Every year I set myself a reading goal. At the beginning of 2017, I said I’d try to get through 15 books. It’s not quite the end of the year (and I might be able to squeeze in another short book on vacation next week!) but I thought I’d list the round-up here.
I usually keep track of books I read via a “sticky note” on my computer desktop. There are platforms that are designed for this (Goodreads, for example) but my little list works for me.
Full disclosure: I’m still halfway through my last book and last audiobook so I’m not totally sure this counts as reaching my goal, but I also think it’s pretty close and I’m glad to have been able to keep up a reading habit. Also, some books felt super long! (I’m looking at you, all 592 pages of American Wife)
My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologizes Last year I discovered my favourite book (maybe ever): A Man Called Ove, by Frederick Backman. I’ve been working my way through his other books, staring with this one. It took a while to get started, which I’m realizing is common for him. In the end, I liked it a lot. This book is part of a series of books that are all a similar story told from different characters’ views. It doesn’t matter what order you read them in, or if you read all of them, but the more you read, the more perspective you get. Next on my “to-read” list is Britt-Marie Was Here, another book in the set.
The Improbability of Love Going with the theme of “takes a long time to get started” is this book, which is told from the perspective of a painting. Once I had a lot of free time on a plane to Sydney, I got through and ended up enjoying it.
The Art of Racing in the Rain This book was great. In contrast to my first two books of the year, I tore through it. It was also a bit of a cry-fest (picture me tearing up on Bondi Beach). If you love dogs you should definitely read this one.
The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul I didn’t expect to love this book as much as I did, but I thought it was fantastic. It’s a story of four women, centred around a little coffee shop in Kabul and as chaotic as you might expect that to look. At first some of the cultural elements made me want to scream, but slowly I got used to it. I don’t often pass books on to others, but both my Mom and a friend got a copy of this book later in the year.
Behind Closed Doors This was an easy but SUPER creepy read. It’s also short, which means I literally ripped through it on a flight from Sydney to Cairns. I ended up leaving it at the Cairns airport for someone else to enjoy, but if you like thrillers and are looking for something quick and easy, this could be it. There were a few holes in the story, but I was willing to overlook them.
The Wangs Vs. The World Sort of a “Crazy Rich Asians” type of book. It’s focused on a modern wealthy Chinese family going through a financial in L.A. Kind of a light story with a healthy dose of pop culture references.
The Knockoff This book itself was nothing to write home about, but I did spend some time thinking about the themes involved. It’s about a magazine editor whose young assistant tries to steal her job by turning the magazine into an app (online, all the time, 24-hours-a-day).
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend I liked this book. It’s about a book-lover who finds herself on an adventure in rural America.
American Wife This book felt like it took me a long time to get through, but I kept finding myself thinking about how realistic it seemed. Then when I finished it and googled, it turns out that the novel is loosely based on the life of Laura Bush. Once I got into it I was pretty hooked, so I’d totally recommend it if you enjoy American politics, want insight into life and dynamics in powerful families, or just like a good story. I read a good chunk of it on the bus to and from Seattle to visit friends in the summer.
Hungry Heart I picked this book up in the airport on our way to Europe in October, and I really liked it. Jennifer Weiner has written several books, and I think I’ve read most of them. She’s usually funny and down to earth and a bit self-deprecating, so I was excited to see her name on the cover. Then I realized that this book isn’t a novel, it’s a memoir in the form of short essays. I think she’s smart and has really figured out who she is, so getting to see a glimpse of that and her day-to-day life was cool.
Rabbit This book is another shorty and I read it quickly on a few train rides through Belgium. It’s the insane story of a little girl who grows up with heroin, the sex trade, teenage parenthood and more, and yet still comes out on top. It’s totally worth it just as a reminder that if you can be sitting somewhere comfortable reading a book, your life isn’t going even half badly.
The Bookshop on the Corner This book was sort of similar to the Readers of Broken Wheel above, as in it’s about a woman on an adventure who loves books. There was more of a romance piece in this book though, and I liked that it wasn’t predictable. I was surprised I enjoyed it so much.
Bear Town Oh, Backman. This was a fantastic 430-page book that felt like it could pretty easily have been 300, max. Other than that it had well-developed characters and complex themes that several times had me pause mid-page, put the book down, and think for a bit. If you grew up around sports or Canadian winters or both, you’ll definitely find it relatable.
Two Hours This book is an interesting look at what it will take to run a two-hour marathon (it was written a few years ago, before Nike staged their Breaking2 attempt). I liked the mix of running history, and found that it was a great book for bus rides or waits because I could read it in micro-chunks without forgetting the details/plot line etc.
I wasn’t sure if audiobooks count as being “read” but I did start to get into listening on my commute home (in the morning I like the news). I found that picking a book that would be a bit of an “easier read” made it easier for me to stay engaged while listening. When I tried more “adult” books, I found my mind would drift away easily.
I’ve been listening via Audible!
Wonder This is the sweet story of a boy called Augie (short for August) who’s born with a severe craniofacial deformity, and the adventure that is his first year at school. I liked it a lot and thought it was really easy to listen to.
My Brilliant Friend (Book 1 of the Neapolitan Novels) I have to admit, I’m only about 30 minutes into this book. Apparently it’s a “modern masterpiece” about a friendship between two women that spans decades. We’ll see!
As a cookbook lover, I also gave a shoutout to favourites from the year: Dinner A Love Story, Smitten Kitchen Every Day, and (from 2016) Run Fast Eat Slow have been loved (aka dripped on/splattered/smudged) around here this year!