— L.M. Montgomery (via ilovereadingandwriting)
— Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch
Not enough. Never enough.
1. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. Entertaining but didn’t blow me away.
2. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. Gorgeous.
3. The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell. Quick read, good plot, but I literally don’t remember a thing about it. Wouldn’t have remembered the author’s name either. Still loving my Powell’s Indiespensable subscription for expanding my reading horizon every six weeks.
4. The Round House by Louise Erdrich. Totally forgot about this. I want to read everything else she’s written! Sad, a little slow (hard to get into and through), but worth it.
5. The Passage by Justin Cronin. Recommended by my boyfriend and his two best friends. More sci-fi-ish than my usual reads but I did whiz through it.
6. Swing Low: A Life by Miriam Toews. Ever since Powell’s sent me Irma Voth, I’ve been mesmerized by MT’s writing. I still have a photo of a quote from one of her other novels that I’ve been meaning to post for months… Something about her style and perspective really speaks to me. That said, I remember basically nothing about this memoir of her father. One of my resolutions should be to document more about what I’m reading (photos, quotes, reviews, whatever) so I don’t forget as much.
7. House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III. Awesome and I loved it (and my boyfriend did too — bonus points).
8. Above All Things by Tanis Rideout. An imagining of some of the events surrounding the first summit of Mount Everest. A good story but I was disappointed.
9. Whites by Norman Rush. This guy holds a special place in my heart because I bought one of his novels at a used bookstore in Portland in 2008 when I was broke and sad and needed something to burrow down into. His writing did the trick. I avoided his short stories for a long time because I tend to avoid short stories in general and because I thought the form wouldn’t do justice to his sprawling style. I rated this 5 stars on goodreads, though, so I’m guessing it went well.
10. Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked by James Lasdun. Lots of mixed feelings about this book. To say that I was disappointed would be an understatement. I was irritated and annoyed and frustrated and mad and uncomfortable. I checked it out because Maureen Corrigan reviewed it on “Fresh Air” and I trust her…but I couldn’t buy into Lasdun’s side of the story. I actually wrote a long review for goodreads but accidentally deleted it before posting, which is probably for the best. I don’t know. This is one I’d rather talk about over beers than on the Internet, since its subject is a pro at Internet harassment and I’m paranoid. But I found the narrator unreliable at best.
11. Arkansas by John Brandon. Another Indiespensable-inspired read because I loved A Million Heavens. This one was a good, meaty story, but in the end I only gave it 3 stars. Hmm.
12. A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews. Yes.
13. Tenth of December by George Saunders. This one I do remember posting about, just to say that it was making me sad. It did make me sad and it was weird and twisted. I guess people are big fans though.
14. Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of a Murder Trial by Janet Malcolm. My mom gave me this because of certain professional interests. Gripping (and true) story, which reminds me that I need to read more Janet Malcolm.
15. With or Without You by Domenica Ruta. I just can’t get into memoirs. Probably because I could never imagine sharing so much about myself and expecting other people to be interested. Also because (as was the case with this one) I just didn’t find the story that unique. Only read it because it was an indiespensable.
16. The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan. Very cool and weird book.
17. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot. Ahh, what a breath of fresh air after so much contemporary stuff. Sometimes you (I) desperately need to go back to the classics.
18. A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis. Important.
19. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg. Glad I read this, and I definitely needed to hear some of it.
20. The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Still relevant.
21. The New York Stories of Henry James by Henry James. This was a long one but I read every page. Gotta love HJ.
22. From Poor Law to Welfare State by Walter Trattner. Read this for grad school. Decent as sweeping history books go. Didn’t end up NEEDING to read it for school, but hey. I try to be a good student.
23. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra. This one took me a long time. I had trouble reading more than a handful of pages in a row. It was a good story and I felt like there was a lot to get out of it, but I was also acutely conscious of myself trying to get a lot out of it as I went along, if that makes any sense. Took energy to read, is what I’m saying.
24. Social Justice and Social Work by Michael Austin. For school. Meh.
25. Bobcat and Other Stories by Rebecca Lee. Loved. Thanks, Powell’s!
26. Brewster by Mark Slouka. Second to my distaste for memoirs is my distaste for coming-of-age stories of adolescent white boys as written by middle-aged white men (probably because of a similar “what-makes-your-story-uniquely-interesting?” issue). Also because I’m becoming more and more aware of gender issues in lit (see Maureen Johnson’s coverflip project and just…general reception of female as compared to male stories). If a women wrote a book like this about a girl, it would be considered fluffy chick lit. Instead it has this serious, weighty, THIS IS THE REALITY, THIS IS THE WORLD feel to it…which rubs me the wrong way. Not that I think it’s Slouka’s fault, and I did give it 4 stars. Just saying.
27. In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell. I have never read anything like this and I was completely captivated and intrigued.
28. The Illusion of Separateness by Simon van Booy. Finished a month ago and have almost no memory of the plot. I know it was poetic and very quotable.
29. Transformation of the Welfare State by Neil Gilbert. Grad school at its worst/finest. I abandoned this one, not gonna lie. I tried, though. I did.
30. Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III. A disappointment after Townie (one of the very few memoirs I actually like!) and House of Sand and Fog. Just too…something. Too much. Parts of the story felt gratuitous and not real. And just depressing for the sake of being depressing. Not that I can’t handle downers. Just that this didn’t strike me as right the way really good books make you go Yes, yes, that’s IT.
31. Dont’s for Mothers by Anonymous. A funny little book of wisdom from the 1800s that I found at my grandmother’s house last week. Lots of it is still very relevant and the parts that are no longer relevant are just as amusing.
32. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. So far so good! But can I finish in 2013…?