2013: A Year in Books

I know that last year I complained about the measly 34 books that I read and promised the internet I’d do better, but before you scroll down to see my final number for this year (abysmal) let me reminds you that the average American only gets through about six a year. I’ve totally beat a lot of them.

 Audition ***

I liked this book – I listened to it in the car and it took me awhile to get over her speech impediment, and I was surprised that she never mentions her speech impediment. The first half of the book was by far the best, describing her childhood, her famous father and her fairly dysfunctional immediate family – the second half gets a little braggy about her success.

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter ****

Wow, what an amazing book. Certainly the best thing I’ve read in a long time. I put it into the same category as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I am stunned that a 23 year old could create such a multi-dimensional,   deep, stirring, story. Run, don’t walk – read this today.

Winter of the World: Book Two of the Century Trilogy

Winter of the World***

Not as good as The Fall of Giants but still a riveting story. It started with the rise of Hitler and ended with the conclusion of World War II. I liked this but felt like it dragged a little in the middle, it seemed like it took me forever to read.

Great Expectations

Great Expectations***

A classic I always meant to read. I like Dickens and enjoyed this – I listened to it in my car which was very enjoyable and took me away from my road rage and my 21st century paradigm.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry***

A cute, sleeper novel. This was the first book club selection of the year and I’m not sure that it’s a consensus to give this novel 3 stars, but the end took me by surprise and made me think long and hard about old age and the relationships we hold dear.

Life Interrupted: The Unfinished Monologue

Life Interrupted**

The last unfinished monologue of Spaulding Grey, I listen to this in the car. It was read by Sam Shepard and I could not get into his reading. He had neither the rhythm nor the cadence that Spaulding had and I could not hear Spaulding at all. At the end I was just depressed.

2001: A Space Odyssey (Space Odyssey Series #1)

2001: A space Odyssey***

I’m adding this here because I re-’read’ almost half of this book this year and I think it makes the list. It’s classically sci-fi and way better than the movie.

Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs Series #1)

Maisie Dobbes*

Ugh – I could not get into this book at all. This was a recommendation from both my Mother and my sister who have read the entire series. I read three quarters of it and stuck it back on the shelf. Murder mysteries are not my cup of tea and this wasn’t compelling enough to change that.

The Devil Wears Prada

The Devil Wears Prada**

Exactly what you would expect a block buster chick-lit book to be. I listened to this in a car on the way to my crappy job in the ghetto and it made me feel better about my own situation. I would have liked it so much better if the ending had been different, but it was the most anti-climactic thing I have read in a long long time.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Wild***

I really enjoyed this book. As a Mom the introduction and forward made me both sad and depressed and I went through many many tissues, but the story of Cheryl’s hike and quest to get her life back and move forward where both poignant and funny. Not long after reading this I got a chance to hear a reading from her at the free library and she was amazing in person – I need to get more of her stuff.

Tess of the d'Urbervilles (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

 Tess of the D’Urbaville’s***

Another classic that I listened to in the car. I really liked this book even though I felt so bad for the protagonist Tess who is a constant victim of her own design – I spent half of the book yelling at her from inside the car. But otherwise, it is a good story that transcends time and is still enjoyable today.

The Year of the Flood

The year of the Flood***

It’s been a long time since I read Oryx and Crake, the first book in this series that I loved loved loved so I was excited to once again pick up this story and I did enjoy this but I did not love it – it fell short of the first book by a wide margin.

Mississippi Sissy

Mississippi Sissy****

An excellent memoir that will make you both laugh and cry again and again. Beautifully written and raw.

The Phoenix Unchained (Enduring Flame Series #1)

 The Phoenix Unchained*

Ugh – another audio book I got through my book club. I generally really like suspending belief and diving into other worlds that take me away from the stress of this one but this book was ridiculous to the extreme. Perhaps it’s because it was being read out loud. I finished it because I had to but I would not recommend it.

The Center of Everything: A Novel

The Center of Everything***

This is a very good coming of age novel set in Middle America. Not a book I would have picked up but I needed something to read while on vacation and found it next to the guest bed at my parents’ house. I thought it was very well written and makes you empathetic to all teenagers, especially Evelyn.

Traveler

Traveler**

Meh. I had high hopes for this book after reading The Memory of Running from Ron McClarety last year, but again, I thought this fell short. It’s good but not great.

It Looked Different on the Model: Epic Tales of Impending Shame and Infamy

It Looked different on the Model***

Oh Laurie Notaro – you are one of my favorites. She could sneeze on a napkin and I would think it was funny. If you’ve never read anything by her do yourself a favor and go pick up Idiot Girl’s Action Adventure Club do it now.

Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin

Official book club selection***

Much better than anticipated. I can only assume that Kathy got a ghost writer for this book… It was a very honest look into her childhood and struggle with her career and relationships. I am a big fan of personal memoirs and I really enjoyed this book.

From the Dust Returned

From the dust returned**

I picked up this book because the Bloggess once named it as one of the three books she would read for the rest of her life if she could only read three books (I had already read the other two and liked them so I assumed this would also be a winner) and I have to admit that I didn’t really get it. It’s all about the supernatural and ghosts/vampires sort of things which I generally can get into. Unfortunately I simply spent the entire book a little confused and not all that interested.

City of Dragons (Rain Wilds Chronicles #3)

City of Dragons****

Robin Hobb is by far one of my favorite authors and if you enjoy being immersed in alternate worlds and like using your imagination than I recommend her highly. This was the third book in the rain wilds chronicles. The only downside to this book is that I thought it was the final in a trilogy but it turns out there’s one more – which now I have to wait for…

A ticket to the Circus***

Another great memoir – from artist, model and 6th and final wife to Norman Mailer. Norris led a pretty amazing life and takes you right inside on her wild ride. Honest and open about her struggles with Norman it’s definitely worth the read.

I Don't Care about Your Band: What I Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Faux Sensitive Hipsters, Felons, and Other Guys I've Dated

I don’t care about your band**

Total brain candy. This is classic chick lit and won’t take you long to get through. It’s perfect for train riding or sitting by the pool.

One Summer: America, 1927

One Summer***

I bought this for my Dad for Christmas but as a huge Bill Bryson fan I thought I should read it before I gave it to him. The entire thing is centered around the events of the summer of 1927 and is a masterpiece in investigative literature. Anyone who wants to know more about this era should definitely make this a must-read.

The Last Unicorn (Graphic Novel)

The Last Unicorn***

This book is supposedly a classic (I read it in a list on the internet somewhere so that must be true) and while I am enjoying it (I’m not quite finished) it’s not in any way groundbreaking. It’s a cute story and well written but I’m not sure I would add it to a must read list.

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