Running list of books I've read in 2017

  1. The Broom of the System
    I've spent time with David Foster Wallace's essays and short stories, but this is the first novel I've tackled. I loved it, but still don't have to courage to dive into Infinite Jest just yet.
  2. Northanger Abbey
    I went on a Jane Austen kick at the end of 2016, and this was the first book I finished this year. Northanger Abbey and Persuasion are definitely my favorite Austen novels. Is that controversial? Am I supposed to pick Pride and Prejudice?
  3. The Miniaturist
    I chose this book mostly because I love doll houses more than an adult should, but I ended up liking it for other reasons. You know a plot is impressively fascinating when you find yourself describing it to other people who aren't reading the book — as if it's a piece of gossip you can't keep to yourself.
  4. Big Magic
    Really loved this book more than I anticipated. I found myself sending excerpts to friends who write and paint and take photographs. This book also gave me permission to dream and create — or maybe it finally sunk in that I didn't need the permission in the first place. Either way, I'd highly recommend this to anyone who needs a hug and an intrapersonal tune-up.
  5. The Interestings
    This story ebbed and flowed between past and present in a really cool way -- allowing you to get to know each character slowly. The dialogue between Jules and Ethan could be really beautiful at times too. He said things like, "Everyone basically has one aria to sing over their life." The Interestings reminded me that I love my friends fiercely.
  6. The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters: the Jolly Regina
    I loved the Series of Unfortunate Events books when I was in middle school, and the Bland Sisters felt like a lighter version of Lemony Snicket. It also felt a bit like the Wildwood Chronicles, which take me to that same precocious, 12-year-old frame of mind.
  7. The Yiddish Policemen's Union
    I've been wanting to read something of Michael Chabon's for awhile, so I picked this up at a used bookstore. It was definitely unlike anything I've ever read. I did enjoy the way he worked through the exile theme, and I liked most of the characters. The whole story takes place within a week or so, but it took a lot of energy and significantly more time for me to get through the Yiddish and the prose.
  8. Wait and See
    I read Wait and See with some of my favorite women on Saturday mornings. The content and premise were challenging and important. It catalyzed really great discussion with our Saturday morning crew too. Wendy's style isn't a favorite of mine, but I'd recommend the book to someone who is trying to wait well in tough pastures of life.
  9. The Shadow of Your Smile
    In middle school, my friend Jill and I read dozens of Mary Higgins Clark books. I have no idea how 12 and 13 year old girls stumbled upon this author and her semi-formulaic mystery novels, but we ate them up. This spring, I gave good ole MHC another try. I have no idea how review this book— it was exactly what I remembered. Entertaining and easy, but it kept me on my toes.
  10. The Handmaid's Tale
    This was my third reading of The Handmaid's Tale, and I think it was my favorite. The first time I was in high school, and I nearly passed out during the first Ceremony scene. It was pretty humiliating. The second time was in my freshman year of college, taught by an angry grad assistant with a dungeons and dragons vibe. Offred's voice really struck me this time around. I CANNOT WAIT to watch the Hulu version.
  11. 81 Famous Poems
    I wanted a poetry refresher, so I gave this audio anthology a whirl. It was incredibly fun to hear Tennyson, Milton, Byron, Poe, Dickinson, and Whitman. A new favorite was George Herbert's The Collar.
  12. On Turpentine Lane
    Read this on a whim. It felt like the tv shows I used to watch after school when nothing else was on — like the novel form of Reba or King of Queens at 3pm on a Tuesday.
  13. The Beautiful and Damned
    This is the darkest (and probably most interesting) Fitzgerald I've read. I work as an addictions counselor, so I think the alcoholism weighed heavier on me as a reader than it would have in the past. Anthony Patch's unraveling is sinister and hard to witness to the end. Why does no one address his childhood trauma?!? Did he kill Dot?! The stamps that he threw on himself like confetti celebrating a nervous breakdown?! I was amazed I developed empathy for Gloria as the story progressed too.
  14. The Practice of the Presence of God
    Reassured and simultaneously intimidated that it took Brother Lawrence 10 years to get to a point where mindful, persistent prayer was second nature. "One need not cry out very loudly; He is nearer to us than we think."
  15. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
    I always love rereading HP, but the illustrated version was especially lovely. I've been listening to Harry Potter and the Sacred Text at the same time, which makes the story even richer ❤️⚡️
  16. Hither & Yon
    Becca Stevens is incredible and I loved this book. She makes the everyday more sacred and puts poetry in the middle of the mundane. She's got beautiful, wise things to say about the way we grieve, love, hope, eat and journey. I had so much fun reading this with friends and remembering the part of my brain that likes to float and swirl through prose.
  17. Off With Their Heads
    I bought this book on a trip to Scotland and never read it. This summer I started watching "Reign" on Netflix, and needed to brush up on my European history. Naturally I reached for this children's primer with sarcastic cartoons. It did the trick 👍🏾
  18. The Blinds
    A few friends and I are suckers so we signed up for the Book of the Month club online ($10 hardcover books). There are a bunch to choose from each month, and I haphazardly suggested we start here. "The Blinds" was a fast, satisfying read. It felt like "Holes" for grown ups, and I could definitely see this being adapted into a movie/mini-series. The mystery/thriller twists weren't easy to guess, and I liked that the author revealed big surprises all along the way instead of waiting for the end.
  19. Of Mess and Moxie
    Such a wonderful book by an amazing woman. I loved the format — essay collections have held a special place in my heart since I went through a Chuck Klosterman phase. Jen wrote about phases of life that I can't relate to, but her vulnerability and humor made them feel familiar and even enjoyable. I felt inspired to value my friendships more, and empowered to share my life, stories, and writing. This book left me thinking that there is room in the world for me, and I'm really grateful for that.