Bookkeeping: The Reading Year in Review (Without Reviews)
Contributing to Shelf Awareness taught me how to craft a concise, structured book review. I’ve never really mastered the “bite-size” capsule book discussion, though–not on LibraryThing or Goodreads, not on Instagram or Litsy, and definitely not here. My book posts here tend to skew high on the word-count side.
I’d like to think I write long reviews because I read books that give me lots to think and talk about Sometimes that’s actually true. And sometimes I scrounge for things to say just to have made the time spent writing feel worth it.
I started this blog to have a record of my reading, with the intent of discussing every book I read. The intention is still there, but the fulfillment of it has been extremely lacking for at least 18 months. That hasn’t meant the end of the world, but it has meant that there’s no record of most of what I’ve read in the last year and a half.
2017 has disappeared, but I don’t really want 2018 to follow it. Here’s a list of the books I’ve read so far this year. If time and energy allow, I will come back to some of them in other posts and say more about them, but I don’t plan to “review” any of them at this point. The lists are in roughly chronological order, although they don’t account for movement between fiction and nonfiction.
Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng (purchased audiobook, narrated by Jennifer Lim) [I will probably buy a paperback keeper copy of this one; I liked it more than Everything I Never Told You.]
Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty (paperback) [I read this one because I didn’t plan to watch the miniseries. After I read it, I couldn’t wait to watch the miniseries.]
Crazy Rich Asians, China Rich Girlfriend, and Rich People Problems, all by Kevin Kwan (paperback and hardcover) [Recommended binge-reading!]
The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin (ebook from the library)
This Could Hurt, by Jillian Medoff (ebook from the library)
In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox, by Carol Burnett: memoir (purchased audiobook, read by the author) [I actually did post a capsule review of this one!]
The Monster of Florence, by Mario Spezi and Douglas Preston: true crime (purchased audiobook, narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris)
The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America, by Frances FitzGerald: history, religion, politics (audiobook from the library, read by Jacques Roy) [A 2017 National Book Award finalist, this is probably the most important book I’ve read so far this year. It’s instructive, aggravating, and very enlightening about America’s present political and cultural climate. It’s on the heavy side, but not dry reading, and I highly recommend it.]
The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath, by Leslie Jamison: memoir, social history (audiobook from the library, read by the author) [Jamison weaves the experiences of other writers who struggled with addiction into her own story. I thought it was well-built and well-written, and I was impressed by her narration of the audiobook.]
Educated, by Tara Westover; memoir (audiobook from the library, read by Julia Whelan) [This deserves more than a capsule and I intend to give it that. Meanwhile, you should read it!]
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, by Michelle McNamara: true crime (audiobook from the library, read by Gabra Zackman with Gillian Flynn and Patton Oswalt) [The story around this book is almost as interesting as the book itself.]
The Book of Separation, by Tova Mirvis: memoir (ebook, from the library) [I’ve read a few of this author’s novels, but this memoir came to my attention via Beth Kephart.]
I have noticed some themes and trends here, but I’ll save that discussion for another time. Meanwhile, a couple of questions for you:
Have you read any of the books I mentioned here? Which one(s), and what did you think?
What book are you recommending most frequently these days?
I don’t usually do the “bite-sized book reviews” thing here. But after four months away, it’s probably the most efficient way to catch up! I’m updating my 2017 Book Review Index and reading record with these collected mini-reviews. Granted, I didn’t do a TON of reading while I was gone. However, I did read too many books to write individual posts about each one. I don’t have the time–or quite frankly, the memory of some of […]
Born a Crime Written by Trevor Noah Audiobook read by Trevor Noah Published by Random House Publishing Group on November 15th 2016 ISBN: 9780399588174 Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Personal Memoirs, Essays, Performing Arts Format: audiobook Pages: 304 Source: purchased Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at […]
The Mothers Written by Brit Bennett Audiobook read by Adenrele Ojo Published by Penguin on October 11th 2016 ISBN: 9780399184536 Genres: Fiction, Literary Format: audiobook Pages: 288 Source: purchased Set within a contemporary black community in Southern California, Brit Bennett’s mesmerizing first novel is an emotionally perceptive story about community, love, and ambition. It begins with a secret. “All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we’d taken a moment to […]
The Princess Diarist Written by Carrie Fisher Audiobook read by carrie fisher, billie lourd Published by Blue Rider Press on October 18th 2016 ISBN: 0399173595 Genres: Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs, Popular Culture Format: audiobook Pages: 257 Source: purchased The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie. When Carrie Fisher recently discovered […]
The Wangs vs. the World Written by Jade Chang Audiobook read by Nancy Wu Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on October 4th 2016 ISBN: 9780544734203 Genres: Fiction, Literary, Asian American Format: audiobook Pages: 336 Source: purchased THE WANGS VS. THE WORLD is an outrageously funny tale about a wealthy Chinese-American family that “loses it all, then takes a healing, uproarious road trip across the United States” (Entertainment Weekly). Their spectacular fall from riches to rags […]
Another Brooklyn Written by Jacqueline Woodson Audiobook read by Robin Miles Published by HarperCollins on August 9th 2016 ISBN: 9780062359988 Genres: Fiction, African American, General Format: audiobook Pages: 192 Source: public library via Overdrive National Book Award FinalistNew York Times Bestseller The acclaimed New York Times bestselling and National Book Award–winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming delivers her first adult novel in twenty years. Running into a long-ago friend sets memory from the 1970s in motion […]
TV (The Book) Written by Alan Sepinwall, Matt Zoller Seitz Audiobook read by Alan Sepinwall, Matt Zoller Seitz Published by Grand Central Publishing on September 6th 2016 ISBN: 9781455588206 Genres: Nonfiction, Television, History & Criticism Format: audiobook Pages: 352 Source: purchased Is The Wire better than Breaking Bad? Is Cheers better than Seinfeld? What’s the best high school show ever made? Why did Moonlighting really fall apart? Was the Arrested Development Netflix season brilliant or […]
Behold the Dreamers Written by Imbolo Mbue Audiobook read by Prentice Onayemi Published by Random House Publishing Group on August 23rd 2016 ISBN: 9780812998498 Genres: Fiction, Literary Format: audiobook Pages: 416 Source: public library via Overdrive A compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream—the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy […]
Hidden Figures Written by Margot Lee Shetterly Audiobook read by Robin Miles Published by William Morrow, HarperCollins on September 6th 2016 ISBN: 9780062363596 Genres: Nonfiction, History, African American Studies, Space Science Format: audiobook Pages: 368 Source: public library via Overdrive The phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, […]
Alexander Hamilton Written by Ron Chernow Audiobook read by Scott Brick Published by Penguin on 2004 ISBN: 9780143034759 Genres: Biography & Autobiography Format: audiobook Pages: 818 Source: purchased In the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, National Book Award winner Ron Chernow tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America. According to historian Joseph Ellis, Alexander Hamilton is “a robust full-length portrait, […]
The Story of the Lost Child Series: The Neapolitan Novels, #4 Written by Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein Audiobook read by Hillary Huber Published by Europa Editions on September 1st 2015 ISBN: 9781609452865 Genres: Fiction, Literary Format: audiobook Pages: 473 Source: public library via Overdrive Here is the dazzling saga of two women, the brilliant, bookish Elena and the fiery, uncontainable Lila. Both are now adults; life’s great discoveries have been made, its vagaries and losses […]
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay Written by Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein Audiobook read by Hillary Huber Published by Europa Editions on September 2nd 2014 ISBN: 9781609452230 Genres: Fiction, Literary Format: audiobook Pages: 400 Source: public library via Overdrive The incredible story continues in book three of the critically acclaimed Neapolitan Novels! Since the publication of My Brilliant Friend, the first of the Neapolitan novels, Elena Ferrante’s fame as one of our most compelling, […]
Hamilton: The Revolution Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeremy McCarter Audiobook read by Mariska Hargitay, Jeremy McCarter, Lin-Manuel Miranda Published by Grand Central Publishing on April 12th 2016 ISBN: 9781455539741 Genres: Nonfiction, Popular Culture, Entertainment & Performing Arts Format: audiobook Pages: 288 Source: purchased Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Eleven Tony Awards, including Best Musical Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking musical Hamilton is as revolutionary as its subject, the poor kid from the Caribbean […]
Dear Mr. You Written by Mary-Louise Parker Audiobook read by Mary-Louise Parker Published by Scribner on November 10th 2015 ISBN: 9781501107832 Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Entertainment & Performing Arts, Personal Memoirs Format: audiobook Pages: 240 Source: purchased A wonderfully unconventional literary debut from the award-winning actress Mary-Louise Parker. An extraordinary literary work, Dear Mr. You renders the singular arc of a woman’s life through letters Mary-Louise Parker composes to the men, real and hypothetical, who […]