Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful time celebrating. John and I watched Dr. Who, read, and fell asleep early. It was wonderful.
Before I get to my usual monthly review of what I’ve read, I thought I would fill you in on my best reads in 2018. I read 86 books this year, 29 more than last year. I would like to tell you that is because I made more of an effort to read this year, but that would be a lie. I read more books this year because I went through a trashy romance novel phase. I’m not proud of this.
Despite my current love of trash, I have ready some really good respectable books. Of those, my top 10 (in no particular order) are:
- The Hearts Invisible Furies by John Boyne
- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
- Me by Katherine Hepburn
- Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
- American Princess: The Many Lives of Allena Tew by Annejet van der Zijl
- Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
- Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
- Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny
In December I read 11 books. It was an odd month for my book selections.
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty. This book is about a stressed out middle-aged woman heading to a health resort to recuperate from being the victim of a scam that broke her heart and took her money. From that simple start the book adds a crazy guru, LSD, and a retreat experience that goes from weird to terrifying. Reading this book made me happy there are so many more Liane Moriarty books for me to read. I give this book four out of five stars.
Comfort & Joy by India Knight. This is a book about a woman in London that I couldn’t get myself to like, understand, or relate to. I don’t think I’m British enough for this book. Oh well. I give this book two out of five stars.
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography by Eric Idle. If you were ever a huge dork in high school you are probably familiar with Monty Python. This memoir is a fascinating look at comedy troop, with gobs of gossip about George Harrison and other major celebrities of the seventies. I could not get over how much he was sharing. I liked reading it, but he is feeling his mortality, which made the book occasionally dark. I give this book three out of five stars.
Comfort & Joy by Kristin Hannah. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Kristin Hannah is a national treasure. This book is exactly what I was looking for in a Christmas novel. It starts out as a normal Christmas romance, but there is a twist. I have this on my kindle, but I’m thinking about buying a real copy to pull out and read every year. I give this book four out of five stars.
Chemistry by Weike Wang. This book is like reading the transcribed thoughts of a woman having a mental breakdown and going through recovery…but funny. I liked this book, but it’s not for everyone. I know this because I gave it to my aunt to give to my cousin Claire to read (I think Claire would like it a lot). My aunt was confused and thought I wanted her to read it. She read it. She did not like it. It’s totally worth the confusion just to hear her talk about the book. Hopefully Claire eventually reads it and lets me share her review. I give this book three out of five stars.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne. This book is about a child unaware of the atrocities around him, and his best friend, who is painfully aware of the atrocities around him. It is a sad and touching tale. I’m glad I read it, and thankful I don’t have to read it again. I give this book four out of five stars.
The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman. This is a book by the guy who plays Ron Swanson on the office and the woman who plays Karen Walker on Will and Grace about their marriage. I’ve read Offerman’s other books and found them funny. This book was not my jam. That might be because I read the entire book in Karen Walker’s voice in my head. This is the book that made me vow never to fall victim to my library’s “New Memoir” selection ever again. **shakes fist at the Des Moines Public Library and their friendly staff with usually helpful recommendations** I give this book two out of five stars.
One Day in December by Josie Sliver. This book was hyped as a new Love Actually. Actually, I didn’t love it. Perhaps I went in with expectations so high no book would ever reach them? It was fine. I do like that it has drink recipes in the back. I give this book three out of five stars.
Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny. This book lets you look into a marriage – the good, the bad, the funny. I don’t read many novels that are written from the male perspective. This novel was a fun change to the norm. I loved the voice of the protagonist. This book was funny and entertaining. I give this book four out of five stars.
Sweet Girl by Cristin Harber. This book was horrid. I read it for my book club. I can’t wait to drink wine and talk about how bad this book is. The ending was so implausible I wanted to write the author and provide feedback. This book does not deserve a star rating.
Arrogant Devil by R.S. Grey. This is one of those trashy romance novels I told you about. A woman leaves her abusive and incredibly rich husband and runs away to Texas where she starts working as a cleaning lady for the arrogant, incredibly handsome ranch owner. I bet you can guess what happens. It’s mindless and fun. I give this book two out of five stars.
This month I hope to do some serious reading. I’m going to finish A Gentleman in Moscow if it kills me. I skipped Book of the Month Club this month, so I’m hoping to actually make a dent in this pile.
What do you hope to read this year? Is there anything I should add to my list for the year? Are you hoping to read more this year?