I am recapping many, many books today as I failed as a hobby blogger and have not posted a biblio-files post since January. I haven’t really written any bog posts since February so that sounds about right. As there are so, so many books (although when you break it down by month, not that many, which shows that I have been short on leisure time), I will keep each one brief. So let’s get started and give you some good ideas for what to read next!
1. Delicious by Ruth Reichl – Any book that talks about food captures my attention. This one did that and also talked about work and career paths so I was smitten at the thought of it alone. I have read both of Reichls memoirs and love her writing style and loved her first foray into fiction. I highly recommend this for anyone looking to fall into a great journey in self and career discovery.
2. Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini – After recently realizing how many historical fiction novels I had read and loved, I have jumped head first into the genre. I do not love all of the writers who specialize in the subject, but Chiaverini has made my list of authors to watch for. Great novel, captivating story and an interesting perspective of the Civil War era and Lincoln’s presidency. I really enjoyed this one!
3. The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian – I have read at least a handful of Bohjalian’s books and I have mixed opinions about them. I love some and some I wish I hadn’t bothered with, but all of them seem to stay in my memory. This was one that I picked up because I enjoy his writing style, but I did not realize that it was a ghost book. I would not have read it if I had, and it freaked me out and as I said, his books stick with me (so I’m still freaked out!). I never read this genre, but I would go out on a limb and suggest that if you like a good ghost story, to you give this one a go.
4. Lydia’s Party by Margaret Hawkins – Utterly depressing but a beautiful look at a group of women and the stories they share and those stories they choose to keep quiet about. It goes through each woman so you get a sense of how they all came together and how much they have shared with each other. I read this one on a plane and it did the job. Not sure that I’d pick it up otherwise.
5. White Girl Problems by Babe Walker – Ridiculous. It’s basically chick lit on steroids. It is considered humor and from what I gather not at all true, although it claims to be a memoir. Maybe if you’re on a beach and want something completely fluffy. Otherwise just say no.
1. The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant – A historical novel about Florence during the Renaissance. Very flowery writing, not quite my style. I did enjoy it and do remember it, but not high up on my list of historical novels.
2. We Are Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler – Fascinating. I had no idea what was going on for awhile and when I realized what was, I was so drawn in and intrigued by the story. I must read the backs when I buy them and then completely forget what I read after I get them home, as this often happens. This is a tale about a family of an unconventional sort, well written and really enjoyable!
3. The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka – Apparently one of my favorite subjects to read about are Japanese women immigrating to the US. I pick up books about this subject constantly and this has been one of my favs. A short novel about “picture brides” brought to San Francisco to marry strangers and told in snippets of 8 women’s thoughts about where they thought were going, what they would see and what their lives really all became. So good.
4. The Devil In The White City by Eric Larson – When I began expressing more interest in historical fiction, stepping into just straight up history writing was a logical choice. And Larson is one of the best of our time. This is an amazing book. Based in Chicago in 1893. it focuses on 2 men: the architect of the World’s Fair and Dr. H. H. Holmes who is said to be the first serial killer in the US. I listen to many True Crime podcasts, so this book combines a few of my obsessions and I loved every minute of it. I’m not alone in that as I’ve heard it’s being turned into a movie soon!
4. The Sweetness of Tears by Nafisa Haji – I struggled to get through this one at the beginning, but I don’t blame the book as once I got into it, I was hooked. A story about an Indo-Pakistani family through multiple generations and traditions. A great vacation read.
5. The Invisibles by Cecilia Galante – A story about a few girls raised in a group home coming together for the first time in years as grown women. You learn about how they ended up in the home, the paths their lives took and wounds inside that never healed. A touching and emotional story and an incredible one.
1. Diary by Chuck Palahniuk – The entire time I was reading this book, I get exclaiming ” What is going on??” I was riveted. If you’re a Palahniuk fan, there isn’t a need to read any more than his name, just go read it.
2. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles – We’ll call this chick lit set in the 30’s. It’s the tale of a plucky gal, in the big city, trying to make it on her own. Doesn’t matter the time, it’s still that same tale. It took me awhile to slog through it and I kept falling asleep after only a page or so. This made April sadly short on reading.
1. The Woman In The Photograph by Dana Gynther – One of my favorite things are when fictional books are written about real people. This is what drew me to historical fiction and something I seek out. Biographies can be dry on the writing side, so I have no problem reading about a life imagined about a historical figure and will go and research them on my own to see what was real and what was not. I didn’t realize that the character in this book was an actual person for awhile and was delighted when I realized that it was the Lee Miller from the Hitler bathtub photo. It was a great story and ever better knowing that it was based on an actual women. I highly recommend this one!
2. It Looked Different On The Model by Laurie Notaro – One of the highlights of this year was having dinner with Notaro here in Austin. I have been a long time fan of her writing and tend to squirrel away her books so I can pull one out that I still have not read and treat myself. You should go out and buy all of them if you have not read her work, you’ll laugh until your stomach hurts and then devour the next one. I loved this one just as much as I’ve loved all the rest.
3. Loving Frank by Nancy Horn – Another work of fiction based on real people. This is a story about Frank Lloyd Wright and his relationship with Mamah Cheney. It also is about the building of the Taliesin house and all that it entailed. It was slow in parts but an interesting story about passion and following your heart and your ethos as a designer, which I can especially relate too.
4. Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann – The lives of multiple seemingly unconnected characters are all connected through the single thread of a tightrope walker high above the streets of Manhattan. How connected they really are comes through as you read deeper and deeper. Excellent book, I higher recommend this one!
5. The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss- I am a big fan of his podcast, I just hadn’t gotten around to reading his books yet. I finally sat down and read this one in a couple of days days. I can’t say I’m one of those who aims to live like Ferriss, but I enjoy his level of curiosity, passion and energy and have great respect for what he has to say. If you read business books or listen to his podcast, you should would most likely enjoy it.
1. The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin – A socialite in the the late 1800’s who marries for an English title and all the drama that you would expect along those lines. I recall enjoying some of it immensely and it making me wonder if I should give Downton Abbey a chance. I also recall wishing there was a little more substance, but I got over that in my enjoyment of the descriptive writing.
2. Whistling Past The Graveyard by Susan Crandall – There was a moment when reading this book where I thought, if this books goes where it could right now, I am throwing it in horror across the room. It thankfully did not, and I did not feel the need to throw it. I was surprised that I felt that strongly such a short way into it though and it kept me that captivated until the end. If you like Secret Lives of Bees or The Help, you’ll love it.
3. Linchpin by Seth Godin – I think Godin is one of the most succinct business writers that I’ve ever read. He does not waste words, his writing is all meat. For days after, I was still absorbing it all and finding nuggets of wonder in it. He has a great way of looking at business and thinking about it that is philosophical and brilliant. I enjoy anything he writes, relevant to my own work or not.
4. Bond girl by Erin Duffy – I know I was trying to avoid books like this, but I felt this was more of an expose on a job rather than chick lit. I can almost convince myself about that but not really. It’s a good read and a great curl up with tea and a book or beach read book!
1. The Lady of The Rivers by Philippa Gregory – Known as one of the masters of the genre, Gregory is highly respected as a historical fiction writer. It took me forever to get into this book, but once I got into it, I could see why she is so revered. I considered stopping more than once, but I trudged on and was glad that I did. I’m not huge fan of historical fiction set in England, but I’ll continue with series, maybe she’ll be the author to change my mind!
2. Shangai Girls by Lisa See – When I started reading this book I was instantly bummed out as it’s book one of two, but delighted that I had picked up the next book already as it never seems to happen that way. I am so glad I already had book 2 as the second I finished this one, I picked it up. Wonderful story about 2 sisters who came to the US from Shanghai as paper brides in the 1930’s. Wonderfully written and I think a debut novel which says even more. I highly recommend this one!