Friday, April 3, 2020

2019 Bookshelf

Last January I was chatting with a friend who asked, "Are you on Goodreads?"

I'd pretty much only used it to look up book quotes or enter the occasional book giveaway, but sure, I was on there.

Nothing much came of the conversation, but it made me curious about it. I logged on that night and was greeted by the site with a plug to join in on their 2019 Reading Challenge. 

Now, I'd say just about every New Year of my recent life I'd made a resolution to read more. And I know they say you should quantify your goals to make them tangible and achievable, so I thought: sure, why not?

So, I agreed to read twenty books in 2019 and Goodreads agreed to keep tabs on it for me. And ta-da! I did it! The book challenge was complete.

Now let me tell you - not every book was great! Not every book was even good! But I'm an easy audience and thought I'd share all twenty with you, and highlight the best of them along the way.

Yes, I know this is late, but keep an eye on the blog at the end of the year for the 2020 haul - it's in the works!

I put these in chronological order by my "Read" date, and bolded my favorites so you could get a sense of what I liked best without reading all the way through.

1. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
I loved this book. I hadn't read any of the Series of Unfortunate Events before, though I watched the movie that came out in the early 2000s. It was a whimsical, miserable, fun sort of book that I flew through in a couple hours on a plane ride. I haven't continued the series, and honestly don't know if I will, but I enjoyed the book.

2. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
This is a very short book, but it still took me a couple days to read because I was truly not enjoying it. 

3. Call of the Wild by Jack London
I really loved this story. It wasn't always pretty, but it captured a wildness and free-spirited feeling that isn't usually captured on the page. It's full of drama and trials and danger, but never feels overdone or gimmicky.

4. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
I surprised myself with how much I liked this. It was required reading during high school, but I don't remember actually reading it. I didn't have a high opinion of it though, so coming in to it I wasn't expecting much. It isn't a perfect story, but it blew me away with how thought provoking and painful it was, without ever being too on the nose.

5. Appointment With Death by Agatha Christie
This book was pretty good, and I enjoyed the setting of Petra as a switch up from the typical European backdrop. I actually figured out the ending to this well ahead of the reveal, which doesn't usually happen. It got three stars, but I would probably bump that up to four based on how it sits in my memory.

6. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
I'd been on an Agatha Christie kick, so things were beginning to feel a little more predictable now that I was 5-6 books in to her catalog. This was still very much in the wheelhouse of everything I read, but the setting ramped things up a notch & the stakes were so much higher. A really great read, though the conclusion did feel a teeny bit less realistic than some of her others. 

7. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
Truthfully, I was a little confused during this book. I usually find Agatha Christie's writing to be straightforward and clear, but I was mixing up characters and plot details so the whole story was kind of muddy. Still a good book though, you can never go wrong with Agatha.

8. Death In The Clouds by Agatha Christie
Another reliable Agatha Christie book. Can you tell I was on a bit of a spree? Not her best Poirot, but still an interesting mystery to unravel.

9. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
A kind of miserable story about miserable people. I can understand why it's a cult favorite, but it really wasn't my cup of tea. Not deep or clever in the ways I usually want a story to be. 

10. The Mysterious Mr. Quinn by Agatha Christie
I loved this collection! It's a bundle of short stories about this odd and seemingly omniscient man names Mr. Quinn. I found the bite sized mysteries to be a fun 

11. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Being about a girl who struggles with anxiety and OCD, I found that following her neuroses made this a pretty stressful read. I liked it, but I had a lot more qualms with the plot than I have with Green's past books (which I collectively adore).

12. Deadly Gamble by Connie Shelton
This was a pretty easy mystery to read, but nothing was too gripping. I figured out who the killer was with plenty of time to spare. Shelton wasn't exactly stingy with the clues. I don't think I'll continue the series, because the setting & cast wasn't all that interesting to me, but I may try another book by her.

13. Marigolds and Murder by London Lovett
This was a fun bit of fluff. I didn't love the main characters, Lacey Pinkerton, but the setting was charming and the supporting cast was fun. I would read more of these and hope that our leading lady grows out of some of her more frustrating behavior.

14. The Library Book by Susan Orlean
I love love love this book. It was not a quick read, but it's a great peek into the world of libraries, their function in our communities, some quirky characters from library history, and the mystery of a massive fire in the Los Angeles Public Library decades ago. I really enjoyed this, and it is a large part of what inspired me to look into a future as a librarian.

15. The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie
This was a fun change of pace, as I hadn't read a Tommy and Tuppence book. It was a breath of fresh air from Poirot, but still had all the classic Christie twists.

16. Less by Andrew Sean Greer
I enjoyed reading this book (mostly), but had a lot of complaints about our leading man's behavior & the fact that he had an immediate romantic interest just about everywhere he landed. It was a good book, but I haven't been quick to recommend it.

17. Elephants Can Remember by Agatha Christie
Yes, another Agatha book. What more is there to say?

18. Trick-Mirror: Lessons in Self Delusions by Jia Tolentino
I LOVE THIS BOOK. Jia is a social commentating icon, and I will devour any of her articles. There is such great perspective and thought in each of these essays, without ever being overbearing or forceful with her personal opinions. I adore her. I adore this book. I want to buy it just because I love it that much.

19. At The Wolf's Table by Rosella Postorino
I picked this up on a whim at my library & really didn't love it. It's an Italian book translated to english about a young woman in World War II who is conscripted to work as a meal taster for Hitler (to ensure nothing has been poisoned). It's kind of a hot mess though, and I really did not like the main character. It's hard to enjoy the book when you have no one to root for.

20. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse by Charles Mackesy
What a lovely piece of art this is. The illustrations are beautiful and the words are tender and kind and exactly the kind of thing you want to be reading at a low moment (or any moment, really). I cannot recommend it enough.

Hope you enjoyed this peek into my bookshelf!


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