I usually read a lot more than I did this year. I blame a couple of things: 1) I started a new job; 2) I wasted half of the year trying to read 1Q84; & 3) Fifty Shades of Grey. But 17 books is better than no books, & I almost finished 1Q84. Almost.
At some point this year, I quit writing book reviews. Mostly because I was either not finishing books, or finishing books that weren't worth reviewing. So here's half a year's worth of reviews all in one big post. You're welcome.
I heard about this book via Ann Patchett's Parnassus Books blog:
"The Round House, by Louise Erdrich, is a novel I read months ago in galleys and have been dying to recommend ever since. I’m a big fan of Louise’s and this book ranks with the best of her best. It’s just stuck with me, and every day since I read it I’ve thought about the characters and the impossible circumstances they’re living in. Even though the main action is revealed in the book’s opening pages, I don’t want to spoil any of it for you. Don’t read the flap copy, just trust me. Jump in the way I jumped into it, knowing nothing, and let yourself fully experience the shock of the action as it unfolds."
I loved it & highly recommend it. One of the best books I read this year.
Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl
I previously read Reichl's Garlic and Sapphires & didn't love it, but everyone told me I should read Tender at the Bone. And they were right. This book, I loved. It's about Ruth's life prior to the NY Times. She details living with a mother with bipolar disorder, how unstable her home life was, her experience at a French Canadian boarding school, as well as how she met her husband & their early life in California. I enjoyed reading this book & definitely recommend it.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Ugh, this book. If this book had been a living, breathing person, when I finished it, I would have punched it in the face. I can't remember the last time a book made me this mad. In fairness, I was warned. The book is great. I literally could not put it down. And then I got to the end. This was the first book I read on my iPad & when I got to the last page, I was convinced that there was a glitch in iBooks & that there were pages not showing up. I even had John look at it to see if something was wrong. Nope. It's just the worst book ending IN THE WORLD. You've been warned.
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
This book has been recommended to me about a million times & I've always dismissed it. Every time someone recommends it, they give the disclaimer: it's written by a dog & the dog dies. Why would I read this book?! But I read it & it really is good. It's more heartwarming than sad. Reading a book written through the perspective of a dog isn't as weird as you think. Give it a shot, especially if you're a dog lover (Delaney - except you. Do not read this book).
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Juan Diaz
Man, this book was a let down. I've owned it for years & have heard nothing but rave reviews. When Diaz's new book came out this year, I felt like I should read this one first. I'm not going to lie, I didn't like it. At all. I know Diaz is celebrated for his writing style & integrated use of language & dialect, but it didn't work for me. It was like reading a Magic Eye poster. I kept reading, knowing there was something there that I wasn't seeing, but much like those old posters, I stared & stared & never saw it. Oddly, I still want to read his new book, This Is How You Lose Her, but if that one disappoints, I'm done with Juan Diaz.
A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers
Meh. There's honestly nothing else to say, except that I've already forgotten what this book is about & I just read it 2 months ago. I'm a pretty big fan of Dave Eggers. I loved You Shall Know Our Velocity!, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and What Is the What, but this new book is a miss. Again, meh.
These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf
My friend Jenn recommended this book & I plowed through it in a weekend. It's not a life-changing book by any means, but it's one of those books that you can't put down. Each chapter is written in a different character, which always makes me read faster. I liked this book.
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
This is one of the best books I've ever read. I'm almost mad at myself for waiting so long to read it. If this had been my story to tell, I'm not sure I would have been able to tell it, & I certainly couldn't have told it in such an endearing, heartbreaking way. This book ranks up there with A Tree Grows In Brooklyn & To Kill A Mockingbird. I expect to re-read this book many times throughout my life.