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 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 […]
Born to Run Written by Bruce Springsteen Audiobook read by Bruce Springsteen Published by Simon and Schuster on September 27th 2016 ISBN: 9781501141539 Genres: Nonfiction, Biography & Autobiography, Personal Memoirs, Music Format: audiobook Pages: 528 Source: purchased “Writing about yourself is a funny business…But in a project like this, the writer has made one promise, to show the reader his mind. In these pages, I’ve tried to do this.” —Bruce Springsteen, from the pages of […]
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 […]
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 Fortress Written by Danielle Trussoni Published by HarperCollins on September 20th 2016 ISBN: 9780062458995 Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Personal Memoirs Format: ARC Pages: 336 Source: publisher, via Shelf Awareness for Readers The critically acclaimed, bestselling author of Falling Through the Earth and Angelology returns with this much-anticipated memoir of love and transformation in France. The Fortress is Peter Mayle meets Eat, Pray, Love, a gorgeously written account of one woman’s journey to the other […]
The Book Bridge August 2016 Hello, and welcome to August 2016’s edition of The Book Bridge! We’re here to connect each other with the books that we were most excited about reading last month. I’m happy to welcome a few new contributors this month, and I’m very glad to see that some of the readers who joined us for our very first Book Bridge in July are back again! Here’s the main thing, though: I’m always […]
This is The Book Bridge July 2016 edition—we’re connecting each other to great reads! I’m thrilled to bring this to you, and so excited that some of you were excited to share the books you were most excited about last month. This is our first time here, and I hope it won’t be the last! We have a mix of brand-new and backlist books, fiction and nonfiction, and a couple of audiobooks to talk about, so […]
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 […]
All the Single Ladies Written by Rebecca Traister Audiobook read by Candace Thaxton Published by Simon and Schuster on March 1st 2016 ISBN: 9781476716589 Genres: History, Social Science, Women’s Studies Format: audiobook Pages: 352 Source: purchased A nuanced investigation into the sexual, economic, and emotional lives of women in America, this “singularly triumphant work” (Los Angeles Times) by Rebecca Traister “the most brilliant voice on feminism in the country” (Anne Lamott) is “sure to be […]
I’m in a weird place where I’m not reading anything on paper. I’m currently working through two e-books from the library, an audiobook, and the first graphic novel I bought to read in the Comixology app. Aside from the last, I’m strongly leaning toward nonfiction these days. Here’s a quick look at what I’m reading. All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister, audiobook read by Candace […]
The Caped Crusade Written by Glen Weldon Audiobook read by Glen Weldon Published by Simon and Schuster on March 22nd 2016 ISBN: 9781476756691 Genres: Social Science, Popular Culture, Media Studies Format: audiobook Pages: 336 Source: purchased A witty, intelligent cultural history from NPR book critic Glen Weldon explains Batman’s rises and falls throughout the ages—and what his story tells us about ourselves. Since his creation, Batman has been many things: a two-fisted detective; a planet-hopping […]