves. By day’s end, the Ku Klux Klan had rolled into town, burning the homes of blacks to the ground and chasing hundreds into the swamps, hell-bent on lynching the young men who came to be known as “the Groveland Boys.”

And so began the chain of events that would bring Thurgood Marshall, the man known as “Mr. Civil Rights,” into the deadly fray. Associates thought it was suicidal for him to wade into the “Florida Terror” at a time when he was irreplaceable to the burgeoning civil rights movement, but the lawyer would not shrink from the fight—not after the Klan had murdered one of Marshall’s NAACP associates involved with the case and Marshall had endured continual threats that he would be next.

Drawing on a wealth of never-before-published material, including the FBI’s unredacted Groveland case files, as well as unprecedented access to the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund files, King shines new light on this remarkable civil rights crusader, setting his rich and driving narrative against the heroic backdrop of a case that U.S. Supreme Court justice Robert Jackson decried as “one of the best examples of one of the worst menaces to American justice.”

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, Leslye Walton

Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga. Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.

In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.


Yes Please, Amy Poehler

In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book,Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book full of words to live by.

Ready Player One, Ernest Cline

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the  OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

Delicious Foods, James Hannaham

Darlene, a young widow and mother devastated by the death of her husband, turns to drugs to erase the trauma. In this fog of grief, she is lured with the promise of a great job to a mysterious farm run by a shady company, with disastrous consequences for both her and her eleven-year-old son, Eddie–left behind in a panic-stricken search for her.

The Sex Lives of Cannibals, J. Maarten Troost

At the age of twenty-six, Maarten Troost–who had been pushing the snooze button on the alarm clock of life by racking up useless graduate degrees and muddling through a series of temp jobs–decided to pack up his flip-flops and move to Tarawa, a remote South Pacific island in the Republic of Kiribati. He was restless and lacked direction, and the idea of dropping everything and moving to the ends of the earth was irresistibly romantic. He should have known better.

The Sex Lives of Cannibals tells the hilarious story of what happens when Troost discovers that Tarawa is not the island paradise he dreamed of. Falling into one amusing misadventure after another, Troost struggles through relentless, stifling heat, a variety of deadly bacteria, polluted seas, toxic fish–all in a country where the only music to be heard for miles around is “La Macarena.” He and his stalwart girlfriend Sylvia spend the next two years battling incompetent government officials, alarmingly large critters, erratic electricity, and a paucity of food options (including the Great Beer Crisis); and contending with a bizarre cast of local characters, including “Half-Dead Fred” and the self-proclaimed Poet Laureate of Tarawa (a British drunkard who’s never written a poem in his life).

With The Sex Lives of Cannibals, Maarten Troost has delivered one of the most original, rip-roaringly funny travelogues in years–one that will leave you thankful for staples of American civilization such as coffee, regular showers, and tabloid news, and that will provide the ultimate vicarious adventure.

Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates

“This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.”

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?
 
Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.


This was a year of really excellent reading. If I had to pick a “best” it would have to be Between the World And Me.  I’ve never been so moved by a book that as soon as I finished it, I was compelled to start it right over again. Also, I didn’t realize what a sizeable portion of my reading list this year grappled with the very timely issues of race and racism in America. In a country where bigotry and vitriol are so pervasive that news sites have to disable commenting sections on entire categories of news, I feel like these works provide an opportunity for me to listen, learn and participate in these larger discussions without getting into a narrow-minded screaming match. Not only is the content of Men We Reaped, Devils in the Grove and Between the World and Me extremely thought provoking, but particularly in the case of Between the World and Me– oh the language. This book is a thing of tragic beauty.

What were the best books you read this year?


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Bookworm.

Bookworm.

Unless I get some crazy wave of blogging inspiration (which does happen from time to time), blogging takes mental energy. I do not seem to have mental energy to spare lately, hence the lack of blogging. Instead, instead of putting words out, I have been taking words in, reading like there is no tomorrow.  Between audiobooks and regular books, I’m reading about 2 per week right now. I don’t watch much TV, and I haven’t even been reading many magazines. It’s just been books books books books books. Somehow, even though it’s only June, I’ve already read 45 books so far this year.

I read fast and I read a lot, but my retention is terrible. As soon as I finish a book, it’s like it erases from my memory. This is probably because there just isn’t enough space in my brain for all this, plus everything I have to remember for work. And it really does not bother me much. I remember generally whether I liked it or not, and if someone brings up things that happened, it often jogs some memories, but there isn’t much of a long term benefit for me remembering the plots of various novels anyway.

In spring,I hit a streak of particularly good novels. If you are shopping for your summer reads, I highly recommend the following, which the summaries from their respective Goodreads pages:

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth, Christopher Scotton (I liked this so much, I picked it for my month in book club)

Timely and timeless, this is a dramatic and deeply moving novel about an act of violence in a small, Southern town and the repercussions that will forever change a young man’s view of human cruelty and compassion.

After seeing the death of his younger brother in a terrible home accident, fourteen-year-old Kevin and his grieving mother are sent for the summer to live with Kevin’s grandfather. In this peeled-paint coal town deep in Appalachia, Kevin quickly falls in with a half-wild hollow kid named Buzzy Fink who schools him in the mysteries and magnificence of the woods. The events of this fateful summer will affect the entire town of Medgar, Kentucky.

Medgar is beset by a massive mountaintop removal operation that is blowing up the hills and back filling the hollows. Kevin’s grandfather and others in town attempt to rally the citizens against the “company” and its powerful owner to stop the plunder of their mountain heritage. When Buzzy witnesses a brutal hate crime, a sequence is set in play that tests Buzzy and Kevin to their absolute limits in an epic struggle for survival in the Kentucky mountains.

Redemptive and emotionally resonant, The Secret Wisdom of the Earth is narrated by an adult Kevin looking back on the summer when he sloughed the coverings of a boy and took his first faltering steps as a man. His story is one with a rich cast of characters and an ambitious effort to reclaim a once great community.

Secret Wisdom

The Execution of Noa P. Singleton, Elizabeth L. Silver

  Noa P. Singleton never spoke a word in her own defense throughout a brief trial that ended with a jury finding her guilty of first-degree murder. Ten years later, having accepted her fate, she sits on death row in a maximum-security penitentiary, just six months away from her execution date.
Seemingly out of the blue, she is visited by Marlene Dixon, a high-powered Philadelphia attorney who is also the mother of the woman Noa was imprisoned for killing. Marlene tells Noa that she has changed her mind about the death penalty and Noa’s sentence, and will do everything in her considerable power to convince the governor to commute the sentence to life in prison, in return for the one thing Noa is unwilling to trade: her story.

      Marlene desperately wants Noa to reveal the events that led to her daughter’s death – events that Noa has never shared with a soul. With death looming, Marlene believes that Noa may finally give her the answers she needs, though Noa is far from convinced that Marlene deserves the salvation she alone can deliver. Inextricably linked by murder but with very different goals, Noa and Marlene wrestle with the sentences life itself can impose while they confront the best and worst of what makes us human in this haunting tale of love, anguish, and deception
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singleton

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, Gabrielle Zevin (h/t to Sonia for this recommendation)

On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

Fikry

Ruby, Cynthia Bond

Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby Bell, “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,” has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city–the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village–all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.

Ruby

What is on your summer reading list?

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Holidays, books, all curled up by the fire!

Holidays, books, all curled up by the fire!

WE HAVE A REAL FIREPLACE. IN OUR HOUSE! THAT I CAN SIT IN FRONT OF AND READ AND BE SNUGGLY AND SO HAPPY!

FIREPLACE.

FIREPLACE.


Ok, it’s a gas fireplace. And I have no idea how it works. And the little paper pamphlet that has the warranty information is still sitting IN the fireplace, so we might want to get that out before trying to turn it on. But still, A FIREPLACE YOU GUYS! And I’m hoping we can get our act together sometime before next summer to actually get it going, so I can have one of those nice toasty winter evenings in front of the fire, sipping mulled wine and reading books.

It will probably end up being something more like me sitting in front of the fire, sipping mulled wine, listening to Scooby Doo on the TV because at least that keeps my kid sitting in one place. But I’ll take what I can get.

Speaking of books, I’ve been on a streak of good reads lately:

Bonfire

I don’t know why I had it so incorrectly stuck in my head that Bonfire was set in 19th Century England, and was some Jane Austen type book.** It most absolutely, definitely is not. Not even remotely close. It’s all 80s extravagance, scandal and Masters of the Universe. A fantastic, guilty-pleasure sort of read.


**Likewise, for years I thought A Streetcar Named Desire was a musical (thanks to The Simpsons episode where they perform Streetcar). It most definitely is not.

Silkworm

I’m gonna admit it: I’m a total sucker for anything JK Rowling. She could probably re-write the telephone book and I’d be like “Yes, pls, I would like to read.” She’s just a good writer. She’s engaging, she’s fun, her writing is light and quick. Her characters aren’t terribly complex, but they are interesting. You want to get to know them, to see what they’ll do. All good fun.

Lola

Goofy, sappy YA story, without being TOO sappy. I was going to call this a YA romance, but it’s not “romance” as the genre is typically considered. It’s high school romance. Sweet and naive. I really enjoyed this book now, but I wish it had been around when I was in high school, because I would have adored it then.

wolves

Tell The Wolves was hands-down one of my favorite books I read this year. It’s so hard to describe, other than to say it’s a story about identity and family and relationships. One of my favorite things about book club is that since we each take turns picking a book, I read so many books I would have never much been interested in from the description alone. Sometimes these books are amazing. This is one such book. Go read it. Amazing.

So what books to yinz guys have stacked by your nightstand right now?

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October feelin’

Welcome to October! I haven’t felt much like blogging lately. Maybe it’s because I’ve been very busy, using up all my brain and my words during the day. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been more interested than reading words than writing them lately. Maybe it’s just because we haven’t been out to too many new restaurants lately, so that usually abundant stream of inspiration is not so abundant right now. But even though I’m not writing as much, I’m still here, I’m still reading, I’m still kicking. And here are some things on my mind tonight:

Page Dairy Mart’s last day for the season is scheduled for October 24. Sad. Even though the chocolate chip cookie sundae is di-vine (featuring Nancy B’s cookies), my favorite and go to is coffee soft serve with hot fudge and whipped cream. I need to stop on down there to get one last treat before they’re gone for the cold months.

Page Dairy mart Chocolate Chip Sundae

American Horror Story starts again tonight! It’s the only show that I regularly watch. My favorite season was season 1, but this whole circus thing looks especially creepy. I like to think I like scary things, but in real life I’m a giant crybaby and get too scared. American Horror Story tends to be just the right level of scary for me (meaning it tries to be scary, but isn’t really scary). Relatedly, my husband has banned me from ever watching a Paranormal Activity movie ever again, because he’s not a fan of being up all night while I cry over nightmares.

american-horror-story-freakshow-ch-2

My birthday is next month. If all yinz guys wanna bake me a cookie table, I won’t complain. Also, I think the fact that 99% of the pictures I pin on Pinterest are baked goods is not helping me any with my (failing) efforts at losing weight.

I’ll be going on a mini solo trip this weekend to Washington DC to run the Army 10 Miler. I’m going to basically have an afternoon ALL TO MYSELF. I’ve already booked a trip to the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa, and I think I’m going to go see Gone Girl (yes, because I drive 3 hours to go to see a movie that I could see at a movie theater 2 miles from my house) and go to bed early, because I am a WILD woman. But when you’re running 10 miles around the Pentagon the next day, hiking all over to sight see isn’t the wisest idea anyway.

gone_girl_40653_poster

Autumn clothes are my absolute favorite. Sweaters and cowl necks and boot socks and all things lovely and warm. Things I want want want:

Want.


Want want.

I just downloaded Hollow City, which is the sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and am very excited about reading it. Spooky!

Hollow City

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The Things I’ve Been Reading Lately

The Things I’ve Been Reading Lately

Because my spring and summer were hijacked by the demands of buying a house and selling a house, most of the items on my 32 before 32 list have fallen miserably by the wayside. Whatevs, it’s all for fun anyway. However, there is one item where I am all gold stars and A ++++++ and Exceeds Expectations, and that’s on my reading progress. I planned to try to read 40 books this year, and here it is, mid-September and I’ve already blown through 35. I’m going to be beating that goal by leaps and bounds. Yessssss!

WHERE am I finding the time to read all these books, when my job is mostly reading all day, and I’ve got a feisty 4 year old to chase around, and sometimes my husband likes to see me too? Answer: Audiobooks. Between my husband and Baby Beez, I get virtually no say in what’s on TV, so I listen to audiobooks instead. When I’m driving in the car (which takes a surprising amount of time, despite having a 5 minute commute)– audiobooks. When I’m doing laundry or going for a run– audiobooks. And I don’t even pay for a subscription service. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has an amazing selection of books to download. I load them on my phone, plug in my headphones, and off I go!

The last several books have been emotionally heavy and melodramatic, which isn’t quite my style. I like dark books, true crime, books about people surviving horrific situations, that kind of stuff. Except I am not interested in war books, no thank you. My favorite book of all time is the Grapes of Wrath, which doesn’t quite fit that description, but it is dreary and miserable. Prime examples of my kind of books are In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls and Room by Emma Donaghue. I’ve been known to enjoy a funny book from time to time as well (hello, David Sedaris), but I am picky, and many humor books fall flat for me.

These are some of my favorites from this year so far:

winters-bone-book-jacket-a48355d4dd6f49ec

This book is everything. It’s rare to find a book and movie that are both good, but both the book and the film are A.MAZ.ING. This is JLaw before she was JLaw, and that woman can ACT. And the story, so dismal, so gritty, it draws you right into the crank-cooking Ozarks, for Ree Dolly’s determined hunt for her father, who is on the lam but put the family home up as the bail bond. I can’t even. Go read it.

spellman files

Sandy picked this for our book club, and I think this book is the first one that has received unanimous approval. It’s like a grown up Harriet the Spy, set in reasonably-close-to-modern-day, and the whole family is private eyes and they are all crazy. And it is wonderful. Many of the women in my book club went straight from this book to devour the rest of the series in a matter of days, and I really need to get on that, because I feel like I’ve missed out on half the party.

sharp objects

With the much-awaited Gone Girl movie opening later this year, there’s probably going to be a run on Flynn’s earlier work. I rate this closer to 3.5 out of 5 stars (the other two above are 5 stars for sure), but it’s definitely worth picking up for something dark, entertaining and fun. I loved the whole small, demented, troubled town storyline and found it drew me in and kept me interested. I think the whole cutting storyline (for which the novel was named), actually didn’t add to the story, and seemed like the kind of dark over-the-top stuff I would have written myself during my teenage goth phase. But maybe that’s the target audience the book is going to (and admittedly, it hooked some of my shameful nostalgia for those years of my own life).

wolf of wall street

Ok, I can’t maintain any credibility as a book nerd in praising this book…but it IS a lot of fun. Totally, totally ridic. And an easy read. So if you need a book to make you feel so very normal and secure by comparison (because, yes, sometimes I need that), it’s a goodie.

PS- Are you my friend on Goodreads? If not, you should be!