Listy #43- Best Books Read 2016

As I mentioned, this has not been my best reading year.  My numbers are astronomical.  My subjects and genres wide.  It just felt really lack luster.  When I think back over the year, there’s nothing that really stood out, nothing that really socked me in the face and left me gutted.  Next year I will be reading less, my goal being 52 books, but I hope that the books I choose are… better.

That being said, these books are not CRAP.  They are GOOD BOOKS and I enjoyed them.  Without further ado, I give you….

My Top 5 Books of 2016

  1. The Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris.  Yes, yes.  It is probably cheating to start with a series but, again, you don’t make the rules around here.  I do.  And I could not select one book out of this series and forget the rest.  For one, they all kind of blend together now that I’ve finished them.  For two, it is the sum total that I love.  I MISS being in Bon Temps already and I just finished these books in September.  I miss Sookie and I miss Eric.  I think it says a lot for these books that they made me feel like I was a part of their world.  I can honestly say that this series was my best reading experience this year.
  2. The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home series by Kanata Konami.  I lied.  These books gutted me.  They made me into a crying mess.  And they aren’t even that sad!  I just love kitties so much and these were so cute and they reminded me so much of my own kitties.  I almost needed to hide under my desk and cry for the last one.
  3. Barkskins by Annie Proulx.  When I heard that there was a new Proulx novel coming out this year, I started a vigorous campaign to get my hands on an advanced copy.  I would have liked a physical ARC but I willingly accepted the net galley.  This was a chunker, coming in at 717 pages.  I missed reading big ol’ books though and took to the challenge enthusiastically.  It’s about logging, you guys.  And it was good.  I think about it quite a bit.  It probably helps that Michigan plays a fair little part and that made it real for me.
  4. The Girls by Emma Cline.  I wonder how many lists will have this book.  There was a lot of hype early in the year about it and it seemed like it was on every “books we’re looking forward to” list.  I really enjoyed it.  A couple of years ago I went through a Charles Manson thing because of a podcast (You Must Remember This) and I was disappointed when I couldn’t make it through Helter Skelter but I made it through this in a flash.  Sometimes being on the periphery is better than being in the thick of things.
  5. Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevens.  Okay.  Look.  These are some of the best comics ever.  I love them!  I love the hardcore lady types.  I love the enchanted wolves.  I love the freaking raccoon.  They are fun.  F-U-N.  And if you haven’t read them, just go buy the trades.  They’re worth it.

Honorable Mentions Because I’m a Cheating Cheater:

  • Marvel and a Wonder by Joe Meno.  Joe Meno has a way of emptying out my soul and leaving me in complete anguish.  The only reason this book isn’t in the top five is because it didn’t leave me as much of a ruin as I expected.  But I do think about that horse and that boy and his grandfather.  I think about that dying town and that old truck.  I think about it a lot.
  • Dragonflight by Anne McCafferty.  Not going to lie, this is one time when time travel didn’t completely blow my mind and it really stuck with me.  I’ve mentioned it in conversations with Hubby and I think he thinks I’m insane.
  • End of the Watch by Stephen King.  It felt weird not having King on this list but now I can see why.  I only made it through three of his books this year!  And they were not his best books, in my opinion.  I DID like this one though and I have fond memories of reading it alone in a cottage on Lake Huron while my friends probably almost died walking along the shore in the dark to watch The Little Mermaid on a projector.  It was a good trilogy.

What were your favorite books this year?

Tally Monday- December 26, 2016

Checked Out

  1. Lady Killer by Joelle Jones

Bought

  1. Bird Box by Josh Malerman
  2. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol, illustrated by Salvador Dali
  3. The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday

Read

  1. “The Quality of Your Life” by Min Jin Lee
  2. Archie, vol. 2 by Mark Waid
  3. The Great Winglebury Duel by Charles Dickens

TBR 20, if you don’t count work stuff.  25 if you do.

On Friday, I lied.  I told someone that I barely had a chance to read a paragraph in days.  I meant it, but it wasn’t strictly true.  I guess that the better way to say it would have been, “I haven’t really gotten to read from an actual novel in days.”  Maybe?  I don’t know.

See, I did read in that time.  I finished a really good short story, one that I’ve been thinking about all week.  I read the second volume in the new Archie comics, which I really enjoyed.  I read a column from Nick Hornby’s Ten Years in the Tub every day.  I even made my way through two magazines.  But once I finished Chasing Vermeer last week, I pretty much shut my normal reading down.

Why?  It wasn’t a terrible book.  It was short.  I have four more books to read for the battle.  I’ve been feeling determined to read- until I actually sit down, that is.  There is no reason that this one book should have broken me.

And I can’t say that it did.  Maybe my lack of reading has nothing to do with my reading.  Maybe it has more to do with being so tired at night that it hurts to hold my eyes open.  Or maybe it has to do with that old Feminine Mystique adage about how housework expands to fill the time allowed it, in that I have been making myself not read at work until all of my work is done and I can always find more work to do.  It just feels like there isn’t time and I also don’t want to read a book about talking bats.  And I think those are both pretty fair reasons.

This week, the week between Christmas and New Years, could go either way.  At work I don’t have a lot that needs to be done and couple of things that distract and interrupt me will be down for the week.  I should be able to get some reading done.  At home it may be another story all together.  There are games to be played and a house to be cleaned and a tree to be taken down.  Plus, I’m tired.

Next weekend is a five day weekend for me.  The way the holidays fall I get to take two days off whenever my heart desires and I have opted for Tuesday and Wednesday.  I can’t wait to spend some time alone in a quiet house.  Maybe that will help me get some reading done.

Listy #42- Books Bought This Year

Maybe it seems like cheating to make this list, because of Tally Mondays and all, but tough titties!  I’m making it.  I’m actually curious on how the numbers compare.  I will add the book I plan on receiving next week to the bottom of the list as well.

Books Bought 2016

  1. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (e)
  2. The Sandman Overture by Neil Gaiman
  3. America’s Best Short Stories 2015
  4. America’s Best Essays 2015
  5. The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
  6. Greenwitch by Susan Cooper
  7. Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper
  8. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
  9. Eating the Cheshire Cat by Helen Ellis
  10. A Room of Her Own by Chris Casson Madden
  11. Lightning by Dean Koontz
  12. Dragons of Autumn Twilight- Margaret Weis
  13. Guilty Pleasures- Laurell K. Hamilton
  14. Blood and Chocolate- Annette Curtis Klause
  15. The Unfinished Clue- Georgette Heyer
  16. Empire Falls- Richard Russo
  17. The Name of the Rose- Umberto Eco
  18. The Happiness Project- Gretchen Rubin
  19. Keeping the House- Ellen Baker
  20. Preludes and Nocturns by Neil Gaiman
  21. The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman
  22. Ruby Tears of Edgecliff Manor by Elizabeth Carroll
  23. When Women Were Birds by Terry Temepst Williams
  24. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
  25. Stephen King Illustrated Companion by Bev Vincent
  26. Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
  27. Hands of Lucifer by John Tigges
  28. Drawing Down the Moon by Margaret Adler
  29. The Paradise by Emile Zola
  30. The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
  31. Ten Years in the Tub by Nick Hornby
  32. The Journals of Eleanor Druse
  33. The Farm by Scott Nicholson
  34. Confirmation by Whitley Strieber
  35. The House of Caine by Ken Eul
  36. It Girl
  37. Notorious
  38. Reckless
  39. Unforgettable
  40. Lucky
  41. Tempted
  42. Infamous
  43. Adored
  44. Devious
  45. Classic ALL by Cecily von Ziegesar
  46. One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean
  47. Foundling by Frank Larina
  48. End of the Watch by Stephen King
  49. Is it evil not to be sure? by Lena Dunham
  50. Shrill by Lindy West
  51. Elements of Style by Stunk and White
  52. The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
  53. Sleeping Giants by Sylvian Neuvel (Book of the Month)
  54. Cataloging and Classification by Lois Mai Chan
  55. Be Here Now by Ram Dass
  56. The Midnight Plan of the Repoman by W. Bruce Cameron
  57. Future Shock by Alvin Toffler
  58. Melody by V.C. Andrews
  59. Heart Song by V.C. Andrews
  60. Unfinished Symphony by V.C. Andrews
  61. Music in the Night by V.C. Andrews
  62. Natchez Burning by Greg Iles
  63. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  64. Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
  65. Flower Children by Maxine Swann
  66. Olivia by V.C. Andrews
  67. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  68. Pompeii by Robert Harris
  69. Circle the Sun by Paula McLain (Book of the Month Club
  70. Wolf’s Blood by Jane Linskold
  71. Phantoms by Dean Koontz
  72. Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock
  73. Emperor of Ansalon by Douglas Niles
  74. The Black Wing by Mary Kirchoff
  75. Lord Toede by Jeff Grubb
  76. The Dark Queen by Michael Williams
  77. The Crystal Shard by R.A. Salvatore
  78. Streams of Silver by R.A. Salvatore
  79. The Halfling’s Gem by R.A. Salvatore
  80. Petals on the Wind by V.C. Andrews
  81. The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff
  82. The Case of the Weird Sisters by Charlotte Armstrong
  83. Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
  84. My Sweet Audrina by V.C. Andrews
  85. Llewellyn’s 2017 Magical Almanac
  86. Elizabeth and Her German Garden by Elizabeth von Armin
  87. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Armin
  88. The Pastor’s Wife by Elizabeth von Armin
  89. The Break-Out Principle by Herbert Benson
  90. Best American Short Stories 2016
  91. Best American Essays 2016
  92. The Story of Kind Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle
  93. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  94. Heat Wave by Penelope Lively
  95. Shopgirl by Steve Martin
  96. The Dragon Nimbus by Irene Redford
  97. Frederica by Georgette Heyer
  98. The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
  99. Confessions of a Penmonkey by Chuck Wendig
  100. Revenge of the Penmonkey by Chuck Wendig
  101. 30 Days in the Word Mines by Chuck Wendig
  102. 500 Ways to Write Harder by Chuck Wendig
  103. 250 Things You Should Know About Writing by Chuck Wendig
  104. 500 Ways to be a Better Writer by Chuck Wendig
  105. 500 Ways to Tell a Better Story by Chuck Wendig
  106. 500 Ways to Write Better by Chuck Wendig
  107. Invasive by Chuck Wendig
  108. The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight
  109. Get Your Sh*t Together! by Sarah Knight

 

Okay, kiddies…  Are you ready?  I bout 117 in 2015.  I guess that means that I can buy 8 more this year!

Tally Monday- December 19, 2016

Checked Out

  1. Bomb by Steve Sheinken

Bought

  1. The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight

Read

  1. Sketchy, Doubtful, Incomplete Jottings by Johanne Wolfgang von Goethe
  2. These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  3. Motherland, Fatherland, Homelandsexuals by Patricia Lockwood
  4. The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  5. Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliet

TBR 25, including work reading

It may be stating the obvious but it’s almost the end of the year.  I have some lists planned for you guys, on my list days.  The only problem is that I tend to worry about calling it the end of the year before it’s actually the end of the year when it comes to books.  I could make a list of my top five for the year but maybe next week I’ll read something that blows my mind!  I could make a list of books purchased this year but maybe I’ll buy books next week!  You never can tell with me.  It’s pure chaos.

In reality, I always find myself thinking of these last two weeks of the year as dead time.  Oh, I suppose that’s not the right term.  I mean that, to me this is a time when I don’t want expectations laid on me, when I just want to take things as they come, when I want a break from the crazy because Christmas is going to be crazy enough.  Only, this year I’m thinking it won’t be crazy.  For all of my flurry and worry about the holiday season, it hasn’t been that bad.  I came in pretty close to my budget and it ended up not taking nearly as much searching and brain power as I expected.  The big family party is behind me.  All I have left to do is take out some cash, order some pies, wrap some presents, and enjoy two days of family time that aren’t even whole days.

Plus, there’s been some talk of starting relaxing traditions.  Hubby and I talked about the Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve and spending the night reading.  I doubt we’ll do it but we at least talked about it.  AND I’m thinking that Boxing Day should be enjoyed.  We’re both off that day.  We may as well sit on our asses.  Oh, except that we need to, like, ready our home for a baby and stuff.

Anyway, Christmas and New Years aside, I would call it a good reading week.  I finished the Little House books, which I really, really enjoyed.  I made it through a book of poetry which was strange and wonderful, my favorite being about the tit pics of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman.  I read a Little Black Classic and one of the Battle of the Books books.  I’m moving right along in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale on my Kindle.  In my bag right now I’m carrying  a One Story, a Little Black Classic, and another Battle Book.  I have to watch myself, though.  Having one deceptively good looking week doesn’t mean that I can get through 8 books by the new year.  I wish I could.  I wish that all of this assigned reading was out of the way and I was chugging through my regular TBR.

My outlook for the week is idealistic.  I have a few things on my to do list and they are not small things but for some reason I feel like I can get them done, play some games, read all of the books, AND watch all of the shows.  I maybe need to reign myself in a bit…

This week I bought both The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck and Get Your Sh*t Together, which hasn’t come out yet.  Why?  I had a couple of days of motivational surge that made me want to read the parodies and the self help and listen to TED Talks and be my best self or some shit like that.  It happens occasionally.  I can feel it happening now.  I am always wanting more.  I think it’s the human condition, you know?  If we don’t want more, more meaning, more happiness, more love, then we’ll just fizzle out and die.  Right?And I always think that all I need is to work harder and try harder and everything will fall into place.  It’s kind of a joke.  Things fall into place whether you try or not.  You can’t stop life.

There I go.  That means it’s time for me to sign off.  Happy Monday!  May your Holidays be bookish and bright!

 

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliet

I am currently sitting on a pile of six books that I have to read for work.  I never had a problem with assigned reading when I was in high school or college but, man, this is rough.  When I finished this book and was happy just to put it aside in my “Finished” pile and write some questions for it, I had to ask myself if I just had an attitude problem.  But that’s not it.  It’s just not my thing.  Some of it is, the puzzles and coincidences, but some of it isn’t. I had a hard time getting into it because it just wasn’t what I wanted.

And it’s a shame because I can see how it could hook the right kind of reader.  I’m just not the right kind of reader.  That’s fine.  I don’t have to be.

This is the story of two neighbors, Calder and Petra, a stolen Vermeer painting, and a ton of puzzles, coincidences, and patterns.  Calder carried pentominoes in his pocket, twelve geometric pieces that roughly form the shapes of letters, and he has taken to using them for answers and direction.  Petra has begun seeing a woman in her mind, a woman who speaks to her.  When a famous painting goes missing and it happens to be the painting of the woman that Petra sees, Calder and Petra take it upon themselves to catch the caper, following random clues that other people might overlook.

I will give this book credit for making me whip out the Google a few times.  I wanted to look at Vermeer’s work myself, as it’s been a while since I looked at any.  It also kept me guessing.  I was surprised when I found out who the thief was.  Actually, in spite of reading this book mostly over two days, I had to think to remember who that character was exactly, even though I remembered the name.

A middle of the road one for me.

Listy #41- Abundance

I know that I’ve listed things I’m grateful for before but I wanted to list the things that make me feel “abundant.”  I did it earlier this week and it felt so good to change my way of thinking that I wanted to share it with you.  It’s so easy to get caught up in all of the BULL SHIT and forget that there’s a lot of AWESOME too.

Rachael’s Abundance List

  1. Hubby, my heartmate.
  2. The Kitties
  3. My family, especially my mom
  4. My home
  5. A billion books
  6. My second family
  7. My awesome job
  8. Audiobooks
  9. Coffee, tea, beer
  10. All of the delicious food I get to eat
  11. My car, of course
  12. That I had a lovely childhood
  13. That I’m having a baby!
  14. Ian is growing and healthy
  15. Hubby and I get to raise a kid together
  16. Cheese.  Cheese is abundance.
  17. Blankets, comfort, bed
  18. My trees

These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The thing about listening to these books one right after the other is that I catch myself thinking about how far we’ve come.  I end up feeling amazed at how much town has changed and how much Laura has grown.  And, of course, I love seeing the story develop book after book.  Isn’t that the joy of a series?

I also have this problem where when I know that two people are going to end up together and one of them does something sweet I make a strange pterodactyl sound.  I made that a lot in this book.

These Happy Golden Years is about how things change and how things stay the same.  It’s also about Laura striking out on her own for the first time.  When she is fifteen, she is given her first school to teach and just the thought of it made me nervous.  What were you doing when you were fifteen?  Certainly not teaching kids who were older than you.  I sure wasn’t.

Laura is so lonely out on the claim where she teaches that she happily accepts a ride home from Almanzo Wilder on Friday afternoon and a ride back on Sunday afternoon.  She accepts the rides again and again, not realizing at first that Almanzo is putting the moves on her.  Eventually she catches on and tells Almanzo that she will not be riding with him once she goes home for good.  Of course, when she’s home for good she starts riding with him again because he’s a good kind of man and Laura and him have a good time together, just driving around.  I was really taken with the slow developing romance because it felt like it could have been a more modern story.  They could just as easily have been cruising town in a car.

I was really taken with Laura’s bravery and her grit.  Even though this felt like a quieter story than the other books, I really did enjoy it.