Thursday, January 26, 2012


I'm heading on a much-needed vacation to Hong Kong, so expect some blog silence for the next couple of weeks. I'll certainly be reading but I can't promise to post anything until I return. When I do, expect a flurry of book reviews and vacation photos!

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan (2010)

It's Christmastime, and Dash has told each parent that he's spending the holiday with the other. They haven't spoken to each other in years, so it's a pretty safe plan. Content to be alone, Dash goes to the Strand where, hidden on the shelves, he finds a red notebook with a message inviting the finder to follow some clues.

Lily is spending Christmas without her parents as well. They are vacationing in Fiji, leaving Lily at home with her older brother who is pretty much ignoring her in favor of his new boyfriend. In an attempt to keep Lily occupied, Langston decides to map out some clues in a notebook to potentially find Lily a romantic companion.

Passing the notebook back and forth without meeting, Dash and Lily send each other on fun and daring tasks all over New York City, building up to a (perhaps) inevitable meeting.

I like the premise of this book. It was fun to see Dash and Lily playing this elaborate game, while philosophizing about what they'd actually feel if they met in person. It's kind of like online dating. You never know how much of what you know about the other person is real, how much of it is what they want you to think, and how much is your own projection. That's very much what this novel was like. There was a lot of tension in this fun little adventure.

I feel like I've met these characters before, in many many YA books. They are super-smart, self-aware, delightfully quirky....these personalities have become fairly standard. I like them though, which I suppose is the point. I just couldn't get too super-excited about them.

It was a fun book and I flew through it. I just don't think it's a book I'll still be thinking about months from now. But for a cold winter weekend when you're at home looking for an engaging diversion, it might be just the thing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Health Care Reform

Health Care Reform: what it is, why it's necessary, how it works by Jonathan Gruber (2011)

 I know, it sounds like a crashing bore doesn't it? But this will change your mind: it's a comic! I knew the only way I'd read a book about the health care system was in this format. Jonathan Gruber is a professor of economics at MIT and a key architect of the Massachusetts health reform. In addition, he consulted extensively on the Obama plan, which is what this book is primarily about. He starts by explaining what is wrong with our system (which is hardly necessary) and goes on to explore various aspects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the predicted outcomes and benefits.

When I first heard of this book I didn't realize it was written from this perspective or that it was about the ACA in particular. Rather I thought it was a more general and objective overview of the problems in our system and ideas for alternatives. Obviously Gruber is a champion of the new health care plan, so I took it all with a grain of salt. I should also mention that I haven't been a proponent of the plan myself, not because it's socialized medicine, but because it's not. In my opinion ANY system of health care based on private insurance companies is inherently flawed and will not work in the interests of our health.

In this short graphic work Gruber was only able to touch on all the aspects of this vast piece of legislation rather than exploring them thoroughly, so I am left with questions. For instance, he mentions that there is an exemption from the mandate for people who cannot afford insurance, but I thought one of the aims of the plan is to ensure that everyone can afford it. So that is a little confusing.

I'm also a little confused by the definitions of "affordable" in the plan - "up to 8% of income" can be a hell of a burden if you have a small income. People are being forced to spend a big chunk of income on what is essentially peace of mind, rather than more immediate concerns like rent, car repairs, or heating oil. But that is a criticism of the plan, not the book.

Reading this was quite educational for me, as I've only vaguely understood the most general aspects of the plan until now. It's undoubtedly better than the so-called system we have now, and better than the Massachusetts plan (I live in MA, and am not a huge fan of the system, though it's true that more people here have health insurance than anywhere else. Huge fines help.)

I should probably also mention the graphic aspects of the book. I found it clear and easy to follow, with appealing illustrations and a nice touch of humor. This digestible format is exactly what I needed to get a good overview of something complicated and a bit dull. I feel a bit better about the whole plan having read this. Though Gruber discusses the intended outcome of various pieces, he acknowledges that it's not a certainty. However, if even part of this works the way it's intended to, it will be a vast improvement.

Monday, January 23, 2012

At Home

At Home: a short history of private life by Bill Bryson (2010)

In Bill Bryson's latest book, he takes a tour through his house exploring the history of each room, the objects found within it, and the aspects of life most closely associated with it. This ambitious work encompasses many more subjects than I had supposed it would, including architecture, building materials, energy sources, sewer systems, fashion, burial and cremation, household accidents, and medicine. Just a handful of the particular topics he touches on include the discovery of the neolithic village of Skara Brae in the Orkney Islands, child labor, mice and rats, the origins of electricity, sumptuary laws, vitamins and minerals, bras, and the Library of Congress. You could say there is something for everyone.

Although most of the book is only loosely related to the house and the objects within it, I didn't mind. Despite the meandering nature of the book, he always brought it back to the room at hand and put each history in a household context. This is the kind of history I like reading - it relates to people and how they live. Most histories are fairly abstract and focus on nations and governments, and I never feel that I get a sense of anything concrete, or what it was actually like to live during those times, which makes it seem less real. But this is something I can wrap my mind around. I can picture what people's lives looked like, felt like, and (unfortunately) smelled like during different parts of history. It really puts everything in context when you have this kind of information.

Though lengthy, I found this book easy to read though I frequently had to set it aside to look something up that I wanted to read more about. There were many little factoids and subjects he touched on briefly that made me curious to learn more. (I also appreciate that this book has an index!)

Bryson's engaging writing style and sense of humor are exactly what a non-fiction-challenged person like me needs. I've already read A Walk in the Woods, but I'm looking forward to reading more of his books. I'm thinking that next I might tackle "A Short History of Nearly Everything." Similarly ambitious to "At Home," its focus is on the larger history of the world and civilization.

Have you read anything by Bill Bryson? What do you recommend?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday Knitting

One of my spontaneous projects I began recently are the Grown-up Booties from Whimsical Little Knits. I don't have any slippers right now so I picked up a skein of Rowan Purelife, which is this awesome undyed wool in sheepy colors, and started the pattern.

The construction is very clever, but apparently only works of your gauge - including row gauge - is spot on. Mine apparently was not. The first bootie came out boxy, almost completely square. Not cute. (By the way, the other projects on Ravelry are all adorable, so it's not an issue with the pattern.) It didn't occur to me to take a photo - sorry.

On the next one, I thought it might be clever to just sew up the toe differently. So instead of folding up that piece in the manner prescribed, I just sewed up the diagonal decreases edges, making it a pointy-toed elfin-style slipper. 

It looks kind of cute until I put it on and it becomes misshapen and odd.

On my third attempt, I thought "to hell with this clever toe idea" and joined the slipper in the round after the foot-hole part and continued in the matter of a traditional sock toe. This is much better.

I should have joined it into the round sooner though, so that may need to be corrected.

Just to recap, I have now knit 3 booties and still don't have a pair and, in fact, may still need to knit at least 2 more before I have a matching set that I'm happy with. And by the way, the skein only makes 2 (and barely!) so this involves undoing my work to make more. The yarn is holding up very well through this process.

The experimentation is a bit cathartic, and I think will be worth it when I end up with something I actually wear. I guess this is what designers do - experiment - but much more and frequently on a larger scale. Perhaps I'll learn enough patience for experimentation with more complicated and time-consuming projects such as sweaters.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Piano Teacher

The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee (2008)

 In anticipation of my upcoming trip to Hong Kong, I've been seeking out books that take place there. I recently read The Train to Lo Wu, and now I've just finished a very different book, The Piano Teacher. Will Truesdale, a newly arrived Englishman in Hong Kong begins a relationship with a notorious socialite named Trudy Liang just as World War II reaches their shores. During the Japanese occupation, Will is sent to an internment camp while Trudy remains outside and must forge alliances with the enemy in hopes of surviving. Ten years later, Claire Pendleton arrives in Hong Kong with her new husband Martin, and is hired by the Chen family as their daughter's piano teacher. She soon meets their chauffeur, the very same Will Truesdale, and begins an affair with him. Long-buried secrets begin to bubble to the surface and Claire finds herself in the midst of a crisis that has been brewing for the last ten years.

I'll admit I began this novel with a bit of trepidation. The description I read of it began with "In the tradition of The English Patient...." a novel which I failed more than once to make it through. While the Piano Teacher is also quiet and slow-paced, it is certainly not boring. Hong Kong is itself a character in the novel, the descriptions are so vivid. It was also fascinating to read about the occupation of HK by the Japanese, a dark period about which I knew almost nothing.

Life in the internment camps, as well as outside of them, was quite horrific. Loyalties were tested and life-changing betrayals occurred. The relationship between the English and the Chinese - and their commitment to remaining in HK and making it home - was a compelling part of the story as was the class structure. The Chens were very rich, both educated in the West, and quite influential. Trudy, the most enigmatic character, was part Chinese and part Portuguese, claiming not to be accepted by anyone, but confident enough to at least appear not to care. Though she, Will, and Claire were all deeply flawed, I found that I liked them all a great deal.

The most surprising part of this novel was my success with the audio version (downloaded to my phone!) I'm wondering if I'm getting better at listening to audiobooks, because this is a huge departure from my usual audio fare of young adult or chick lit. Or maybe it was just the quality of the recording. The narrator was very good, her British accent and soothing tones a pleasure to hear.

However you choose to experience it, I hope you like it as much as I did.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (2011)

In the not-so-disant future, the reality of living in the United States has become extremely unpleasant, especially for Wade Watts, who lives in the Stacks in Oklahoma City. The Stacks are a trailer park in which trailers are stacked upon each other in what is basically a vertical ghetto. Luckily, like many people, Wade spends most of his time in an online world called OASIS, a virtual reality game created by the legendary James Halliday. A few years back, Halliday died, leaving behind the ultimate game with the ultimate prize. Using just a few cryptic clues, players must find three keys that open three gates before they can find the Easter Egg hidden in the game. The first person to reach the egg wins Halliday's entire estate, including a controlling share of stock in Halliday's company, Gregarious Gaming Systems. But in addition to all the individual egg hunters (known as "gunters") a company called IOI - the world's large internet service provider - has channeled all its forces towards winning the quest so they can take over the OASIS. Wade, known online as Parzival, pins all his hopes on winning, as the only way out of the Stacks and his miserable existence there.

Integral to the quest is a vast knowledge of 80s pop culture, because Halliday grew up in the 80s and was obsessed with the tv shows, video games, and movies of that era. So the gunters also adopt this obsession, memorizing everything about that decade, including the lines to all Halliday's favorite movies. This encyclopedic knowledge is not only important to the gunters' mission, but is also makes this an incredibly fun book (especially if you're a child of the 80s.) Wade knows way more about 80s pop culture than I do, and I lived through that decade.

Ready Player One was so different from anything I've read in a long time. Admittedly, I stick to domestic fiction with a side of YA dystopias, and it was so fantastic to read an adventure! It was fast-paced, funny, and just generally well-written. I am not a video game person (except Tetris, which I just have to stay away from for my own good) but this actually made me want to play video games. The whole quest was very creative and pulled in so many fun tv shows, songs, movies, and even breakfast cereals that I remember from my childhood. Wade and his friends are all decent, even admirable, people that are totally worth rooting for.

Ready Player One is by far one of the best books I've read recently. Now I want to read more books like it, but I have no idea if there's anything similar out there. (If you have suggestions, please leave them in the comments!) I'm very happy to hear that the day after the book sold, so did the film rights, with Cline as screenwriter. I think this could be a fantastic movie. I wonder if there will be a video game?

I'll just leave you with one more Ernest Cline tidbit: "Dance, Monkeys, Dance." He didn't make the animation, but the words are all his. If this doesn't make you want to read his book, I don't know what will.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday Knitting

Pattern: Ribbon Scarf from Handknit Holidays
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Party Angel
Needles: size 8

This type is scarf is knit lengthwise, doubling the number of stitches every few rows to create the ribbon effect (which you can't see until you cast off, making the entire process quite uncertain.) The pattern includes options for two different lengths and I went with the longer one.

Partway through I realized my gauge was off (no, I didn't swatch) so I knit a few extra rows to make up for the width. Turns out I probably would have been fine without the extra rows.

I had planned to wear it for New Year's Eve, but didn't finish in time. Instead I wore it the following week to the highly anticipated Russian Xmas XV: Rolling in the Beets (you're jealous, aren't you?) It's not long enough to tie, which I think is fine because that would make it too bulky. I used a brooch to hold the scarf together and it worked fairly well.

The yarn is rather sparkly, though you can't tell from the picture. It's also a bit pricy and I bought 3 skeins for the pattern's recommended yardage, but only used two. Though I considered trying to return the third skein, I think I may set it aside for tree ornaments and other embellishments.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Goals, revisited

Let's look back at last year's goals, shall we?

Knitting plan
I forgot I had a knitting plan until I looked back and saw this post.

The only goal really was to finish the three languishing projects on my needles at the time and I'm happy to say that I did. I've been wearing the Whisper cardigan and Glynis socks a lot, though I haven't used the Bramble Stitch Shawl. Maybe I'm just not a shawl person, though maybe I'd wear a shawl with a different size or shape. This one covers my shoulders, but then comes to a point before really covering any of my back.

This year I feel sort of the same way about my knitting as last year. I've been working on the Coraline Cardigan, Milo Socks, and Cascade Ribbed Socks for what seems like ages now and feel ridiculous that none of them are done yet. Mind you, I just paused everything for a bit to knit a pair of baby booties for a shower, and also a ribbon scarf (which I haven't posted yet - will do soon!) But I'd still like to get back to these projects before so much time has passed that my gauge changes or I can't figure out where I left off.

However, I think my theme for this year is no pressure. If I don't feel like working on something I'm not going to force myself. It's pointless to work on something I'm not in the mood for when I really want to knitting something else. I'd like to let myself be more spontaneous with my projects, which may be better for creativity. Or perhaps I'll just end up with 25 stalled projects and nothing finished.

Reading Plan
Last year my goal was to learn more about US history. I didn't do as much of this as I'd hoped (and I still haven't walked the Freedom Trail in Boston) but I did read a handful of books about U.S. history, more than I normally would have. Some of the books I mentioned in my post I didn't get to, but I did read two of them- The Civil War: A Concise History and American Uprising. I'm not sure how much I retained, which is my real problem.

I had planned to read at least one non-fiction book each month, and although there were months in which I read no non-fiction, my total count for the year was 14. That's a win! Now, some of my non-fiction books were things like Bossypants and Wishful Drinking, but I never said they all had to be scholarly.

As with the knitting, I'm not going to set any reading goals this year except to try and let go of the pressure I keep putting on myself to read particular things. Aside from my book groups (I now have my regular book group and one for work) I'm going to try and read more serendipitously and hopefully ignore my To Read list unless I need to use it for ideas. In an essay from Nick Hornby's Shakespeare Wrote for Money he says "reading begets reading - that's sort of the point of it, surely?" and that's true. I don't want to feel like I need to hold off on something I'm suddenly inspired to read in favor of books that just came in for me at the library. I mean, I work there - I can just order those books again later.

So there are my anti-goals for this year. I wonder if it will make me want to set firm goals again next year.

How did you do with your goals for last year? And what are you focusing on for 2012?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunday Knitting

I made these for a baby shower I went to today. They were a pretty quick project that I just started at the beginning of the week. I don't usually wait until the last minute, but had trouble committing to a pattern.

I used Saartje's Bootees, a free pattern I downloaded from Ravelry. The yarn is leftover from socks I made a few years ago, and I used size 2.5 needles.

Although they were quick and easy enough to make, I had a couple of minor quibbles with the pattern. To make the straps, you must cast on extra stitches in such a spot that you end up with several ends to weave in at the end of each strap. Weaving in adds bulk anyhow, but here there's so little fabric in which to weave that it's hard to find space to do all three ends without making it very stiff and bulky at the end of the straps.

Also, there weren't really instructions for the button loops. It just says something like "make a loop." I know from looking at other Ravelry projects that some people crocheted loops but I thought they'd end up too bulky. In the end I literally just made a loop with the yarn before weaving it back in at the end of the strap. I forgot to take pictures of the straps unbuttoned so you can see the loops, but they are literally just loops of yarn, so you can just use your imagination. I think it came out ok.

I have some extra buttons because I had a tough time deciding which ones to buy, so I may make another pair with yarn of a different color. Then maybe next time I know someone who's having a baby I'll have the booties all made and won't have to rush around at the last minute!*

(*This is much like when I vow to start knitting Christmas presents in September.)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Beauty Queens

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (2011)

A plane full of contestants for the Miss Teen Dream Pageant crashes on a tropical island and the girls must fend for themselves as they await rescue. But it gets better. As the girls struggle to survive, their pageant training begins to give way and they start to reveal aspects of their personality they have spent years suppressing in the interests of appearance. It also starts to look like they might not be the only people on the island. The chapters alternate between different characters, interspersed with commercial breaks, footnotes, and amusing pageant forms containing trivia about each of the girls.

The pageant is sponsored by a company called The Corporation, which also produces a wide array of products, most notably Lady 'Stache Off (which becomes very important to the storyline.) We meet Ladybird Hope, pageant organizer, former Miss Teen Dream, and presidential hopeful. She is essentially Sarah Palin, right down to her folksy accent and poorly-formed meandering sentences. She is also in cahoots with one of the most colorful characters in the books, MoMo B. ChaCha. MoMo is dictator of the Republic of ChaCha, and an Elvis impersonator whose only trusted advisor is a taxidermied lemur named General Good Times. And I haven't even gotten to the reality tv pirates, but I'm going to have to stop because there's just far too much good stuff to fit in a short summary like this.

As you can probably tell, this isn't a serious book. (Which surprised me because the only other Bray I've read was the "Great and Terrible Beauty" series, which I loved but was VERY different.) Beauty Queens is completely satirical and unapologetically feminist. The pageant contestants were all interesting people with a variety of skills who had been molded by the pageant system to all essentially be carbon copies of each other. The desperate situation in which they found themselves forced them all to accept the realities of their own identities and each other's. And it was all completely hilarious!

The audio version is read by the author herself, and she is brilliant! It was all the funnier because of the way she read it, and her ability to speak in a wide variety of accents was impressive. I recommend the audio if you can get it, but whatever the format, if you like young adult literature at all you should absolutely read this book

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Caleb's Crossing

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks (2011)

In 1665 the first Native American graduated from Harvard, and though little is known about his life, Geraldine Brooks has filled in that story in her latest work of historical fiction. Our narrator, Bethia, is a young woman living on Martha's Vineyard. Her father, a pastor, is trying to win over the heathen natives to Christianity. Though it is inappropriate in Puritan society, Bethia befriends a native boy, who she calls Caleb, and sees him in secret, learning about his people and their ways. This she blames for the many misfortunes that befall her family. She is tempted by their primitive religion, and even just spending time with this boy in secret is a sin, more so because he is a heathen. Her father begins to tutor Caleb and another native boy along with Bethia's brother, and eventually the three go to Cambridge to continue their schooling there. Caleb is brought ever more into the English world, creating a rift with his own people, but he never completely casts off his past.

This was a well-crafted story, so detailed in the ways of life for that place and time, and with a dramatic but believable story arc. Caleb was rather a mysterious character, more so because the story was told not from his point of view, but from Bethia's. Although she is close to Caleb for a time, she never really gets to know him as she'd like, and soon she is distracted by the responsibilities and tragedies in her own family and goes long periods without seeing him at all. But what is clear is that he is very bright and although he adopts English ways a part of him is still true to his roots.

The most noticeable aspects of life in this story were the position of various people, such as natives and women. Caleb was frequently treated as an outcast, and Bethia as one not deserving of education. But there were also many details I found fascinating. For instance, potable water wasn't as plentiful as today and the most common beverage was beer, even for children. They also ate very differently. It seemed that the large meal was at noon (which makes sense when you are doing manual labor all during the day) and then at night their dinner would be something like cornbread with butter, and beer. Hardly what we would consider a meal. I loved all those details about daily life!

Parts of this book just beg to be read out loud because the words are so beautifully strung together. I am reminded of Ann Patchett by the lushness of the writing and the strong imagery. Her descriptions were apt and recognizable, and sometimes unexpected. In a description of the library at Harvard, she says "The air in the room had a pleasant biscuit tang, like a hard-baked crust just drawn from the oven." There were so many passages I wanted to mark and quote because they are so expressive and beautiful, but I could fill pages with this and you're better off just reading the book.

I usually hesitate to read fiction based on real characters because I have such a tenuous grasp on history I'm afraid I'll further muddy the waters. Thankfully Brooks included an afterword discussing what of the story was actually true - very little it turns out, because there's almost nothing known about Caleb, and Bethia is entirely made up. I'm so glad I finally picked this up. It's the first book of hers I've read, but it won't be the last.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Year of Reading : 2011

Here's my list of all the books I read in 2011, with links to the reviews:

1. U.S. History for Dummies by Steve Wiegand
2. Wish You Were Here by Sewart O'Nan
3. The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards
4. Playing With Matches by Brian Katcher
5. In the Land of Believers by Gina Welch
6. Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr
7. If You Follow Me by Malena Watrous
8. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
9. This Book is Overdue by Marilyn Johnson
10. The Sweetheart of Prosper County by Jill S. Alexander
11. The Civil War: a concise history by Louis P. Masur
12. Heaven to Betsy and Betsy in Spite of Herself by Maud Hart Lovelace
13. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
14. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn
15. Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin
16. Emily, Alone by Stewart O'Nan
17. Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
18. American Uprising by Daniel Rasmussen
19. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
20. Bossypants by Tina Fey
21. Ape House by Sara Gruen
22. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood
23. Thin, Rich, Pretty by Beth Harbison
24. Becoming a Life Change Artist by Fred Mandell and Kathleen Jordan
25. Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
26. Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
27. Sins of the Wolf by Anne Perry
28. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell
29. Something Blue by Emily Giffin
30. The Passage by Justin Cronin
31. Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin
32. Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
33. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
34. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
35. The Patterns of Paper Monsters by Emma Rathbone
36. We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han
37. House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
38. Liar by Justine Larbalestier
39. Prisoners in the Palace by Michaela MacColl
40. Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian
41. Amelia Lost: the life and disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming
42. Empire Falls by Richard Russo
43. Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner
44. Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain
45. The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
46. The Poacher's Son by Paul Doiron
47. The Floor of Heaven by Howard Blum
48. Amsterdam by Ian McEwan
49. Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann
50. Cain His Brother by Anne Perry
51. Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
52. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
53. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
54. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
55. Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan
56. Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman? by Eleanor Updale
57. The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
58. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
59. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ramson Riggs
60. What You See In the Dark by Manuel Muñoz
61. Like the Willow Tree by Lois Lowry
62. The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian
63. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
64. When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
65. How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
66. The Girl is Murder by Kathryn Miller Haines
67. The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht
68. Shakespeare Wrote for Money by Nick Hornby
69. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
70. Skellig by David Almond
71. Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King
72. Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
73. The Knitter's Life List by Gwen W. Steege
74. Love Warps the Mind a Little by John Dufresne
75. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
76. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
77. The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky
78. Annabel by Kathleen Winter
79. All Wound Up: the Yarn Harlot Writes for a Spin by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
80. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
81. The Train to Lo Wu: Stories by Jess Row
82. Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer

I have outdone myself this year. That is a LOT of books, and none of them were even graphic novels. I'm starting to think I need to find another hobby because clearly I have too much time on my hands. Also, it is getting very time-consuming to make these lists! So much so, that now I don't have the energy to pick favorites.

Despite how many books I read, there were a lot more that I want to read and haven't gotten to yet. It would be extremely helpful to me if everyone would just stop writing books for two or three years until I get caught up. Thank you.