Partial Book List 2018

Imagine you are reading this on January 1, because that’s when I should have published it. Better late than never, I guess?

Anyway, I decided back in June of 2018 to begin tracking the books I read. I didn’t include non-fiction, because sometimes I read for work and it was liable to get confusing and maybe too long. Any book with a grade of an A- or better is recommended to all. As with all grading systems, mine is highly subjective. I considered both how much I enjoyed the book and how much time I spent thinking about it afterward. I tend to read every book that’s recommended to me, so feel free to recommend.

Books 2018
(Starting in June)

1. The Club Dumas
Arturo Pérez-Reverte
A+

2. Rosemary’s Baby
Ira Levin
A+

3. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Philip K. Dick
B-

4. Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe
A

5. The Changeling: A Novel
Victor LaValle
A+

6. Dietland: A Novel
Sarai Walker
A
-

7. Breakfast of Champions
Kurt Vonnegut
B+

8. Slaughter-house Five
Kurt Vonnegut
A

9. Cat’s Cradle
Kurt Vonnegut
A

10. Sloughing Towards Bethlehem
Joan Didion
B

11. Call Me By Your Name
André Aciman
A-

12. The Thorn & the Blossom: A Two-Sided Love Story
Theodora Goss
B+

13. The Ninth Life of Louis Drax
Liz Jensen
B

14. Heidi
Johanna Spyri
B-

15. Black Beauty
Anna Sewell
B

16. The Paying Guests
Sarah Waters
A-

17. My Sister’s Keeper
Jodi Picoult
C

18. European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman
Theodora Goss
C+

19. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Mark Haddon
A

20. The Golem and the Jinni
Helene Wecker
A-

21. Convenience Store Woman
Sayaka Murata
A

22. Sharp Objects
Gillian Flynn
B-

23. The Color Purple
Alice Walker
A

24. The Girl on the Train
Paula Hawkins
B-

25. The Fall of Lisa Bellow
Susan Perabo
C

26. Carrion Comfort
Dan Simmons
B

27. The Red Tent
Anita Diamant
B+

28. Beloved
Toni Morrison
B

29. Hell House
Richard Matheson
B

30. The Death of Mrs Westaway
Ruth Ware
B+

31. The Pale King
David Foster Wallace
B

32. The Joy Luck Club
Amy Tan
A-

Screen Shot 2019-02-23 at 9.04.47 AM
I don’t have, nor could I read, the original Spanish version, but I wish I did!

If I had to pick my favorite book of the year, it would probably be The Club Dumas, the first book on my list! I also love the movie, The Ninth Gate. Highly recommend both!

Reading for a Snowy Day

The weather yesterday in New York City was great if you love snow and cold and wind and want a day off from school but terrible if you hate the snow and cold and wind and have to work from home while supervising two small children. I find myself in the latter group, of course!

snow

The younger and I watching the husband and elder son shovel. I didn’t want to let him outside because of the 50-mile-an-hour winds (he’s only 29 pounds)!

Being on a conference call while people are demanding juice and Peppa Pig videos is pretty tough, and trying to get through almost a full day inside with minimal screen time while you are working on your day job stuff is tougher. While I was making dinner, I had them clean up about 50 pounds worth of Legos, race tracks, puzzles, and the like. However, during the day the whole house was a minefield of toys.

But, we got through it, and today schools are open again, and while we deliberately went in late to avoid the rush, getting there was not totally terrible. In any case, I wanted to make my first book, New Blood, free for yesterday for snowed-in reading. But, in the stress and insanity of the day, I forgot to announce it. In the spirit of better late than never, it’s free today as well. Please feel free to download your copy here!

 

 

 

 

My love of the library

Growing up in an urban area (Queens, NY), I was able to walk to many different stores that were within a few blocks of my house. There were no bookstores, but there was a library. Sadly, most of my family members were not very into reading, so I was not taken to the library until I noticed it one day on the way to the grocery store, and specifically requested of my grandmother that we go there.

I still remember the feeling of amazement when I realized I was able to not only read any book I wanted, but I could also borrow them and take them home. After that, I visited the library at least once a week. Today, I am fortunately enough to live within three blocks of my local library. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, it’s not open on the weekends, but I do take my sons to visit whenever I’m home with them during the week.

Last week, we stopped in and my older son immediately picked out two books for me to read them. He’s only four, and thus has very limited reading ability as of yet. But I do love reading to them, and hope they grow up to love books at least in part due to my efforts. Anyway, we got through the first one okay, but then I realized the second one was quite long, and my ten-month-old had already fallen asleep in his stroller, and my older one’s lids were fluttering.
read
Of course, it’s also very important to read to your cats.

Suddenly, the idea came to me that we could borrow these books! I usually don’t borrow books because I’m afraid I’ll loose them and never return them, but due to my recent experiments into mimimalism, my house is (slightly) less cluttered, so I decided it was worth the risk. My son was so excited at getting to borrow a book, and it brought me back to my childhood library experience. I realize I’m very lucky to live where I do, and hopefully the library will be around for my sons to enjoy as they grow up.

Little break down in tears on the prairie

One of my favorite book series when I was young was the Laura Ingalls Wilder “Little House” books. I read them at least once a year while I was in elementary school, and then every few years as I grew older. Now that my older son is almost five, I decided to start reading them to him. Of course, I started in chronological order, with “Little House in the Big Woods.” It was less exciting than I remember.

lh

Poor Jack had to walk all over the prairie through the first few books!

For those who haven’t read this series as recently as I have, “Big Woods” basically goes through a year in the life of the Ingalls family, without having much of a plot. The most memorable part for me was when the kids blew up the pig bladder and tossed it around like a ball. The next book, “Farmer Boy,” about her husband growing up in upstate New York, was memorable for all the vivid descriptions of the food. In the next book, “Little House on the Prairie,” the family attempts to settle on the Osage Indian reservation, and there were a lot of very negative things said about Native Americans, so I ended up skipping over quite a bit. “On the Bank of Plum Creek,” which comes next, has my very favorite part in all the books, where Laura has a party and takes all her school friends to go wading in the crick, and there scares Nellie Olson with the crab who lives in it.
A few nights ago, we started on the next book, “On the Shores of Silver Lake.” There is a gap of a few years between the start of this book and the one before it, and Laura is now 13 years old instead of 9. The tone is very different, and a lot of horrible things have happened, such as Mary going blind and the death of an infant. I knew I had to read the part about Mary going blind, because it is such a prevalent plot point in the rest of the books, but I paused in my reading to make sure my son understood what blindness was before going on. (I edited out the part about the “Scarlet fever settling in her eyes,” because Scarlet fever doesn’t make one go blind. One theory is that she actually had untreated meningitis. But I digress.) And although I swore the part about the baby dying happened right away, I didn’t see it. Perhaps they cut it out of the book, since I have a very new edition? Whatever the case may be, the youngest sister is already born at the beginning of this book, and she was their last born child, so chronologically, it already happened.
The second chapter of the book is memorable because Jack, Laura’s childhood dog, dies. I was prepared for this and fully expected to be able to read it. It’s an important part of the book, because it’s supposed to represent Laura’s transition from childhood to adolescence. But I’m not deluded enough to think my four-year-old child would grasp the significance of that. So as it went on, I started breaking down and crying, and eventually had to stop reading at this part:
“Good Jack, good dog,” she told him. He turned his head to touch her hand with the tip of his tongue.
Then he let his nose sink onto his paws and he sighed and closed his eyes. He wanted to sleep now.
Strangely enough, I don’t remember crying quite so much about it when I was younger. Since I’ve had kids, I’ve definitely gotten more emotional, and everything I see I tend to imagine seeing through their eyes. And while I want to be able to talk to my sons about anything, the death of a fictional bulldog is obviously too much for me right now.