01 January 2014

2013 Books

1. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen - I liked it but wish that it had been cleaner. Too much needless sex and sex-related things. Quick read, though.

2.  The Book of New Family Traditions (Revised and Updated): How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays and Every Day by Meg Cox - I really liked this book. It's straightforward and has lots of good ideas to help you establish traditions in your family.

3. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jaime Ford - I liked this book a lot. It's historical fiction about a Chinese-American boy and his Japanese-American friend in Seattle during World War II.

4. Also Known as Rowan Pohi by Ralph Fletcher - Meh. It was fine.  I probably would have quit early on because the writing was pretty blah, but the story was okay, and it was really short. I read it in a few hours.

5. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman - Enjoyed this one so much. I heard about it on NPR when they first started the Back Seat Book Club, and I'd been wanting to read it ever since. Glad I got around to it.

6. What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell - I couldn't stop telling people interesting things from this book. I was always on the lookout for somebody else who'd read it so we could discuss it.

7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - Loved it in 2008 when I read it aloud with Eric. Loved it again in 2013.

8. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas D. Kristof - Such a great book. Jenn gave a great review, which is why I eventually got around to reading it. I started with the audiobook, and then my checkout expired. Then I picked up where I left off using the Kindle edition, and I ultimately had to check that one out twice in order to finish. Such a good read.

9. An American Childhood by Annie Dillard - I liked it, but I didn't love it. It's beautiful writing, but if we're honest, I care more about plot and characters. Many people would love this style of writing, but it's not my favorite.

10. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum - I expected this to be fun and whimsical like the movie, but it just wasn't. It's a rare when you can say that the movie is better than the book, but I think this is one of those times.

11. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen* - Listened to this one on a road trip with Eric. I'd never read it before, but I'd heard a lot about it. It was good, but it didn't quite live up to my inflated expectations.

12. Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis* - I enjoyed it. I realized when I was nearly done with this one that I've read and quite liked another book by the same author. I guess I'll have to look for more.

13. Saints by Orson Scott Card* - I wouldn't recommend this to everybody, but I liked it quite a lot.

14. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won't Stop Talking by Susan Cain - This one took me a while, but it was really interesting and really worth my time. A couple of people had written about it on their blogs, and even though I am not an introvert, I thought I should read it. It has really helped me understand some of my colleagues and closest friends better.

15. Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West by Blaine Harden* - Not a particularly fun topic, but it was a good book.

16. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor* - Loved it. I felt embarrassed to tell people what I was listening to, but good heavens, it was such a good book. As soon as I was done I downloaded the Kindle version of the sequel.

17. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier* - I can see why this is a controversial YA book. I liked it, but I don't feel the need to read it again or recommend it to everyone I know. 

18.  Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life by Gretchen Rubin - I downloaded this ebook thinking it was Gretchen Rubin's first book (The Happiness Project), which I'd heard a lot about. It wasn't but I think this book actually had more relevance to me. I really enjoyed it, and it's given me a lot of opportunities to think about my own happiness and what I can do to fully appreciate my family and home.

19. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare* - Overall, I liked it. There were a number of things that I thought were anachronistic, but it was a good read.

20. Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage - Eric and I read this together for the past three years. It was excellent, but I already need to start over and read it again.

21. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler* - I really liked so many aspects of the book, but all in all I wasn't that impressed with it.

22. Hole In My Life by Jack Gantos* - The summarized version of the story is so interesting. (As a young man Jack Gantos got busted for smuggling into the country and then selling about a ton of hashish. He served time in a federal prison and was paroled after a while so he could attend college and become a writer.) The long version was not much more interesting than that. Thankfully, it also wasn't that much longer than the summary.

23. NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman - Really enjoyed this one (for the second time). It's interesting to relate it to my own children and try to figure out what I can do better.

24. Hard Passage: A Mennonite Family's Long Journey from Russia to Canada by Arthur Kroeger - A good read.

25. Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool* - I enjoyed this one a lot. The narrators were good, and I loved the historical flashbacks told through letters, newspaper articles and people's memories. It came together really well.

26. Room by Emma Donoghue* - Couldn't stop listening. It's so dang compelling. At first I wasn't sure about listening to a book that's told from a five-year-old's perspective, but once I adjusted to the child-like voice of the narrator I really liked it.

27. Lost Boys by Orson Scott Card* - Another one that I could not turn off. Card is so good at characters and plot. Even if I thought the ending was a little odd, I really enjoyed this book.

28. Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race by Jon Stewart* - Definitely some funny bits, but it was sort of like watching the Daily Show for hours and hours. It got to be a little much.

29. Not in the Flesh by Ruth Rendell* - I haven't read many mysteries, especially not as an adult. I enjoyed listening to this one, but I wasn't in any big rush to listen to more from the series. If I get a hankering for a good mystery again in the near future, I'd likely turn to this author.

30. The Apothecary's Daughter by Julie Klassen - This was a quick read, and I really enjoyed it. The plot moved along nicely.

31. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot* - I was just so fascinated with this book. It was a perfect mix of medicine, medical history, personal and family history, and current medical ethics issues.

32. Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix - I loved the premise of this book - three young women each somehow involved in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Overall I liked the story and the setting, but I felt like some of the characters, relationships and motives seemed forced.

33. Portobello by Ruth Rendell* - I thought this would be another interesting murder mystery to listen to on my commute, but it wasn't really. I didn't love it, but I do like her writing.

34. The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare* - Lots of anachronisms, and I hated the way she wrote the Native American dialogue. Ugh. But besides that, I liked the story quite a lot.

35. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult - This was my first by Jodi Picoult, and overall I enjoyed reading it. The characters are solid, and the plot kept moving. The twist at the end was a bit surprising, but then I felt like she wrapped everything up too quickly.

36. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley* - Amusing. I enjoyed it. The reader was really great.

37. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly* - I really loved the story of this book, but some of the themes grated on me a bit. The reader was quite good. I'd love to discuss this book with somebody who has read it.

38. Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor* - I may have downloaded the Kindle version in July after finishing the first one, but then my tablet broke before I got a chance to start it. When the audio became available I got on the waiting list. I really loved this one. A few people said it was better than the first, but I disagree. I'd say it was equally good, but not necessarily better. I'm so interested in the plot and motivations of the characters. As with Daughter of Smoke and Bone I'm a little embarrassed to tell people what I'm reading/listening to, but not too embarrassed to gush about how freaking good these books are.

*Denotes audio-books. Please note that I got a smartphone in late April, and all of a sudden my listening/reading took off. And then a certain toddler broke my tablet in August, and my regular reading dwindled pathetically.

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