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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Books I've Read So Far In 2016

Hi guys, 

My reading goal for this year is to read or listen to 45 books. I'm well on my way to reaching that number. Here are the 31 books I've finished so far, either on paper books, on Kindle, or listening to audio books. Audio books contribute 16 to the list. I'm out of the habit of reading a paper book all the time, but I almost always have my phone near me, so I can listen any time I'm cooking or washing dishes or weeding the garden. It's a great way to "read" more books!

1. Grow Herbs by Jekka McVicar. Great information on herb gardening!

2. And Then You Dye by Monica Ferris. This one's a cozy mystery about crafters who help solve a murder.

3. Herb Gardening from the Ground Up by Sal Gilbertie and Larry Sheehan. This one has good info on each herb, plus some really fun themed gardens: Home Bar, Bread Garden, Tex-Mex, etc... 

4. Homegrown Herbs by Tammi Hartung. I love this one! Hartung leads you through every step, and then has lots of great ideas for using the herbs.

5. Herb Society of America's Essential Guide to Growing and Cooking with Herbs by Katherine K. Schlosser. This book has tons of recipes for using the herbs you grow or buy. 

6. Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving. I love John Irving. This is typical of his work: long and sprawling, with unusual, fun characters. A boy from a garbage dump in Mexico eventually becomes an American novelist. If you listen to the audio version, know that there is lots of sex talk. You may not want your kids listening in.

7. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling. Oh Harry Potter, how I love to hear your story. I binge-listened to this whole series. The narrator of the Audible version is great, and he reads the whole series. 

8. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling.

9. Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman. Katy Bowman is a biomechanist, and she is so smart and so, so cute and friendly. I loved listening to her reading her own book. She is really into moving a lot all day long, not just for an hour-long workout each day. 

She looks at how bodies work, all the parts interacting with each other, down to the cellular level, and every cell needs us to move around more, and in a bunch of different ways, but not all of a sudden! Work up to it. Then maybe get rid of all your furniture and pillows and processed foods - or just do what works for your own life and move as much as you can.

10. Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie. I read this one while we were on vacation in the Caribbean! I love Agatha and this is a fine story. 

11. The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths. This series is really good. The main character is an archeologist and professor who becomes a single mother. She helps the police solve murders by dating the bones they find and then somehow always getting more involved. I like the character and will definitely read the whole series. 

12. The Walking Dead Volume 23 by Robert Kirkman. Is a comic book a book? It has the word "book" right in the title, so I'm counting it. As usual, disturbing, yet irresistible.

13. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling. 

14. Falling to Pieces by Vanetta Chapman. I got this really cheaply on Kindle and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It's about a woman who moves to an Amish town and runs a quilting shop while hanging out with her new Amish friends and helping to solve murders. 

15. Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline. I already knew that shopping at Old Navy meant that poor women in China, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and Vietnam were being overworked and underpaid so that I could have too many short-lived t-shirts for $7 each. And in this book I learned that donating my cast-offs to charities probably isn't really helping anyone. There are too many cast-offs, thanks to fast fashion, and many of the clothes don't even get to needy people. So I can't use that as a guilt-assuager and have to just stop buying crap that I don't need; only buy what I will actually wear a lot and then wear it out. That's my take-away. I recommend this book if you're at all interested in the subject. 

16. The Forgotten Seamstress by Liz Trenow. This is a novel about a woman who was locked up in an asylum for many years, and about the quilt she made, and the truth about who wanted her locked up and why. Really good.

17. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling. Oh my gosh, I think this is the one that became way too long. Where was the editor? J. K. became too powerful and no one would tell her that the books were including too many details that didn't further the plot! Okay, or the fans were clamoring for as many details as possible and would kill to have whatever pages actually did get cut.  
18. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling. 

19. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling. 

20. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling.  Holy cow, could this one have dragged on any longer? The first time I read it, I tore through my giant hardcover book. This time, several years later, I could be more discerning and say that multiple hours of this book should have been condensed. So many pages, not much happened. There was a lot of non-exciting stuff here. And then the good stuff - why not just have the good stuff?

I still love Harry Potter! I have a new appreciation for the movies, which have to cut out some of the extraneous scenes so they're not 15 hours long apiece.

21. The House at Sea's End by Elly Griffiths. More from this series! This was good, too. I have a couple more already on the shelf to read, when I finish up some of the other books that I've already started. 

22. Bonk by Mary Roach. Intrepid science reporter investigates the historical study of sex. Fascinating! I also liked her book on digestion: Gulp. I'd like to read the rest of her work someday. 

23. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Oh man, I don't get the hype about this book. I liked the historical fiction aspect of it, and the time travel element. But I totally hated and dreaded all the torture and rape. I'd love for someone to tell me what happens in future books, aside from the further torture and rape that seem inevitable. Is there more time travel? Why/how did time travel increase fertility? Is the future changed by her actions? 

24. A Perfect Square by Vannetta Chapman. I don't know why, but I like these Amish cozy novels. It's fun to read about people choosing to live outside the mainstream, and rejecting most of modern technology. 

25. Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. I listened to this one, and I think I would have liked it better on paper. The narrator is a child, and the reader seemed to be doing a bit of a plaintive voice the whole time, which I sometimes found intolerable. The novel takes place in the 1980s, when a girl's uncle dies of AIDS. She secretly gets to know his boyfriend/life partner, against her parents' wishes. It's pretty good, and might be great on paper. 

26. A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn. I loved the reader of the audio version of this one! The narrator is a spunky, modern-sensibility feminist butterfly hunter, but it's set in 1887. She's an orphan, with no idea who her parents were. After her elderly aunts die, she will have to find out her parentage, with the help of a couple of other interesting characters. On Amazon, some reviewers hated the narrator, finding her smug and intolerable, but I thought she was funny and very fun to listen to. 

27. The Playground by Ray Bradbury. A short story which is very unsettling, about a dad trying to protect his son.

28. The Collectors by Philip Pullman.  Another short story, in which a mysterious painting and a sculpture always end up together, regardless of having been sold to different people.

29. The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell. I love Sarah Vowell, and I always learn a lot of U.S. history when I read her books. I listened to her reading her own book, and I thought it was a little flat, but I still liked it. 

Do you remember what you learned in elementary school? She was talking about her childhood lessons and I really don't have any memory of learning about the presidents. I have, like, a vague picture of what it might have been like, based on tv shows wherein kids wear Lincoln hats and beards or dress up like pilgrims and Indians. But not any actual memory of dressing up like anyone.

30. Fellside by M. R. Carey. Did you read Carey's The Girl With All the Gifts? It was great. Fellside is pretty darn good. If you like a mystery, and you like an unreliable narrator, and you're okay with the possibility of something supernatural or sci-fi, read both of Carey's books! 

31. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. I just listened to this one, and it was okay. I didn't totally love it. There's nothing wrong with it. Some of it's pretty fun. There's a bookstore, and a somewhat aimless protagonist, and a secret society that reads encrypted books, all of which I like. But overall, I didn't feel completely satisfied with it. 

That's it! The year is not yet half over, and I've read 31/45 books, so I'm sure I'll meet my goal. I may have already started all 14 of the books I still need! I'm in the middle of a bunch that are spread out around the house. My ability to focus has not been strong since I had my second baby, so I just pick up whichever book appeals to me in the moment. 

What are you reading? 

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