I don’t do my Books I’ve Read post until January, because on December 31, I’m still reading. I think this is perfectly fine– I mean, now you are deep in the early stages of your Juice Fast or your kettle bell commitment and now you have something entertaining to read which will take your mind off your considerable hunger and/or muscle pains.
Like last year, I’ma make this brief. I’m not giving away plots or summarizing anything. I’m borrowing from Twitter and giving you roughly 140 characters to describe my thoughts on a book. I read 30 Books this year. So you’ll hear about 15 today and 15 next time.
1. Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes. I cried so hard reading this book that I woke Simon up one night. A real weepy, this one. For weeks, I didn’t stop thinking about it and asked everyone if they read it. The people who said yes, I loved a little more than those that said no. Wanna be in my inner circle? READ. THIS. BOOK.
2. Willie Nelson, by Joe Nick Patoski. Ya’ll, it’s a 500-page book about Willie Nelson. It chronicles every gig, every song, every drug. It’s fucking BRILLIANT. I loved every word, but I’m not really recommending it to anyone because (1) the author’s name is “Joe Nick” and (2) it’s really only for Willie freaks. If you can get over the Joe Nick thing and love you some Willie, read this.
3. Silver Star, by Jeanette Walls. Let me guess: You read Glass Castle and it’s one of your favorite books. Of course. Well, this is Walls’ fiction and it’s good. I love the narrative voice, which is that of a precocious young girl. Some of the stuff that happens was predictable and tired toward the end, but it’s a good read.
4. Willie Nelson, by Graeme Thomson. Did you see that I already talked about a 500-page Willie Nelson biography that I read? Well, I read two. (Actually three.) I’m dangerous like that. This one is more philosophical and interjects some of Willie’s own words in the chapters. Should you read it? Yes. Will you? Probably not and I sort of hate you for that.
5. Columbine, by David Cullen. Whose idea was it for me to read a detailed account of this school massacre? I know who recommended it on Facebook and she was right: it’s a fascinating read the dispels several myths and misperceptions about that horrible April day in Colorado. I had several nightmares following my completion of this read.
6. Orange Is The New Black, Piper Kerman. A young, former lesbian ends up in prison for a decade-old drug crime. I’m in. Her writing is good and her vantage point from having served time is compelling. I think the take away from this book can be summed up as: don’t get involved in a drug ring, kids, or you’ll end up reading the classics from a bunk in the clink.
7. Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. You already know about this book—you’ve seen it on Oprah and at Costco. It’s a great read—part elegy for Strayed’s mother, part spiritual awakening, part journey. I confess I got sick of hearing about her relationship with her mother, but damn, Ms. Strayed can write. Bonus: It made me love REI’s return policy even more than I already did.
8. The Fault In Our Stars, John Green. Holy Costco sample table, I adored this book, and I generally hate YA. The voice of the narrator is perfect. I think I’m a better person for having read this book. Here’s the best thing about it: it’s hands’ down one of my favorite books EVER, but it’s also deeply flawed. Some really unconvincing shit happens at the end, but I don’t care. I was already in love with the writing and the characters. For some reason, that fills me with great hope as a writer and as a human being.
9. Brain On Fire, by Suzanne Cahalan. She was writing for the New York Post and had what appeared to be a psychotic break. That I could follow the science in this book is a testament to Ms. Cahalan’s talent as a writer, as well as her amazing recovery from an incredible malady. Wacky shit can happen to your brain—you better hope you end up with great doctors if it does. That was my chief takeaway.
10. Escape From Camp 14, by Blaine Harden. No matter how dreadful my daily tasks are, they are never “North Korea dreadful”. This book was often hard to read with its graphic descriptions of life in a labor camp. It almost feels like science fiction to read about a world where people live so utterly bereft of freedom, kindness, love, and joy. It’s a huge downer, and I’m glad I read it.
11. Bloom, by Kelle Hampton. In this memoir, we see how a mother giving birth to her second child copes when, on the day of the birth, she learns her daughter has Downs Syndrome. How could you not put yourself in her shoes reading this book? It’s a good read, but something felt a little glossy or superficial about her telling of the story. I can’t explain it. Maybe I’m just jealous that Hampton has gorgeous hair and her pictures of her family look like the pictures that go into frames that sit on the shelves of Pier One.
12. Rob Delaney, by Rob Delaney. Okay, that’s not the title of his book, but it’s too long to remember so I just call it the Rob Delaney book. I thought it would be hilarious based on his ridiculous tweets. And it was. But also? It was a harrowing look at his recovery from addiction to alcohol. The book felt a little rushed and disjointed, but it sure was fun (except for the parts when he almost died from alcoholism– I’m not a monster.).
13. Karma Gone Bad, by Jenny Feldon. Have you ever been to India? Can you imagine moving there because your spouse gets transferred? Well, that’s the premise of this memoir that is a chock full of cultural faux pas and the painful lessons that must lead to a transformation for a New York girl who loves her lattes and fancy-brand clothes to embrace life in India. I was rooting for her, even though she was a bit of a horse’s patoot in the first half of the book.
14. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. It feels like I read this book three years ago. I already did a post on it, which you can read here. Here’s what I know about myself now: I don’t like stories about murder or murderers. In fact, I hate them. I never finished The Lovely Bones and I don’t watch CSI. I don’t have the constitution for it.
15. The Silent Wife, by A.S.A. Harrison. This book capitalized on the success of Gone Girl, as it shares some of the similarities. I can tell it’s a good book and lots of people loved it; but the murderer thing got in my way. No more murdery books for me. I stuck with this one, though, because the author died of cancer weeks before her book was published. I was so struck by her sad fate that I read it to honor her.