I completed my mission in 2015 of reading 52 books, though just barely. I may or may not have read 10ish books in the month of December, whoops. Anyway because of that I’ve decided to do a round two year of 52 books rather than increasing the amount (maybe in 2017 I’ll feel ballsy enough to read 53). So a new year, a new list of books. After a couple days off with no reading, i’m ready to get shit done.
After book 38 I was too far behind schedule and far to stressed to continue reading and writing about each book. So I nixed the writing aspect and just decided to just keep my head down and plow through the remaining 14 books. I finished book 52 just before 11pm New Year’s Eve, which left me a little time to freshen up and go out before midnight. Here is 2015’s final book list:
Book 1: Not that Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
Book 2: Thing’s I’ve Learned From Women Who’ve Dumped Me by Ben Karlin
Book 3: Byrd by Kim Church
Book 4: Whip Smart by Melissa Febos
Book 5: The Hottest State by Ethan Hawke
Book 6: If I am Missing or Dead by Janine Latu
Book 7: All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Book 8: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Book 9: Home Game by Michael Lewis
Book 10: Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey
Book 11: On My Knees by Periel Aschenbrand
Book 12: The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan
Book 13: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
Book 14: Binary Star by Sarah Gerard
Book 15: I Have Something to Tell You by Regan Hofmann
Book 16: After Visiting Friends by Michael Hainey
Book 17: Missoula by Jon Krakauer
Book 18: The Fever by Megan Abbott
Book 19: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Book 20: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Book 21: The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
Book 22: Someone I Loved by Anna Gavalda
Book 23: Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
Book 24 part 1: The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami
Book 24 part 2: Lift by Kelly Corrigan
Book 25: Barbara the Slut and Other People by Lauren Holmes
Book 26: An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken
Book 27: This Is Between Us by Kevin Sampsell
Book 28: The Sterile Cuckoo by John Nichols
Book 29: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Book 30: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Book 31; Rape: A Love Story by Joyce Carol Oates
Book 32: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Book 33: Making the Run by Heather Henson
Book 34: Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
Book 35: Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
Book 36: Down Came the Rain by Brooke Shields
Book 37: Insatiable by Asa Akira
Book 38: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
Book 39: Give Me Everything You Have by James Lasdun
Book 40: A monster calls by Patrick Ness
Book 41: Gutshot by Amelia Gray
Book 42: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Book 43: Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr
Book 44: 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
Book 45: The Lover by Marguerite Duras
Book 46: The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
Book 47: Undeleted Dcenes by Jeffrey Brown
Book 48: Beautiful Blemish by Kevin Sampsell
Book 49: Fresh Girls and Other Stories by Evelyn Lau
Book 50: Love Story by Erich Segal
Book 51: On Love by Alain de Botton
Book 52: Walks with Men by Ann Beattie
And now I’m back at book 1, here’s to 2016!
This was a really excellent book, like stand up and applaud for going there kind of excellent. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick (who also wrote Silver Linings Playbook) is a YA novel about a boy who has decided to kill a certain bully of classmate and then commit suicide on his 18th birthday. That right there is the most watered down version of a plot summery; while that is what it is about in the most bottom line terms, it is also about so much more than that. Quick wrote a completely unique, not at all sugar coated story that will break your heart a little more with each page you turn. Incredibly insightful on so many levels. Matthew Quick definitely pushed boundaries when comes to YA themes but honestly those types of boundaries should always be pushed when it comes to identifying with, seeking to help, and inspiring younger generations to do great/brave things and learn what they are capable of. I loved this book. I’m not sure how I didn’t stumble upon it sooner.
Man this book was so great. Insatiable by Asa Akira is a memoir about Asa Akira’s life in and leading up to her life in porn. Disclaimer, it’s about porn so obviously it’s very graphic. With that being said, Akira is a very enjoyable writer who somehow managed to still be incredibly likable and endearing all while talking about things like double penetration and blowbangs. I tend to be an overly serious person when it comes to my chosen forms of entertainment, even on the rare occasion I watch a funny movies I don’t really tend to laugh, but Asa Akira made me laugh pretty consistently all throughout this book. Her voice wasn’t just one of humor though; it was raw and honest, full of passion and love and wit. As a widely acclaimed and award winning woman in porn, I love that she wrote a book that celebrated women’s sexualities all while telling her journey in the most frank and open way possible.
I’ve been putting off writing this for a few days now for multiple reasons, but mostly because I’m torn between the importance of the subject matter and how much I didn’t actually like this book. Postpartum depression is a scary common mental health issue that still has a stigma attached to it, like most mental health disorders. For some reason mental health disorders are synonymous to weakness, incapability, legit insanity, but in reality most of the time it’s the complete opposite. If you wake up and have to deal with what essentially feels like your mind and body betraying you, you find a way to tap into a strength and determination you didn’t even know you had. When the general public thinks of PPD they tend to think of women who end up killing their babies, but just like the bipolar man who drives 90 some mph in a residential area killing someone in another car because he thinks he is piloting an airplane, these are very rare extremes. Women need to stopped being shamed for PPD. A dialog needs to happen between women, and everyone, so when someone we know is experiencing postpartum depression we as a society can band together and give her the support and resources needed to get through it all.
Now on to the book, Down Came the Rain by Brooke Shields. I wanted so much from this book and it sadly fell very short. Most of my issues with this book stem from the fact that Brooke Shields isn’t a good writer. Sometimes you can overlook subpar writing if the underlying story they have to tell is compelling or the author is just so god damn likable, but Brooke Shields just really portrayed herself as really whiny celebrity. She also spent a lot of time talking in circles without really getting any point across other than the baseline factual things that happened each day. Instead of the overall message of the book being “this can happen to anyone including me”, it seemed to be “how could this happen to me of all people, don’t you know who I am”. Yes she is famous but that really has nothing to do with her PPD story, it felt like way to much emphasis was continually put on her fame which just made her unlikable and hard to sympathize with. Perhaps I put to much hope in this book, which is only my fault, but as a woman with bipolar, who knows statistically just how likely I am to get postpartum depression, I really wanted a woman in the public eye to be able to give a voice to all those women who had their voices taken away through postpartum depression shaming.
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed is a collection of the advice column she wrote as “Dear Sugar”. She received questions about all ranges of topics; from love to loss, sticky family situations to issues with friends, she answered questions from people when they needed extra help in life or a push in the right direction. I had a hell of a time getting through this book. You’d think that because it is just question and answer segments it’d be really easy to speed through, but it oddly enough was the opposite for me. Segment after segment of questions from people that were so short, that obviously don’t have any follow up on each situation, are impossible to become attached to. While I enjoyed reading it, it was like pulling teeth to read it quickly. Though the more answers from Sugar I read, the more I got why so many people loved and wrote in to her. Her answers were a mix of empathy, love, and a swift blunt kick in the ass. Every response she wrote both answered the question posed to her as well as told a small story from her life that sort of blended both the question and her answer together in a real life fable. Strayed was relatable and never judgmental towards her readers. She acted as a surrogate best friend to her loyal fan base as Sugar that we all wish we had day in and day out.
Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon is a lovely, unique young adult novel about a girl who has SCIDs or “bubble baby disease”. Yoon tells this coming of age story in a way that is oddly realistic despite the uncommon subject matter. I enjoyed it thoroughly and wasn’t at all irritated by the dialog. Everything Everything is smart, absorbing, and makes you think about human nature and what we are capable of when it comes to protecting ourselves and the ones we love.
This book is what I get for picking up a book from the library without having done any research on it or reading the first chapter. It was rough. The main character was consistently immature and lashing out in bizarre temper tantrums for no reason but was written like the author thought it was how cool girl behave. Acting entitled because her mom died years ago and because she wasn’t the cookie cutter kind of girl in her home town. Basically just all around annoying. Also she was creepy obsessed with this guy, planning their future together after barely dating, but he seemed to be okay with it. I however was very uncomfortable. I felt like the author had never been a teenager or spent any time with them. Book 33 Making the Run by Heather Henson was a bust for me.
This book, swoon. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson is an curious tale (and it very much so is a tale) about a family, a few murders, a village, and the cruelty of people. Jackson has woven a paradoxical world that is both beautifully complex and yet still so childlike and simplistic. Sisters Mary Katherine and Constance, as well their Uncle Julian and cat Jonas, live hidden away in a fortress of a home right outside of a village after the unfortunate poisoning of four of their family members. The sisters and their uncle live stunted lives in the wake of what has happened, somewhere between fear of the torment they receive from the villagers and whimsical magic they have created for themselves in their castle. Dark and enchanting, you are pulled into their lives and can’t help but adore every minute of it. One of my favorites of the year so far.
This was a kidney punch of a book, my goodness. Rape: A Love Story by Joyce Carol Oates is a tale of the aftermath of a brutal gang rape in a small town, in the perspective of a cop, the prosecutor, the rapists, and Bethel (the daughter of the woman who was raped and who was also present at the attack). The reader actually becomes Bethel in certain sections, as if these parts are a letter to her. This book made me feel so many things; disgust with the victim blaming, frustration with the justice system, gut-wrenching pain for the mother and daughter who’s lives were destroyed. Joyce Carol Oates wrote this complex story in such a simple way which made each detail even more haunting and chilling.