January Reading

Fiction Read in January: 

The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny
American Born Chinese by Gene Yang
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
What is the What by Dave Eggers
Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

A Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
The latest in the Coromon Strike series. These mysteries border on the too-graphic for me, sort of like some of the Elizabeth George books. Similar to those, I’m pulled back by the ongoing character development of Strike and his assistant Robin and to see what happens as the relationship between them grows and changes.

Smoky the Cowhorse by Will James
Read for Amy’s Newbery challenge.  I’m enjoying reading through the Newbery books, but found this one a little slow for my taste. I’m probably not enough of a horse girl to appreciate the very detailed and loving descriptions of the life of a horse. The ending was also tainted by some very blatant racism, something that I’m not surprised by in books from that era (1920’s) but that still felt pretty ugly.

Non-Fiction Read in January:
Rare Bird by Anna Whiston-Donaldson
I plan to post more about this memoir in the next few days. Suffice to say for now that I already know that it will be on my list of best books of the year. 

Read with the Kids:
The Doll People by Ann Martin
Ruth’s recent bedtime book. She loved it and has requested the next one in the series. 

The Adventures of a South Pole Pig by Chris Kurtz
We all were charmed by the story of Flora, an intrepid pig who wants to be part of a sled dog team. Part Charlotte’s Web, part Babe and part it’s own quirky self, this was a fun read. On a recent long and difficult walk in the snow I got Ruth to keep going by chanting Flora’s mantra , “Pigs. Don’t. Give. UP.”

The Mystery at Meerkat Hill by Alexander McCall Smith
Picked to read during our Africa studies but we got a little behind. I didn’t have another lunchtime read-aloud so we sped through this one in a couple of days. It’s meant more as an early chapter book for a young reader and for that it would be perfect. It was a little simple as a read-aloud. The “mystery” is very gentle and not at all scary.

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliet (audiobook)
We finally jumped on the bandwagon for this very popular mystery series for kids. I had mixed feelings. I liked the quirkiness and the details about art and the kids that were unapologetically intellectual and geeky. But the overall plot bugged me. It depends a lot on coincidences (which itself is part of the plot…whether or not things are really coincidence or some bigger universal force at work). Much of the mystery is solved by the kids suddenly getting a feeling that a place or a number or a color is important and then having it actually be a critical clue. The kids seemed to like it for the most part, although John made some snarky comments about all the coincidences. I think that’s more being twelve than the book’s fault. 

Ongoing/Up Next:
Unfinished Desires by Gail Godwin (audiobook)
My current audiobook to listen to when I’m alone in the car. About a small Southern Catholic school run by nuns. I enjoyed Godwin’s memoir on Publishing at the end of last year and wanted to read something else by her and this was what was on the library shelf. 

Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink
Recommended by Sherry. I’ve only just begun but it’s looking fascinating. 

A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and his Prayers by D. A. Carson
A group of women at my church is reading through this book on prayer together slowly. It’s challenging and led to some great discussion. 

The boys and I are reading Mossflower by Brian Jacques. Ruth has requested the next Doll People book for her bedtime book. John has repeatedly requested that we listen to The Saturdays and other Melendy books in the car so I think those will up next for audiobooks.

How about you? What are you reading?

 

Recently Read

Hear me, Atlanta! I am grinning and tears are flowing down my temples because I know that soon someone, perhaps the Christian neighbors, perhaps Edgardo or a passing stranger, will come to the door and say  Who is there? What is the matter? They will feel the guilt in knowing that they could have done something sooner had they only been listening….

I cannot believe that the clatter has not brought anyone to the door. My frustration is worse than the pain of the bindings, of being struck with the side of a gun. Where are these people? I know that people are hearing me. It is not possible that they are not hearing me. But they see it as beyond their business. ….

This is impossible, than no one would come to this door. Is the noise of the world so cacophonous that mine cannot be heard? I ask only for one person! One person coming to my door will be enough.

from What is the What by Dave Eggers, p 162

2015 in Books

Last year I didn’t really make any Bookish Resolutions except to read more (which is always a goal for me). I did read two more books this year (73 total) than last year so that’s a success. I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the one reading challenge I did in 2015, Amy’s Newbery Challenge, and I intend to join in again this year.

Some years when I reflect back on books read a clear theme emerges. Some years are the year of non-fiction or the year of the short story or the year I rediscover young adult fiction. In 2015 I read more broadly without any clear theme emerging. I don’t like to pick my favorite book of the year or even a top 10. Below are a few thoughts on the one’s that stand out when I look back at the year. If you’re interested here is the full list.
20170404
The Book that I will Never Forget Reading

I read Emily St. John Mandel’s post-apocolyptic Station Eleven (about the world post pandemic flu outbreak) while lying in bed feverish and coming down with the flu. I was on my yearly birthday getaway in a hotel room alone and reading about a woman in a hotel room coming down with the flu and wondering what was going on outside her door as the flu ravaged the world. The book itself is fabulous and stands alone but sometimes the circumstances of reading a book are such that you will never forget the actual experience of the reading. This was one of those for me.

Other fiction books that were especially memorable this year:
Lila by Marilynne Robinson
Redeployment by Phil Klay

The Author I Was Most Glad to Finally Get Around to Reading:

I have had Rebecca Stead on my TBR list for a long time but finally read When You Reach Me for Amy’s Newbery Challenge. I loved it and also read and enjoyed her newest novel, Goodbye, Stranger. Yes, she writes for middle-grade kids but her books are complex and intriguing and defy the category of “juvenile fiction”. I was very glad to discover how much I enjoyed her this year.

The Author I was Most Glad I Gave a Second Chance:

I listened to Meg Wolitzer’s The Ten-Year Nap on audiobook a few years ago and really didn’t like it. Maybe it was the wrong book at the wrong time but it was just too whiny and navel gazing for me. However, I decided to read Belzhar, her new young adult novel this year and really enjoyed it. I kept seeing it compared to her earlier novel The Interestings so I decided to give it a try, this time on audiobook. This time I was totally captivated by the world of her characters.

Vocation meets Avocation:

I used to read more books about medicine, but in the past few years I’ve gotten away from it somewhat. Maybe it’s because I’ve been looking for more of an escape in reading than reading about something close to what I do. This year I read several outstanding books about the medical profession:

*Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine by Paul Offit.

*Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

*Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh

I’m reluctant to make big reading resolutions for the year except again to read more. Semicolon is hosting her usual Saturday Review of Books this week and it’s got oodles of book lists if you’re looking for books to add to your own TBR list.

March Reading (The better-late-than-never edition)

Fiction Read in March: 

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Moriarty’s books are big, fun, juicy, frothy delicious reads. The women in them feel familiar to me even though they are Australian and inhabit a more upper-class world than my own. The overall subject of the book (domestic abuse and bullying) is serious but Moriarty manages to write about it in a way that is engaging to read and light in tone without making light of the horror of her topic. 

The Children Act by Ian McEwan
McEwan on the other hand could never be called light. Or frothy. I think I’m going to have to face the fact that I will never love a book of his as much as I loved Atonement. I keep reading him waiting for that completely blown-away by a book experience again and it hasn’t happened yet. Some of his books I’ve greatly disliked, this one I did enjoy reading except for one part that just didn’t ring true to me. The story is of a judge who is in the midst of a personal domestic crisis and who must render judgment on a case involving a minor’s right to refuse medical treatment. The boy is dying of cancer and needs a blood transfusion but is a Jehovah’s witness. The book is very much about the conflict between science and religion. 

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley
Another wonderful chapter in the Flavia deLuce series. This one must be read after the others, it ties up lots of loose ends from previous books. 

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
I stayed up way too late on several nights reading this book. It’s that kind of book; what I’ve heard called a “thumping good read”. I read a fair amount of mysteries and thrillers so I guessed the solution to this one pretty early on but it still kept me turning the pages to see if I was right and to yell at the characters to figure it out before something bad happened. 

Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski

Non-Fiction Read in March:

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Really beautiful memoir told in verse. It’s won a bunch of awards and all deservedly so. 

Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat by Gail Jarrow
I hope to review this one in full one day, but it’s a well-written detailed account of the investigation into the cause of pellagra, a disease that effected millions of people in the United States in the early 20th century and is estimated to have killed about 100,000 people. I loved reading Bernard Rouche’s classic books about true medical mysteries when I was a teen and would have been the kid who ate this book up when I was in middle school. A wonderful addition to the young adult nonfiction section of any library. 

Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More–Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist by Karen Prior Swallow
Read for my book club, I had really high hopes for this one. Hannah More was an amazing woman and I thoroughly enjoyed the other book I’d read by Karen Prior Swallow.  This one fell a little short of expectations, however. It’s a bit dry and somehow makes More’s life seem a bit dull, which it was anything but dull. I would recommend it though for the chance to learn more about More, a truly remarkable woman. 

January/February Reading

Fiction Read in January and February 

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Stout (audiobook)
I loved this book. I loved how vulnerable and sympathetic Elizabeth Stout makes grumpy, unlikeable Olive Kitteridge.

Sing for Me by  Karen Halvoresen Schreck
Eh. Read for my book club. 1920’s girl defies super-strict religious Dutch family by singing in a jazz club and falling in love with a black man. Was just a little too much like one the cheesy Christian romances I read as a teen for my taste.

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel
Weirdly creepy and slightly sinister (and I mean that in the best way possible) beautifully word-crafted stories.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
One of the most fresh and new-feeling books I’ve read in a long time. Post-apocolyptic world after a flu pandemic seen through multiple characters, centering on Kirsten, a young actress with a traveling Shakespearean troupe.

Lila by Marilynne Robinson
The third book in Robinson’s triptych about the town of Gilead and pastor John Ames. This one tells the story of his much younger wife Lila who comes from a much different world than that of her husband. Lila is born into a horribly neglectful family and is stolen away (or rescued) one day by Doll, a wanderer. Doll and a group of migrant workers become Lila’s family as a child and teenager. Tragedy eventually leaves her on her own again until she arrives in Gilead. Like Robinson’s other books, deep essential religious questions are woven into the text. Lila decides to be baptized but isn’t entirely sure she wants to accept religion. Part of the issue for her is what religion says will happen to the people who were her family but certainly didn’t live any kind of “good” life. Lila is just as rich as Robinson’s previous works, Gilead and Home, which I count among my all-time favorite books.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
What can I say about this one that hasn’t been said already by someone else. Having a deadline to read this for my book club, I had to buy it because I was something like 922 on the hold list at the library. I’ll just say the hype is not just hype. It is an amazing book. Read it. Even if you have to buy it yourself.

The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah
A new Hercule Poirot mystery, authorized by the Agatha Christie estate. It’s clever and fun to read a new story starring the great detective. Not super memorable but a nice read.

The Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters (audiobook)
The Curse of the Pharoahs by Elizabeth Peters (audiobook)
I decided to listen to the Amelia Peabody mystery series as my next audiobook (I read a bunch of them years ago) when I heard that the narrator was excellent. She (Susan O’Malley) is and the mysteries themselves are just as much a hoot as the first time around.

The Long Way Home by Louise Penny
Next edition in the Armand Gamache series. I mostly like these but Penny’s wordy and overly serious style grates on my nerves at times.

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
I found this young-adult fantasy immensely readable and enjoyable. Emotionally-fragile teens able to access an alternative world where they can live their lives before the trauma that they have experienced. The book celebrates the power of words and writing and ultimately argues for the importance of facing your problems and moving forward in life. There is a twist in the end that took away some of my enjoyment, I found it somewhat unbelievable but it’s also been a long time since I’ve been a teenager so I might just be forgetting what it feels like.

The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern
Based on the author’s own life, this bittersweet middle age novel looks at a single year in the life of Maggie, an 11 year old future President of the United States, writer, and all-around lovable geek. Maggie’s father also happens to have Multiple Sclerosis that is fairly severe and the novel chronicles the effects of his worsening illness on Maggie and her family. Probably because it’s based on a true story, it reads very true and never feels like a dreaded “issue” book. I liked it as much for the quirkiness of Maggie as for the way it addresses chronic illness.

Non-Fiction Read in January and February

How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking by Jordan Ellenberg

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
I really meant to review this one fully when I read it but I think I never really felt worthy. I would probably read instructions for how to program the DVR written by Gawande. He would find a way to make them interesting. In this book he goes beyond interesting and looks at the more uncomfortable and personal topic of end-of-life living and decision making. As a pediatrician, this isn’t something I have to deal with a lot in my work but I still found much to challenge me professionally and hopefully make me better at caring for patients. Really, really excellent.

Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen
I hope to review this one more fully in the next few days. It’s fun and wonderful and I’m going to go and cry because it was written by a 15 year old. Actually, I think she’s 15 now so she was even younger when she wrote it. And did I mention it won the ALA award for best Young Adult Non-Fiction. And Dreamworks has optioned it to make a movie.

Newbery books read: 
I’m participating in Amy’s Newbery Through the Decades challenge
January:
The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly- Definitely felt dated, but it was published in 1929. I read this one aloud to the boys and they mostly enjoyed this adventure story set in medieval Poland and involving alchemy and a mystical crystal. I think their favorite part was actually a character named Peter the Button Face who was supposed to be the chief bad guy. However, they found his name so ridiculous that they would laugh hysterically every time I said it. Like falling off the bed (literally) hysterically.

February:
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink- I have no memory of ever having read this as a girl although I vaguely remember trying it and not liking it. I’m not sure why as Caddie seems like a perfect mix of Laura Ingalls and Anne of Green Gables with maybe a sprinkle of Ramona thrown in. In full disclosure, I haven’t actually finished this one yet.

Read with the Kids:
Ruth and I are still working our way through the Ramona books. We’re up to the last one, Ramona’s World. Ruth is both excited and sad. Sad that they are almost over but excited because I said she could watch the movie when we had read them all. The boys and I are reading The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander, another one I can’t believe I missed in childhood. In the car we’ve been listening to the Sisters Grimm books which all three kids are loving.

2014 in Books

So, last year I made some bookish resolutions. And, as with most New Year’s Resolutions, I failed. I was going to read more, read more classics from the Well-Educated Mind list, read off my shelves/TBR list and blog more about what I read. As far as numbers I read about the same number of books (71). I forgot the classics resolution somewhere around Jan 7th and I still have shelves piled high with “someday” books and a TBR list that just keeps getting longer. And I blogged way less than I had in past years. So in some concrete ways, it was year of failure.

Ah well, it was fun trying. A year of reading is never really a failure, which is maybe why it’s my favorite pursuit. I always find it near impossible to name my favorite book of the year or the best book I read. Instead here are a few reflections on my year in books. If you’re interested the full list is here.

The Year of the Short Story

I have frequently stated that I’m not a fan of short stories. I appreciate the skill and craft, but I just like longer format fiction. This apparently was the year I decided to challenge that self-stated belief.

In all I read five collections of short stories this year:

Dear Life by Alice Munro
Bark by Lorrie Moore
Acts of God by Ellen Gilchrist
Selected Short Stories by William Faulkner
Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood

I still think I prefer the longer form of a novel but I did learn to enjoy the short story more. I have several collections on my shelf  or TBR list to read in the coming year: Lovely, Dark, Deep by Joyce Carol Oates, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel and The UnAmericans by Molly Antopol.

The Best 34 hours I Spent

Alternate title: That’s one way to get to the classics.
Other Alternate title: Best serendipity reading

Early in the year I read Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. Somewhere in reading about it, I saw several references to David Copperfield. I love Dickens but had never read David Copperfield. I thought about reading it but it was the summer and I had a stack of books I needed to read in preparation for John’s 6th grade year. So I decided to listen to the audiobook. Twenty-seven CD’s and 34-some hours later and I was still loving Dicken’s creation.

I also read (and enjoyed) three other classics for the first time:  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson and War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells.

Truth is Better than Fiction (This Year, at least)

This year, the books that stood out for me the most were both non-fiction books. First, Lawrence Wright’s mind-blowing Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. If you were around me when I was reading this book, I apologize. I probably bored you with long experts or stories. It was that good. Crazy and spooky. But really, really good.

I also probably bored a lot of people with spy stories from my other great non-fiction read of the year: Ben MacIntyre’s A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal. Spies and Scientologists both make for fascinating reading.

You Can Never Go Wrong Writing about Books

Nick Hornby’s Ten years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books is a collection of columns he wrote for The Believer magazine. The columns are a celebration of reading and books and especially of a particular kind of reading: reading for whimsy, reading for joy, reading what you want because you want it and because you like it. It would made a wonderful gift for anyone who loves books and reading.

 

 

And the one that negates that whole “no best book of the year thing”: 

Ok, I know I said I have a hard time picking my favorite book or best book of the year. But Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son was just so good that I’d have to say it would win. If there was a winner. I said it all in my earlier review so I’ll just point you back there.  And say that at the end of the year it still stands out as the top of the top for this year.

December Reading

Fiction Read in December 

Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood
More short stories. I think I’m slowly becoming converted to a fan of the genre. Or maybe it’s that short stories work well for my current attention span. These are typically Atwood: deliciously dark and creepy in places and all with beautiful prose and characters that are impossible to forget.

Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley
Another installment in the Flavia deLuce mystery series. Looking forward to the next one.

Non-Fiction Read in December 

Doctored by Sandeep Jauhar

A Spy Among Friends by Ben MacIntyre
I have a deep fascination with spies and I think I would read a grocery list written by Ben MacIntyre. In this new book, MacIntyre looks at the deception of Kim Philby. He chooses to focus on Philby’s betrayal from the perspective of several of Philby’s closest friends (including James Jesus Angleton, one of the founders of the CIA) who Philby systematically betrayed over decades. I knew only a tiny bit before about Philby before reading this book and came away completely and utterly intrigued.

I know I’ve got my keys…

I dropped John off at camp on Sunday. This is his fourth summer at this camp, plus he’s been away to Scout camp twice. Not to mention the week long trip to Puerto Rico he went on with his aunt earlier this year. So it’s nothing new having him away go away from home. He doesn’t get homesick at all and although we miss him we’re genuinely happy for him to have these fantastic experiences on his own.

As I walked to my car and drove away, I had that nagging feeling that I had forgotten something. Something I needed to do. Or say. Had I gone through all the parent drop-off stations? Had we packed everything he needed? Had I left my phone behind? My keys? My book? (Yes, I had a book with me. Always. You never know when you might have an emergency need for a book to read.) As I ran through the list in my head I couldn’t think of anything I had forgotten to do or anything I had left behind.

Oh. That was it.

I’d left John behind. My maternal spidey-sense just wouldn’t stop tingling. Something was not right, I was driving away alone and leaving a child behind me. Once I realized what the cause of the nagging feeling was, I laughed at myself.

But here’s the thing. It didn’t really go away. And as I thought about it realized I always have this feeling when one of the kids is away from home. Even if I know they are happy and having fun and doing what they are supposed to be doing it’s a slightly unsettled, all-is-not-quite-right with the world feeling.

A few hours later, I stopped for dinner and a reading break. (See, the book comes in handy.) I was at the end of Julia Glass’s And the Dark Sacred Night. A character has been searching for his biological father but comes to this realization:

What exactly, is a father if not a man who, once you’re grown and gone and out in the world making your own mistakes, all good advice be damned, waits patiently for you to return? And if you don’t, well then, you don’t. He understands that risk. He knows whose choice it is. 

I thought that was as concise summary of parenthood as I’ve seen.

Although, to continue to laugh at myself, we’re not really waiting patiently for John to return. Since he’s only 10, we have to go back to camp to get him. Still, there’s some kind of synchronicity there in the feeling and the reading. Which, if you can bear with one last observation, is one of the best reasons to read.

 

June Reading

Fiction Read in June:

Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
Perelandra by C. S. Lewis
Both of these were first time reads for me. I read them as research for the first unit I am planning for John for school in the fall. I think they are a little too complex for him right now. He could read them and if he picked them up to read on his own I’d be fine with it. But I think he’ll get so much more out of these complex books if he waits a few years. 

I Am Half Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley
Flavia deLuce has definitely grown on me since I declared her too quirky and precocious on my first introduction to Bradley’s poison loving 11 year old girl chemist and sometimes detective. Count me a fan. 

The Pirate King by Laurie R. King (audiobook)
I continue to list to the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series on audiobook. This one was not my favorite, the setting of a 1920’s silent film and a cast of hundreds didn’t work as well for me. One fun thing: Pirates of Penzance is feature heavily in the plot and quoted throughout. Our homeschool co-op performed Pirates this spring so many of the references were very fresh in my mind. 

The Runaway King by Jennifer Nielsen
The Shadow Throne by Jennifer Nielsen
John and I have both enjoyed the Ascendance Triology by Nielsen. The Shadow Throne, the final book in the series, is a very satisfying end to the story of Jaron, the incorrigible, charming young king determined to save his country from destruction and war. 

Non-Fiction Read in June: 

The Rocks Don’t Lie by David Montgomery

The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne
It’s somewhat hard to sum up this book but I can guarantee you’ve never read anything like it. Unless you know of another book by a librarian who has Tourette’s syndrome. And is 6’7″. And enters strongman competitions. And who is LDS and writes openly and graciously about both the faith of his family and his own struggles with faith. I picked this one up on a whim off the shelf at my own library and was captivated by Hanagarne’s story. I have to love a guy who loves libraries as much as this:

I love to tell kids that everything in the library is theirs. “We just keep it here for you.” One million items that you can have for free! A collection that represents an answer to just about any question we could ask. A bottomless source of stories and entertainments and scholarly works and works of art. Escapist, fun trash and the pinnacles of the high literary style. Beavis and Butt-Head DVDs and Tchaikovsky’s entire oeuvre within ten feet of each other. Every Pulitzer-Prize winning book and National Book Award winner. Picture books for children. An enormous ESL collection…Art prints you can borrow and put on your wall for a month. A special-collections area of rare books. Full runs of ephemera from The New York Times to the original Black Panther newsletters.

If I could bring my bed, expand the fitness room, and kick everyone out, I wouldn’t need to pursue Heaven in the next world. I’d be there.

April Reading

Fiction Read in April:

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
Epic saga of brothers who grow up in India and then end up with very different lives. Lahiri follows the modern trend of using multiple perspectives and having each chapter be almost a short story in itself. This particular style always leaves me feeling slightly detached from the characters and it’s not my favorite format but still she writes beautifully and I’m not sorry I read it.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
My book club picked this one to read (before it won the Pultizer, leading us to coin the term “book hipster” to express how we are on the leading edge of the book world, if not fashion world). This is a LONG book, and probably could have been edited. Still, for the most part it was a page-turner. Tartt tells a compelling story that is on one level a mystery/thriller centering around a stolen painting and on another level a coming-of-age story. And on yet another level it’s an exploration of big themes like whether good can come from bad and whether people can change and whether or not fate is real or things just happen for no reason. I’ve seen it compared to Dickens (especially David Copperfield and Great Expectations) and that’s a very apt comparison.

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B. J. Novak
Novak is probably best known to most people as Ryan from The Office. He was also one of the writers and producers of The Office. One More Thing, his first book, is a collection of short fiction. Some is very short (think more of a several lines joke), some are sketches and some are more traditional stories. Novak is clever, funny and obviously smart (he’s a Harvard grad in addition to his other accomplishments). His voice is cynical and acerbic and reading these altogether left me feeling slightly depressed. Some of these are quite funny: a short sketch starring Wikipedia Brown and an updated Aesop’s Tortoise and the Hare fable were favorites. I think I would have enjoyed the rest of the sketches more if I’d read them a few at a time, rather than all in one chunk. Unfortunately, it was due back at the library so I had to binge read and ended up feeling a bit hungover.

The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King (audiobook)
Continuing the Holmes/Russell series, this was the first one I’ve listened to that I hadn’t previously read. Just as good as the others. 

Non-Fiction Read in April:

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
I’ve been wanting to read this for awhile and it was worth the wait. Fascinating. I read huge sections aloud to H. and probably bored lots of other people talking about it.