I’ve been very slowly getting back into the habit of posting again, but it’s definitely been a number of months since I’ve shared what I’ve been reading. Life got a little crazy over the holidays (doesn’t everyone’s?), but here are some books I’ve read over the past couple of months.
1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: After a bout of serious books in my book club, we all voted unanimously for a “fun” read. The premise: on the morning of Nick and Amy’s 5th wedding anniversary, Amy goes missing. Nick is the main suspect — but is he really a killer? Gone Girl is a quick read and kept me pretty entertained and enthralled. (It’d be perfect for a plane ride!)
2. Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt: Set in NYC in 1987, fourteen year old June has just lost her best friend — her uncle Finn — to AIDS. The novel chronicles June’s loss and the friendship that blossoms with an unlikely stranger. It was a touching story and was interesting — and sometimes tough — to read about how AIDS was received in the 80’s.
3. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker: In this story, the earth’s rotation has begun to slow and days are becoming longer and longer — more daylight and more night. It follows a young Californian girl as she comes to terms with not only the change in earth, but also changes in her personal life. The plot was pretty slow and uneventful, but I thought the premise was interesting — the impacts of such a global shift would be immense. Overall it was a quick, pleasant read.
4. How to Talk to A Widower by Jonathan Tropper: As mentioned before, I’m a fan of Tropper’s novels. I thought I’d read them all, but turns out HTWTAW was the last one on my list. Like Tropper’s other novels, there is the token downtrodden man trying to find redemption. This particular story is about a young widower, and how he grapples with the loss of his wife and starts to rebuild his life. Most of his novels are fairly similar and each feels a bit more cinematic than the last. I’m just waiting for the day when one of Tropper’s novels finally hits the big screen with Paul Rudd as the star.
5. The Red House by Mark Haddon: Written by the author of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time,” (which I enjoyed) I was looking forward to reading another book by Haddon. Unfortunately, this novel about a dysfunctional, estranged family who decides to vacation together in the English countryside didn’t really sit well with me. The premise sounded like it had promise, but each of the family members is so unhappy/angry in their own way throughout the entire novel that I felt the book never really wavered from being mostly depressing and frustrating to read.
6. The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles: Another book club read, this was one of my favorite reads lately. Set in 1930’s Manhattan, ‘Rules’ tells the story of heroine Katey Kontent and how she traverses the NYC social scene over the course of a year. The stylish setting of retro-era NYC was very engaging and made me want to time-travel back to the 30’s, with a cocktail in hand.
7. Primary Colors by Anonymous: This past fall, my husband and I got completely hooked on The West Wing and plowed through the 7 seasons, marathon-stye. (I know, I know, we’re almost 15 years late…) After we finished the series finale I was still hungry for more political drama, so I picked up Primary Colors. While not as witty or engaging as WW, it was an interesting look behind a presidential campaign… especially one loosely based on Clinton in 1992.
8. This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz: I was a big fan of Diaz’s “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” and was excited to read his latest novel. A collection of short stories mostly centered around the character of Yunior, this book explores a myriad of sad love stories — romantic and otherwise. I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped. I thought the stories were pretty raw and heartbreaking, but a bit too repetitive and I had a hard time connecting with the characters.
9. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: This book has been on my shelf for ages and I’m just now digging into it. The book is about a mysterious circus that only appears at night and dives behind the scenes to reveal the competitions between some of the top performers. I’ve heard rave reviews about this whimsical novel, so I’m looking forward to reading it.
10. The Known World by Edward P. Jones: Another book club choice, this novel tells the story of an educated black slave-owner in the south. While I thought it was an interesting angle, I had an extremely hard time getting into this book. The story kept switching from points in time (present, past, future) and it was difficult keeping track of what was happening. Interesting historical novel, but didn’t really capture my attention.
11. Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton: My first real foray into foodie non-fiction, “Blood, Bones and Butter” is a memoir from acclaimed chef Gabrielle Hamilton, the owner of popular NYC joint Prune. The memoir follows Gabrielle from childhood to the present and showcases her unconventional journey through numerous kitchens during her life. It was an interesting read and definitely made me appreciate some of the smaller restaurants I’ve frequented after finishing.
12. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout: A recipient of a Pulitzer, this book is a collection of 13 short stories, each with the presence of the novel’s namesake, Olive Kitteridge. Given the accolades, I wanted to enjoy this book but just had a hard time really enjoying it. Some of the stories were pretty touching and emotional, but since the book introduced so many characters in the 13 stories, I had a hard time really connecting with them, let alone really caring for Olive, herself.
Phew! That was a lot of catching up. I still have a bunch of books on deck to read, once I find the time. What have you been reading lately?