Wednesday, January 8, 2020

2019 Reading Roundup

Last year although I started working on my 2018 reading roundup it I never finished it. I'm determined not to let that happen again.

In 2019, I read or listened to 81 books in the following order.

Title Author
Where the Crawdads Sing Delia Owens
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup John Carreyrou
The Library Book Susan Orlean
Dear Evan Hansen Val Emmich
If We Had Known Elise Juska
Shantaram Gregory David Roberts
On the Come Up Angie Thomas
Ghosted Rosie Walsh
When Death Becomes Life: Notes from a Transplant Surgeon Joshua D. Mezrich
Five Feet Apart Rachael Lippincott
Out of the Dark (Orphan X, #4) Gregg Hurwitz
The Black Ice (Harry Bosch, #2; Harry Bosch Universe, #2) Michael Connelly
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore Matthew J. Sullivan
Spoonbenders Daryl Gregory
Newcomer Keigo Higashino
Clock Dance Anne Tyler
The Leavers Lisa Ko Nathan Englander
Lost and Wanted Nell Freudenberger
Death by Dumpling (A Noodle Shop Mystery, #1) Vivien Chien
The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer Charles Graeber
When We Were Orphans Kazuo Ishiguro
Meet Me at the Museum Anne Youngson
Once More We Saw Stars: A Memoir Jayson Greene
Memoirs of a False Messiah Pamela Becker
Neon Prey (Lucas Davenport, #29) John Sandford
There's a Word for That Sloane Tanen
When the Sky Fell on Splendor Emily Henry
My Own Country: A Doctor's Story Abraham   Verghese
Gone to Dust Matt   Goldman
The River Peter Heller
Becoming Michelle Obama
Trust Exercise Susan Choi
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls Anissa Gray
Black Cross Greg Iles
Victims (Alex Delaware, #27) Jonathan Kellerman
A Dog Named Beautiful: A Marine, a Dog, and a Long Road Trip Home Rob Kugler
August Snow Stephen Mack Jones
A Woman Is No Man Etaf Rum
The New Girl (Gabriel Allon #19) Daniel Silva
Little Fires Everywhere Celeste Ng
The Last Act of Love Cathy Rentzenbrink
Sourdough Robin Sloan
The Floating Feldmans Elyssa Friedland
The Great Unexpected Dan Mooney
Chances Are . . . Richard Russo
Ask Again, Yes Mary Beth Keane
The Tin Roof Blowdown: A Dave Robicheaux Novel James Lee Burke
Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom Katherine Eban
Fleishman Is in Trouble Taffy Brodesser-Akner
Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee Casey Cep
The King of Lies John Hart
Blue Moon (Jack Reacher #24) Lee Child
How Not to Die Alone Richard Roper
The Immortalists Chloe  Benjamin
Things You Save in a Fire Katherine Center
36 Righteous Men Steven Pressfield
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill Abbi Waxman
Force of Nature (Aaron Falk, #2) Jane Harper
Hope and Other Punchlines Julie Buxbaum
Daisy Jones & The Six Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Polish Officer Alan Furst
The Shadows We Hide (Joe Talbert, #2) Allen Eskens
The Revolution of Birdie Randolph Brandy Colbert
How To Stop Time Matt Haig
Go Set a Watchman Harper Lee
Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science Atul Gawande
Outline Rachel Cusk
Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators Ronan Farrow
The Dutch House Ann Patchett
Three Women Lisa Taddeo
Evvie Drake Starts Over Linda  Holmes
Day for Night Frederick Reiken
The Library of Lost and Found Phaedra Patrick
The Last Watchman of Old Cairo Michael David Lukas
Sleeping Giants (Themis Files, #1) Sylvain Neuvel
The Night Fire (Renee Ballard, #3; Harry Bosch Universe, #32) Michael Connelly
High Achiever: The Incredible True Story of One Addict's Double Life Tiffany Jenkins
The Lager Queen of Minnesota J. Ryan Stradal
Bridge of Clay Markus Zusak
The Starless Sea Erin Morgenstern

Although I didn't break my record of the number of books I've read in a year, it was definitely one of my better years, tying with 2008 for second place. I'd love to make it to 100 but for that I'll need to retire and delete my Facebook account so that's not happening just yet. 

Once again, I listened to more books than I read. I know there are people who don't think audiobooks count as reading, but I'm all about the story. Audiobooks have also opened up the world of non-fiction for me since I find it difficult to read. This year I listened to 12 non-fiction books and read another 2. They were informative, shocking, heartbreaking, fascinating, and inspiring.

The breakdown of the books I read per month formed a cool bell shaped pattern!

In order to focus my thoughts I'm going to participate in Jamie, the Perpetual Page-Turner's 10th Annual End Of Year Survey – 2019 edition. Be sure to check out the page for more reading recommendations.

1. Best Book You Read In 2019?
How can I pick just one? Why should I have to?

I read some great non-fiction books this year which I definitely recommend: Michelle Obama's Becoming (she does a great job reading the audiobook) [See #4], Catch and Kill, Ronan Farrow's expose of Harvey Weinstein and other Hollywood predators [See #17 & 30], Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep which tells several intertwined stories and made me curious enough to read Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman, Katherine Eban's investigation of the generic drug market, Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom [See #13], Abraham Verghese's My Own Country: A Doctor's Story [See #27], Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou [See #8], and The Library Book by Susan Orlean.

Some of the best fiction books I read this year were Sleeping Giants, The Last Watchman of Old Cairo by Michael David Lukas, The Dutch House [See #9, 10, 12, 20]Daisy Jones & The Six [See #25], Hope and Other Punchlines [See #28], The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin, Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane [See #6]Chances Are . . . by Richard Russo [See #12 & 20],The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray, and The River by Peter Heller [See #8, 19, 20].

2. Book You Were Excited About ; Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Everyone raved about Where the Crawdads Sing and I just did not love it. 

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

A lot of the books I read felt very predictable. I don't know if I found any of the books surprising but there were a few books which were on all the best of 2019 lists which I did. not. like. These include:
FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE’S JOHN LEONARD PRIZE FOR BEST FIRST BOOK • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY AND THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • Time • The Washington Post • Vanity Fair • Vogue • NPR • Chicago Tribune • GQ • Vox • Refinery29 • Elle • The Guardian • Real Simple • Parade • Good Housekeeping • Marie Claire • Town & Country • Evening Standard • Kirkus Reviews • BookPage • BookRiot • Shelf Awareness)

Trust Exercise (WINNER OF THE 2019 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION. NAMED A BEST BOOK OF 2019 by The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, New York Magazine, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Buzzfeed, Entertainment Weekly, Los Angeles Times, ELLE, Bustle, Town & Country, Publishers Weekly, The Millions, The Chicago Tribune, and TIME)

Where the Crawdads Sing (Bestselling print book in 2019, An Amazon Best Book of August 2018)

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

 I've been recommending and lending Michelle Obama's Becoming. I listened to it and really loved it. I wasn't a big Obama fan and I came away with a huge amount of respect for both Michelle and Barack Obama.

 5. Best series you started in 2019? Best Sequel of 2019? Best Series Ender of 2019?

 I listened to Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) and although I'm not usually a science fiction fan I loved this. I don't know if I would have enjoyed it as much if I had read it and not listened. I'm looking forward to listening to books 2 and 3 in 2020.
I didn't finish any series or read any sequels but I did read a bunch of books from various crime/mystery/thriller series. If you haven't read Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon books, Lee Child's Jack Reacher series, Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch, Gregg Hurwitz's Orphan X, or John Sandford's Lucas Davenport books, I recommend you check them out. 

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2019?

 I really enjoyed Mary Beth Keane's Ask Again, Yes. Turns out she's written two other books which I may check out. 

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

 A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum is a novel about a young Palestinian woman married off to a Palestinian man in Brooklyn and the life she leads. Describing three generations of Palestinian women, the expectations of them, their roles in their closed community gave a view into a world that is both near and far away.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
 In the fiction category Peter Heller's The River, about two college friends on a wilderness canoe trip kept me riveted. 
The non-fiction Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou proves the adage truth is stranger than fiction. This is definitely a must read. 
I listened to both as audiobooks. 

 9. Book You Read In 2019 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

 I don't re-read books (too many new books waiting) but if I have to choose I think it would be Ann Patchett's The Dutch House, her best book since Bel Canto. Ann Patchett is a great writer and this book was so engaging.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2019?

 Definitely the cover of Ann Patchett's The Dutch House is my favorite. Don't you find it intriguing? Don't you want to know who the girl is and what is the story behind this cover?

11. Most memorable character of 2019?

This is a toss up between Teddy Telemachus, the patriarch from Spoonbenders and the unnamed narrator of Sleeping Gods. 

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2019?

 This is another toss up between two favorite author's Chances Are... by Richard Russo and The Dutch House by Ann Patchett.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2019?

 Katherine Eban's non-fiction Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom is a must read not only for anyone who works in pharma but for anyone who takes medicines of any kind. You'll be reading those inserts much more thoroughly. 

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2019 to finally read? 

Not a specific book but I can't believe I never read anything by Kazuo Ishiguro 

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2019?

“I have come to believe that books have souls - why else would I be so reluctant to throw one away?” ~ Susan Orlean, The Library Book

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2019?

In 2019 I read 13, 402 pages and listened to 464:52 hours of literary content! The longest book I read was Shantaram (933 pages) and the longest book I listened to was Becoming by Michelle Obama (19 hours). The shortest book I read was Memoirs of a False Messiah (217 pages), the debut novel of my former boss's sister-in-law and the shortest book I listened to was (5:33).

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most
(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)
Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow 
It was shocking to realize how many people knew about Harvey Weinstein and other sexual predators and how far they would go to cover it up.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)
Mirabel and the Keeper of the Harbor from The Starless Sea. 

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Wynn and Jack, the best friends from Peter Heller's The River. I love their strong friendship and how they complement each other so well. 

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2019 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Again, I can't pick just one. I loved Ann Patchett's The Dutch House, Peter Heller's The River, and Richard Russo's Chances are...
What makes all three so wonderful are the strong relationships described, a brother and sister in The Dutch House and a pair and trio of male friends in The River and Chances are... respectively. It made me realize I don't often read books where men's friendship is a main theme in the book. Are they not out there or am I not finding them?

21. Best Book You Read In 2019 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.:

Outline by Rachel Cusk, was recommended to me by a work colleague and friend. It's not a long book, and not usually my type as there's not a lot of action. It's more introspective. But surprisingly I enjoyed it and I'm hoping to finish the trilogy in 2020.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2019?

I didn't fall in love with any new fictional characters this year. But that's okay since I still have Gabriel Allon and Jack Reacher. 

23. Best 2019 debut you read?

One of my favorite genres : young adult with seriously ill teenagers. Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott is about teenagers with cystic fibrosis. 

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

I did not like Erin Morgenstern's highly awaited new novel, The Starless Sea, but the worlds she describes are fantastical and magical.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

I don't really do fun books. One of my (other) favorite genres is dysfunctional families. Nothing like other people's messed up lives to make you feel better about your own. Daisy Jones & the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid was a great audiobook to listen to. I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much if I had read it. The various viewpoints and voices were so realistic that I often had to remind myself it was fiction, and not about a real band. 

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2019?

Once More We Saw Stars: A Memoir by Jayson Greene is about the death of Greene's two year old daughter in a freakish accident in NYC and the aftermath for Greene and his wife. I cried. A lot. 

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

I loved Abraham Verghese's novel, Cutting for Stone and found 
My Own Country: A Doctor's Story, the non-fiction description of his experiences as an infectious disease doctor in a small town during the dawn of the AIDS crisis fascinating.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

While not nearly as soul crushing as previous reads (A Little Life in 2017 or All the Bright Places in 2015), Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum, a young adult novel about two teens linked by 9-11 definitely has its moments. 

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2019?

36 Righteous Men by Steven Pressfield is a futuristic mystery thriller about someone who is murdering the lamed vavnikim, the 36 righteous (and hidden) men for whom the world is believed to exist (in their merit), according to the Jewish Talmud. It was not what I was expecting. 

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

You can't read Ronan Farrow's Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators and not come away mad. 

When I reviewed my reads from 2019, I was reminded that many of the books were suggested, recommended, or loaned to me by a variety of people in my life, including my daughter, her friends, my friends, my cousin, as well as various Ted talks, book blogs, and book forums I follow online. I'm so grateful to be part of this wonderful reading community and feel fortunate that there are a never ending stock of interesting books to help me escape into other worlds and expand my horizons.

I want to finish up by saying that if one of the 81 books I read is not featured in the list above, it doesn't mean I didn't like it. Lee Child and Daniel Silva are always enjoyable though I don't think these books were as engaging as others in their series. The non-fiction 
Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande was a good read and there are many others on my list that I liked (feel free to reach out and ask).

If you want to see what I'm reading in 2020 you can follow me on Goodreads 

Taken from

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

2017 reading roundup

We're more than a month into 2018 and I've already got 8 books under my belt, and I realized I never uploaded my 2017 reading roundup. So without further ado, here is my reading summary for 2017.

2017 was a much better reading year than 2016. I read (or listened to) 70 books in 2017.

I was evenly divided between reading and listening in 2017, with 34 ebooks or paper books and 36 audiobooks. 

Here is the list of books I read in the reverse order I read them. I've linked to their pages on Amazon and linked to the author's homepage, Facebook page, or Wikipedia page if that was what was available.

Title Author
Manhattan Beach Jennifer Egan
Close Enough to Touch Colleen Oakley
Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel Jesmyn Ward
State of Wonder Ann Patchett
Seven Days of Us Francesca Hornak
IQ Joe Ide
The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed Our Minds Michael Lewis
Two Kinds of Truth Michael Connelly
Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance Atul Gawande
The Last Ballad Wiley Cash
Option B Sheryl Sandberg
The Midnight Line  Lee Child
No Middle Name: The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Short Stories Lee Child
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End Atul Gawande
The Silkworm  Robert Galbraith
Turtles All the Way Down John Green
The Unquiet Dead  Ausma Zehanat Khan
Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Other Four-Letter Words Michael Ausiello
Somewhere Inside of Happy Anna McPartlin
Y is for Yesterday Sue Grafton
The Trick Emanuel Bergmann
Orphan X  Gregg Hurwitz
Into the Gray Zone: A Neuroscientist Explores the Border Between Life and Death Adrian Owen
Please Look After Mom Kyung-Sook Shin
The Muse Jessie Burton
Magpie Murders Anthony Horowitz
The Reminders Val Emmich
The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes Anna McPartlin
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1) Rick Riordan
A Man Called Ove Fredrik Backman
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead Sheryl Sandberg
Tell Me Three Things Julie Buxbaum
Our Chemical Hearts Krystal Sutherland
House of Spies Daniel Silva
Chemistry Weike Wang
A House Among the Trees Julia Glass
The Hate U Give Angie Thomas
The People We Hate at the Wedding Grant Ginder
מה יקרה אם אמות מחר בבוקר יפעת ארליך
168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think Laura Vanderkam
The Dry Jane Harper
Dreamology Lucy Keating
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine Gail Honeyman
Golden Prey  John Sandford
Celine Peter Heller
Sisters Raina Telgemeier
Smile Raina Telgemeier
A Little Life Hanya Yanagihara
A Word for Love Emily Robbins
The Burial Hour Jeffery Deaver
The Hearts of Men Nickolas Butler
Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations Thomas L. Friedman
Bone Box Faye Kellerman
What You Break  Reed Farrel Coleman
The Serpent King Jeff Zentner
Here I Am Jonathan Safran Foer
Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman Lindy West
I'll Take You There Wally Lamb
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis J.D. Vance
Codex Lev Grossman
The Book of Speculation Erika Swyler
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley Hannah Tinti
Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients Ben Goldacre
The Age of Miracles Karen Thompson Walker
This One Summer Mariko Tamaki
The Sun Is Also a Star Nicola Yoon
Wonder R.J. Palacio
The Mothers Brit Bennett
The Husband's Secret Liane Moriarty
Holding Up the Universe Jennifer Niven

This year I read 13 non fiction books which is a new record for me. I find it difficult to read non fiction even when it's something I want to read and do much better listening to non fiction on audio. Before I tell you which books I loved and which disappointed me, I'd like to mention where I find the books I read. I follow various book blogs which keep me up to date on what's coming out and allow me to read synopses and reviews. My literary friends (you know who you are) recommend books, I listen to TED talks and read books by TED speakers, and sometimes, interesting articles or posts pop up in my Facebook feed and lead me to a new book. I'm also the librarian in my town so I'll get recommendations from readers and also read young adult books which are popular with the youth.

Some of my favorite books in 2017, in no particular order were: Manhattan Beach, Close Enough to Touch, The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed Our Minds (fascinating!), Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance, The Last Ballad, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Other Four-Letter Words, The Trick, The Reminders, The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes, The Hate you Give, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Celine, Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (a must read for all women), The Serpent King, Holding Up the Universe (much less heartbreaking than All the Bright Places), and The Sun is also a Star. 

As usual, Lee Child and Daniel Silva did not disappoint and I enjoyed both their new books, The Midnight Line and House of Spies. Also, John Green's new young adult book, Turtles All the Way Down was a great read and definitely one of his best. 

The book that had the biggest impact on me was A Little Life. At 832 pages it was also the longest book I read and it absolutely destroyed me. It chewed me up and spit me out in little pieces. My feelings for it can best be summed up as follows:

Some of my least favorite or most disappointing reads were books that just didn't live up to their hype/reputation or their author's previous works. JK Rowling as Robert Galbraith does not do it for me. I found Silkworm long and convoluted. I'll Take You There was less interesting and engaging than Wally Lamb's previous books. Ditto for Nickolas Butler's The Hearts of Men. Chemistry was annoying - none of the characters had names and Please Look after Mom didn't live up to the hype I had read. I read The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1) because the kids in the library love it and I was very disappointed. It felt like an inferior Harry Potter knock off. I'm not going to continue with the series. 

There are authors whose books I always look forward to and wait for (Lee Child, Daniel Silva, Faye Kellerman) and one of these authors  is Sue Grafton, author of the Kinsey Millhone alphabet series. I was excited to read Y is for Yesterday and a little heartbroken to read the sad news that Sue Grafton lost her battle with cancer on December 28, 2017. Her daughter, Jamie's post on Sue Grafton's facebook page summed up how Sue's many fans feel: "the alphabet now ends at Y." 
Alphabet Ends With Y Magnets

In 2017 I read 13,564 pages and listened to 343 hours and 46 minutes of audio. The longest book I read was A Little Life at 832 pages and the shortest was מה יקרה אם אמות מחר בבוקר at 207 pages. The longest book I listened to was Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations with 19 hours and 54 minutes and the shortest was Chemistry with only 4 hours and 53 minutes.

One of the things I like about doing my year end reading recap, is that I get to revisit the books I read over the year. I see that 2017 was a good reading year, both in numbers and in the many books that were enjoyable.

Looking forward to exploring new worlds and experiences in 2018 through the wonderful world of reading.