My 20 Books of Summer List

I love that Cathy keeps the rules for her annual challenge on the loose side; it fits my Mood Reader personality. And as an mentioned in my last post, I’m back to work, so my reading time is definitely cut short. In fact, since the last time I posted, I’ve read only 100 pages of Barbara Pym’s Excellent Women – all week! My brain feels like oatmeal with all the new procedures and spatial configurations that our library is enacting in the name of safety. On my work breaks, when I would normally read, I’m watching episodes of Bosch on my phone.

But I’m gonna trust that eventually I will get back on track, so I’m putting out my 20 Books of Summer list. I have fifteen hard copies on hand right now, and I’m gonna leave my last five books open, so I can choose some at whim. (I do have a list of options made, of course!) I’m fairly certain one of my extra five will be Michael Connelly’s latest book, Fair Warning, which is not a Bosch book but is about reporter Jack McEvoy instead.

Here we go.

  1. The Secret Adversary – Agatha Christie
  2. Poirot Investigate – Agatha Christie
  3. Weather -Jenny Offill
  4. Quartet in Autumn-Barbara Pym
  5. The Right Swipe – Alisha Rai
  6. A Murder is Announced – Agatha Christie
  7. The Blue Castle – L.M. Montgomery
  8. The Reckoning – Jane Casey
  9. Swimming Lessons – Claire Fuller
  10. How to Be An Antiracist – Ibram X. Kendi
  11. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – Agatha Christie
  12. The Chalk Pit – Elly Griffiths
  13. New Waves – Kevin Nguyen
  14. The Blackhouse – Peter May
  15. A Dark and Twisted Tide – Sharon Bolton
  16. TBD
  17. TBD
  18. TBD
  19. TBD
  20. TBD

I have some romances on my TBR but just don’t have physical copies of them so I will probably choose many of those to round out the list. I’d like to read The Bromance Book Club, A Hope Divided, The Unhoneymooners, and Get A Life, Chloe Brown.

Since the aim of this challenge is to clear a bunch of books from your TBR, then I will win no matter how many of these I actually finish. Good luck with your list if you’re participating, and let me know if you’ve read any of the books I’ve listed. Have a good weekend and Happy Reading!

Six Degrees of Separation: From The Road to News of the World

 

I’ve seen the Six Degrees of Separation meme every month from a few bloggers I follow and I’ve always meant to participate. Finally I have the time to join in! Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best hosts, and please check out her blog and the links to other participating bloggers. We all start with the same book and then build our own chains with six different books of our choosing. This month’s starting place is Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006.)

71IJ1HC2a3LI skimmed The Road and was so horrified by what I read that I knew I couldn’t read the entire book. It’s just not for me.

Another book too disturbing for me to finish is Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin. This was a choice in my former book group. I made it about 120 pages. What I remember is just being miserable reading about miserable, horrible people.9780061124297

 

 

We Need to Talk About Kevin won the Orange Prize in 2005 (now called the Women’s Prize.) Another Orange Prize winner, one that I absolutely LOVED, is Rose Tremain’s novel The Road Home. I read it in 2010 and remember being pleasantly surprised by how realistic and sensitively 1271104portrayed the main character, Lev, was. This is an immigration story and it’s tone is much lighter than the description might suggest, yet full of heart. I still haven’t read anything else by Tremain for some reason.

Another moving immigrant story is Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue. It’s about a 9780812998481_custom-59f3262d4695d81fb4c66755e28e1d52b11f3f47-s300-c85hard-working immigrant couple from Cameroon trying to earn a piece of the American Dream in pre-Great Recession New York City. It’s beautifully written and also a realistic portrayal of a complicated marriage.

27213163New York City is also the setting for another good book I recently read, by Jacqueline Woodson – Another Brooklyn. A lyrical coming of age story set in the 1970s, about the intense friendships born of adolescent emotions, this short novel is one you could read in an afternoon.

A young friendship is central to Piecing Me Together by Reneé Watson. This 91XW9mj82MLcontemporary YA novel focuses on Jade, an African American teenage girl from a poor part of Portland, Oregon, who attends a wealthy, mostly white private school on scholarship. Jade is a multifaceted character, with a passion for art and a drive to want to serve others instead of being the one who is always “helped.” I read this one at the beginning of this year and it’s still one of my favorite reads of 2020.

jilesAnother book that was better than I expected was Paulette Jiles’s News of the World. A poignant historical fiction novel set in post-Civil War Texas, I was greatly moved and entertained by the journey of Captain Kidd and his young charge, Johanna, a girl who had been kidnapped by a band of Kiowa raiders four years earlier.

So there’s my chain, from the very disturbing journey in The Road to the still dangerous but more hopeful journey in News of the World. Next month the starting point is Sally Rooney’s Normal People. Where did your Six Degrees take you? Have you read any of my picks?

The Most Exciting Bit

Yesterday I finished reading Mary Anne by Daphne du Maurier (review will post during DDM Reading Week.) And then came what I think is my favorite part of reading: the sweet spot between books!

Once I’ve finished a book I write it down in my book journal, with any impressions or categorization that I want to include. Then I head straightaway to Goodreads, where I make sure I’ve got a star rating and the “shelves” I want. Next I go to the Listopia section of Goodreads, which in my opinion is best accessed through a desktop or iPad browser, and NOT the app. There’s a list that I add my books to called 2020: What Women Born in the 1970s Have Read So Far This Year. The list creator has been doing one for years now and I look forward to the new one each year. I add the book to the list and see if anyone else has read it this year as well. (You can rank your choices however you like.) It’s always fun to see what are the most popular books in any given year, and the sheer variety of books read is amazing. 6,691 books were listed last year.

The first 8 books on the list

 

So then I get to decide what book to read next. For me this is THE most exciting time. With a TBR list currently at 367 books, I have so many possibilities. Currently, with the quarantine and the libraries closed, I am trying to read what I’ve got on hand. I’m well stocked with my own unread books and still have 5 or 6 books from the library I’ve not yet gotten to. I know some of you plan out your reading weeks in advance, or get ARCs that you want to write about close to publication time. I don’t do either of those things, so I really just see what I’m in the mood for.

The last 6 books on the list, currently.

 

Last night I decided I was in the mood for a mystery, and I have three from the library. I chose Elly Griffith’s The Woman in Blue, which is the 8th in her Ruth Galloway series. And yes, I still need to read Adam Bede, my Classics Club pick, but frankly I’m putting it off. I started it and the dialect is very challenging so far. And it’s over 600 pages! I swear when I initially put it on my list I thought it was much shorter! 😂 Oh well, I’ll come back around to it after the Griffith.

So what do you think? Are you a big nerd like me? Do you relish the feeling of having completed a book and not knowing what you’ll read next? I’m curious about those of you who schedule your reading. Maybe you get a similar feeling at the beginning of the month when you make your monthly plan? Mood readers and planners alike, let me know in the comments.

Classics Club Spin #23 List

The good folks at the Classics Club have decided to host a Spin, whereby they will choose a number between 1 and 20. Participants are to make a smaller list from their master list of classics yet to read, numbered 1-20. The number will be announced tomorrow, April 19. As I am doing well with my challenge, sticking to reading one book a month from my list, I thought, Why not participate? I recently finished Stella Gibbon’s Cold Comfort Farm (review to come) and so the Spin pick will be my May classic. Participants have until June 1 to read their book. Here’s my list:

  1. Fahrenheit 451 – Bradbury
  2. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Bronte
  3. The Master and Margarita – Bulgakov
  4. A Study in Scarlet -Conan Doyle
  5. Great Expectations – Dickens
  6. Adam Bede- Eliot
  7. Invisible Man – Ellison
  8. Love Medicine – Erdrich
  9. Howard’s End – Forster
  10. Nightingale Wood – Gibbons
  11. The Thin Man – Hammett
  12. Jonah’s Gourd Vine – Hurston
  13. Life Among the Savages – Jackson
  14. The Blue Castle – Montgomery
  15. Beloved – Morrison
  16. Less Than Angels- Pym
  17. Quartet in Autumn – Pym
  18. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Wilde
  19. Stoner – Williams
  20. To the Lighthouse – Woolf

I am hopeful that the spin will result in one that I own a copy of, just to make it easier and cheaper. 🤞 Which ones have you read and enjoyed? Which have you not enjoyed? Do you know if any of these have particularly god audiobook versions?

Library Checkout, January 2020

It’s been a while since I’ve written a Library Checkout post, and I thought I’d go ahead and let y’all know what I’ve been borrowing and putting on hold at the library. If you also are a heavy library user, join in on Bookish Beck’s meme or please let me know below what you’ve been checking out!

LIBRARY BOOKS READ:

 

A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O’Connor ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Black and Blue (Inspector Rebus series #8) by Ian Rankin ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

With my son:

Jedi Academy #1 by Marc Brown (cute!)

My Life As A Meme by Janet Tashjian

CURRENTLY READING:

Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha (currently very absorbing)

In Transit by Mavis Gallant (short stories, going slowly, I’ve kind of out this one aside a bit but it’s still good)

How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell (reading aloud with my son – loving it!)

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ:

Rules For Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall (on Gin Jenny’s -Reading the End- recommendation )

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller (Anne’s – I’ve Read This- recommendation)

Strangers at the Gate by Catronia MacPherson

Mac B Kid Spy #2: The Impossible Crime by Mac Barnett (my son read these and I read the first one and loved it.)

WAITING FOR ME AT THE LIBRARY:

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Why We Can’t Sleep by Ada Calhoun

RETURNED UNFINISHED/UNREAD: none

IN THE HOLDS QUEUE (among others):

How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell

The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones

Have you read anything from my list?

Upcoming 2020 Books That Intrigue Me

Riffing on this week’s Top Ten Tuesday subject , I decided that I wanted to make a list of books I want to read coming out this year. Clicking on a title links to its Goodreads page if you want to find out more.

(* = books I will almost certainly buy because I loved the author’s last book)

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel*

Weather by Jenny Offill*

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi*

Untamed by Glennon Doyle (the lone memoir on my list)

Deacon King Kong by James McBride

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (cheating because it was released in late December, but close enough)

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

The Resisters by Gish Jen

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Truants by Kate Weinberg

New Waves by Kevin Nguyen

House of Trelawney by Hannah Mary Rothschild

I could have kept going because there are so many intriguing books coming out this year but 12 seemed like a nice number on which to settle. It’ll be fun to see how many of these I will have actually read by the end of the year.

Any of these look interesting to you?

BRL Best Books of 2019

Here they are – my favorite books of 2019 (note: I read a lot of backlist titles so they’re not all published this year.) Overall I seemed to have less 5-star reads this year than last year, but plenty of 4-star reads. Let’s get to it (in no particular order:)

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (2008.) Strout has emerged as one of my favorite writers. I’d been meaning to read this for years and I’m so glad I did. Gut-wrenchingly beautiful writing.

The F*ck It Diet by Caroline Dooner (2019.) I haven’t written a lot about this but this has been a year of positive changes for me in terms of my body image, weight, health, all that stuff. This is the book that got the ball rolling for me, and it’s funny, smart, relatable, engaging. I love the author’s Instagram feed as well. She’s a hoot. If you’re interested in Health at Every Size or have issues with food and exercise I highly recommend this book.

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths (2019.) Smart, atmospheric modern-day Gothic mystery. Loved it!

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier (1951.) Brilliant, suspenseful, masterful novel with a heck of an ending. Who exactly was the manipulator in this novel? I’d read this again in a heartbeat.

March:Book Three by John Lewis (2016.) The last in a graphic memoir set that just blew me away. I feel like I learned more about the Civil Rights movement in 1960’s America from this three-volume set than I did in all my history classes. The artwork provides a visceral wallop that drives home how violent and dangerous the struggle for rights was. This set also made me realize what a hero Representative John Lewis is.

The Nickel Boys by a Colson Whitehead (2019.) I thought Whitehead’s last book, The Underground Railroad, was a masterpiece, but he did it again with his next book! In spare prose he focuses on two teenaged black boys in Florida in the 1960’s. They become friends at a reform school for “delinquent ” youth, mostly black kids who were petty criminals or just unwanted kids. He could have wallowed in the horror these boys faced but he didn’t, and I’m grateful. He didn’t waste one word in depicting the injustice and harsh circumstances these young men faced, but instead shined a light onto what was a real situation for hundreds of boys in a real life school like this in Florida. Very moving without being manipulative.

The Lager Queen by J. Ryan Stradal (2019.) This book just went straight to my heart. I don’t even like beer.

24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week by Tiffany Shlain (2019.) I’m grateful that I read this because it’s given my family our Tech-Free Sunday time, where we put down our devices and just hang out with one another. We look forward to this time, even my video-game-obsessed 8 year-old. A very good, very short book about the benefits of unplugging one day a week.

In the Woods by Tana French (2008.) So atmospheric! So intricate and haunting. I got lost in this book. I don’t know why it took me so long to try French.

Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness (2019.) A very brave memoir from a very open and brave man. So good!

A18h+5O2G3LHonorable Mention: Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore (2019.) Historical romance that’s super-smart and well-written. Didn’t tempt me to roll my eyes even once. Great characters and plot, and just enough steaminess to be fun but not annoying. Can’t wait to read her next one.

I like my range of styles here – two self-help books, a contemporary fiction, two mysteries, a graphic memoir and a regular memoir, two literary fiction titles, a classic, and a romance! No one can accuse me of a narrow reading life. I hope your 2019 reading lives were big and wide and full of five-star reads.

Classics Club Spin #22 List

It’s time again for another Classics Club Spin, so here’s a rare non-Friday post from me. If I can read and review whatever classic book the Spin Gods choose for me by January 31 then I’ll be doing great (I’ve got some chunksters here so who knows?!) Here’s my list:

  1. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
  2. The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
  3. A Study in Scarlet – Arthur Conan Doyle
  4. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
  5. Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
  6. Howard’s End – E.M. Forster
  7. Wives and Daughters – Elizabeth Gaskell
  8.  The Thin Man – Dashiell Hammett
  9. Life Among the Savages – Shirley Jackson
  10. The Blue Castle – L.M. Montgomery
  11. The Gowk Storm – Nancy Morrison
  12. Beloved – Toni Morrison
  13. A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories – Flannery O’Connor
  14. The Last Gentleman – Walker Percy
  15. Crossing to Safety – Wallace Stegner
  16. The Warden – Anthony Trollope
  17. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
  18. Stoner – John Williams
  19. To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf
  20. Native Son – Richard Wright

susan-yin-2JIvboGLeho-unsplash
Photo by Susan Yin on Unsplash

On Sunday the 22nd, they’ll pick a number and then I’ll know which book I have to look forward to in January. Which one would you pick for me?

WWW Wednesday on Thursday

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On a World of Words. Take a look at her page and tell us what you’re currently reading. I’ve been out of town and then playing catch up on work, so I couldn’t even manage a WWW on Wednesday! Hoping to catch up on reading all your posts this weekend too.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently: 

I’m about 40 % into the audio book version of The Feather Thief and it’s fascinating. I heard about this book from Rebecca from Bookish Beck. I prefer nonfiction when I listen to audio books, do you?

Recently Finished:

I took the Anne Tyler on the plane (my tradition/superstition,) but managed only to read about 25 pages the whole trip. If I’m going on a sightseeing kind of trip, I just don’t find time to read and I’m wiped out at night. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t my favorite of hers. The Halloween Tree was the perfect read for this time of year! I’ll post about it and Mr. Mercedes in a different post since they’re my picks for the R.I.P. Challenge. El Deafo was great – a graphic memoir for kids (and grown-ups) about a little girl who was left hearing impaired after a brief illness when she was four. This was the 1970’s and hearing aid technology was more primitive, so she had to wear a piece of machinery with earphones and cords at school. Cece Bell draws all the characters as bunnies and explores how her hearing loss impacted her friendships and school work. I can see kids really liking this book and being able to put themselves in Cece’s shoes.

Up Next (Maybe:)

I’ll definitely get into Quicksand soon since it’s my Classics Club pick for the Spin. I’m very much interested in 24/6 because I think my family needs a day to totally unplug from screens every week. I hope it provides some real life solutions to technology addiction.

I’m not sure what else I’ll get into next. I’m feeling the urge to both be spontaneous in my reading choices and also to read something off of my own bookshelf. I hope your week has been great – happy reading!

Classics Club Spin #21 List

It’s time for another Classics Club Spin! I am so grateful for this prompt because otherwise the classics on my TBR list would get pushed down to the bottom. Having this nudge is a life-saver.

I chose 20 books from my master list and put them in a random number generator. Here’s the result:

1. The Last Gentleman – Walker Percy

2. Beloved – Toni Morrison

3. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Bronte

4. The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov

5. Quicksand -Nella Larsen

6. Ceremony – Leslie Marmon Silko

7. The Gowk Storm – Nancy Morrison

8. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

9. Wives and Daughters – Elizabeth Gaskell

10. The Blue Castle – L.M. Montgomery

11. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

12. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

13. 1984 – George Orwell

14. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

15. Crossing to Safety – Wallace Stegner

16. Howard’s End – E.M. Forster

17. A Study in Scarlet – Arthur Conan Doyle

18. The Sweet Dove Died – Barbara Pym

19. The Warden – Anthony Trollope

20. Native Son – Richard Wright

I’ve got some chunksters in there which makes me a bit nervous, but I’ve got to read them sometime. We’ll find out Monday which number is picked and I’ll post then. I’ll have to read and review my classic by October 31.

What would be your pick from my list?