Book List 2021 (part 1 of 2)

I finally finished reading Moby-Dick!

After only reading thirty books in 2020, I was determined to make more of an effort in 2021. Here are the books I read in the first half of the year.

  1. Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. 3 stars. Goodreads tells me I started reading this book in May 2019. Parts of it were really beautiful but parts of it were really dull.
  2. The Art of War, by Sun Tzu. 4 stars. An NPC in an RPG I was playing in a few years ago told my PC to read this book. So I did. Actually enjoyed it quite a bit.
  3. Frederick Douglass: The Story of an American Slave, by Frederick Douglass. 5 stars. I am still trying to read more biographies and autobiographies, and this is a good one.
  4. Animal Farm, by George Orwell. 4 stars. I read a couple of books about the Russian revolution this year and this was a good addition. If you do read the edition that I did, with a forward that goes on about why the original subtitle was “A Fairy Story,” please do not read that forward because it’s maddening.
  5. Into the Magic Shop: ! Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart, by James R Doty. 4 stars. I non-so-secretly love books on neurology. Both the parts about neurology and meditation were very engaging.
  6. Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account, by Miklos Nyiszli. 4 stars. Another non-fiction book. I’m not sure why I wanted to upset myself with this, but I did.
  7. Black Like Me, by John Howard Griffin. 5 stars. This was written by a white journalist in the 1950s who medically darkened his skin to pass as black. This was a really stressful book to read, but worth it.
  8. The Queen’s Gambit, by Walter Tevis. 5 stars. As fun as the show.
  9. The Worst Is Yet to Come, by SP Miskowski. 4 stars. A continuation of the Skillute cycle, which I read last year.
  10. The Man in the Brown Suit, by Agatha Christie. 4 stars. The only Christie book I read so far this year, but it was a good one.
  11. If You Find Me, by Emily Murdoch. 3.5 stars. I got this as a free audiobook. It’s about abused children living in the woods, and I usually only like books with the second part of that equation. The story was okay but the narrator deserved 4 stars, so I bumped up my rating.
  12. The Doors of Perception, by Aldous Huxley. 4 stars. Honestly, it’s absurd that I hadn’t read this yet.
  13. The Worm and His Kings, by Hailey Piper. 4 stars. If you like urban fantasy set place in NYC, read this. After you read the books I wrote, of course! 😉
  14. The Temple of My Familiar, by Alice Walker. 5 stars. I had no idea there was a sequel to The Color Purple. This novel was so good, so broad in scope, so many great characters.
  15. The Forgetting Machine: Memory, Perception, and the “Jennifer Aniston Neuron,” by Rodrio Quian Quiroga. 4 stars. I love books about neurology. This one focused on memory, obviously. If you like that sort of thing, you will like this book.
  16. The Book of X, by Sarah Rose Etter. 5 stars. This entire book is both a metaphor and a mood and covers a lot of women’s issues and I very much enjoyed it.
  17. Buddism for Beginners, by Thubten Chodron. 3 stars. It is what it says, but I thought it could have been better organized.
  18. A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel, by Hope Larson (Adapter, Illustrator). 4 stars. This was one of my favorite books as a child, adapted into a graphic novel. I bought it for my son, but he had a hard time telling what was flashbacks (slightly muted illustrations).
  19. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Bronte. 4 stars. I haven’t read hardly anything by the Bronte’s, and I choose this book because of its feminist themes. Enjoyed it!
  20. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt. 5 stars. I so much enjoyed this while reading it! My only criticism is that there should have been more women characters.
  21. In the Vanisher’s Place, by Aliette de Bodard. 4 stars. This was a really fun, quick fairy-tale read.
  22. Adi Parva – Churning of the Ocean, by Amruta Patil. 4 stars. This was a very beautifully illustrated collection of mythology.
  23. Habibi, by Craig Thompson. 4 stars. Another graphic novel, but this one for adults.
  24. Good Neighbors, by Sarah Langan. 4 stars. Horror is not usually my thing, but this was well done, with just a hint of supernatural horror as well.
  25. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. 5 stars. I very much recommend this novel about two rival mages, set in a magical circus.
  26. To You We Shall Return: Lessons About Our Planet from the Lakota, by Joseph M. Marshall III. 4 stars. Of course it’s somewhat depressing, but all of us who live in the United States should read this.
  27. Choke, by Chuck Palahniuk. 4 stars. I can’t believe I haven’t read anything by this author before! Reminds me very much of Kurt Vonnegut.
  28. The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern. 5 stars. Never have I ever read a more that is more me than this book! It has everything I love–an enormous magic library, secret doors, secret societies. I cannot recommend this enough!
  29. Buddism for Beginners, by Tai Morello. 4 stars. This is a better book than the other one I read with the same name.
  30. Nightlights, by Lorena Alvarez Gomez. 4 stars. I bought this graphic novel for my older son at the book fair, but the artwork is so beautiful!
  31. Cat’s Eye, by Margaret Atwood. 5 stars. I’ve been wanting to read something else by this author for a long time and finally did! I was not bullied as a child, but this is very visceral and I think everyone should read it.
  32. Why Buddhism Is True, by Robert Wright. 5 stars. I took a Coursera course with this author on evolutionary psychology and loved it. This book is the product of those lectures!
  33. Moby-Dick or, the Whale, by Herman Melville. 2 stars. I believe this is the longest I’ve ever taken to read a bookI think I started in 2018? I didn’t like it and when my dog started chewing the pages, I did not rush to stop her.
  34. The House by the Sea, by Louise Douglas. I didn’t rate this book because I really didn’t like it but feel bad about it for an unknown reason. My husband bought this on kindle by mistake.
  35. The Order of Time, by Carlo Rovelli. 5 stars. I loved this non-fiction book on the nature of time! I read it on audible, and part of the rating is probably due to the narration by Benedict Cumberbatch.
  36. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil deGrasse Tyson. 5 stars. This was very poetic, a good follow-up to the book I read before it, and easily understandable.
  37. The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller. 5 stars. I specifically wanted to read this for Pride month. It was so good! I don’t usually read love stories, but this retelling of the Achilles/Patroclus myth is a definite must-read.
  38. Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters. 5 stars. This was another I wanted to read for Pride (also by a lesbian author). I wish I hadn’t watched the Korean film, The Handmaiden, before reading this. That film was so good and totally recommended, but it was based on this book. Oh well. The book is still better than the film, and very beautifully written.
  39. Nomadland, by Jessica Bruder. 4 stars. This is a completely nonfiction book that the semi-nonfiction movie was based on. Actually, it’s a bit more hopeful than the movie. I have a secret desire to travel the country by van and/or build and Earthship, and both those things are in this book.

Book List for 2019 (Part 1 of 2)

Sometime last year, I started keeping track of books I read by physically writing them down in a journal. This year, I transitioned to using Goodreads. If you are interested in connecting with me on Goodreads, you can do so with this link. I decided to participate in a reading challenge this year, and set my goal as 52 books, or one book per week. I went beyond that goal, but I’m not yet sure by how much as there are still three weeks left to get through.

Because this list is so long, I thought I would break it up into two parts. This is the first!

Since Goodreads uses a one- to five-star system, I’ll use that here as well.

  1. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin. 5 stars. Is it  sad that the first book I read this year was probably one of my favorites? I loved, loved, loved this book. It was written in 1899 and (almost sadly) still so relevant today. In my opinion, every woman should read this book.
  2. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. 4 stars. Sometimes, I read nonfiction. I liked this one.
  3. Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden. 5 stars. I almost subtracted a star when I saw this was written by a white guy, but I did really like it.
  4. The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls. 5 stars. This was a true story of poverty and neglect in America. Do read about the author but don’t bother with the movie.
  5. Audrey’s Door, by Sarah Langan. 3 stars. This is a horror story my husband bought, and horror is not a preferred genre of mine, so it’s probably better than I think it is.
  6. The Painted Veil, by W. Somerset Maugham. 5 stars. This was really, really great. The only other book of this author I had read was Of Human Bondage, and that was a few years ago, but I thought this was better by far. A terrific example of how a man can write a compelling female protagonist. I read about the movie and it seems awful and totally different from the book, so I don’t recommend that.
  7. My Abandonment, by Peter Rock. 4 stars. This book was based on a true story of a guy and his young daughter living in a park in Portland, Oregon. In this case, I do want to see the movie, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.
  8. The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, by Margareta Magnusson. 3 stars. Another non-fiction book. Obviously I love getting rid of stuff, so I had to read it.
  9. Three Floors Up, by Eshkol Nevo. 4 stars. I read this for a book club and to be honest I don’t really remember it, but obviously I liked it when I read it.
  10. Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism, by Fumio Sasaki. 3 stars. I have to be honest that the best thing about this one was the photos.
  11. The Minimalist Home, by Joshua Becker. 3 stars. I think I read too many similar books in a row because I’m having trouble remembering this. I also think I read all this last spring to gear myself up for my biannual minimalism game.
  12. The Great Passage, by Shion Miura. 4 stars. I think I got this free as an Amazon promotion. It’s about an editor of a dictionary, and has a lot about the meanings of words. Fun!
  13. The Girl With All the Gifts, by Mike Carey. 5 stars. Sometimes, a funny thing will happen where several people will recommend a book to me, within days of each other. This was the first book this year that happened with, and it’s by the writer of one of my favorite comics, Lucifer.
  14. The Brain: The Story of You, by David Eagleman. 5 stars. This is obviously another nonfiction. If you love neuroscience, read this!
  15. A Life Less Throwaway: The Lost Art of Buying for Life, by Tara Button. 4 stars. This topic is very important–quality over quantity.
  16. Knock Knock, by S.P. Miskowski. 3 stars. Another horror book my husband got on our shared kindle account. I loved the set-up, but I don’t know if the ending delivered.
  17. 2BR02B, by Kurt Vonnegut. 5 stars. I started reading Vonnegut last year, and I love everything I’ve read so far. Incidentally, I read the entire story before I understood what the title meant (mental facepalm).
  18. Delphine Dodd, by S.P. Miskowski. 4 stars. I liked this book, the second in the series, better than the first.
  19. Astoria, by S.P. Miskowskit. 4 stars. The third book in the same series.
  20. In the Light, by S.P. Miskowskit. 4 stars. This is the fourth and final book in the series.
  21. The Power, by Naomi Alderman. 5 stars. Another book that a bunch of people recommended to me and totally worth it. Great read.

    Screen Shot 2019-12-03 at 1.33.38 PM
    I wish I had this version, with an intro by Sarah Waters. So awesome and appropriate!
  22. Lolly Willowes, by Sylvia Townsend Warner. 5 stars. I just started tearing up remembering how much I loved this book. Currently tied for first place in books I’ve read this year with The Awakening. A book club I’m in had a vote between two books and this was one of them. The club chose the other, but I read this one anyway. What swayed me was the female author, the time it was written (1920s), and an Amazon review. The review read, “What do all women want? To be witches, always.” I read this book in a day while I was staying in a forest, and I have to say, if you can read this while in the forest, you will not regret it. Plus, I started reading about Sylvia Townsend Warner’s life and she was just an amazing badass.
  23. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Vol 1: The Crucible, by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. 5 stars. Yes, this is a graphic novel, but I loved it more than I loved the show (which was a lot). The art is gorgeous as well.
  24. Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie. 5 stars. On the recommendation of my very best friend, I decided to read Agatha Christie, so I started with one of the most popular books. I was never that into mysteries before, but this was a fun, quick read. I even watched and enjoyed the old black and white movie afterward.
  25. The Mysterious Affair at Styles, by Agatha Christie. 4 stars. I decided to try to read Christie’s books in order as much as possible, and this was her first.
  26. Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson. 5 stars. Many people who I interact with on a regular basis recommended this, so I read it, even though it’s about space, which unsettles me. The rating is partially based on the amount of time I thought about it after finishing it (a lot).
  27. Verity, by Colleen Hoover. 1 star. I read this for a book club. It was boring and predicable, with very unlikable characters.
  28. A Caribbean Mystery, by Agatha Christie. 4 stars. This was the first Miss Marple book I read, and I like her better the Poirot.
  29. The Secret Adversary, by Agatha Christie. 3 stars. This was the first Tommy and Tuppence book I read, and I’m not sure where it ranks.
  30. Kindred, by Octavia Butler. 5 stars. There is a rare book that is so stressful that I literally cannot put it down. This was one for me.