It’s a new year, and I am dedicating this blog to some of my favorite books I read, or listened to commuting to and from work, last year. I have eclectic taste, and I am always looking for a good read, so feel free to comment about your favorites. Happy 2017, and here’s to curling up with a good book.
Hausfrau by Jill Alexander: This novel is a modern Anna Karenina, so I know damn well where it is going and I hope it doesn’t go that way, but I know it has to. It’s about a housewife who has affairs, and the most brilliant part of the book is when her son, on a field trip at the zoo, sees her making out with another man; she is brutal in convincing him he didn’t see what he saw, and of course everything unravels. So beautiful.
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf: What a wonderful story about an elderly widow and widower who make a pact to meet at night, not to have sex, but to talk and cuddle because they miss that connection. Their grown children eventually meddle by telling them what they are doing is wrong, but they keep finding each other. A truly touching story.
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff: I love Lotto’s sensuality, purity, and dedication to Matilde, as well as Matilde’s manipulation, practicality, and unraveling of her darker past. It is a love story so beautifully told from each perspective.
Suicide Stitch: Eleven Stories by Sarah L. Johnson: I met her at Chapters, and I told her she had ten seconds to tell me what her book was about, and all she said was it was dark and sexy. I told her she had me at that, and I bought her book. She was right: it is dark and it is sexy. Through a series of short stories, she takes the reader on a journey to forbidden places.
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher: This novel came out in 2007, but I just discovered it this year. It is YA fiction dealing with the suicide of a teenager who leaves cassette tapes telling her story to those who victimized her. A story so brilliantly told.
Fairest and Winter by Marissa Meyer: YA fiction and both part of the Lunar Chronicles. I found Fairest to be more disturbing with the rivalry between two sisters: a delightful read. I love the whole series because it combines fairy tales with science fiction, two of my favorite genres.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: How could you not love a middle aged, slightly overweight, alcoholic heroine with memory lapses caught up in a mystery? I listened to this one on CD, cherishing the lovely British accents of the three women interweaving their stories.
Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, and The End of Watch by Stephen King: I have been a fan since reading the Bachman Books when I was in high school. What I like about Stephen King is his stories are clear, easy to follow, and fun. My favorite is still 11/22/63, but I love the whole aging detective Bill Hodges series.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King: I have read a lot of books about writing, and this one is by far my favorite because of the basic practical advice of improving one’s craft through continued writing and reading. At the end of the book, King provides an extensive list of all the books he read, or listened to, in the year he wrote the book. Also, he writes about his wife’s support in overcoming his alcohol and cocaine addiction, as well as getting back into writing after his accident.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson: This is a memoir of Stevenson’s work as a defense lawyer for wrongly convicted African Americans on death row in southern United States. While reading this book, I had to shake my head several times over the structural violence existing in society. Thankfully, Stevenson wisely offers suggestions at how to improve the system.
Marilyn Monroe: My Story combined with Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters by Marilyn Monroe. I enjoy reading about the starlet’s life, and the two books combined provide for a more complete read. My Story ends abruptly at her honeymoon with Joe DiMaggio while Fragments includes her brilliant poetry as a drama student in New York. Both stories depict an amazing dedication to a craft.
Chris Hadfield: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: Such a joy to learn about life in space: something foreign to most of us Earthlings. In addition, I absolutely love Hadfield’s optimism; here’s a guy who prepares himself for future endeavors despite seeming impossible. I also enjoyed his children’s book, The Darkest Dark. Yesterday, Col. Chris Hadfield posted on his Facebook page 46 positive stories of this past year, and that just adds to his coolness. https://www.facebook.com/AstronautChrisHadfield/posts/1502900363061029
Some books I look forward to reading in the next few months include Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noha Harari, Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, Leave Me by Gayle Forman, and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany.
Keep reading and love to all.