Spoiler alert: I love to read.
I’ve always loved reading. Even when I couldn’t read, I was fully convinced reading was my jam.
(Dr. Seuss is not difficult to memorize.)
But it wasn’t until fifth grade that I reached peak nerd by participating in Battle of the Books.
In a nutshell: Borders (R.I.P.) put together a reading list for teams to knock out before participating in a quiz bowl held smack dab in the middle of their store.
IT WAS THE COOLEST.
We’re talking classics like “Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen, Bruce Coville’s “Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher” and “Zeely” by Virginia Hamilton.
To be honest, those might be the only titles I remember and I’m pretty upset with myself.
Of course St. Vincent de Paul came away with the title—likely thanks to the code names we used to discuss each answer without tipping off the other team.
Like I said, peak nerd.
Flash forward 15 years and I still read just about every day. It’s a compulsion.
Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, business or pleasure, I’m always in the middle of something. So I thought I’d throw together a quick glance at what I read last year, plus the few books I’ve already stacked for 2017.
Note: A lot of these came from the wonderful book club I joined last year. It’s full of really great people with drastically different tastes, so the choices and ensuing discussions are never dull.
To avoid rambling about each book (and inevitably spoiling all of the plots), I’m going to limit my reviews to one sentence apiece.
Okay, maybe two.
I’m also going to stick with the books I read for fun. If you want to talk professional reads, let me know.
“The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America” — This one set a high bar for the year. It’s definitely not new, but if you like true crime and/or history, you have to grab it. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the building H.H. Holmes designed for his… hobbies.
“We Were Liars” — Don’t read this.
“Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things” — I almost peed my pants a few different times. The wonderfully funny Jenny Lawson covers everything from her ongoing battle with mental illness to the unfair world of pockets. Also, this is the cover.
“Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune” — Without a doubt my favorite read of 2016. Her dad was the Rockefeller of Copper and I’m struggling to find a word worthy of their spending habits.
“Ready Player One” — This is the closest of close seconds. It takes place in a future I wouldn’t call totally unrealistic, where people spend the majority of their day in a virtual world.
“Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal” — Don’t audiobook this one. It’s a lot of crazy info, but I had trouble sticking with the reader. If you liked high school anatomy, this is definitely your jam.
“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” — I’m still not sure on this one. It’s like if you combined a little Harry Potter with a lot of X-Men. It started very light and juvenile, but the ending was pretty dark. It threw me.
“The Husband’s Secret” — A quick read by the same author as “Big Little Lies”, which I also loved. Same focus on intertwined plot lines and the woes of parenthood.
“The Night Circus” — The most romantic of the bunch. If you ever read (or have read) this one, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the illusionists’ relationship.
January was not my finest month in terms of book club membership. Even though I have yet to finish “A Brief History of Time”, I had every intention of joining the discussion but plumb forgot! That said, I need to not read Stephen right before bed. I can’t go more than 10 pages without falling asleep.
Once I finish that, I have “Scrappy Little Nobody” by my No. 3 girl crush. Pretty pumped for that.
I’m also all about the club’s new pick, “Judenstaat”—maybe because I’m still going through “Man in the High Castle” withdrawals. But very excited for the return to fiction.
And I might possibly re-dabble in some Jodi Picoult? I haven’t picked up her stuff for maybe five years, but one of my favorite work people speaks highly of “Small Great Things” and was kind enough to lend me a copy, so of course.
This became way longer than I anticipated, so I’m just gonna end things here.
This goes without saying, but please drop a comment with any other suggestions!
Title Credit: Natasha Bedingfield