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 received this book for review consideration from the publisher, via Shelf Awareness for Readers. All opinions are my own.The Devil and Webster Written by Jean Hanff Korelitz Published by Grand Central Publishing on March 21st 2017 ISBN: 9781455592388 Genres: Fiction, Literary, Contemporary Women, Family Life Format: ARC Pages: 368 Source: publisher, via Shelf Awareness for Readers From the New York Times bestselling author of You Should Have Known and Admission, a twisty new novel […]
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 […]
I received this book for review consideration from the publisher, via Shelf Awareness for Readers. All opinions are my own.This Is Not Over Written by Holly Brown Published by William Morrow, HarperCollins on January 17th 2017 ISBN: 9780062456830 Genres: Fiction, Suspense Format: ARC Pages: 400 Source: publisher, via Shelf Awareness for Readers When 30-year-old Dawn reads Miranda’s email, she sees red. People have always told Dawn she’s beautiful, and she just hopes they don’t see […]
This Is the Story of You Written by Beth Kephart Published by Chronicle Books on April 12th 2016 ISBN: 9781452142845 Genres: Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, General Format: ebook Pages: 264 Source: purchased On Haven, a six-mile long, half-mile-wide stretch of barrier island, Mira Banul and her Year-Rounder friends have proudly risen to every challenge. But then a superstorm defies all predictions and devastates the island, upending all logic and stranding Mira’s mother and brother on […]
We Are Unprepared Written by Meg Little Reilly Published by Mira Books on August 30th 2016 ISBN: 9780778319436 Genres: Fiction, Literary Format: ARC Pages: 368 Source: publisher Meg Little Reilly places a young couple in harm’s way—both literally and emotionally—as they face a cataclysmic storm that threatens to decimate their Vermont town, and the Eastern Seaboard in her penetrating debut novel, WE ARE UNPREPARED. Ash and Pia move from hipster Brooklyn to rustic Vermont in […]
When She Woke Written by Hillary Jordan Published by Algonquin Books on 2012 ISBN: 9781616201937 Genres: Fiction, General, Dystopian Format: ebook Pages: 354 Source: purchased Bellwether Prize winner Hillary Jordan’s provocative new novel, When She Woke, tells the story of a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of a not-too-distant future, where the line between church and state has been eradicated and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned and rehabilitated but chromedÑtheir skin color […]
Burn Baby Burn Written by Meg Medina Published by Candlewick Press on March 8th 2016 ISBN: 9780763679989 Genres: Fiction, Young Adult, General Format: ebook Pages: 320 Nora Lopez is seventeen during the infamous New York summer of 1977, when the city is besieged by arson, a massive blackout, and a serial killer named Son of Sam who shoots young women on the streets. Nora’s family life isn’t going so well either: her bullying brother, Hector, […]
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 […]
I received this book for review consideration from the publisher, via Shelf Awareness for Readers. All opinions are my own.The Girl from Venice Written by Martin Cruz Smith Published by Simon & Schuster on October 18th 2016 ISBN: 9781439140239 Genres: Fiction, Historical, Thrillers Format: ARC Pages: 320 Source: publisher, via Shelf Awareness for Readers The highly anticipated new standalone novel from Martin Cruz Smith, whom The Washington Post has declared “that uncommon phenomenon: a popular […]
Cruel Beautiful World Written by Caroline Leavitt Published by Algonquin Books on October 4th 2016 ISBN: 9781616203634 Genres: Fiction, Literary Format: ARC Pages: 352 Source: publisher Sixteen-year-old Lucy Gold is about ;to run away with a much older man to live off the grid in rural Pennsylvania, a rash act that will have vicious repercussions for both her and her older sister, Charlotte. As Lucy’s default parent for most of their lives, Charlotte has seen […]
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 […]
I received this book for review consideration from the publisher, via Shelf Awareness for Readers. All opinions are my own.Small Great Things Written by Jodi Picoult Published by Ballantine Books on October 11th 2016 ISBN: 9781444788013 Genres: Fiction, Literary, Adult Fiction Format: ARC Pages: 480 Source: publisher, via Shelf Awareness for Readers Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins […]
Commonwealth Written by Ann Patchett Published by HarperCollins on September 13th 2016 ISBN: 9780062491817 Genres: Fiction, Family Life, Literary Format: ARC Pages: 336 Source: publisher The acclaimed, bestselling author—winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize—tells the enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families’ lives. One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, […]