Reading and Books

Favorite Books So Far: Summer 2018

I have read 75 books so far this year and these are my favorites. I continue to get such good reading recommendations from my three favorite reading podcasts: What Should I Read Next? From the From Porch and The Librarian is In. Many of my favorites were Shelf Subscription Books, a monthly gift I give myself. Highly recommend! Linking up to book whisperer Anne Bogel aka Modern Mrs. Darcy. If you don’t follow her, you should. 😊

My current read is this new book about a road trip written by a fellow sewist. I am only a couple of chapters in but am loving it. Zoom in to see who recommended it! I loved The Mothers and if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. What are you reading and loving this summer?

Standard
Reading and Books

Nursebean Reads: Summer 2018

This summer has been a season of reading. Despite an entire month (May) when I did not read one book and instead sewed all the things (see exhibits A and B) and a weekend during which I sewed multiple versions of my new favorite pattern (exhibit C), I still managed to read a lot of books, most of them really excellent. I have especially enjoyed reading on my front porch. And I was so lucky to have a vacation in a cabin in Maine in early June. Really is there anything better than hiking during the day and reading in front of a fire in a cabin in Maine?Here are the books.

The Nix was my book club’s choice for July. It was published in 2016 and I had seen it in the library forever but didn’t have a clue as to what it was about. It is over 600 pages so a bit of a commitment but I was so drawn into the story that I couldn’t put it down. So good! If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it. I borrowed it as a e-book from my library but there were so many passages that I wanted to underline and couldn’t. I will be buying this to have my own copy. That is very rare for me. The only other time I have gone out and bought the book after reading it during the last year was this book which if you haven’t read it, why haven’t you?

After finishing The Nix, I didn’t think I could read another book as wonderful but then I read A Place For Us. This is a debut novel and the author is 26. The writing is beautiful. The characters are beautifully written and I cried my way though many sections. I read it in a weekend. Once I got caught up in this family’s story, I couldn’t put it down. I knew it would be good because both Anne and Annie recommended it but I still couldn’t believe that someone in her twenties could so accurately capture what it feels like to be a parent, a child, a sibling, but she really gets it. Do yourself a favor and get on your library’s wait list because this is going to be a top 10 book of the year. Of this I am sure. One of the themes in this book is substance abuse so if this would be hard for you to read about, would skip this one although it is not the central theme which is family.

I also really loved the next book which I heard about on the What Should I Read Next podcast. It is quite short and almost fable-like. Translated from the Japanese, it tells the story of one woman but made me think about so many aspects of what it means to be an individual in a culture that is not always accepting of differences-not the Japanese culture per se but the culture of being any individual in any society. I think it would make a great book group book. So many things to discuss.

I read this next book about being a woman, being a parent, being a mother, being an adoptive mother, written, amazingly by a man. I loved how it depicted the central character who is very human and who makes decisions that you might or might not agree with. Similar in some ways to A Place For Us, it speaks to the ways that all of us make decisions from the place of our own limited understanding of a situation, usually with the best of intentions but sometimes with ramifications that we don’t anticipate. This would also make a great book club read.

I discovered Kelly Corrigan this year and the Middle Place is the third book of hers that I have read and I loved it best. The way that she writes about her father is just beautiful. More tears. Just read it. She does talk about her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment so if those topics would be challenging for you to read about, would wait on this one.

I discovered The Throwback Special because it was recommended on From the Front Porch which along with What Should I Read Next, is a must-listen every week. These two podcasts are my major sources of great reads. I recently discovered a third reading podcast which I am also loving, the New York Public Library’s podcast, The Librarian is In. What I love is that each of these three podcasts (I discovered the second two when their hosts were guests on WSIRN) is that I get different reading recommendations from each of the three. I feel as though each of the three channels different types of books and aspects of my reading personality. I highly recommend all three. Fun to listen to and great sources of great books.

Anyway, back to The Throwback Special, I really loved the writing and the way the author captured the way men relate to each other and to sports. The rituals, the trivia. And I remember actually watching the football game that inspires this group’s annual outing in real time so it felt like reliving a part of my own history. I read a lot of books about families and couples and women but not so many about men and how they relate to each other and their roles. This does an excellent job. I highly recommend it.

Tangerine is a very atmospheric read that has a noir feel. I enjoyed the description of Morocco where the story takes place and the suspenseful feel of the book. I didn’t love the characters so much. I have a hard time with books where the characters are people whose lives I can’t really relate to. I have seen mixed reviews by people I follow. Some have really liked it, others not so much. If you like suspense and mystery and don’t need to love your protagonists, give it a try.

I was late to the party on this next book but I found it to be a very enjoyable light read. Perfect for my summer cabin reading. And the books on the cover glow in the dark! So definitely worth reading the paperback rather than the e-book. 

I was also the last person on the planet to read this next book which if you are the other person who hasn’t read it, I highly recommend it. Another perfect summer read. A couple of tears, mine (this month’s theme, maybe.)

The Heart’s Invisible Furies was recommended me by Catherine whose blog is a must-read for me. I have loved all of the books that she has written and all of the books she recommends. She also posts amazing recipes.

Anyway, this book. Beautifully written, wonderful characters, heartbreaking at times and a really interesting look into what it was like to live in Ireland the last 75 or so years. Since one branch of my family was originally from County Cork, I was really shocked by much of what I learned about the religious and political institutions and their impact on peoples’ lives. It is one thing to have a general idea of the beliefs and the institutions and another to read in such specific detail of the lengths that fellow human beings had to go to and probably still have to go to to just to live quiet lives loving who they love. Highly recommended.

I loved the new Anne Tyler book. She writes characters who I fall in love with and I really enjoyed the relationship between her 61 year old protagonist Willa and a young girl she befriends. Now I want to go back and read the rest of her books that I have missed. I have read about 15 of them but I think that leaves at least 5 that I haven’t yet read. She is so prolific. Lucky for us! This was my July Shelf Subscription pick, a gift I give to myself each month and the way I make sure not to miss great books. Many of the books on this list were sent to me from the Bookshelf as Shelf picks.

I finally read An American Marriage after being on the library waiting list for months. Worth the wait. A really powerful story. I was drawn into the characters’ lives and couldn’t put it down.

On a lighter note, I read this delightful middle grade book that reminded me of one of my favorite childhood series, The Melendy Family books by Elizabeth Enright. I loved it and it made me miss living in a brownstone in Brooklyn when my kids were little.

Also in the New York vein, I also read this short book by Roz Chast about living in New York. Loved it and highly recommend. I heard about it on this episode of The Librarian is In. So fun!

And for a total guilty pleasure I read the first two books of the Crazy Rich Asians series. I definitely enjoyed the first more that the second but they were both fun and I have the 3rd saved for an upcoming plane trip.

So many good books! What have you been reading and loving this summer?

I have written so many posts about books that I have loved, all of which you can link to here.

Standard
Made By Rae Patterns, Quilting, Reading and Books, Sewing

April 2018 Reading and Sewing

The weather in the Northeast has been a bit strange this spring with at least one day of snow most weeks since February. This has been good for my reading life, not so good for my sewing life, since all I want to do is lie on the couch and read. But there are consolations. For one, I read this book which had been on my shelf for years and which was fantastic. What a writer. The kind of book that leaves you afraid to pick up the next one because it will break the spell. I loved the protagonist, the setting, the weirdness of it all. If you haven’t read it, you are in for a treat.I heard about the next book from From the Front Porch. I had never read anything by this author but based on the five star reviews of several people I trust, I picked it up at the library. I loved the first section and expected to love it all. I am not sure if it was the fact that there was so much hype but although I liked the book and was glad I read it, I didn’t ultimately love love love it. I am not sure if it was because it felt to me as if several of the characters made poor decisions or effectively sold out-I think that is a large point of the book-but I didn’t connect with it as many others appear to have. But I would still give it four stars-worth reading, if for no other reason because everyone else is and you will be able to be part of the conversation. On another note, my book group just picked this book for May and based on things I am hearing,  I really don’t want to read it. If you have read and have opinions, please comment!The next book is a non-fiction account of a series of murders of members of the Osage tribe in the early 1900’s in Oklahoma and how that related to the beginning days of the FBI. It was well researched and I am so glad I read it because it is a chapter in history that I knew nothing about. Side note, I was an America History major in college and it still shocks me how little I seem to know about history. Trying to remedy that but it is a project. 🙂The Heart’s Invisible Furies was recommended to me by Catherine who is one of the four people whose taste in books most closely resembles mine and who I rely on for book recommendations. The other three are Anne Bogel, Annie Jones who owns this wonderful bookstore and Lindsey Mead. I highly recommend all four as wonderful resources. This is the story of an Irish woman and her son and the country of Ireland with its geography, culture, religious influences, history. Really Ireland is as much a character as any of the characters. I loved the writing and became very invested in the outcomes of the characters and learned so much. Again, feeling as though there is so much I don’t know-my grandfather’s family is Irish but what I don’t know about Ireland is a lot. This book gave me an entirely new perspective. Highly recommend. I listened to Sourdough at the suggestion of my daughter who is a passionate home chef and loves to try new recipes. When she read this, she was inspired to bake all the bread and I can see why. The book was very entertaining and I appreciated the humorous take on some of the current non-food, food trends. I listened to the next book on audio. Joshilyn Jackson is an actress and she narrates most of her own books. I enjoyed it and will continue to work through her backlist. They make great car listening because they are entertaining enough that you stay engaged in the story, but don’t require a huge amount of focus.I read this sweet little book because I had gotten it on a daily kindle deal which is how I get many of the books I have been meaning to read. I really appreciate that Modern Mrs. Darcy curates this list. It was entertaining and light after some of my other reads. This is the book I am currently reading and I am so engaged in the story of the central character Jojo. I am about 100 pages in and loving it although the themes are hard. I read Salvage the Bones earlier this year and I highly recommend both. She is really an amazing writer. I picked up her memoir at our local independent book store and have added it to the stack of books I am taking on vacation in June.Next up will be this book which was my April Shelf Subscription book. I love books where place and setting and atmosphere are a big part of the story so I am really looking forward to reading it.

And now on to sewing. With spring peeking in every couple of days, I am excited to sew all the things, especially with Me Made May right around the corner. I have several projects in the almost done phase and hope to blog about them soon.

First, I have been sewing several different Boho blouses, a current fashion trend. I sewed a Valley Blouse in navy double gauze that I purchased from Imagine Gnats (they have a great selection and their prices are really reasonable.) This is the neckline which is quite low. The verdict is out on this but after setting it aside and coming back to it, I am liking it more. Does that happen to you too? I hope to finish it this week. Stay tuned.

After feeling a bit discouraged with the somewhat voluminous shape of the Valley blouse, I decided to try the Josephine Blouse by Made by Rae, a pattern which I bought several years ago and have never made. I was inspired by this version that Rae made. I decided to try it in a different Loominous fabric and I am loving where this is heading. Hope to finish it this week but it is looking promising. The profile is slimmer and more shaped which I prefer and the neckline is not as low.

After having some success with the Josephine, I happened to see a version of the Roscoe blouse on instagram where the sewist had used a contrasting fabric for bias binding the neck and for the sleeve cuffs and I thought aha! I had already bought some linen to use for summer dresses but once this idea got into my head, I just had to try it. This is going to be a checked linen Josephine blouse with bias binding made of Liberty fabric. I am really happy where this is going.Also inspired by Rae and in the same vein as this Beatrix dress, I am making several versions of the Gemma Tank with peplum ruffles or with a skirt. Here are those same fabrics. I love how floaty the linen feels. I didn’t quite have enough for both the blouse and the dress so I added a panel to the front of the skirt. It still needs hemming but I think it will be great for summer.Here are some shorter versions in process in quilting cotton and rayon. You can find Rae’s tutorial for this version of the pattern here.

I continue to hand quilt this antique top I bought probably 20 years ago. It is my go-to when I need something quiet and meditative to do. I am always inspired by the creativity of those women who came before us who pieced little scraps into these works of art and love. Other plans for the spring are the Tamarack Jacket. I have this olive twill for the jacket and just a yard of this quilting cotton so plan to see if I can use the quilting cotton for the lining of the front and back and line the sleeves with a solid pink double gauze. And finally, I joined the rest of the sewing and knitting community in buying this book and plan to make at least two versions of the Uniform Tank. This is watercolor linen from Purl Soho for a long-sleeved version and a floral cotton sateen by Nani Iro (also from Imagine Gnats) for a sleeveless version. And then I will need to learn to knit!I have been doing some more writing and set up this little desk on our third floor. This was taken yesterday in the early morning sunshine. I am typing here now and it cold and windy. And there you have it, our spring in a nutshell. I can’t wait for May and warmer weather!I am linking up today with the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog quick lit post which you can find here.

 

Standard
Reading and Books

Nursebean Reads: July 2017

I have read far fewer books this year than last mostly due to a heavy work schedule. I am also listening to more NPR news (sadly) and podcasts. I am also having a harder time finding books I love. Nothing I have read yet has topped Lincoln in the Bardo. I highly recommend it.

Here are some recent reads.

I am glad I read A  Piece of the World and appreciated the characters and the way the author wove the story together that blended real settings and people with her fictional characters but I found it slow going at times.

I am going to be honest: Beartown was hard to read at times. I felt the foreshadowing and omnipresent voice of the narrator always commenting on the characters and the story was heavy handed and I found it hard to read knowing that something bad was going to happen but not knowing when or to whom.

Our book group read All the Rivers, a novel that was banned in Israel’s public schools about a romance between an Israeli woman and an Arab man who meet in Brooklyn. It was beautiful and poignant and led to a really great discussion as several members of our book group grew up in Israel.

I really enjoyed The Wangs vs. The World. It was timely, funny, poignant and I loved the characters. I read The Rules Do Not Apply because It was recommended by two bloggers whose taste I trust  but while I could appreciate that the author had been through some very tough experiences some of which were very familiar to me from my own experience, I just had a hard time relating to her. I felt really detached reading it which surprised me. I am listening to this on audio which is very good. The best thing I have read so far is the first 20% of this classic-my current read. I am loving the writing and the main character Isabelle Archer. I only wish my English professor father were still alive so I could discuss it with him when I finish the book.

Linking up today with Anne Bogel my chief book whisperer whose podcast What Should I Read Next is my major source of great new reads. I highly recommend it!

Standard
Reading and Books

Nursebean Reads: January 2017

I am currently engrossed in this book which I was inspired to read by listening to Mel talk about it in this episode of the WSIRN podcast. It is so, so good. Even better, I am reading it while away for the weekend in the Berkshires in a house with a working fireplace-my idea of heaven. Read Mel’s post on how to take a reading weekend vacation for inspiration. And if you aren’t listening to this podcast yet, you should. I never miss an episode. They are always fun but the one with Mel was especially fun. I added several great books to my to-be-read list, discovered a new blogger and have new recipes to try. Bonus!

Recent books read include this one which is the MMD book club pick for this month. I loved it. I loved the story, the characters and their relationship, the sense of place, the writing-I loved it all. I am now off to find other titles by this author who I had never heard of before reading this book although she is a well-known author.

I also finished this book which our book group read last year. I loved the ending and the way she wove the stories together. An amazing debut novel.

I am alternating reading about vampires with reading these two non-fiction books.
I love both writers and I need something less scary to read before bed.

I am listening to this book on audio. Perfect for the commute.And I recently picked up this stack of books from the library. They are mostly inspired by Anne’s suggestions although I have wanted to read the Snow Child since this favorite blogger recommended it several years ago. Anne’s recent post about great winter reads sent me to the library for that one and two others.  A Manual for Cleaning Women is our current book club read. So many titles, not enough time! What are you reading this winter?

Standard
About Me, unplugged

Nursebean Unplugged: Welcoming 2017

I am not someone who chooses a word for my year, although I respect the thought that many give to this and I learn from their choices. I did have some plans/goals/intentions for my new year and most of them revolved around health-daily yoga, less sugar, etc. On January 1, 2017, I worked a day shift at the hospital and walked out into sunshine-a rare thing because this time of the year it is usually dark when I leave work. So I decided to start my year with a walk on the beach. I am so lucky to live within driving distance of Long Island Sound. I love the late afternoon light. It is truly the golden hour.

In 2016, I made a resolution to have unplugged Sundays. What this meant for me was that I did not sign up to work any shifts at the hospital on a Sunday and I tried to stay off social media. The work part of this was actually a big shift for me. For almost ten years, I have worked 6-7 days a week which was a financial necessity. This has been challenging and so making the commitment to keep this day free was a huge positive shift. Working Sundays kept me away from regular church going which I missed and in 2016 I was able to return to this which truly fed my soul-for me it is my weekly re-set button. I had thought that my unplugged Sundays would enable me to sew more, read more and do more of the things that I enjoy, and it did. But what I didn’t appreciate until I was actually living these days and documenting them (I posted a weekly picture on instagram with the hashtag #myunpluggedsundays) is how much keeping the day totally unscheduled and unplanned and having time to just think and be spontaneous would be healing for me and would inspire new ideas. This was probably the best part of keeping this commitment to myself. This and having weekly early morning quiet time to read.

2017 started off so beautifully. I was still pondering my resolutions and had jotted down some ideas. I wanted to take time each day for yoga since I have neglected my physical body amid work and other priorities. So after my beach walk I came home and did Day 1 of Yoga with Adrienne’s Yoga Revolution series. I did about half of her 30 Days of Yoga earlier in the year and loved it. We had a nice family dinner with my husband and the three children who were home for the holidays and I went to bed feeling excited for a day off on January 2nd and the time and space to start the new year right. And then life happened as it so often does. I got up and went for a short walk and started to feel worse and worse and went home, went straight to bed and stayed there for 2 days with fever, chills, sweats, nausea. My daughter was sick as well.

I had to laugh. Whenever I try to strongly impose my will on life, life pushes back and reminds me that I am not in charge. A bit of a spiritual re-adjustment. But interestingly what this next week of not avoiding sugar, (all we could do was drink ginger ale), not doing yoga (ha!) and not doing all those things on my to do list (take down the tree, finish some sewing projects, write my new years resolutions) did for me is to give me time to think. And what I thought about is that the best thing that my 2016 unplugged Sunday project did for me is to help me see that creating space in my life for thinking, creating, following my spontaneous idea in the moment-whether it be to take a walk, cook a nice dinner, sew up an unplanned project-was way more valuable than I had realized. The phrase “create space” is something that many yoga teachers I have studied with use and in 2016, I learned that it is something that I need to be intentional about because I reap tremendous benefits when I do it. In 2016, I got some ideas for writing pieces, one of which is going to be published next month, that came to me as I went on a spontaneous walk after church. I made connections about relationships, my own life’s goals, ways I want to grow. Life is so full of great ideas, images, content that is coming at us from all directions. I love it all. I love the books I read, the bloggers I follow, the photographs and amazing projects and ideas I see on instagram and the great conversations I have at work and at home but I know now that I also need quiet. I need space to think. Even when I don’t think I do. So in 2017, my resolution will be to Create Space for myself in a systematic way by scheduling it into my week. These are some ideas I am going to try out to make this happen.

I am going to continue to keep Sundays unplugged from work, media and plans whenever possible. In 2016, I did this for about 6 months straight and then work got busy and I ended up going in most Sundays to catch up on paperwork. Part of the challenge to keeping Sundays unplugged for me is to be more time efficient during the week so that all the paperwork gets done and I don’t have to go in on a Sunday. This also applies to other chores, errands etc. I try to get them done on the weekdays so I don’t have to do them on Sunday. I have found that this is really worth doing. I should mention that this blogger who I follow religiously recently talked about the concept of a monthly think day on her podcast. I think many of us are trying to figure this out.

I am going to try to have a Quiet Hour each evening before I go to bed to read, write, think. I have trouble sleeping and I have found that if I get into a big conversation with a family member as I am getting tired, it works against my ability to fall asleep. I also am going to try to keep that hour free from media. I also plan to read this book to see if I can gain some insights into improving my focus. It was recommended by this book whisperer who I have written about so many times before and whose podcast I listen to religiously.

I am going to try to do yoga daily and do some form of physical activity outdoors most days. I need to get outside and I need to make that a priority.

I am going to try to find time to write a couple of times a week. What that looks like for me could be blog posts, handwritten letters to people who live far away from me, maybe another piece for publication. When my children were little and we spent summers in Maine, I started a weekly letter writing night. I was inspired by a book I read. It might have been this one by Elizabeth Berg but I am not sure. Each Tuesday evening after dinner, each child wrote one letter to a family member and one letter to a friend and could write more if they chose. I made it fun by buying a bunch of postcards and other pretty stationary which I kept in a box. This was before email was a big thing and in any event we were intentionally screen-free all summer. They could walk the stamped mail over to our big mailbox at the end of the driveway and were very happy when they got mail back. It was one of the things I did as a parent that I am so glad I did, along with family dinners, quiet reading before bed and nature walks/hikes. So much of the time you are a parent to young children, you are trying so hard to do all the things right and it isn’t for years in many cases that you can look back and think about what really made a difference. Letter writing night was definitely one of those for me.

Other goals/intentions: to finish some unfinished sewing projects, to write another piece for possible publication, to eat more healthfully, to read books recommended to me by my daughters, to make zucchini noodles (!) with the spiralizer my daughter got me for Christmas.

Things I am excited for in 2017: trips already planned (tickets purchased!) to see my daughter and son who live in other states, a planned long weekend away with my husband for the first time since we were married almost nine years ago (omg), a planned road trip to see my brother this spring, sewing, reading, life.

I love a new beginning and today, on January 7th, as I watch beautiful snow fall on a rare Saturday when I am not at work, I am full of hope. What are you excited for in 2017?img_4479-1

Standard
Reading and Books

Nursebeanreads a lot: 2016 Summary of Best Reads

img_4256

The year is not yet over but as of yesterday December 13th, I had read or listened to 115 books in 2016. Here is the Goodreads summary (I love the pretty book cover mosaic!) As you can see, I liked most of them quite a lot-more than 100 were a 4 or 5 star read for me. This is largely because I have three terrific book whisperers who you can learn more about here. I also share details here of how I found time to read many more books this year than ever before. It has really been an amazing year for reading.img_4254Goodreads calculates all sorts of statistics. Here are two: number of pages read: 38, 937 (I actually may make it to 40,000 by December 31st. Who knew?) and longest book read (actually listened to on audible): Anna Karenina which is apparently 964 pages. It was over 34 hours of audio and took me over two months of daily commutes to finish but it is one of the books that I am especially glad I read this year.

Bloggers I follow choose their favorite books each year. Some choose three favorites. I would have a very hard time narrowing this list down that far but I tried, going through the list, to choose the books for each category that still resonate many months later. I came up with a list of 26 books, about 1 in 5 that I read this year (some are the first book in a series that I enjoyed.)

I actually rated 45 of the books I read 5 stars on Goodreads and some of the list of 26 weren’t even books I had rated a 5, so there are many other fantastic books on the list. You can click here to see the whole list.

Here are my most memorable books of 2016 by category. The first category is fiction. I chose these six books and would probably have to rank The Underground Railroad as my favorite. It is hauntingly beautiful.img_426311/22/63 was the first book I read this year and my first ever read by Stephen King. It still resonates with me. He is really a great story teller and this very long book kept me engaged over a three day period during which I inhaled it wanting to find out how it ended. This was also one of several books that I read this year that took place in the early 1960’s either during the year I was born or shortly thereafter which made it that much more compelling to me. It also takes place-at least some of it-in a small mill town in Maine, also a common theme of some books I loved this year and also one of my favorite places.

I just finished A Gentleman in Moscow and I highly recommend it. I loved the characters and the story kept me interested. A really good winter read. I have Rules of Civility, also by Amor Towles,  lined up to read next and I can’t wait.

The One-in-a-Million Boy was wonderful. Just read it. Great female protagonist, small town in Maine, compelling story.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven: World War II, unforgettable characters, beautiful writing.

Our Souls at Night is a quietly beautiful story. I loved it.

img_4289Non-Fiction: I read a lot of great non-fiction books this year, most of them recommended by Modern Mrs. Darcy or on her podcast. My favorites were Year of Yes, Big Magic and Being Mortal, all fantastic. I listened to Being Mortal on audio and the audio version was really excellent. Year of Yes is a must read for all my daughters. So, so good.

img_4291Classics ( also audio): I wanted to read more classics than I actually did but I did end up listening to Anna Karenina. This version was very enjoyable. I ended up finding it on sale on Audible quite cheap which was great because it took me so long to get through, I would never have managed with borrowing it from the library. I also listened to a fantastic version of The Wind in the Willows which I also bought for $2 on an audible daily deal. And I read or listened to books 2-7 of Harry Potter (which I would classify as a modern day classic) which were so good. I had read the first book almost 20 years ago when it was first published and I bought it for my now 30 year old son. I started listening to the Jim Dale audio books and listened to books 2-4 and then read the rest over Thanksgiving when I traveled to see my daughter. After the election I needed something to take my mind off current events. It was just the thing. Reading the whole series over a relatively short period of time really revealed to me just how brilliant J.K. Rowling is. The way she wove so many threads together by the end of the last book was just amazing. So glad I took the time to read these books!

img_4295Mystery: I read or actually listened to the J.K. Rowling (writing as Robert Galbraith) Cormorant Strike mystery series (three books in all but more are forthcoming, thank goodness). These were fantastic on audio. I was so sorry when I finished them. I also listened to the entire nine book Flavia De Luce series, also fantastic. They are a little gruesome, as are the second two books in the Cormorant Strike series, but the narrator is great and I loved them and didn’t mind the discussion of decomposing bodies etc. I found both series through Modern Mrs. Darcy. I also listened to one the Jackson Brodie mysteries by Kate Atkinson, one of my favorite authors. Her writing style is so brilliantly funny. I am glad that I haven’t read all of these because I look forward to reading them this year. The audio was really terrific but I also enjoy reading her books just for the pleasure of her writing style.

Audio-I read so many more books than usual this year. I have written this year in other posts why this is but listening to books has definitely made a difference and I have found some really good ones and learned how easy it is to borrow audio and kindle books from my local library and download them to my phone. This made is easy for me to read while going on walks, sewing, driving. One book I would definitely recommend listening to is Between the World and Me, which I have included in the memoir category below. I was listening way past my bedtime to the author read his powerful words.

img_4277Sci-Fi/Just for Fun: I would never have found this book without Modern Mrs. Darcy and the What Should I Read Next Podcast but it was really a fun read. I bought it for my nephew and my kids. I understand the audio version is excellent as well. A movie is in the works.

img_4293Memoir: My favorite book genre is memoir and I read many this year and had a hard time narrowing my list so here are eleven that are all fantastic. I loved Travels with Charley by Steinbeck which I had never read before this year. He started on a trip across the U.S. in January 1961, the month I was born, and started his trip in a small town in Maine which resonated with other books I read including When We Were the Kennedys, another fantastic memoir by the author of One-in-a-Million Boy. It was so interesting to hear him describe what the towns were like and what he encountered across the country. So much of it resonated even in this day and time. The more time passes, the more the same issues are present in our culture. It felt really timely to read it now. I won’t go into detail on all of the other books in this category. Many are well known. But suffice to say that they were all great reads that I would highly recommend. As I read my way through this year, I wrote several posts where I did mini-reviews of most of them. You can link to my other posts about my reading life here. And if you aren’t yet listening to the What Should I Read Next podcast, I highly recommend it. You can subscribe on iTunes or follow the podcast on Instagram at @annebogel and @whatshouldireadnext. I am tremendously grateful to Anne for her thoughtful recommendations to her guests and I haven’t gone wrong reading any of the books she recommends. I have also found all kinds of great books and audio books on sale by subscribing to her daily kindle deal emails. A tremendous resource for readers.

What books did you love this year?

 

 

Standard