Top Ten Tuesday: My Spring TBR

Hey there!  It’s Top Ten Tuesday Time again, hosted by The Broke and Bookish – they’ve been on hiatus and I haven’t participated in one for a while.  But I do so love talking about TBRs – my own and yours as well!  It’s so much fun to anticipate the things we *might* read soon.  I am not a book planner, but I know some of you follow a pretty strict schedule. I’m very moody when it comes to reading, so I may get to these this Spring – or I may not!  I intend to read them sometime, in any case, so this list is partly based on what my library holds look like, and partly random.

All We Shall Know by Donal Ryan.  I WILL read this very soon, as it’s one of my choices for 746 Books’s Reading Ireland Month.  So I plan on taking it with me to the beach next week!

Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter by Ruth Rendell.  It’s been too long since I’ve read an Inspector Wexford mystery and this is the next one on the list (I’m working my way in order, very slowly.)

51Ma6eymR0L._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_Exit West by Mohsin Hamid.  This one just sounds too good, and I’m high on my library’s hold list for it.

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez.  I’m going to suggest this as one of our book group’s choices when it’s my turn to host next month – I hope they choose it!

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance.  I have to admit, I’m not super excited to read this, but I want to at least give it a try, since it’s such a big book for our moment in time.  If any of you guys have read it, please let me know what you think.

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae.  I bought this on Kindle for $1.99 recently and it looks funny and sharp.

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love by Kathleen Collins.  Another recent super cheap Kindle find.  Short stories written by an African American woman in the 1960’s only just now published.165208

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay.  Love Roxane Gay.  More short stories.

Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki.  “A sinister, sexy noir about art, motherhood, and the intensity of female friendships” according to Goodreads.  I liked her first novel, California.

Happy All The Time by Laurie Colwin.  Romance and comedy of manners.

Have you read any of these?  Do you plan to?  Do you plan out your reading by month or season, or do you fly by the seat of your pants?  (And what’s up with that saying anyway?  That’s a weird one.)  What’s on your Spring TBR?

 

 

Top Ten 2016 Books I Meant to Get to Last Year

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic, hosted by The Broke and Bookish, is Top Ten Books from 2016 I Wanted to Read But Haven’t Yet.  There is only so much time in the day, what with having to work, converse with one’s husband and child, and binge-watch Supernatural – or whatever your priorities might happen to be.  I totally intend to read these ten books. Sometime.  You get it, right? 51tusm5ixll-_sx331_bo1204203200_

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race edited by Jesmyn Ward

9781594206856_custom-fe4eae454a97795906f50c3ff61245f8a47f095e-s300-c85The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Y. Dennis-Bennows_146853560754311

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

I could probably have chosen ten different books for this list, but these were the ones that leaped out at me as I perused my massive Goodreads list. Maybe you’ve read some of these?  Let me know what you think of them.  What shows were you binge-watching in 2016 instead of reading books? Is there one book from 2016 you wish you’d gotten to last year?

 

 

 

 

 

 

BRL Best of 2016

Well, Christmas has come and gone, and it’s been a truly lovely one here for our family. My son is five, and he is still at a sweet age to believe in Santa and the magic of Christmas, and not too cool yet to sing carols with his family on Christmas Eve while Dada plays guitar.  (He still calls my husband Dada. We’re hanging on to that as long as we can!)  Our parents are all still healthy and with us, and even though they’re long divorced, my mom and dad get along well enough to spend Christmas Day with us at my in-laws house.  I’ve had some days off and return to work tomorrow.  My family has baked and listened to Christmas CDs and watched The Charlie Brown Christmas Special and drove around looking at lights.  We’ve done all the holiday things we love to do, including reading lots of Christmas picture books!  It’s been so sweet and I really feel grateful.

That said, I’ve not done a lot of reading the past few weeks, and I’ve done even less blogging.  But I feel the desire for both returning, and I’m super excited about my reading plans for 2017!

But before I get to that post, I need to take stock of my reading for 2016.  So without further ado, here’s the Big Reading Life Best Of List!

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  1. (TIE) Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi and The Book of Night Women by Marlon James.  Both novels deal with slavery – James’s book is set in Jamaica on a sugar cane plantation, while Gyasi’s spans continents and centuries.   Both illuminate the horror of slavery in ways I’d never even considered before.  Both are stunning.
  2. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen.  A memoir as open and vulnerable, but also as joyful and hilarious, as The Boss himself.  I truly appreciated Springsteen’s willingness to call out his own bullshit while not “telling tales” about others.  I especially loved the sections in his childhood and young adulthood.  I love this guy.
  3. Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt.  Weird, sad, and hauntingly romantic.  I haven’t been able to forget about this one all year.
  4. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison.  Words fail me here.  Utterly magical.
  5. The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney.  This  kind of book is my catnip anyway – multiple perspective family saga!  Rich People Problems!  But I was wholly invested in these messed-up, authentic characters.  Truly a standout of its type.
  6. March Books One and Two by John Lewis.  While I haven’t yet read the third in the series, I am wholly taken with the first two.  They’ve shown me the power that a graphic novel can have to illuminate and educate.
  7. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  Quietly devastating and powerful coming of age story in Nigeria.  So glad I finally read it.
  8. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye.  So. Much. Fun.  Romance and gothic intrigue, a respectful but liberated take on Jane Eyre.  It’s not for everyone, but I just adored it.
  9. Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler.  A surprise love for me this year.  Something about this novel just hooked me and didn’t let go even as I could see its flaws.

Goodreads tells me that I completed 80 books this year.  Of these 21 were by authors of color, which is about 26%.  Not quite as high as I’d intended at the beginning of the year, but an improvement on last year.  More stats:

Audiobooks: 4 (Interestingly, all were nonfiction.)

Graphic Novels/Comics: 14 (the most I’ve ever read!)

Nonfiction: 20  (8 were memoirs.)

Middle Grade: 3

Mystery/Crime/Thriller: 10

Rereads: 4 (an unusually high number for me)

Fun Fact:  The only YA titles I read all year were all comics/graphic novels!

So there you have it.  It’s been a very good reading year.  I began the year participating in a reading challenge (the TBR Triple Dog Dare) and ended the year rereading a trio of books, apparently seeking comfort (Little Women, Murder on the Orient Express, Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies, which I’m still reading.)  I’ve been thinking about my reading goals for weeks now, and am really excited to share them in my next post.

I hope you all had/are having very Happy Holidays!  Have you met your reading goals for this year, or made progress towards them?  What was your standout book for 2016?  Have you read any of my top ten?

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Anticipated 2017 Books

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by The Broke and Bookish) required me to do a little research.  It’s the “Top Ten Books I’m Looking Forward to in the First Half of 2017.” I panicked a little.  Initially I could only think of two books coming out in 2017 that I knew about and was looking forward to reading.  Last year I relied on The Millions’ Most Anticipated List to clue me in to what was in store for 2016.  But that list wasn’t published until January 4 of last year.  (Look for the new one in a few weeks!)  I read a lot of backlist titles and tend to know about new books about a month or two in advance, once I start seeing them in magazines, blogs, and BookRiot.  However, with a little digging, I found nine titles that intrigue me.

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson.  Oh man, did I ever enjoy his previous thriller, The Kind Worth Killing.  It came out around the same time as that book about the Girl and the Train and I thought it was WAY better and deserved some of that book’s press.  So I am *really* excited for this one. (Jan. 10)

51semvp8mrl-_sy344_bo1204203200_Difficult Women by Roxane Gay.  Short stories + Roxane Gay = Laila happy.  (Jan. 3)

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.  Yes, it’s about that Lincoln.  From Goodreads:  “Set over the course of that one night and populated by ghosts of the recently passed and the long dead, Lincoln in the Bardo is a thrilling exploration of death, grief, the powers of good and evil, a novel – in its form and voice – completely unlike anything you have read before. It is also, in the end, an exploration of the deeper meaning and possibilities of life, written as only George Saunders can: with humor, pathos, and grace.”  (Feb. 14)

Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki.  I really liked her debut novel, California, and this one sounds like a winner.  “A sinister, sexy noir about art, motherhood, and the intensity of female friendships, set in the posh hills above Los Angeles.”  (May 9)

41-fxnlisol-_sx329_bo1204203200_The Leavers by Lisa Ko.  This won the 2016 Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction and it sounds terrific.  It “follows one young man’s search for his mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant who disappears when he’s 11 years old, after which he is adopted by a white family (from Goodreads.)”  (May 2)

The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey.  I tore through The Girl With All The Gifts in a couple of days.  I think this one’s set in the same universe – maybe a prequel?  I’m here for it. (May 2)

American Street by Ibi Zoboi.  YA Haitian immigrant experience in Detroit?  Sounds really good.  Also, the cover is stunning. (Feb. 14)

americanstreet_wblurbThe Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti.    “A father protects his daughter from the legacy of his past and the truth about her mother’s death in this thrilling new novel from the prize-winning author of The Good Thief.”   Plus, I really enjoyed her first novel, The Good Thief.   (March 28)

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz.  FictionFan gushed about this one on her blog, naming it her best crime novel of the year.  (It’s already out in Scotland – lucky!)  That’s all the endorsement I need.  (June 6)

Do any of these tempt your TBR?  Is there a 2017 release that you think I would like that I neglected to put on the list?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Top Ten Tuesday: Thankful For Books!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by Broke and Bookish, is a Thanksgiving freebie.   I honestly don’t know who I’d be if I weren’t a reader.  I don’t know what else I’d do to get the education, enlightenment, companionship, and solace that books provide. Particularly now, when our nation is experiencing such a menacing and unsettling moment, books are providing a comfort to me that leaves me profoundly grateful.  I could have filled this list three times over, but these are the first ten that came to mind.

9780679886297Go, Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman.  My first favorite book, at least the one I have memories of as a very young child.  I loved the different colored dogs and their crazy tree party!  I selected this not only because I loved it, but because my son loves it too!  He went through a phase where we read it every day, and it made me happy to be able to share a special book with him.

The Nancy Drew Series by Carolyn Keene.  These are the first books I got obsessed with as an independent reader, largely because I found old copies that belonged to my aunt when she was a girl, the hardback ones with the yellow spines.  They’re horrible to read as an adult (seriously, don’t try it) but as a child they ignited my interest in mysteries.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin.  Now’s here’s a children’s mystery that definitely holds up even for adults.  I read it somewhere around the age of 9 or 10, and I was utterly captivated.  I’ve reread it twice as an adult, and listened to the audio, and it’s just terrific.

l6un8d4jxqkpkgijh2wvenpm92u2tasakfhvt04wlqojg92b1yaa2rjjnw4wuxzl628ryfr86biudfyfxvrrp9khjzqrlk5vk8rln4mehx7dxj4xhbaqd26wnwsufBark, George by Jules Feiffer.  This picture book is a hilarious crowd-pleaser that I feature regularly in my preschool storytimes.  Parents and kids alike laugh out loud.

The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone.  My son LOVES this book.  He thinks it’s hysterical when Grover implores the reader to stop turning pages!

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym.  A regular library patron recommended her to me some years ago, and I couldn’t be more grateful to her.  It was the first Pym I read, and I discovered an author that I knew I would love and reread for the rest of my life.  Her books are charming, witty, intelligent, with just a hint of melancholy.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.  I am just grateful that this book exists.  I’m grateful that it’s gotten a lot of press, and I feel like it deserves all the praise and even more.  It’s the kind of novel that transports and enlightens at the same time.  I’d make everyone read it if I could.

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson.  The book that introduced me to Atkinson, who is one of my all-time favorite authors.  It’s a knock-out literary mystery and introduces one of my favorite fictional characters, the world-weary but good-hearted Jackson Brodie.

51msjnecgylAmericanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  I remember taking my time reading this beautiful, smart, romantic novel because I wanted to luxuriate in Adichie’s writing.  And the story!  Wow!

It’s Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness by Sylvia Boorstein.  In a very warm and relatable manner, Boorstein writes of her own mental struggles (particularly with anxiety) to elucidate Buddhist principles and how they can make a person feel happier.  I don’t identify as Buddhist but there is so much wisdom here.  I reread this one regularly.

I hope those of you celebrating Thanksgiving this week enjoy your time, be it with family, friends, or just the solace of a good book and a cup of tea!  I know I’m looking forward to my five days off with family.  Let me know in the comments a book that you are thankful for; I would love to read about them.

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Titles Added To My TBR Lately

Who can resist a TBR list?  Certainly not this reader, so I felt compelled to participate in today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by The Broke And the Bookish.)  So here are the last ten books I’ve added to my TBR list (which is currently at a modest 376 titles) and my attempt at remembering why I added them (ha ha!)

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon.  I added this after seeing it on Naz’s blog Read Diverse Books.  He featured it as part of his monthly My Lit Box subscription.  You can read about it here.30650040

Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age Story by Amani Al-Khatahtbeh. I think Naz marked this as “to-read” on Goodreads, but in any case,I need to read more books from a Muslim perspective, and I thought this had promise.

Mrs. Malory Investigates by Hazel Holt.  I added this because I found out that the author was a friend to one of my favorite writers, Barbara Pym, and wrote a biography of her.  I do enjoy the British mysteries, and I’m hoping this won’t be too much on the “cozy” side for me.

 A Lot to Ask: The Life of Barbara Pym by Hazel Holt.  The biography I just mentioned!28815474

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena.  I’ve seen this around the blogosphere, and a friend in my book group gave it four stars.  I like to read thrillers every now and then, especially to be able to recommend things to library patrons who enjoy that genre.

Girl Up by Laura Bates.  I found this on Katy’s blog (read about it here.)  Goodreads blurb says, “Hilarious, jaunty and bold, GIRL UP exposes the truth about the pressures surrounding body image, the false representations in media, the complexities of a sex and relationships, the trials of social media and all the other lies they told us.”

Welcome to the Universe: An Astrophysical Tour by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michael A. Strauss, J Richard Gott III.  I found this on FictionFan’s blog (here) and I really need some more science writing to feed my brain.  Plus, Neil deGrasse Tyson is super cool.

Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story by Timothy B. Tyson.  I found this through Jenny’s review on Shelf Love.  An examination of the racism in a small North Carolina town in the aftermath of a horrible 1970 hate crime from one of the area’s residents.

Happiness and Other Small Things of Absolute Importance by Haim Shapira.  A Goodreads friend gave this a five-star review, and I am always interested in books about happiness and living a “good life.”the-course-of-love

The Course of Love by Alain de Botton.  The story of an ordinary marriage over fourteen years, this came to my attention through Anne Bogel’s Modern Mrs. Darcy blog and her What Should I Read Next? podcast (which I love.)  I heard de Botton on Krista Tippett’s On Being podcast recently, and he just seems so incredibly smart and reasonable, so I definitely want to read some of his work.

I will probably only read one of these anytime soon, but I will get to these one day!  Have you read any of these?  What have you added to your TBR lately?  Let me know in the comments.

Top Ten Tuesday: Gift Card Wishlist

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic, brought to you by The Broke and Bookish, is “Ten Books You’d Buy Right This Second If Someone Handed You A Fully Loaded Gift Card.”  Well, I think we can all agree that this one can practically write itself. But I bet it will be fun to see everyone’s picks.  Here are ten I’d put in my cart with no hesitation.

  • Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson.  I adored Brown Girl Dreaming.  Must read this one.27213163
  • Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner.  I read his Angle of Repose years ago and loved it.  I’ve been meaning to read this one for a long long time.  Two bloggers I follow have written about it and rated it lately, and this put it back on my radar.  Plus, Anne Bogel of the What Should I Read Next? podcast loves it too.
  • The Fire This Time edited by Jesmyn Ward.  I have a feeling that this book of essays on race will be one everyone should read.
  • Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon by Jane Austen.  These are the only Austen works I’ve not read and I just need to do it already.
  • Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  I have NO IDEA why I haven’t read this yet.  Ugh.  There is no excuse.
  • Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson.  After reading a few of Jackson’s deliciously creepy novels, I really want to read her memoir of family life, which is supposed to be funny and charming.
  • Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin.  Trying to rectify the fact that I’ve never read any of the brilliant Baldwin’s novels. 31GD90K5XDL
  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett.  This doesn’t come out till September but I WANT it.
  • Jazz by Toni Morrison.  Working my way through Morrison is a life goal.  This is next.
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.  I will be buying this when it comes out in September.  I love Whitehead’s range as a writer.

Well, that was fun – only now I want to get online and spend some money.  Have you read any of these titles?  What’s a book you’d buy immediately if you were given a bookstore gift card?