Read in 2017

  1. 1.
    Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
    Beautiful and thought-provoking
  2. 2.
    Half a Life by Darin Strauss
    Interesting memoir about the lasting impact of a tragic accident in a teenager's life. Fav. quote: "We contain more than our understanding allows us, at a given moment, to understand."
  3. 3.
    My Antonia by Willa Cather
    Touching portrait of a woman who is unabashedly herself.
  4. 4.
    Night by Elie Wiesel
    Powerful and heartbreaking
  5. 5.
    Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
    Liked it more than I expected to
  6. 6.
    Little Bee by Chris Cleave
    Picked this up a few years ago at a book sale. Absolutely worth whatever number of dollars spent. The non-American title is "The Other Hand"
  7. 7.
    The Godfather by Mario Puzo
    I can appreciate this for its intimate portrayal of organized crime and the way in which it explains the characters' morals without glorifying their lifestyle. Worth the read but not a favorite.
  8. 8.
    Io cammino in fila indiana by Ascanio Celestini
    I walk in a single file line
  9. 9.
    Letters by Kurt Vonnegut
    A touching glimpse into the private life of one of my favorite authors
  10. 10.
    Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
    Second time reading. Still well worth it.
  11. 11.
    Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
    A very, very dark comedy. The moral according to the author: 'We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.'
  12. 12.
    La Vida Es Sueño/Life is a Dream by Pedro Calderón de la Barca
    Knowing nothing about 17th cent. Spanish plays, this was still amusing and a fascinating story.
  13. 13.
    Aunts Aren't Gentlemen by P. G. Wodehouse
    My first Wodehouse. Very fun. Laugh out loud funny at times.
  14. 14.
    Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    Made me think about the immigrant experience, blackness in America, and how little I (and most Americans) know about cultures in Africa. Generally beautiful.
  15. 15.
    The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
    Another beautifully written novel that delves into both the immigrant and the first-generation American experience.
  16. 16.
    The Tongue of Adam by Abdelfattah Kilito
    Knowing nothing about Arabic literature, a lot of this probably went over my head, but definitely worth the couple hours' read to delve into what language Adam spoke and "the mysterious rise of humankind's multilingualism."
  17. 17.
    The Partner by John Grisham
    Light read, but pretty enthralling
  18. 18.
    The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
    This one had me reeling. Aside from addressing the British Communist Party in the 50s and women's romantic experiences in contrast to men's, it also urgers the reader to think about whether writing (both fiction and nonfiction) is good at documenting reality.
  19. 19.
    Murambi, The Book of Bones by Boubacar Boris Diop
    Heartbreaking novel about the Rwandan genocide
  20. 20.
    The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
    Bible-thumping Baptist preacher with no knowledge of the languages or culture moves his family to a village in the Congo just before their independence movement. The book moves between the perspectives of the wife and four daughters.
  21. 21.
    Introduction to the History of African Civilization Vol. II Colonial and Post-Colonial Africa by C. Magbaily Fyle
    Gives an overview of colonization and independence in each African nation. Good to know your history.
  22. 22.
    The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
    A dear friend gave me this as a farewell-for-now gift. If there's one book on this list I unequivocally recommend to anyone, it is this. Read it even if you've seen the movie.
  23. 23.
    Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut
    Witty and absurd.
  24. 24.
    Macbeth by Shakespeare
    "Screw your courage to the sticking place." Not my favorite Shakespeare, but at least now I understand the numerous references out there.
  25. 25.
    The Theory of Everything by Stephen Hawking
    Time and relativity and the origins of the universe in terms that most people can understand.
  26. 26.
    Travels in Hyperreality by Umberto Eco
    A collection of essays by the noted Italian scholar of semiotics, author, historian, and philosopher. Insightful essays on a variety of topics, from American wax museums to Thomas Aquinas.
  27. 27.
    The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain
    A story with a happy ending and many lessons.
  28. 28.
    How We Talk: American Regional English Today by Allan Metcalf
    An overview of what distinguishes the various regional accents in the U.S. and words particular to certain regions.
  29. 29.
    Jazz by Toni Morrison
    Beautiful, tragic, moving, sentences full of music.
  30. 30.
    Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
    An apocalyptic tale featuring a theology created by a Calypso singer. "Live by the foma* that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy." The Books of Bokonon I:5 (*Harmless untruths)
  31. 31.
    The Martian by Andy Weir
    Reminded me of watching Apollo 13 as a kid. Only more Mars. Space. Science. Suspense. All that jazz.
  32. 32.
    King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild
    Not a light read. Colonialism in Africa and elsewhere produced horrifying results. Leopold II of Belgium's reign over the territory in today's Democratic Republic of the Congo resulted in the death of around half the native population in 40 years. Even history that appals us is important to understand so that we can strive to do better in the future, even if we cannot right the wrongs committed in the past.
  33. 33.
    Beloved by Toni Morrison
    I'm not sure I have words to describe this but it made me feel so many things.
  34. 34.
    Magic Street by Orson Scott Card
    A fun fantasy set in Baldwin Hills, L.A.
  35. 35.
    Dear Life by Alice Munro
    Short stories that depict people beautifully and compassionately.
  36. 36.
    The Book of Mormon
    The original one, not the musical. A friend gave it to me and I was curious.
  37. 37.
    Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
    Pretty quick read, more entertaining than serious, featuring a young heroine, fourth wall breaks from the author, and a delightfully creepy old gothic abbey
  38. 38.
    Three Roads to Valhalla by Catherine Pomeroy Stewart
    Eh. Interesting enough to keep reading, but I would not recommend it.