2015 Book A Week in Review


Wrapping up 2015 having nailed the book-a-week goal!!!  WooHoo!!!!! At the risk of exposing my complete geekness, this adventure really HAS felt like an adventure. Some weeks I read books because they were handy or because the library was out of something I really wanted. More than a few came off a long-held "to be read" list I keep. Even more came because friends loaned me copies of what they were reading.

Happily, I found thirteen books which I would "Highly Recommend" and only seven which I would avoid. The vast middle is fat because most books are competent and enjoyable when you consume them in the proper context and when your expectations are met.  Many of the books from the "Recommended" and "Recommended with Reservations" could be swapped with each other depending on what you're looking for.

If you recall from my mid-year summary, the order inside each bucket isn’t sorted, but there is a gap between what I read during the first half(ish) of the year and the second.

I’ve coded the books by (F) Fiction and (NF) Non-fiction.  Each title has a link to the original review.

Here we go!

Highly Recommended - 13 Selections

Yes, Please (NF) – Amy Poehler at her finest. The Boys In The Boat (NF) – I think this will be on my “best” list for years to come. Creativity, Inc. (NF) – Everything you want to know about Pixar. Memory Wall Stories (F) – This book turned me into a short-story fan. All the Light We Cannot See (F) – This should be the next novel you read. Period. Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania (NF) – History which reads like fiction What to do when it’s your turn (NF) – Seth Godin inspiration Orbiting the Giant Hairball (NF) – Finally a strategy for creative “types”!!! My Grandma’s a Ninja (Children’s Story) – LOVE this kids’ book!

Four Seasons in Rome (NF) - I read this weeks after visiting Rome so the stories made my heart sing. The Martian (F) - if you loved the movie, you'll like the book more. So very funny. Supper of the Lamb (NF) - A well-earned classic. I'll never look at an onion (or food of any kind) the same way again. Year of Yes (NF) - Shonda Rhimes may be my "spirit animal" - I'm not sure what that means, but my teenager says it as the highest form of praise, so I'll go with it.

Recommended - 19 Selections

The Rosie Project (F) – I didn’t know what to expect with the autistic narration voice, but it’s fun! Plainsong (F) – Compelling characters, great writing, solid fiction. The New Rules For Love, Sex, and Dating (NF) – Truth, plain and simple. The Magnificent Adventures of Henry Hudson (NF) – Who knew all of this about Henry Hudson? Fascinating. Engaging. Magnificent. Hannah Coulter (F) – I love this style of writing. Just beautiful. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (NF) – This story is still disturbing. The Nightingale (F) – Solid, but read the review for a slight reservation.

Moonwalking with Einstein (NF) - If you're interested in how memory works and the strange subculture around memory contests, give this one a try. Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (NF) - Kondo-ing is a thing. A life changing thing. If you struggle with clutter, check it out. Tell The Wolves I'm Home (F) - Solid, enjoyable read despite the awkward, non-memorable title. The Comeback (NF) - If you've ever felt you're too far in a pit of despair and need some encouragement, you'll love this read. 5 Gears (NF) - This tackles work-life balance by introducing a word picture which is sticky and easily grasped. Career of Evil (F)- If you like mysteries and JK Rowling, this needs to be on your short list. Big Magic (NF) - You had me at "creativity" - enjoyable even if it's all been said before. How to get a date worth keeping (NF) - Not a new book, but I wish every friend of mine who's single would read this! The Language of Flowers (F) - Solid, fresh story which is well-written and where the author likes her characters. Elenore & Park (F) - I'm not beyond loving a teen romance story!

There are two titles I read this year but did not formally review, but which I would also recommend: Grace Outpouring:Becoming a people of blessing (NF) - A remarkable story about a spiritual retreat center in Wales. Made me want to visit! The Optimist's Daughter (F) - This is my last read of the year and I'm two-thirds of the way done. So far Eudora Welty's Pulitizer Prize winning book is rich in both story and language.

Recommended with Reservations - 15 Selections

Divergent Series (3 Titles)(F) – Teen Novels – Page-turners for sure. The only reservation is the age group. Cinder (F) – Teen Novel – same as above! The Hungry Mind (F) – Factual, relevant, but tedious all the same. Beautiful Ruins (F) – Uneven, but still kind of fun. Event in Autumn (F) – Start at the beginning of the series, not with this last title. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) (NF) – Don’t read near Yes, Please or Bossypants because it doesn’t stand up to the inevitable comparison. But I still love Mindy! Food: A Love Story (NF) – Unevenly funny.

Ordinary Grace (F) - As long as you don't mind figuring out the plot twists in advance, you may enjoy this read. The Boston Girl (F) - Kinda liked this. Kinda didn't. Guns, Germs, and Steel (NF) - You have to really dig anthropology to dig this book. You & Me Forever (NF) - If you want a marriage book which strays pretty far from the topic and seems more than slightly disorganized, but still makes some great points, you may like this one. Round Ireland with a Fridge (NF) - Random story, but it's set in Ireland and features awesome Irish folks, so there's that. The Storied Life of AJ Fikry (NF) - In hindsight this book hasn't stuck with me.

Not Recommended - 7 Selections

A Visit From The Goon Squad (F) – I’ve already forgotten the major plot points. The Girl You Left Behind (F) – Pure formula Let Your Life Speak (NF) – The longer I think about this book, the more apathetic I feel. Love, Anthony (F) – I want to like this read. Really, I do…

Mozart's Ghost (F) - uh, no. One More Thing (NF) - I enjoyed some of these essays, but not enough to recommend.

Now the big debate is do I try again in 2016? Or should I have a different reading goal?

Hmmmm. What do you think?