A Year of Books

Posted by in What I Think About What You Wrote (Reviews)

The year is winding down, and there is a lot of reflecting going on. I’m sure that I will share more of that with you in the coming weeks, but for now I’ve been thinking about my first great love, and I thought I’d chat about that.

I’m a reader. I love it more than writing even, if you can imagine that. I’m definitely better at it! Ha! I usually read between 25 and 30 books a year, so I’m not as picky as some (my husband, for example, who I believe only read George R.R. this year) but since I spend most of my free time (what little there is) with my nose in a book, don’t want it to be a complete waste.

It seems like the New Year inspires a lot of lists, so I thought I would share with you my five favourite books that I read this year, and my five least favorite, or the five I wish I hadn’t read in case you’re looking for something to cuddle up with.

The Best:


5. The Art of Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein

I should preface this by saying that this is typically not my kind of book. I don’t really do “feel good” books, but it was a gift from my best friend and I’m so glad I gave it a chance. Told from the perspective of the dog, it is the story of a family, coming together, breaking apart, and coming together again. It is very creative and I was completely wrapped up in the storytelling the entire time.

4. Tell the Wolves I’m Home – Carol Rifka Brunt

This is the story of a young teenage girl who loses her beloved Uncle to AIDS. It is about her love/hate relationship with his partner.  But it is also the story of realizing that there is a world outside yourself, and how Brunt shows us that is amazing. I found this book very honest and relate-able and I have spent a lot of time since reading, thinking about it.

3. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me – Mindy Kaling

This is just a really funny book. I love Mindy, I loved her on the Office and I love her on the Mindy Project and I think if she just knew me we would be best friends.

2. The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)

A Private Eye – whodunit/thriller. The plot had a couple of “huh” moments, but I raced through it. I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Galbraith/Rowling has such an ear for dialogue. It was a pleasure to read.

1. In the Woods – Tana French

A really spectacular Detective thriller set in Ireland. French absolutely has the gift of really vivid description. This was the kind of thriller that you feel smarter after reading. Some people didn’t love the ending, but I dug it – I can’t tell you more without spoiling it, but honestly I could talk about this book all day. So after you read it, email me ok?


The Worst:


5. Summer House with Swimming Pool – Herman Koch

I hated the protagonist from the first page. I kept hoping it would get better, it didn’t.

4. The Vacationers – Emma Straub

This book was on all the “must read” lists this summer. So, I did. I wish I hadn’t. No, that might be too strong. It’s just – blah. Girl and her parents, and her brother and his girlfriend, and her mother’s gay best friend and his husband go on vacation together. If that group sounds like a bad idea, it is. The story floats back and forth between terribly mundane typical vacation stuff, to ridiculous (the overweight mother books tennis lessons with a handsome pro and her jealous husband follows them after conveniently befriending fellow tourist with a motorcycle.) It didn’t feel fresh, or revealing, or particularly honest. The whole book felt like a cliché.

3. One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories – BJ Novak

I am not usually into short stories, but this was another “Must Read” for

the summer and so I tried. I also LOVE Mindy Kaling, and she loves BJ Novak, but it just wasn’t enough. Some of the stories were mildly funny. Most were just boring, trying to be profound, and I felt like Novak was trying way to hard. Frowny face.

2. We Were Liars – E. Lockhart

I should preface this by saying that this is a YA novel. Usually I don’t hate YA – I loved Wonder, but, ugh. Cady is a spoiled brat, she is cousins with a bunch of other spoiled brats. They spend their summers on their family’s private island off Cape Cod with a token Indian boy who the author has decided will be the one voice of “the other” and speak against their privilege. Of course he is completely self-righteous and obnoxious while doing it. Without spoiling it for you, there is some sort of accident that she can’t seem to recover from. You feel mild concern for her. Until at the end you find out that she is not just a spoiled brat, she is a lying, conniving, spoiled brat.

1. This Is Where I Leave You – Jonathan Tropper

Main character is forced to sit shiva after the death of his father. He has also recently found out that his wife is having an affair with his boss and she is pregnant. This should be comedy gold. It isn’t. Maybe I am judging it too harshly, having been set up to laugh or cry the whole time by the wonderful absurdity of the plot. But the characters leave something to be desired and I hated the ending. This book made me angry.