Friday, July 22, 2022

Mid-Year Book Report

I don't know how this happened, but 2022 is already (more than) half over. In the first half of the year I finished 39 books. Instead of waiting until the year is over and doing one massive update, I'm breaking it into two parts to make it a little more manageable.

Book ratings are completely arbitrary, so I want to clarify that I rate based on how much I personally liked the book, not on it's objective merit. Something that I rate as a three might have been a five for you, and that's totally fine! 

  • 5: A book I will remember in years to come; unique in some way
  • 4: I really enjoyed the book, but it's not a complete standout
  • 3: It was fine, not bad but not great. Entertaining and filled the time.
  • 2: Ugh. I was able to finish it, but I didn't like it.
  • 1: Doesn't exist, because if something is one star, I won't finish it

Some of these I have already written about on this here blog, and some I likely won't mention at all. Many of these were consumed in audio format; I love listening to books while I'm out gardening or working on flower stuff in my fancy studio (i.e., the basement). My favorite types of audiobooks are memoirs read by the author. 

Nearly everything on my 5-star list is nonfiction. I have yet to completely figure out why this is; maybe I have unrealistic expectations for fiction? I also tend to learn new things and ideas through nonfiction, which makes those books memorable. A lot of fiction genres, like mystery, thriller, and WWII historical fiction, can be formulaic. This is good when I just want an easy comfort read. But looking back on my Goodreads "read" shelf, I can't remember what most of those books were about.

Some genres missing from this list are science fiction and fantasy. Over the years I have had many of these books recommended, and readers of epic fantasies tend to LOVE them... I have tried, dear readers, but I just cannot. do. it. I am too literal to read about made-up worlds and magic. Dystopian fiction I like, because most of the time it seems all too plausible. For some reason I also like time travel, but maybe it's the historical aspect that makes it seem less made up.

5 Stars

  • Miss Benson's Beetle - Rachel Joyce
    • Unique premise and entertaining characters
  • Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life - Anne Lamott
    • Funny with great advice
  • Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working From Home - Charlie Warzel, Anne Helen Petersen
    • Academic writing but thought provoking ideas
  • What Fresh Hell is This?: Perimenopause, Menopause, Other Indignities, and You - Heather Corinna
    • I'm not there yet, but this was a good way to know what's coming
  • Beautiful Country - Qian Julie Wang
    • Fascinating memoir of growing up undocumented in New York City in the 90s
  • Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer
    • Engaging story told well
  • I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death - Maggie O'Farrell
    • Unique structure for a memoir and gorgeous writing
  • I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir - Malaka Gharib
    • Another insightful graphic memoir, with a cute drawing style
  • The Man Who Died Twice - Richard Osman
    • Hilarious, even better than the first in the series
  • These Precious Days: Essays - Ann Patchett
    • Insightful and fabulous writing
  • A Very Punchable Face - Colin Jost
    • I literally laughed out loud multiple times

4 Stars

  • The Guide - Peter Heller
    • Amazing writing and sense of place, plot took a weird turn
  • Hao: Stories - Ye Chun
    • Lyrical, how short stories should be done
  • They Called Us Enemy - George Takei, Justin Eisinger, et. al.
    • Memoir of a terrible time in the US
  • Snowblind - Ragnar Jonasson
    • Mystery was not that interesting, but really great sense of place (brrr)
  • The Mercies - Kiran Millwood Hargrave
    • Time period and location that is not often covered in historical fiction
  • The Son of the House - Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia
    • Interesting structure, legitimate twist, setting and culture not common in western literature
  • The Thursday Murder Club - Richard Osman
    • Funny mystery with likeable, quirky characters
  • The Diamond Eye - Kate Quinn
    • First half was better than the first, engaging take on actual events
  • Ten Steps to Nanette - Hannah Gadsby
    • Well written, funny, vulnerable
  • Japanese Notebooks - Igort
    • Art was amazing and skillful
  • Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Live Interrupted - Suleika Jaouad
    • Good writing, lots of insight into what it's like to have cancer as a young adult

3 Stars

  • How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House - Cherie Jones
    • Interesting setting but otherwise kind of slow
  • Sidecountry: Tales of Death and Life from the Back Roads of Sports - John Branch
    • Some articles were amazing, but there was very little editing leading to lots of repetition
  • The Great Alone - Kristin Hannah
    • Too long, too much romance, but the setting is good
  • Agatha: The Real Life of Agatha Christie - Anne Martinetti, Guillaume Lebeau, et. al.
    • Too short and condensed, jumpy
  • Northern Spy - Flynn Berry
    • 3 stars for getting to listen to an Irish accent
  • Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life - Steve Martin
    • I love Steve Martin, but this was boring and not funny
  • Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness - Kristen Radtke
    • Could have gone deeper
  • Ex Libris - Matt Madden
    • Graphic novel meta-fiction. A little weird.
  • Behind Closed Doors - B.A. Paris
    • I read this a few months ago but I can't remember what it was about
  • A Dying Fall - Elly Griffiths
    • Mystery comfort read
  • The Alice Network - Kate Quinn
    • Another women WWII novel, it was fine but nothing special
  • How to Stop Time - Matt Haig
    • Interesting premise brought down by a boring plot
  • Book Lovers - Emily Henry
    • How much witty banter is too much witty banter? How many italics for emphasis are too many italics for emphasis?

2 Stars

  • The Practice: Shipping Creative Work - Seth Godin
    • Just random blog posts with no overarching message
  • The Bat - Jo Nesbo
    • Dated, slightly offensive, bad detective
  • A Rule Against Murder - Louise Penny
    • The murder method was completely implausible
  • We Are All the Same in the Dark - Julia Heaberlin
    • Sooooooo slllloooooowwwwww

Tell me, what fiction book blew you away? I dream of a long, engaging, plot driven, well-written book that tells a unique story. Some books that I have loved in the past were The Poisonwood Bible, Fates and Furies, The Secret History, Someone Knows My Name, All the Light We Cannot See, and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. If you have a recommendation, please share!

11 comments:

  1. If you'd like a little murder, I loved 'The Lost Man' by Jane Harper. And more of a thriller I guess, 'Three Hours' by Rosamund Lupton. And anything by Philip Pullman. I'm guessing you've probably read 'Prodigal Summer' by Barbara Kingsolver, I like that a lot too.

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    1. Thank you for the suggestions! I actually have a copy of Prodigal Summer that I have yet to read, so I need to get to it. I love Barbara Kingsolver and got to see her speak in person a few years ago which was so fun.

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  2. I loved many of those as well, and I have some on my reading list. These Precious Days was one of my favourites of the whole year! I liked the Colin Jost book but there was a bit too much poop in it for me. So I didn't give it five stars based on that. NO MORE POOP PLZ. 5 star fiction: anything by Katherine Heiny, also my all-time faves Diary of a Provincial Lady and The Blind Assassin. Five Tuesdays In Winter, and The Maid as well. I love a lot of non-fiction too, but those are my fiction faves. Oh, and pretty much anything by Alice Munro. Love a good short story!

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    1. LOL... ok I admit I laughed a lot at the poop story. I listened to that one on audio, and hearing Colin Jost tell the story made it even funnier. Would you believe I JUST read both The Maid and Five Tuesdays in Winter? I'll be posting about those soon - and I added several other of your suggestions to my TBR list. Thanks!

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  3. Wow, what an inspiring list!

    Very unfortunately, one of my favorite authors passed away recently: Susie Steiner. She wrote a series of three books about a detective named Manon Bradshaw — the first is called Missing, Presumed. I really loved these books and this character. I laughed out loud several times, too — Manon is funny, and the mysteries are good, and the structure of the books can be really interesting. I was so sorry to hear that Susie passed away. The most recent of the three books came out just last year or the year before.

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    1. These look great, I can't wait to read this series. That's so sad the author passed away - I also loved the Keye Street series by Amanda Kyle Williams, who also passed away at a too-young age.

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  4. Sorry, the above Anonymous was me.

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  5. The Rosie Project, Ace in the Hole

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    1. I've read The Rosie Project, and loved it! There are a few sequels to it, but the first one is the best (at least in my opinion)

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  6. I have a few book recommendations on my latest blog post. Have you read any Claire Fuller? Unsettled Ground and Bitter Orange were both good books.

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  7. Thanks, I added both of those to my list! And I'll take a look at your blog post too!

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