Tuesday, April 02, 2013

100 Books: March Update

I read 15 books in March, most of them remarkably good, one of them horrible.  Here's my list:

15.  How I Came to Sparkle Again by Kaya McLaren:  Worst book I have ever read, and I used to be a Sweet Valley Twins fan.  I should have stopped, but it was 3 am, and I was nursing the baby, and I just kept going.

14.  The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas:  Kind of interesting, told from eight different viewpoints, set in Australia.  I liked it a lot right after I finished it, but looking back, it was not my favorite read.

13.  Butter by Anne Panning:  A really lovely, haunting coming-of-age story.  Any other month, it would rank higher on the list, but I read some great stuff this month.  This book was sad, but the narrator stayed with me for weeks, always a good sign.

12.  Bloom by Kelle Hampton:  I like her blog, Enjoying the Small Things, so I liked reading her back story in this book, and the pictures were lovely.  I read it one afternoon shortly before Dorothy was born all in one sitting.

11.  The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz:  I read this for my Go Big Read committee.  It's a fascinating story of Dominican American culture with lots of teenage angst, family mythology, and sex and violence.  The way the book is constructed and the evolution of the narrator's voice is what's so cool, and you can't appreciate the intricacies until after you've read the book, so my appreciation has grown since I finished it.

10.  The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling:  This book was SAD.  And there were lots of characters that took me a few hundred pages to really like. And it was SAD.  But she does a great job of constructing a complete world, natch.

9.  Making Babies by Anne Enright:  Apparently, she's a really famous Irish author.  I snagged her book from a shelf of female memoirs at the library, and I loved it.  She's so, so funny, and her take on childbirth and motherhood was delightful. 

8.  Friends Like Us by Lauren Fox:  This was well written, kind of trashy, and really engaging-- MY FAVORITE COMBO.  A really entertaining read about love, friendship, and betrayal.  Chick lit for sure.

7.  The Hypnotist's Love Story by Lane Moriarty:  Much like the above novel-- a really original plot and fascinating characters.  Read it in a day.

6.  Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett:  I have never read any of her books, so I started with this memoir about her University of Iowa writers workshop days with Lucy Greely.  I loved it-- such an honest and heartbreaking story, and I love reading about the genteel poverty of graduate school.  This one was especially intriguing because I always wanted to go to the writers workshop there.

5.  Run by Ann Patchett:  Excellent book!  A little trite with the way it handles race and class, but a sad story that unfolds in a really graceful and unusual way.  Excellent dialogue and characters that linger after the book is through.

4.  The Marriage Plot by Jeffery Eugenides:  I read some scathing reviews of this book on Goodreads, but I loved it.  It reminded me of a Donna Tart book in character development and university setting.  I really cared about the characters, so I didn't mind how seriously the story took itself.

3. Touch and Go by Lisa Gardner:  I love her!  When I had insomnia when Harry was a baby, I discovered her books because I had read every possible Patricia Cornwell.  Since then, I have been gobbling up her new releases.  Ben bought this one for me the day it came out, and I stashed it in my hospital bag.  I read it the day after Dorothy was born and left it for my favorite nurse.  A page-turner for sure.

2.  Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo:  A Russo I haven't read??  What a lovely surprise.  He creates the best criminally neglectful but well-meaning dads and crazy moms, and his straight man/ comic foil buddy dialogue is the best ever.

1.  Animal's People by Indra Sinha:  Another committee book, this was breathtaking.  Animal is a narrator who will go down in literary history with Holden Caulfield and Scout Finch.  Based on the Bhopal disaster, this books tells of a village in India decimated by a chemical fire at an American plant and the ensuing anti-American sentiment and protests against US money/aid that ensue.  But it is also the story of Animal's coming-of-age and his unexpected friendships.  Lots of mature language and sex and violence.


  1. I love your monthly reviews, and I've added a bunch to my own "to read" list. I remember that you liked Gone Girl. You HAVE to read her other two. I thought they were even better.

  2. Wendy Davis4:09 PM

    Thanks for the list. I'm always looking for a good book, and I haven't found a really "great" one lately. I added a few of yours to download. Casual Vacancy....it took me a long time to get "into" that story, and once I did, I really liked the characters. Still, I was hoping for a bit more from Rowling. Perhaps I need to let go of my Harry Potter expectations.

  3. Anonymous10:35 PM

    OMG - Ann Patchett - SO GOOD. I read Truth and Beauty and loved it. I highly recommend you follow up with a read of her friend's book, "Autobiography of a Face." I read Truth and Beauty first, then Autobiography, and I didn't find that knowing "the end" ruined ready Autobiography, if you catch my meaning. I do want someone to read Autobiography first and then Truth and Beauty and see if they have another perspective. I also recommend "State of Wonder" by Ann Patchett, I think it's her latest. I found it really compelling to keep thinking about later.

  4. Anonymous10:37 PM

    I meant "reading Autobiography" not "ready Autobiography."

  5. Sarah, I don't know if you remember me but I went to Pekin with Jon (I was a year ahead of him) and was a speechie. Not quite sure how I found your blog but I have been reading for a few months, and I love your writing. I am very much enjoying your book posts, thanks so much and sorry for being a creeper :)
    -Cathy Martin Briggs

  6. I'm not kidding when I say that you are one of my favorite goodreads friends because you read books I read or want to read :)