January reading log and some musings

***spoilers possible

Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls and Everything in Between (Lauren Graham) ♠♠♠♠♠

lauren-graham

 

Lauren Graham is Lorelai Gilmore. She is also so much more. I really loved this memoir. Graham is witty and funny and very sarcastic. Her sensible side is very appealing and makes me want to be her best bud. I want everyone to read this book.

 

 

Where’d you go, Bernadette (Maria Semple) ♠♠♠

bernadette

 

I felt meh about this one. I am glad I read it since I hear people referring to Maria Semple’s books quite a bit but so far I am not convinced Semple is for me. Also, some of the storyline is just so damn unbelievable (as in I don’t buy it for one second). Sure, Bernadette is hiding out in (on?) Antarctica and it takes her young daughter to figure that out. I call BS.

 

InterWorld (Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves) ♠♠♠♠

interworld

 

Very, very interesting and intriguing concept and yet again a solid Gaiman book. He really is one of my favorite authors. I am definitely looking forward to the second installment. And hopefully, I will remember all these new terms I learned in the first book (talking about a whole new language 😉 ).

 

 

I‘ll Give You the Sun (Jandy Nelson) ♠♠♠♠♠

giveyouthesunThis is one of those lovely soul-crushing books. You have to read it and you’re going to be sort of devastated at the end – but in the best way possible. This book left me worn out. I definitely needed a breather after it. But somehow, it also gave me hope because it truly does show with every door that closes a new one opens and good things come from bad situations. My book club decided to make February’s reading prompt “an unconventional love story” and I kinda wish I would’ve saved this book for it. I have definitely been telling everyone to read it for that category if they haven’t yet.

 

The Sunset Limited (Cormac McCarthy) ♠♠♠♠♠♠

sunsetlimitedCormac McCarthy you wonderful son of a bitch. This story blew my mind (meaning it gets 6 spades!). It should be mandatory reading, starting in high school. Screw Catcher in the Rye or Die Leiden des Jungen Werther (for my German friends). If you want to speculate ‘why the f*&% are we alive’ and ‘what does it all mean’, read this! McCarthy’s writing is pure genius.  Metaphors, analogies, imagery, and a million open-ended questions make you question everything you ever knew or believed. This story is simultaneously depressing af and utterly uplifting.

 

We Are on Our Own (Miriam Katin) ♠♠♠♠♠

onourown

Um, yes. WW2 in Hungary. This is so beautifully told and illustrated, I gobbled this book up in less than an hour. Told from two different perspectives (mother and daughter), this story tells the tale of despair, doubt, and deep, deep sadness without losing itself in the cliché I often feel when reading or learning about WW2.

 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Neil Gaiman) ♠♠♠♠

oceanlane

 

Yep, another Neil Gaiman. That man is everything. Swoon. This story was like a dream. I honestly often didn’t know what was going on or how I was feeling about that. It was magical! Read it!

 

 

 

A Streetcar Named Desire (Tennessee Williams) ♠♠♠♠♠

streetcar

 

Definitely a must-read. I am glad I finally got around to it. Also Marlon Brando, everyone! I need to watch the movie now.

 

 

Before the Fall (Noah Hawley) ♠♠♠♠

beforethefallDo you guys remember last summer’s blog post about Stephen King’s book tour? Well, he was reading this book during the tour and commented on it when I saw him speak. I have had that book on my shelves since before that and have been meaning to read it. I gotta be honest, it was not what I had expected. But I liked it nonetheless. If you want a fast-paced thriller, this book is not for you. If you want a study of the human condition, read it.

 

Me Before You (Jojo Moyes) ♠♠♠

mebeforeyouI said it before, I like a good sappy love story. And this one promised to be it. Maybe my mindset was already off because the book received so much hype, or maybe it really isn’t that great, but this just fell short for me. The gist of the love story was beautiful and the characters were well-developed but the whole novel was just way too predictable – of course he is going to commit assisted suicide at the end. I wanted to like this so much more than I did. Maybe the sequel will be better?!

 

Maya’s Notebook (Isabel Allende) – audiobook ♠♠♠♠

So, Isabel Allende has been on my radar for a long, long time. I’ve been wanting to read her books but have just been pushing it off. With my excessive knitting in full force this mayasnotebookyear, I decided to give audiobooks another try (I honestly have such a hard time with them) and Maya’s Notebook was right away available from my local library. I have to say this book surprised me in a good way. I had high expectations for Allende and she far exceeded them. Who would’ve thought she could write such poignant internal turmoils and realistic human interactions. Maria Cabezas did a wonderful job voicing Maya. I truly believed I was listening to her reading from her diary. I am not sure if I am cured of my dislike of audiobooks but I am certain Isabel Allende is on my must-read-more list!

2017 – mucho reading and grande coffees

Happy New Year, everyone! 2016 was good to me when it comes to books and reading time. According to My Year in Books by Goodreads, I read 69 books with a total of 22606 pages. My longest book was Stephen King’s 11/22/63 (846 pages) and my least popular book (Young Widow by Clarissa Fairchild) was only read by 3 people including myself. And apparently, I am a harsher critic than I thought, since my average rating was only 3.9 stars (though I don’t know how accurate that truly is as there are no 1/2 stars on Goodreads). I love stats like that.

My reading chart shows I had a bit of a lull during the summer months 😉 but otherwise the reading slope is pretty steady. Hope everyone is as happy with their 2016 reading accomplishments as I am!

overview-01

So what are my plans for 2017, you ask?

  • I am going to continue reading with my girls group. We decided to have themed months as it was difficult to fill all the POPSUGAR categories and still read all the books we wanted. The theme for January is ‘new beginnings’ and my thoughts so far are that I’ll be reading The Underground Railroad for this.
  • So, yes, I thought I’ll be doing all the readings and then some for the themed months. Until. I. Saw. This. Year’s. Popsugar. Categories. They are amazing. Thus, I am going to try to fulfill those as well (and I am feeling a little crazy and might attempt the advanced version).
  • My Goodreads reading goal is 52 books, one for each week of the year. If I beat all my aforementioned categories though, I’ll be far over that goal, so that’s like a built-in morality boost ;).
  • For the blog, I am dialing back a bit on the write-ups (as past experience aka 2016 taught me chapters for each book were a bit much). I am thinking I’ll have some monthly reviews and just general posts on my progress. Thoughts? Feedback on this is welcome! I want to keep writing but I don’t want to make it a burden, and honestly, last year, each chapter that I didn’t write made me feel guiltier and guiltier where I ended up just being paralyzed in a way and felt very uncreative.

 

I think this is it for now. Let’s be off to many new adventures this year. Happy reading, everyone!

Chapter 24 – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy ♠♠♠♠

  1. One of my friends had begged me for months to read this and I am glad I finally did.
  2. I had already seen the movie and was worried I would find the book boring but I so didn’t. What an imaginative read.

If you don’t know what sarcasm is, read this book. I can’t think of a better example! And even if you don’t get sarcasm, read this book anyway.

This story is what would happen if you let three year olds spin a tale and you just write it down word for word. Every twist and turn made it more fantastical and a lot more unbelievable. Yet, Douglas Adams somehow manages to tell it like this is what truly happened, is currently happening, or would happen in the future. Never once did I think “this is too out there” even though objectively speaking “this is totally out there, like far out there”. In fact, this book made me excited about weird aliens, crazy space travel, the world ending, and reading travel guides. I admire people with imagination like that. How did he come up with any of this? Did he actually ask three year olds? I know this book is based on his radio series, and I can only guess how much people gobbled this up in the 70s. I might have to see if I can find any recordings of this show.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is for sure one of those staples everyone must read in their lifetime!

Chapter 23 – Eligible ♠♠♠ and 1/2♠

  1. Book of the Month read.
  2. Perfect for a lazy day sunbathing.

Guys, this is the right book to read laying out in the sun or relaxing poolside. It’s a fun and light-hearted retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Modernizing, old England is no easy feat but Curtis Sittenfeld accomplishes just that by incorporating fads that our society currently obsesses with: CrossFit, Paleo diets, zero commitment, The Bachelor, and more. She also re-imagines Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth but their conflicts and initial disdain is kept perfectly alive. I am a total sucker for relationships like that. In fact, they’re my favorite to read about, which is also one of the reasons why I always liked Pride and Prejudice.

I have to say for my first retelling of this classic, Eligible was a good choice because Sittenfeld highlighted the spirit of the story in the right way while still making it her own. I am sure I’ll read some of the other novels of The Austen Project in the future. What did you guys think? Have you read this book yet?

Chapter 22 – Mr. Mercedes ♠♠♠♠

  1. Solid series.
  2. Book 3 though …..

This was different. And good! King has yet to disappoint me. By now, I’ve read all three novels and while #3 is my favorite (very King), I truly enjoyed this one as well. Turns out, King can write murder mysteries as he has a knack for twists and turns and springing the unexpected on you. Plus, there was a little love story in there, which was believable and sweet. And honestly, sweet is usually not a word I would use for any of King’s stories.

What I liked particularly about this book (and the whole series really) is how real the villain was. What he did, drive into that innocent crowd just to see how it feels killing unsuspecting people, reminded me of many of the recent killing sprees here in the US (and other places). Not all of them had a clear agenda (and that doesn’t excuse anything anyway). Being able to know the deepest thoughts of the murderer was chilling and exhilarating and taught me how messed up people really can be. I am always a big fan of some evil person, I love reading stories from their perspective, but the way King jumped between the minds of the various characters gave the story so much depth. Even good people can be messed up or lost (see the retired private detective), he is definitely no exemplar citizen either. Life is never just black and white. I found myself relating to any of the characters at one point or another. And even the ones who were really far removed from my walk of life connected with parts of me and made me understand their experiences, and that takes a good writer to accomplish. I don’t understand how people think King is not that!

Read this series to get to know a different, yet still fantastic, Stephen King. And book 3 definitely brings back the fantastic and paranormal, in case you missed that too much in the first two books. Also, if you ever have the chance to hear King speak, don’t hesitate to purchase tickets!

Chapter 21 – The Gunslinger ♠♠♠♠♠

  1. I loved this one so much!
  2. Inception meets Interstellar!

Stephen King is a genius. I’ve said this before and I am saying it again. By now, I read a few of his books and really enjoyed each one for different reasons but this one is just special. It combines my obsession with his writing with my obsession for fantasy novels and dark, dark places.

I read this book as part of a 2-week readathon and this is what I wrote after finishing it (I am re-posting this because it truly describes my sentiment toward this book):

“So, I finished The Gunslinger quickly – in fact, two mornings of reading and coffee/hot chocolate accomplished that job. I gosh darn loved the book. Everything about it was amazing. I was confused for the majority of the pages – love that. I had no idea who was good and who was bad – love that. The description of the different worlds, the desolate kinds, the old medieval kinds, the modern-today kinds, and the futuristic and fantastic kinds, were so vivid and gripping – love that. And the ending, gah the ending. I don’t even know. It was the most perfect mix between ‘Interstellar’ and ‘Inception’; and if you haven’t seen those movies, you should drop anything you’re doing and watch them right now.”

All hail the King! I am so going to read the rest of the series in 2017!

*I am trying to work on my chapter write-ups, so for now my super duper awesome drawings (that I make the headers for these chapters) are on hold.

POPSUGAR for the win!

This is going to be a post of self-gloating!

 

I FINISHED THE READING CHALLENGE AND I FEEL SO DAMN ACCOMPLISHED.

… ’nuff said….

 

This was my first reading challenge. I had all but given up on reading fiction throughout grad school and when I finished my Ph.D. I vowed to fix that stat! And boy did I do that! I also vowed (and sort of failed 😉 ) to write a “chapter” about each book I read for this challenge and post it here (really the reason why this blog was born) but I am way, way, way behind on that. And given that it is December 18th, I just don’t see how I could rectify this on time. So, I am going to let my mood decide aka if the mood strikes me I might go a little crazy and write all those chapters and if it doesn’t I am going to chalk this up to a learning experience and forget about it (or come back over time and add a chapter here or there).

For the upcoming year, my book girls and I decided to not have a communal popsugar challenge but rather come up with categories or themes for each month (think spooky stories in October for example) and then talk about the books we read throughout that month. I did however check out the 2017 popsugar reading challenge and I must say the categories are AMAZING. I might have to do that one for myself.

Regarding the future of the blog ….. I am going to keep it and I am going to try to have more updates (which will most likely be A LOT less structured than the chapter idea) and it might get interspersed with non-book related things like knitting or my dogs. I will for sure continue posting thoughts about books, quotes I liked, and how I made my way through various readathons. I am also trying to be a bit more active on NetGalley and review upcoming novels in a timely manner.

What are your plans for 2017?