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TitleAuthorDate startedDate finishedNotesTags
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4Beartown
Fredrik Backman
1-25-182-4-18
Manages to combine humor and poignancy. Many diverse perspectives within one small town. Deep and layered while also being a page-turner. Very good character development - everyone (with a few exceptions) is three-dimensional. Dark but not depressing or hopeless. Redemptive. Frustrating but ultimately satisfying.
Fiction; Sweden
3
3When Breath Becomes AirPaul Kalanithi1-23-181-25-18
Super sad but I didn't cry. Author had unbelievable clarity and frankness about his own death. Moving.
Memoir; non-fiction
4
2
How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids
Jancee Dunn1-20-181-22-18
Thought-provoking. Made me feel good about my marriage. Loved that one thing dads should stop saying is "let's go see what mommy is doing." Lol.
Non-fiction; self-help; psychology
5
-Dead WakeErik Larson1-10-18Slow; I keep picking it up and putting it down. Story not grabbing me as much as I hoped.
Non-fiction; narrative non-fiction; history
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1Deep WorkCal Newport1-7-181-10-18Paradigm shifting, inspiringNon-fiction
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Daily Habits1-24-18
Fascinating! I have been picking it up and putting it down. I do find it inspiring, in a weird way. It's fun to read in chunks when I need a boost.
Non-fiction; writing; art
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5Picnic at Hanging RockJoan Lindsay2-5-182-10-18
Fun, compact little mystery, although the central mystery was never resolved. More about the impact of a mystery and how it affected one small community.
Fiction; mystery; Australia
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6This Must Be The PlaceMaggie O'Farrell2-10-182-19-18
Good writing but I am not here for her Jennifer Egan-like experiments in form. Please spare us the precious footnotes! By the end of the book I was weary of the multiple perspectives and wanted more winnowing. Don't introduce Rosalind in the last 20% of the book. Either she matters as a perspective or she doesn't. I care about the main characters more and want to see their story in a more unfiltered way. Despite finding both Daniel and Claudette irritating at various points throughout the story, I did end up caring about their relationship and rooting for it to work, so... bravo, O'Farrell!
Fiction; Ireland
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7Crossing to SafetyWallace Stegner2-19-182-28-18Absorbing without being hugely plot-driven. Very character-driven novel.Fiction
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22How to Break Up with Your PhoneCatherine Price3-1-183-10-18Good practical tips on changing relationship with phone.
Non-fiction; advice
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8Force of NatureJane Harper2-28-183-6-18
Thriller about woman who disappears on a corporate retreat in the Australian bush. Wondering if there were deliberate echoes of Picnic at Hanging Rock.
Fiction; Australia
13
9Lincoln in the Bardo
George Saunders
3-6-183-11-18
Confusing format at first, but the writing was enough to keep me reading. Once you adjust to the format, it goes fast. Extracts emotions so powerfully, so simply. Such well crafted characters. Moving, beautiful.
Fiction; experimental; Man Booker prize
14
10Death on the NileAgatha Christie3-11-183-16-18Great read. You see why Christie is the queen of mystery. Love a good Poirot!
Fiction; mystery
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-Bored and Brilliant
Manoush Zomorodi
3-16-18
Can't really get into this. I think I've read too many self-help books in the last few months and I'm saturated.
Non-fiction; self-help; psychology
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11More Than You KnowBeth Gutcheon3-16-183-21-18
Creepy but also moving and sad. Should not have read this while trying to fall asleep! I liked the Maine setting and the historical details.
Fiction; ghost story; Maine
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14State of WonderAnn Patchett4-1-184-7-18
Wonderful writing. Patchett is so good at creating lush, intricate settings. Some of the characters are so well-drawn (others less so). I was totally engaged and WITH this book and rooting for Marina (and Anders, and Easter) but I HATED when Marina and Anders slept together. That felt unnecessary and untrue to their relationship and to who they were as people. It spoiled the whole ending of the book for me and I couldn't really let the rest of the story (and its conclusion) wash over me once I read that.
Fiction; Brazil
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12The Great AloneKristin Hannah3-22-184-1-18
Absorbing story, although the writing was not the best. Lots of emotional twists and turns. Felt a bit too tied up neatly at the end.
Fiction; Alaska
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13Single State of MindAndi Dorfman3-22-184-2-18Stupid. So, so stupid.
Non-fiction; memoir; reality TV
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14Stay With Me
Ayobami Adebayo
4-7-184-11-18
Heartbreaking. Had to put it down and read something else at one point because it was too sad. At some point I wondered if the suffering was too much and what the point was. Felt hopeless. The ending was redemptive but damn, a lot of suffering! So sad.
Fiction; Nigeria
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15Home FireKamila Shamsie4-8-184-16-18
Apparently based on Antigone, which I have no knowledge of. Sad and frustrating from both sides of the story.
Fiction; UK; Pakistan; Syria
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16From Here To EternityCaitlyn Doughty4-17-184-24-18
Book about the death industry in the US and death practices around the world. Doughty is really funny but the book's tone is very respectful. Food for thought in terms of why we do funerals and post-death practices the way we do.
Non-fiction;
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17Fresh Complaint
Jeffrey Eugenides
4-17-184-26-18Love Eugenides, even when I kind of hate him.
Fiction; short stories
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-Peace Like a RiverLeif Enger4-24-18-Not for me. Read about 20% and was done. Can't with the "aw shucks" style.Fiction
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18Heads of the Colored People
Nafissa Thompson-Spires
4-26-184-30-18
Interesting and of-the-moment short stories/vignettes. Liked how many of the stories were connected/characters overlapped. Funny but also sharp.
Fiction; short stories; vignettes; African-American
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19A Man Called Ove
Fredrik Backman
4-30-185-6-18
As I read, I'm worrying that it's treading too far into the maudlin/charicature, but I am enjoying it enough to keep reading. Backman is funny and I like the characters (especially Ove). In the end, I still feel that this book was a bit TOO feel good for me, although I did like it.
Fiction; Sweden
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-One True ThingAnna Quindlen5-3-18
This might be too depressing even for me. Life is too short for depressing literature with no upside.
Fiction
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20An American MarriageTayari Jones5-6-185-13-18
Very gripping story. She manages to make the reader sympathize with all three characters, even as all three are making mistakes.
Fiction; African-American
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-The Largesse of the Sea MaidenDenis Johnson5-13-18Not into it. Thought this was an Adam Johnson collection when I bought it. Oops.
Fiction; short stories
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21Bachelor NationAmy Kaufman5-14-185-24-18Fun read! Nothing about this surprises me but I love reading it, anyway.
Non-fiction; reality television
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23The Female PersuasionMeg Wolitzer5-14-186-1-18
I go back and forth on Wolitzer. Para to para, her writing is great but sometimes feels overworked. I always have complicated feelings about her novels and the characters she creates. This book, as I'm reading it, feels long. Sometimes it drags. There are long sections of character backstory that I want to skim through. I get what she's trying to do but the novel feels overstuffed. I came around on it by the end but could have done with less Faith Frank. Was more compelled by Greer and Cory.
Fiction;
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25PachinkoMin Jin Lee6-1-187-1-18Epic, beautiful family saga. So engaging, touches on so many human emotions.
Fiction; Korea; Japan
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24The Magpie Murders
Anthony Horowitz
6-3-186-20-18
Bought this in the airport. Not great. In fact, mediocre. Don't know why I insisted on finishing it.
Fiction; UK; mystery
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26CalypsoDavid Sedaris7-10-187-20-18LOVE THIS SO MUCH and did not want it to end. Sedaris is a genius.
Non-fiction; memoir; humor
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Her Body and Other Parties
Carmen Maria Machado
7-1-18
The Husband's Stitch was recommended to me by fellow participants at Kenyon. I had trouble engaging with this story and kept putting it down. I read a few of the other stories. They are roundly creepy. Well-written but perhaps not for me. I am not able to engage fully with this collection. I gave it to Al in case it grabs him more.
Fiction; short stories
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27This Cake is for the PartySarah Selecky7-20-187-22-18
Excellent stories. Was sad when this book ended. Where Are You Coming From, Sweetheart? is a masterpiece.
Fiction; short stories
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34The EnsembleAja Gabel6-22-189-5-18
Keep picking up and putting down. The story is not grabbing me that much, which is disappointing, since I had high hopes for this novel (and had Aja sign my book at Kenyon).
Fiction
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29Delicious Foods
James Hannaham
7-1-187-31-18
Fascinating and unique. The writing is so bold and descriptive and the voice is so one-of-a-kind, plus the story is gripping and disturbing. Hannaham manages to inject moments of humor into even the darkest scenarios.
Fiction
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28Standard DeviationKatherine Heiny7-23-187-30-18
Recommended by Yohanca. Wasn't sure when I read the back copy but I am so sucked in by the characters and the intrigue. Heiny is super-funny, too. I have been LOL-ing as I read. A sweet portrait of an imperfect family. I want to read more of Heiny's work.
Fiction
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30CirceMadeline Miller7-31-188-18-18
Fun, moves right along without being terribly plot-heavy. Evocative world-building. Interesting character.
Fiction
41
The Pushcart Prizes 2018[Various]
The best of the best! I've read maybe 1/3 of the stories in here and it would probably take me several months to read the whole thing. The quality of these stories is so high; what a great collection.
Fiction; short stories
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31Less
Andrew Sean Greer
8-18-188-23-18
Funny and poignant. Quick read. Wonderful writing in the moment but I wonder if this book will stick with me. I did not totally buy the love story.
Fiction; Pulitzer Prize winner
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33You Think It, I'll Say ItCurtis Sittenfeld8-15-189-1-18
A mix. Some stories were very compelling and others, not so much. Too many of her characters are indistinguishable from each other and I am tired of the post-boarding school person in their 40s as MC. But, the stories where she struck out in a different direction were great (the girl with OCD, for example). Overall a quick and enjoyable collection.
Fiction; short stories
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32Bad BloodJohn Carreyrou8-24-188-29-18
Un-put-downable! So fascinating and disturbing. True story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos,
Non-fiction
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35Take My HandMegan Abbott9-1-189-7-18
Good but I can already tell it won't stick with me. Not as gripping for me as her previous two books. Didn't care enough about either main character.
Fiction
46
44FloridaLauren Groff9-8-1811-6-18
Can't decide how I feel about this collection. Some of the stories are unforgettable (the two little girls abandoned on an island) but others I did not enjoy and slid away from my brain once I was finished with them. Also some were just downright irritating/overdone/not good. Frustrating. I did love the last story because it touched on heavy emotions around parenting, anxiety, and loneliness. Some of the others felt shallower.
Fiction; short stories
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37The Blind Assassin
Margaret Atwood
9-11-189-25-18Love Atwood's writing. Gorgeous and deep while still carrying a gripping plot.Fiction; Canada
48
36PureLinda Kay Klein9-18-189-22-18
Part memoir, part uncovering of the impact of the Evangelical purity movement on women's sexuality.
Non-fiction
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39Scythe
Neal Shusterman
9-25-1810-08-18
Haven't read a YA book in a while. Took me some time to get into this book. The world-building is good (with some lingering questions) and the dilemma is interesting but for some reason I wanted to sink deeper into a stranger world and this one is not as compelling as, say, the world Lois Lowry created in The Giver.
Fiction; YA
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38The Woman in the WindowA.J. Finn9-26-1810-1-18
Gripping read, well-written. I saw one of the main twists coming quite early in the book, but the next couple were more surprising (although I was suspicious of the character who turned out to be bad). Fun page-turner.
Fiction; thriller
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40The IncendiariesR.O. Kwan10-9-1810-14-18
This prose is not for me. Feels overwritten and florid. The plot drags. I hate all of the characters. I didn't HATE this book but I didn't like it and don't understand why her writing has been so lauded.
Fiction
52
42Alias Grace
Margaret Atwood
10-15-1810-29-18
Love Atwood's writing, but took me a while to warm up to this one. Once I was engaged in the story and cared about Grace as a character, it started clicking.
Fiction; Canada
53
The Essex SerpentSarah Perry11-1-18
This is dragging for me. 30% of the way in and I am not sure I can muster up enough enthusiasm to keep reading.
Fiction; UK
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43And Now We Have Everything
Meaghan O'Connell
10-30-1811-11-18
Instantly so relatable and moving. The stuff about breastfeeding in particular, oof. One of the best accounts of what early motherhood feels like that I've ever read.
Non-fiction; memoir
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41Priestdaddy
Patricia Lockwood
10-24-1810-28-18
I could not put this down. Lockwood's voice is so unique, which is fitting, given her extremely unique family. I laughed out loud many times reading this, but other parts covered very difficult, emotionally taxing terrain. The writing feels poetic without being belabored. Fascinating.
Non-fiction; memoir
56
The Little Book of HyggeMeik Wiking10-28-18More of a book to browse than to read all the way through
Non-fiction; Denmark
57
44Half of a Yellow Sun
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
11-11-1812-10-18
Love Adichie's writing. This book immediately absorbed me into its world. Her characters are so vivid and so relatable. There were several scenes toward the back quarter of the book that made me tear up - the subject matter is so intense and tragic, and the characters are forced into situations in which they don't always make the right choices. Really impressed with her ability to balance the character development with the overwhelming chaos/tragedy unfolding around them.
Fiction; Nigeria
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45A Place for UsFatima Mirza11-13-1812-11-18
I am enjoying this book although it is not plot-heavy. It's more a collection of memories of this particular family. The characters are well-developed, the writing is good, but it does drag at points, especially toward the middle. Once the conflict becomes clear and the characters begin to confront each other, things pick up. And by the end I was fully invested in the life of this family. The ending was satisfying without tying things into a neat bow. Very emotionally resonant.
Fiction
59
46Radiant Shimmering LightSarah Selecky12-12-1812-24-18
Selecky is such an interesting writer. This book's perspective is so close first person that at first I found it claustrophobic, but it's an intentional choice to illustrate the extent to which Lilian's life is saturated by social media, self-criticism, and "self help" talk. The themes in the book are fascinating to me, especially considering the plot of the first novel I wrote. The ending of this book was unsatisfying and disjointed. I wanted more from Lillian, a stronger break from Eleven, and more certainty about what happened to Eleven. The ending felt abrupt.
Fiction; Canada
60
Spinning SilverNaomi Novick12-24-18
Cannot get into this. The book seems to revolve around one of the main character's efforts to turn silver into gold by selling things. The focus on commerce is dull and I am not engaged with the story or invested in the outcome.
Fiction; Fantasy
61
47Kingdom of the BlindLouise Penny12-25-1812-30-18
God, I missed these books! Louise Penny is a master at this form. One quibble: someone needs to tell her that the term "trannie" is not okay. She's clearly well-meaning and handles her transgender character(s) with sympathy but the terminology is off.
Fiction; mystery; Canada
62
And the Sea Will TellVincent Bugliosi12-30-18Juicy true-crime thriller from the early '90s about a murder on Palmyra Atoll.
Non-ficton; true crime
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