May Reads

Mayreads

Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch. I read this in two sittings and made Jason read it too. Then I recommended it to my book club as a fast summer read, not intending to make it our pick to discuss for the month, but we did end up with it for our May book. This book is part mystery, part thriller, part sci-fi, and even though there was plenty to discuss, ultimately a light read. The basic premise is that the main character goes out for a drink, leaving his wife and fifteen-year-old son at home, gets (abducted and) knocked unconscious on the way home and when he wakes up to a world where his wife and son don’t seem to exist. Twists and unthought-of things abound, even after the basic reveal of what is happening comes about a third of the way through the book. It reminded me–not in plot or subject, but in a if-you-like-that-kind-of-thing kind of way–of The Martian, by Andy Weir.

I Found You, by Lisa Jewell. Ugh. I was sucked in by wanting to know what happened/why/who was who in this book. (From the publisher’s description: “Two decades of secrets, a missing husband, and a man with no memory.”) I actually really enjoyed the first third, or maybe half, of the book. But then when things started to be revealed, it pushed all my hate-it buttons–situations that start out innocent enough and spiral way out of control probably being the main offender here.  I am often drawn to books with seemingly separate storylines that inevitably overlap at some point. Too often, though, the overlap is a groan (too obvious, too far-fetched). This one, for my tastes, was both too obvious and too far-fetched. I think other people could like this book, but it was not. for. me.

American Born Chinese,  by Gene Luen Yang. I picked up this graphic novel at a Little Free Library. This book also has three separate and seemingly unrelated storylines, but the way they come together is unpredictable and really well done. (I think, actually, they wouldn’t have even had to come together and I would have still enjoyed each story separately.) The artwork is colorful and simple, and the themes are rich and complex (racial identity and stereotypes, adolescent angst).

Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders. I had heard about this novel on a couple of different podcasts and had heard that the audio version was helpful in understanding what is happening. I put both the book and the audiobook on hold at the library, and they became available within a day of one another. And boy am I glad. The novel is in such a unique format, like nothing I’ve ever read before, and it took both the audio and print version for me to get how the format worked. The novel all takes place in one night, a few days after Abraham Lincoln’s eleven-year-old son, Willie, died. It is told through newspaper and book clips (I’ve been meaning to look up if these are actual sources or fiction as well) and then also through the voices of the ghosts who are in a sort of purgatory (some newly arrived, some long dead, almost all not realizing they are dead). To give you an idea, the audio version has 166 different narrators (some quite well known).  I didn’t love this book, but I did really, really like it and would recommend it if only for the experience of reading something completely different.

The Nature of the Beast, by Louise Penny. Um, this is another in the Inspector Gamache series, which I really like so much, and I don’t know what more to say about it. It was a good one–not the best of the bunch, not the worst.

A Wind in the Door, by Madeleine L’Engle. The second installment of the Wrinkle in Time Quintet. I really enjoyed it and look forward to my kids reading this series with me. I probably didn’t like this one quite as well as the first, but I will definitely keep reading the series.

Dreamland Burning, by Jennifer Latham. I loved this YA novel. It is in two parts. In present-day Tulsa, Oklahoma, seventeen-year-old Rowan finds a body on her family’s property. In alternating chapters, we hear the story of Will Tillman (also seventeen) in 1921. Even though both stories are given equal time, the main story is what happened in 1921 (Will is telling his story as Rowan is also uncovering Will’s story). The story centers on the racial climate (think Jim Crow laws and the KKK) in Tulsa. The book is a good blend of mystery and historical fiction, and I recommend it.

Abandoned this month:

Ill Will, by Dan Chaon. Oh my goodness. I am so glad I put this one down. I got about two chapters in and realized I already hated all the storylines (see my above rant about situations spiraling out of control). I should have known from the flap description. I actually went online looking for spoilers, and that was even more confirmation that I would have haaaated this one.

The Gene: An Intimate History, by Siddhartha Mukherjee. I read probably forty pages of this before I had to return it to the library. I do actually plan to return to it someday, so the only reason I put it on my abandoned list is because it happens to be in the photo. This month just wasn’t the right time for this book for me.


The Amazing Stinko

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Today was Simon’s last day of third grade and Ian’s last day of first grade. That also means it was the last day that it was just me and Clara at home. After today I have to admit that my baby is a kindergartner.

Clara and I celebrated today with a quick trip to Omaha to visit the Lauritzen Gardens. On display is a giant flower that stinks like rotting meat when it blooms. The Amazing Stinko is not blooming (which, thankfully, means it’s also not stinking), but it was worth the trip and we found lots of other “GO-juss” flowers as well.


April Reads

Time and Again, by Jack Finney. I read about this novel in Stephen King’s acknowledgments section for 11-22-63 (a novel that was one of my favorite reads last year). King said he had been influenced Finney’s concept of time travel.  For the first third or so, I was completely taken in. I read several passages out loud to Jason because I couldn’t stop myself. I found the book creative and thought-provoking. But then, abruptly at the halfway mark, I had my fill of the incredibly detailed descriptions of New York in the 1800s. I didn’t think I was going to finish, actually, but after a hiatus of four or five weeks, I picked it up again. And, what do you know, I read the second half in only about three more sittings. I was absolutely fascinated by the ending. I keep wanting to talk with someone who has read it or doesn’t mind never reading the book (not sure it would be worth it if the ending couldn’t be a surprise; the ending is not one that changes your perception of the whole book, but it is one that I’m glad was unspoiled). I wouldn’t press this into your hands and say you must read it, but I’m glad I did.

Moshi Moshi, by Banana Yoshimoto. Kitchen has been on my to-read list for a while, but I found this one on the shelf at the library one day and picked it up instead. I very much liked (almost loved) this book. The premise of the story is that Yoshie’s father has died in an apparent suicide pact with an unknown woman and Yoshie and her mom are figuring out how to continue on. I imagine if this were an American novel if it would be plot-driven, fast-paced, and focused on untangling the mystery. But it’s a Japanese novel, and it was none of those things. Reading it made me remember what it felt like to visit Japan.

I Hate Everyone Except You, by Clinton Kelly. Honestly, I think I should probably stop reading memoirs by celebrities (whose personas) I am fond of. Parts of this book were funny, and the snarky tone didn’t shock me, as I had read that Kelly was “a little bit cruder and quite a bit meaner” than what you would guess from watching What Not to Wear (I think I saw every episode; I got hooked when I was in the hospital on bedrest waiting for Simon to be born). But overall I just didn’t like the book that much, which was disappointing.

The Mothers, by Brit Bennett. I love the cover art on this one, but the description didn’t grab me, and I passed it by at the library a few times before I finally decided to pick it up. I loved so much about this book–likeable characters, well-written throughout and often truly beautiful writing, engaging story. I wish there had actually been more of the Mothers (the older women in the church community) who framed the story, as their voices were my favorites. I won’t complain (much) that the Mothers’ influence–or sometimes lack of–as a conceit was just a half a hair too subtle; I’d take too subtle over heavy-handed any day. Highly recommend.

The Vegetarian, by Han Kang. This is one of those books I can see is good, and I can see how others might love it. It was not for me. The story, on its surface, is of a Korean woman who has a dream and subsequently gives up all meat. It is told in three parts from different points of view (none of them the woman, Yeong-hye’s). The novel is complex and dark, and, like I said, there is much to recommend here, but it was not my favorite.

Till We Have Faces, by C. S. Lewis. I put this on my list of books I wanted to re-read this year, and I picked it up one day when I was frankly too lazy to go upstairs and get another book. I remember liking this book when I read it for a class in college, but, as is typical of my reading life, I didn’t remember the details, just the general feeling that I liked reading it. Now that it’s fresh in my mind again, I affirm my assessment. This was a pleasure to read. A retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche, it is a rich story with complex characters. On this reading, I kept thinking that I’d be interested to see how this could be adapted for film (but I’d be glad I’d read the book first).

Half-Broke Horses, by Jeannette Walls. This was our book club selection this month, and I admit to dragging my feet in wanting to read it. I think my hesitation was because I read The Glass Castle (when we were visiting Japan, actually, so eight years ago) and found it hard and heavy. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this “real-life novel.” (Walls calls it a real-life novel because it is told as if it is a memoir written by her grandmother, and though the stories are true in the sense that they are faithful retellings of the stories she heard directly from her grandmother and mother, the details and dialogue are necessarily fictional.) The chapters are short and the stories engaging, an easy read.

Abandoned this month:

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown. This book was a victim of its own message. I liked it fine, but I just didn’t want to spend more time reading it. Honestly, I probably would have made it through had I used a bookmark. I spent too much time re-reading to find my place, which is on me.

A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator’s Rise to Power, by Paul Fischer. I heard about this book a while ago on NPR, and by the time I finally got around to checking it out from the library, I had lost interest.

 

 


Aslan on the Move

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This weekend, Clara had her second dance recital with Studio 139. This year’s recital was Aslan on the Move, and the dancers–as flowers, bees and ladybugs, a river, red birds, and sunshine–told the story of the coming of spring (based on C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, of course). As you can see, the costumes and the dancers were knock-you-out adorable, but more than that, the morning had the distinct ring of worship. I am so thankful for this opportunity that Clara has to learn the skill and creativity of dance. I love the joy that it gives her to dance and us to watch. This year she looked so big that Jason almost didn’t recognize her.

 


March Reads

I keep meaning to make other posts, but it keeps being the end of the month already and time to post the month’s books!

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well, by Meik Wiking. One of the statistics in this delightful little book is the number of people who think hygee (pronounced hoo-ga) is translatable. Of course, I can’t say for sure, but my sense is probably not. This book, though, puts enough words to the concept that I think a non-Dane can get the gist. I first heard of the concept of hygge following the thread of a friend who is/was trying to combat SAD and looked to how Nordic cultures make it through long, dark winters. This book is almost a coffee-table guide (though small), with short definitions and examples. I think I’m naturally bent toward all things hygge (think hunker down and get warm and cozy and comfortable surrounded by good friends and slow, lingering pursuits), so I found this more life affirming than life changing.

The Princess Diarist, by Carrie Fisher (read by Carrie Fisher and Billie Lourde). I listened to this one, and it was good to hear Carrie Fisher’s familiar voice. I liked the book, but didn’t love it. Honestly, it made me sad, not because of Fisher’s recent death (though that makes me sad too), but because of the angst and pain of nineteen-year-old Carrie (the actual diary entries are read by Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourde). The book is largely (though not only) about Fisher’s (apparently-well-known-but-news-to-me) affair with Harrison Ford during the filming of Star Wars. At one point, Fisher reflects, “I loved him, and he let me.” That kind of relationship is one of my most hated plot lines, and it’s only worse when it’s a true story.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill (read by Christina Moore). I loved this middle-grade read so, so much. I want people to read it (or listen to it), so we can talk. I find it hard to talk about without giving away too much of the plot–because when the mysteries begin to be revealed, that’s all the stuff I want to talk about. This book is imaginative and thoughtful and lovely. The little dragon (I can’t remember his name) who fits in your pocket but thinks he is enormous and doesn’t want to scare anyone is one of my favorite minor characters of all time–and he has my favorite line in the book. I will be listening to this again.

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead. I really did like this book. The subject, of course, is hard and heavy. It took me a while to get into, and I think it was probably because I had just finished Homegoing and maybe that story was still resonating in me. I think this book deserves all the attention and accolades that it is getting.

The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. I started this book forever ago and only got about 30 pages into it before setting it aside. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested but that I own the book and my library holds and other things came along and distracted me. But when I finally did pick it up again, I read all 512 (well, 482) pages in about three giant gulps. In fact, one night I read past midnight only to wake up at 4 am to finish the book by 6 am. It was a little (big) gem. I get the impression from reading a few reviews that people either love it or hate it. I loved it.

Wonder, by R. J. Palacio. This was our book club book this month, and it was simply fantastic. The book is told in several different voices and centers on ten-year-old August. Auggie was born with a facial deformity (he says, “I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse), and for fifth grade he is going to attend a school for the first time. Palacio does such a good job with each of the voices–whether a middle schooler or a teenager, male or female, each of the characters is well done. The story is sweet (heartwarming even) but not saccharine. All of the characters have flaws, and each new point of view adds something important–and human–to the story. I can’t wait to read this with Simon (nine years old); it’s such a good–and broadly applicable–story that explores empathy (or lack of it) and kindness (and lack of it) without being the least bit heavy-handed.

The Long Way Home, by Louise Penny. This tenth book in the Inspector Gamache series was a miss for me. It was easily my least favorite of the series so far (well, maybe not easily, The Brutal Telling, number 5, was also not my favorite). The mystery was not a murder but a disappearance. I wasn’t bothered by that changeup, but the mystery seemed a little thin and the scenes repetitive. And then the end? We can talk if you’ve read it, and I won’t give a spoiler here but I hated it. Still, I think this series is great and will, of course, continue to read.


February Reads

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Lucky Boy, by Shanthi Sekaran. It’s hard to offer a plot summary without giving too much away. In the broadest terms, the story is about two mothers and less about the (lucky) boy they both fiercely love. Soli, an undocumented teenage girl from Mexico, gives birth after she is in the United States. Kavya wants desperately to be a mother but has been unable to get pregnant. When Soli is detained by immigration officials, her son, Ignacio, is placed in foster care with Kavya and her husband. The story is incredibly timely, and it is heartbreaking. The characters are so well-developed, and I would guess that whatever ideas you might have about the situation hypothetically, you would be hard-pressed to choose a “right” side. The story–all too real–was such a good one. Highly recommended.

Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi. This would easily make my (as-yet-still-hypothetical) top 5 books of all time list (I really will give it some thought and come up with an actual list). The story begins with half sisters in Ghana (who don’t know each other) in the eighteenth century. One sister is married to a white British general and lives in the “castle.” The other sister is brutally held in the dungeon of the same castle before being sold into slavery in America. The novel then proceeds to alternate between Ghana and the United States, with one chapter telling the story of each subsequent generation (seven generations, fourteen stories in all). Each chapter was as rich as a full novel. Some of the stories are devastating (I have never cried so hard reading a book as I did over one of the chapters), and all of them left me with a strange mix of wanting to know more but also eager to see what story the next generation would hold. Beautifully written, this debut (!) novel took my breath away.

The Seven Good Years, by Etgar Keret. I kept this one on my list though I couldn’t remember why. In the end I’m glad I did. It made me think, made me laugh out loud in a couple of places, and made me curious to seek out more of Keret’s writing. I don’t know that I would press this book into your hands as a must-read, but it is a solid and enjoyable memoir.

The Wangs vs. the World, by Jade Chang. Yeah, I should probably count this as DNF. If I do say I read it, I’m using the word “read” very generously–even “skimmed” might be pushing it. I could probably fake my way through a class discussion but not an essay test on the book. This wasn’t the book for me. Not my humor, didn’t like any of the characters, was bored by most of the storylines.

The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield. I read this for book club and had such mixed feelings about it. On the one hand there were some parts where the subject matter probably would have been a deal breaker for me and another section where the far-fetched-ness of the story would have been another exit point. On the other hand, though, there were times I was so caught up in the story that I didn’t want to put it down and was glad that I pushed through after all. Overall, I would say I liked it, didn’t love it. I won’t rave about it, but I also won’t rant about it. How’s that? We haven’t met for book club yet, and I’ll be interested to hear what the others thought of it.

Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese (narrated by Sunil Malhotra). So good. So, so good. This novel has all the epic sweep and complicated family relationships that I love without being over the top. The medical descriptions were often vivid (and I’m guessing they will stick with me a long time). I listened to this as an audio book, and there were a couple times I was driving and almost had to pull over because I was squirming so much. I would recommend this one without reservation for the storyline, but if you’re squeamish, you might want to pick up the paper copy so you can skim. Ha.

This month I abandoned several books. I can think of three, but it seems like there were more. News of the World, by Paulette Jiles, I had to return to the library because I ran out of time, and there were holds on it. I might return to it. I read the first chapter of Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, by Lindy West, and then texted a friend who had just finished it to see if the whole book was more of the same. I think I’ll pass–it’s one of those it’s-not-you-it’s-me situations. I could probably make it through, but with literally sixty books on my current to-read list, I just wasn’t that into it. And same with Mosquitoland, by David Arnold. I listened to the audiobook version for a chapter or so and then checked out some reviews to feel out if I wanted to continue. When several reviews said, “Good if you like John Green,” I decided to be done.


January Reads

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The One-in-a-Million Boy, by Monica Wood. This is a charming book, but I think for me it suffered from overhype. I mean I liked it (more than a little, less than a lot), but I didn’t looooooove it the way I thought I would based on multiple recommendations. The story is about a friendship between a quirky 11-year-old boy and a 104-year-old woman he does chores for; it has plenty of twists beyond that (not like suspenseful twists, but pieces that make the story more interesting than just that). I kind of felt like, “Yeah, ok, I get it” halfway through, and while I’m not sorry I finished it, there was nothing particularly driving me toward the end.

Moonglow, by Michael Chabon. One thing about me as a reader is that I retain all the feeling of a book and so few of the details. What I can say about this book is that I really enjoyed reading it beginning to end. The thing is, though, I read a plot summary to refresh my memory about this book, and I found it almost unrecognizable. Is that really the book I read? Ha. I do now want to pick up more books by Chabon (especially The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which is the one book that both Jason and I owned a copy of when we married and combined our book collections and which neither of us has actually read). Chabon can write, and I was taken with his characters (it’s a fictionalized memoir, and from an interview, it seems that there is very little actual memoir and almost entirely fiction), even if I can’t so much remember the plot. 

We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson. This book was creepy and fascinating as you quickly realize the narrator is not quite right. Someone has poisoned the family (it only takes a few pages to figure out who), and two sisters and their elderly uncle live in the aftermath. It’s not so much a whodunit mystery unfolding as it is an exploration of mental illness.

Pax, by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Jon Klaassen. I picked this book up to read with Simon, and he hasn’t quite finished yet. The story is about a boy, Peter, and his fox, Pax, separated by war and making their way back to each other. The chapters alternate between the boy’s perspective and the fox’s; both are equally engaging. There are some situations in each story that seem unbelievable, but all is forgiven because it’s such a compelling (if predictable) story altogether. The illustrations are simply beautiful.

Circling the Sun, by Paula McClain (narrated by Katharine McEwan). I have such mixed feelings about this book, which is set in colonial Kenya and is the story of Beryl Markham, who was abandoned by her mother as a child and who as an adult ran with the crowd featured in Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa. I listened to this as an audio book, and the narrator was particularly good. My mixed feelings are because at times I was frankly bored, but then other times I was completely caught up in the story and characters. Markham has written a memoir that in the opinion of some is better than Out of Africa. I may pick up that memoir someday, but I fear I’ll have a weird sense of believing McClain’s portrayal so entirely that I may not believe Markham herself.

The Beautiful Mystery and How the Light Gets In, by Louise Penny. These were actually two of my favorites in a series that I have adored so far (and I’ve not really been much of a series reader since Janette Oke in my middle school years; and just to clarify, these are nothing like those, but I do have a nostalgic fondness for Oke). The Beautiful Mystery (#8) is set in a secluded monastery; one of the monks is found murdered, and the culprit can only be one of their own. As for the mystery itself, this was probably my favorite of the series. The surrounding stories (the continued arch of the main characters) was not my favorite in this one, but after reading the next book in the series as well, I can appreciate why the characters acted as they did. Then How the Light Gets In (#9) is my favorite of the series so far. So many of the storylines came together and in fact resolved in such a way that this could easily have been the last book in the series and I would have sighed a contented sigh (don’t get me wrong, I’m glad there are three more and another coming out this fall). I don’t remember much about the particular plot of this one (remember that thing I said about the feeling of a book), but it hit all the right notes I have come to expect from Penny.

Everything You Ever Wanted, by Jillian Lauren. This is a memoir that I almost tossed in the great Goodreads purge of 2016. A friend, though, left a review that said she has asked her friends and family to read it for a glimpse of her own life with foster care and adoption. It was indeed an enjoyable (if that’s possible) read about a hard topic–the author has insightful things to say about her experiences with infertility and adoption of a child who had experienced early trauma.

Another Brooklyn, by Jacqueline Woodson (narrated by Robin Miles). I read this book in one sitting in December, and because it was our book club pick for January, I listened to the audio version to refresh my memory (I was on hold for both the hard copy and the audio, and the audio was available first). I have to say I enjoyed reading the physical book more than listening. The narrator was better than okay but somehow not my very favorite. I did pick up so much more from listening than I did reading the first time, and I’m not sure if that was format or familiarity–probably a bit of both. A plot description doesn’t do this novel justice. I read one review that said, “This gorgeous novel is a poem. It is a love letter to black girlhood.” This is one that has stayed with me since my first reading and continues to play at the corners of my mind.

Swing Time, by Zadie Smith. I loved the first third or so of this book so much. And I liked the rest of it a whole lot too. It’s a novel that alternates times and storylines, and I think when it came down to it, I just found one of the storylines more interesting than the other (not always the same one). I happened to catch a snippet of the author being interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air (I didn’t even know it was her at first, but I guessed by the conversation that it might be, then let out a little squeal when Terry Gross confirmed with “in case you’re just joining us…”). That interview made a fan of me, and now I’m a little starry-eyed; in fact, if I talked to you in person in the last couple of weeks, it’s likely that I mentioned the interview–so many ideas that I wanted to talk about. I even made Jason listen to the podcast. I read White Teeth in grad school and remember zero about it, but this book made me want to read more from Smith.

Two-Part Invention, by Madeline L’Engle. This is the fourth in L’Engle’s Crosswalk Journals series of memoirs, and it is the story of her courtship and forty-year marriage to Hugh Franklin. It is so lovely, and full of goodness. Reading this one felt like sitting down to coffee with a treasured mentor and friend. Spoiler warning (but it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise): When Hugh died of cancer in the penultimate chapter, I cried so hard Jason came from the other room to check on me. I may never recover.

This month I also abandoned two audio books–Lab  Girl, by Hope Jahren, and Columbine, by Dave Cullen–both because of the narration. I plan to pick them up in hard copy sometime because I really would like to finish them both.

 

 


Ice Day

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No school, blue skies, and melting ice. The kids and I ventured out into the magic. The soundtrack of dripping water and gently cracking ice, punctuated by exclamations of wonder,* was sublime. (*Soundtrack also featured fighting siblings, let’s be real.)


Ice

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As far as I can tell, the whole town is blanketed in ice. I can only confirm this as far as my own yard, though, for that’s as far as I was willing to venture today. An ice storm, of course, is a photographer’s dream, but today I was more thankful for my senses than for my camera. (I was thankful for my camera too, but it’s what I couldn’t quite capture that made being outside for a bit this afternoon feel magical.) So much beauty, so quiet, so refreshing.


To Read List

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A few months ago I decided I wanted to use my to read list on Goodreads differently. Instead of using it as a junk drawer for every book that ever remotely caught my interest or was liked and recommended by a friend, I wanted to try to get closer to limiting it to books I actually do intend to track down and read. At that time it had something like 277 books on it, and when I went through and deleted all of the ones that, let’s face it, I am probably not actually going to read, it was down to 75, give or take a few.  I thought it might be a fun challenge to take whatever books remained on January 1 and make that my reading list for the coming year. I have since remembered, though, that that is completely unrealistic for my spontaneous nature and ever-changing interests and attention span. Still, I do intend to make a serious effort to knock most, if not all, of them out (or remove them from the list). As of this morning, my list holds 57 books (and my currently reading list has 7 more titles today). I figure I will read about 60 books this year, but obviously many will be ones I come across throughout the year. I’m a sucker for a beautiful cover at the library, a recommend from a trusted reader friend or a podcast, a book club selection, a random find at the bookstore or garage sale, a nostalgic grab from my parents’ basement, the next book in a series, a book one of my kids wants to read together. You get the idea.

So, with all those disclaimers, here is my ridiculously long and deliberately unrealistic current to read list for 2017 in no particular order:

  • The remaining books in Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series (I’m ready to start number 8 10)
  • The remaining books in Madeline L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time Quintet (I’ve only read A Wrinkle in Time, the first one)
  • Till We Have Faces, by C.S. Lewis
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

(the rest of this list is my Goodreads to-read list as of today)

  • Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul, by Hannah Anderson
  • Columbine, by Dave Cullen
  • You Are What You Love, The Spiritual Power of Habit, by James K. A. Smith
  • Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism, by Drew G. I. Hart
  • The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football, by Jeff Benedict
  • Brave Companions, by David McCullough
  • Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren
  • The Spirit of Food: Thirty-four Writers on Feasting and Fasting Toward God, by Leslie Leyland Fields
  • The War That Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  • You Must Change Your Life: The Story of Rainer Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin, by Rachel Corbett (lost interest, at least for now)
  • The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
  • Prophetic Lament, A Challenge to the Western Church, by Soong-Chan-Rah
  • Swing Time, by Zadie Smith
  • Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
  • The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
  • When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch
  • Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from  Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith, by D. L. Mayfield
  • Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery
  • Shtum, by Jem Lester
  • This Is Only a Test, by B. J. Hollars
  • Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton
  • A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator’s Rise to Power, by Paul Fischer (started audio book but realized I’m just not as interested as when I first heard about it)
  • The Journalist and the Murderer, by Janet Malcolm
  • The Wednesday Wars, by Gary D. Schmidt
  • Morningside Heights, by Cheryl Mendelson
  • Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts, by Julian Rubinstein
  • Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  • My Life in France, by Julia Child
  • On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, by Andrew Peterson
  • A Girl from Yamhill, by Beverly Cleary
  • Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty
  • The Company She Keeps, by Mary McCarthy
  • Time and Again, by Jack Finney
  • The Power of One, by Bruce Courtenay
  • Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More–Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist, by Karen Swallow Prior
  • The Cranes Dance, by Meg Howrey
  • The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, by Nadia Hashimi
  • Kitchen, by Banana Yoshimoto (read Moshi Moshi by same author)
  • Mosquitoland, by David Arnold (abandoned after first chapter)
  • Found: A Story of Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer, by Micha Boyett
  • My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer, by Christian Wiman
  • Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry
  • A Lantern in Her Hand, by Bess Streeter Aldrich
  • Everything You Ever Wanted: A Memoir, by Jillian Lauren
  • Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken World, by N. D. Wilson
  • Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese
  • Miz Lil and the Chronicles of Grace, by Walter Wangerin Jr.
  • Night, by Elie Wiesel
  • Ranger Confidential: Living, Working, and Dying in the National Parks, by Andrea Lankford
  • Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian, by Wesley Hill
  • Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech
  • The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection, by Robert Farrar Capon
  • The Magicians, by Lev Grossman
  • The Seven Good Years, by Etgar Keret