READ IN 2017

  1. The Dark Room - Susan Faludi
    Faludi examines identity, family and the history of Hungary through the lens of her estranged father, who is making a late-in-life transition into a woman. It's a complicated relationship, a complicated country. A very good read, but sometimes the depth of the glimpses into Hungarian politics was more than could hold my attention. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  2. Sober Stick Figure - Amber Tozer
    I listened to this on a road trip recently as my freebie. I don't listen to books on tape very often and while it took me a while to warm up to Tozer's delivery, I was ultimately really glad I heard her relate her own story of her spiral into alcoholism. Funny, sad and definitely entertaining. Apparently the print edition has illustrations I missed out on but it felt like listening to a great open talk, so I don't feel like I missed much. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  3. Here I Am - Jonathan Safran Foer
    A crumbling marriage, a son's bar mitzvah is approaching, patriarchs are dying, religious war is breaking out and everybody is trying to figure out what it means to be a wife/husband/son/Jew. I don't know, you guys. I think that I think I like Foer more than I actually do. Maybe if I knew more about Judaism some of the longer segments might have held my interest better, but I thought this book was screaming for an editor. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  4. The Mothers
    Motherhood is the central theme here, perhaps obviously. From the loss of a mother, to the elder women at the church, to the pursuit of motherhood, Bennett examines the concept from all angles within the framework of an African American community in Southern California. At the center is young Nadia Turner and her fateful choice to abort her child at age 17, an action whose consequences ripple out across all her relationships and the community as a whole. Liked it, but wanted to love it. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  5. My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
    This one I got from the library in audiobook form, because I want to try and incorporate listening to more books into my life. The woman reading this one drove me fairly batty with her gushy voice and weird pauses. But underneath that I found everything I like about Strout: great beauty in the writing, a quiet tale of family pain and recovery. Liked it, but don't think it'll stick with me the way Olive Kittredge has. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  6. American on Purpose — Craig Ferguson
    I'm a bit late to this one, but, like Ferguson, I belong to the relatively elite club of Glaswegian alcoholics who choose to become American citizens. I can't pretend to have any objectivity, so much did I identify with the material. It's smart, honest, funny as hell. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  7. Mischling — Affinity Konar
    Lovely. Wrenching. Difficult to come back to at times. And then the end rushed up on me in a way that seemed incongruous with the rest of the book. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  8. You'll Grow Out of It — Jessi Klein
    Man, did I need this. Something funny and smart and easy to read. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  9. Difficult Women — Roxane Gay
    I feel almost sheepish saying I didn't fall in love with this collection. It seems almost a crime not to like everything Gay does — and I do like so much of it. I just didn't often connect with these stories, very few of which felt fresh and new to me. Would be curious to know what drew others in. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  10. I Am Not Myself These Days — Josh Kilmer-Purcell
    Memoir of an alcoholic drag queen. Very entertaining at times. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  11. The Haunting of Hill House —Shirley Jackson
    Jackson at her best. Super quick read. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  12. The Wonder — Emma Donoghue
    I actually wasn't blown away by room, but I really dug this one. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  13. The Handmaid's Tale — Margaret Atwood
    A timely re-read. Never more pertinent, sadly. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  14. Imagine Me Gone — Adam Haslett
    I enjoyed this book when I read it and appreciated its bold willingness to look at depression across the generations. But when I went to write this description, I had completely forgotten what it was about. So clearly it didn't stick with me. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  15. Clear Springs: A Family History — Bobbie Ann Mason
    I want to love everything Mason writes but I don't know that this level of detail about her family is enough to sustain anyone's attention. This could have been so powerful were it tighter. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  16. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine — Gail Honeyman
    Liked, didn't love. The pacing felt very off for me and I suspect I was supposed to find the revelations about Eleanor's past more shocking and less gimicky. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  17. Hunger: A Memoir of My Body — Roxane Gay
    Pardon the pun, but I devoured this. I like Gay's nonfiction better than her fiction. It's such a brave and bracing look at weight and food and fat and all the other things we dance around in our everyday lives. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  18. The Underground Railroad — Colson Whitehead
    It's a remarkable, remarkable work featuring, yes, important subject matter but also some of the most beautifully wrought language I've encountered in years. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  19. A Man Called Ove — Frederik Backman
    I recently had to drive back and forth quite a distance to visit someone I loved in hospital. I listen to this on tape while I drove, and it quickly became a comfort to me. So intimate, yet populated with interesting characters. Small, quiet, about life. I am a sucker for tales of unlikely, unconventional families and this one is beautifully written. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  20. The Rules Do Not Apply — Ariel Levy
    I was blown away by Levy's New Yorker piece "Thanksgiving in Mongolia," which served as the seed for this memoir. While the book isn't unenjoyable, the rest of it never rose to the level of its core for me. The rest did not feel necessary; I don't know that I needed to understand Levy any more than with all she gave us in the original piece. ⭐️⭐️⭐️