2016: My Year in Books

One of my goals for 2016 is to read 52 books.  Below are notes about them all.

  1. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
    Oh, I loved it.  Lahiri’s writing style is beautiful — the present tense of the book, like you’re reading the scene descriptions in a play, puts you in the moment.  I’d call it a book about gratitude.  Definitely recommend.
  2. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert
    This is my second read of the book.  I understand the issues other people have with it, but I like it.  I love Gilbert’s casual, conversational style.  And now that I’ve been to Italy, the descriptions of her travels there tug at me!  Would recommend.
  3. Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin
    I read Rubin’s The Happiness Project last year and enjoyed the project itself way more than I enjoyed Rubin.  The same goes for Better Than Before.  Rubin’s research is enlightening and so applicable.  Would recommend.
  4. Eating Dangerously: Why the Government Can’t Keep Your Food Safe … and How You Can by Michael Booth and Jennifer Brown
    Ugh, can you say “terrifying”?  Booth and Brown provide an interesting look into some of the many facets of food safety in the US.  It’s enough to make you squirm a little, but not enough to petrify you.  Would recommend, but only for those who can stomach a little bit of gross food news.
  5. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
    Beautiful, touching, so sad.  Kalanithi’s account is perfectly written, but it’s his wife’s epilogue that really got me.  Absolutely would recommend.
  6. The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin
    The whole time I was reading this, I felt like I was watching a movie (or a reality TV show!).  It was a new experience for me, seeing as my usual reads are self-help, memoirs, or food-related.  The glamour, the drama, the gossip — this book is so full of it all!  I liked it, but I feel like the book went on a bit too long.  And, fair warning, it’s a bit of a downer.  Would not recommend.
  7. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
    So good.  Simple, quick, and just the kick in the butt I needed to get inspired and move out of my creative rut.  Would recommend again and again.
  8. Little Victories: Perfect Rules for Imperfect Living by Jason Gay
    Part self-help, part autobiography.  I really enjoyed this read — it was like having coffee with really interesting, funny coworker.  Would recommend.
  9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
    I have a particular fondness for the first Harry Potter book (and movie, for that matter).  I was a little late to the Harry Potter party; I finally read them all after my freshman year of college.  I think, as a result, I’m not all that attached to the series.  But I love this one and it was fun to re-read it.  Would recommend.
  10. In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri
    A very cool approach for a book — written in Lahiri’s newly mastered (if you can use the word “mastered” to describe a third language learned) Italian and translated back to English by a translator.  It’s introspective, soft, and brief.  I liked it.  Would recommend.
  11.  Modern Romance: An Investigation by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg
    A quick and easy read.  It ends up feeling kind of like a social science report, which makes sense when you consider the fact that it’s a side project motivated by Ansari’s personal interest in the topic.  It’s not a crazy-great narrative, but it is interesting.  Would not recommend.
  12. Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
    Another quick and easy read.  I enjoyed Reid’s writing, but I am not in love with the book’s wrap-up and not exactly in agreement with some of the major themes.  Would recommend as a not-so-serious beach read.
  13. Quarter Life Poetry: Poems for the Young, Broke and Hangry by Samantha Jayne
    Hilarious.  So accurate.  Jayne gets it.  Would definitely recommend.
  14. Barbara the Slut and Other People by Lauren Holmes
    This is a collection of short stories.  I definitely wouldn’t call it a happy read because it gets kind of real, but I enjoyed Holmes’s writing style and finished it in two days.  Would recommend.
  15. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
    Sometimes you just feel like reading some Young Adult Fiction.  This is one of those books I’m not even sure that I actually enjoyed but that I felt compelled to finish and then follow up with the sequel.  It’s gossip-y and dramatic, just like a romantic comedy movie that you really shouldn’t have spent $12 to see in a theater but you did anyway.  Would recommend as a cute, easy read.
  16. P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
    I just had to see the story through to the end.  Everything I said about To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before applies here.
  17. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Nell Scovell and Sheryl Sandberg
    This book reads more like a passionate, rambling conversation than a thoughtfully organized argument, but I do think it’s full of good starting points for the conversation around women and equality specifically in the workplace.  Would recommend if you have a little patience and an interest in the topic.
  18. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling (audio book)
    I decided to go ahead and continue revisiting the series.  I’ve been listening to the audio books — Jim Dale is so good.  Would recommend.
  19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling (audio book)
    I decided to go ahead and continue revisiting the series.  I’ve been listening to the audio books — Jim Dale is so good.  Would recommend.
  20. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling (audio book)
    I decided to go ahead and continue revisiting the series.  I’ve been listening to the audio books — Jim Dale is so good.  Would recommend.
  21. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling (audio book)
    I decided to go ahead and continue revisiting the series.  I’ve been listening to the audio books — Jim Dale is so good.  Would recommend (even though this is my absolute least favorite book of the series because Harry is such a whiny, annoying teenager the whole time).
  22. My Pantry:  Homemade Ingredients That Make Simple Meals Your Own by Alice Waters
    This memoir/recipe book made me feel warm and cozy inside.  The way Waters writes about her food, her kitchen, and her recipes just makes me want to cook!  Full of good ideas for ways to use pantry basics.  Would recommend.
  23. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
    I so badly wanted this to be my thing, but it just wasn’t.  Too much talk of “Source Energy” and “surrendering”.  Would not recommend.
  24. The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan
    I picked this book up because of all the hype and tragic circumstances.  I enjoyed it, but wasn’t blown away.  It reads like drafts and journal entries.  I didn’t love any one piece, but perhaps they weren’t done or ready to be read by me (very possible, seeing as her friends and family put the book together).  Would not recommend.
  25. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling (audio book)
    I decided to go ahead and continue revisiting the series. I’ve been listening to the audio books — Jim Dale is so good. Would recommend.
  26. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A Simple, Effective Way to Banish Clutter Forever by Marie Kondo
    I really like the idea of considering the value of your belongings in terms of what sparks joy.  The rest of this book was just straight coocoo and unreasonable.  And it’s repetitive!  Would not recommend.
  27. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling (audio book)
    I decided to go ahead and continue revisiting the series. I’ve been listening to the audio books — Jim Dale is so good. Would recommend.
  28. A Bone to Pick: The good and bad news about food, with wisdom and advice on diets, food safety, GMOs, farming, and more by Mark Bittman
    This is my reading-for-fun jam.  Made up of many of Bittman’s short, easy-to-read New York Times op-ed columns, the book is thought-provoking and filled with insights that are horrifying and encouraging all at the same time.  Would definitely recommend.
  29. Year of No Sugar: A Memoir by Eve Schaub
    Interesting, thought-provoking, and very impressive project, but I didn’t love the book.  It felt scattered and rambling to me.  Wouldn’t recommend.
  30. A Waist Is a Terrible Thing to Mind: Loving Your Body, Accepting Yourself, and Living Without Regret by Karen Linamen
    Nothing groundbreaking here, but the whole book is a nice reminder that our relationships with our bodies are complicated and that a little kindness toward yourself is important.  Wouldn’t recommend unless you’re looking for a little pep talk.
  31. Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple
    I wanted to like it a lot, but I just couldn’t get on board.  With a pretty unlikable (if you ask me) main character, I was hoping the story would blow me away.  Oh well … Wouldn’t recommend.
  32. The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time by Arianna Huffington
    It’s an easy read that is jam-packed with research from all over.  Plus, it provided some major back-up for my recent realization that sleep needs to be a priority for me; I find myself needing almost nine hours a night to feel refreshed and now I’ve got some really convincing reasons to make that happen.  Would recommend.

 

Books I just couldn’t finish:

  • Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior by Judith Martin
  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler
  • Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham
  • Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
  • Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France by Craig Carlson

 

[I didn’t quite make it to 52 books by the end of 2016, but I think I did pretty well!]

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