Thursday, January 31, 2013

100 Books: January Update

I have been a reading fool, which is part of the reason I haven't been around much lately.  This month, I have read 14 books, but I have high hopes to tear through another one tonight-- either the trashy thriller I snagged at Walgreens the other day when I realized I wouldn't be able to make it to the library (and good thing I did because I forgot to bring my library books with me today-- maybe I'll remember tomorrow, but it;s only going to be 6 tomorrow, so I may try not to go ANYWHERE) or Love Is a Mix Tape which I just this second found on my office shelves.  (I have read 250 pages today for my class next week, so I am thinking the mix tape book which is much slimmer).

Getting a PhD in the humanities will make you a fast, fast reader (I used to read 1500 pages a week-- usually more for my classes), and I have loved  having time this year to curl up with a good book.  Swearing off the e-reader has made me go to greater lengths to find books-- the library, Walgreens, my own neglected bookshelves, as well as Amazon and Barnes and Noble-- but I have been lucky enough to find a good book at my fingertips whenever I want without resorting to downloading.

Here are the 14 books I have read so far, in order from least favorite to most favorite (but really, there hasn't been a bad book):

Brave Girl Eating by Harriet Brown:  I read this memoir of a family's struggle with anorexia during a single nap, so it was certainly interesting, but it effected me the least of all the books I read this month.
Dumping Billy by Olivia Goldmsith:  A cute book, and I LOVE Goldsmith, especially Flavor of the Month.  This particular book was released posthumously, after she died of plastic surgery complications.
My Latest Grievance by Elinor Lipman:  Engaging story, badly drawn characters, but a terrific narrator.
Knitting Under the Influence by Claire LeZebnick:  As the name suggests, this is total schlocky chicklit, but still funny and fun to read.  That's how I feel about all of her books-- good when you want something mindless, though-- fast plots and terrific dialogue.
Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin:  I liked this book, but it was a kind of slow read for me, and I was totally overwhelmed by Rubin's inability to examine her own considerable privilege.  It didn't sound hard for her to be happy.  Being a pretty privileged person myself, though, I fond some great tips.
The Litigators by John Grisham:  Ben likes Grisham so much that he buys him in hardback.  He urged me to read this one when my first stack of library books didn't last a whole week, and I was skeptical.  But I really loved it.  The plot was engrossing and the end was really satisfying.  I smiled the whole time I read this thing, even on the elliptical.
The Chocolate Money by Ashley Prentice Norton:  Sad! Funny!  Awesome narrator!  This was another fast read.
The Foremost Good Fortune by Susan Conley:  An excellent memoir about a woman who gets breast cancer while living in China with her husband and 2 sons-- beautifully written, haunting.
The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg:  I loved this book so much I tried to send it to Sarah, but I used the self-serve machine at the PO and the book has since vanished.
Great House by Nicole Krauss:  A beautiful book.  I just finished it at lunch, so it might be higher on my list if I had more time to process.
The Round House by Louise Erdrich:  The second-to-last line of this book is the most perfect thing I ever read.  It made me burst into tears on the elliptical because I loved it so much.
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss:  OH MY GOD this book is amazing.  If you haven't read it, you should RIGHT NOW.  I cried and cried and cried at the end, but they were good tears.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn:  Yup.
Elsewhere by Richard Russo:  Russo is my favorite living author, and I have read everything he has written, so I knew I would love this book.  If this baby were a boy, in fact, he would be William Henry with the nickname hank after my favorite character is all of literature from Straight Man, my favorite book in the world.  Reading this made me want to reread Russo's entire oeuvre.

I got 6 of these books from the library, 5 from Amazon, 2 from Barnes and Noble, and 1 from  my own bookshelf.  Next month, I want to check out more books instead of buying them, but I also want to read Jen Lancaster's new book and John Irving's among others, and there's NO WAY I'll be able to fight through a wait list to get new releases from the 'brary.

I'd love any book suggestions you have, too!


  1. I HIGHLY recommend The Girls by Lori Lansens and The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling (yes, the Harry Potter author.) I read The Casual Vacancy when it came out last fall and it still haunts me. Every time I tell someone about the book, it makes me consider again how my middle-class, white privilege affects my view of poverty.

  2. Have you read Rubin's "The Happiness Project"? She addresses the issue of privilege more frequently & directly in that--and I think she anticipated that folks reading "Happier at Home" would have already read it. She ultimately argues that even happy people can strive to be happier, and that learning and practicing happiness is, in a way, preparing for a future moment of profound unhappiness. *shrug* I was satisfied, but then I'm not a very critical reader.

    (This is funny, though, because in "Project" she notes that a critique of her "40 Ways to Look at JFK" was that she didn't appropriately explain "Why 40 ways?" A choice she defends by saying that she didn't want to retread the explanation she gave in "40 Ways to Look at Churchill." So apparently it's a pattern!)

  3. I liked happiness project better than happier at home for the reasons your commenter erin mentioned.

    my husband will also buy grisham in hardback, which i find sort of embarrassing. but i always read them, too.

    i'm totally behind compared to you! i need to get busy. i'm reading mindy kaling's book next, but i'm about to finish a great non-fiction read called Nuture Shock. It reads kind of like Malcolm Gladwell. It's about child psychology mostly--why kids lie, why white parents don't talk to their kids about race. It's pretty interesting.

  4. What a fun project. No suggestions, I get mine from you and Brooke!

  5. Finished Gone Girl and absolutely loved it except for the ending not because I couldn't accept Gillian's artistic choice but because it really felt rushed compared to the rest. Reading Cutting for Stone now, I'll let you know....

  6. I agree with Gina about Gone Girl. I did not like the end. AT ALL>

  7. I absolutely suck and forgot to tell you that I DID get The Middlesteins last week. I'm sorry and thank you!! Its on my pile of books to read; I'm going to start it as soon as I finish In One Person by John Irving.