Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January Wrap-Up and Plans for February

Ah, January. That special time that begins so hopefully and festive with optimistic plans for the future and inevitably turns into a bleak, dark struggle for survival. Let's review my descent, shall we? (Just kidding, I'm fine!)


This is how you start a new year.
I'm only doing one reading challenge this year, but I'm still going to track my non-fiction. I won't track romance this year, because it's no longer important that I read one every month, though I do want to be sure and keep up with the authors I really like. But I won't separate it from other reading that I do.

TBR Pile Challenge: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith

Non-fiction: Lab Girl by Hope Jahren, which I actually began in December, but finished at the beginning of January; and Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris

I finished a total of 7 books this month which is surprisingly on par considering how long it took me to read A Little Life, and the fact that I didn't listen to any audiobooks after finishing The Jewel at the beginning of the month.


My only audiobook was The Jewel by Amy Ewing, which I really liked. Otherwise, I'm still loving the By the Book podcast (which recently did The Miracle Morning!), as well as my other favorites, The Readers, Smart Podcast Trashy Books, and Code Switch.

Music-wise, I'm listening a lot to Pink's newest album, Beautiful Trauma. It's pretty great, and I'll be seeing her perform it in April!


Season 2 of The Great British Baking Show, which wasn't nearly as good as the season 1. Also still watching The Good Place, which makes me very happy. I watched an episode on my lunch break at work one day, and now I can't figure out why I haven't spent ALL my lunch breaks watching tv. It can be hard to switch gears and focus enough to read, but I can certainly watch, and still have my hands free to eat.


I finished the hood of my sweater early in the month, then realized I have to pick up stitches for an edging for the hood and neckline, so I didn't touch for another couple of weeks. When I picked it up to do the edging I made a minor screw up that resulted in me throwing it back in the knitting basket and ignoring it again. It's feeling less likely that I will finish it in time to wear this winter but I can't bring myself to care enough to do anything about it. I do kind of want to start a pair of socks though.

One of the reasons my knitting has suffered is that it's difficult/impossible to knit around the dog. She's very grabby. I can't decide if I should just do it more so she gets used to it, or just spend more time locked away in my meditation/craft room upstairs.

Speaking of that room, I received a fantastic gift from a friend who knows me very well, and which is now hanging on the wall in that room. It's a picture of Prince by David Mack, who illustrates the Jessica Jones comic.


I didn't really talk about goals or plans for 2018, but I do have them, and one of them is to be a better cook. I roasted a whole chicken early this month for the first time ever (don't judge - I was a vegetarian for probably 15 years) and recently had a friend over to cook together and we made a lasagna that involves bechamel sauce and bolognese. It came out well, but took FOREVER. Also, bolognese sauce isn't what I thought it was. I thought it was basically marinara with meat in it? But it's really all meat, and probably a bit too meaty for me.

My beautiful loaf of bread!
I've also done some baking. I made Swedish Visiting Cake Bars a couple of times, and I made bread. I tried a bread recipe from The Joy of Cooking that's apparently their standard recipe that's been in every edition since 1931 and failed two times, so I went back to a recipe (also in Joy) that I've made before and it came out quite nicely.

In preparation for attending the library's Cookbook Club Potluck in February I've tried to make the Salt and Pepper Biscuits from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan twice now and they have come out as hard little disks. The first time I realized my baking powder had expired, but the second time I used fresh new baking powder and they came out the same, so I don't know what's up with that. I followed the recipe closely, so there's no reason it should turn out so badly. I'm just going to shrug it off and find something else to make.

I also bought a new cookbook, The America's Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook, which has recipe tutorials and lots of basic information about techniques and whatnot. It does seem like they make everything in ways more complicated than necessary, but at least they explain why. I haven't made anything from it yet, but plan to soon!

What I really need to do though, is less about learning to cook well and more about organizing myself. I can follow a recipe well enough, but I'm terrible at keeping track of what I've made and going back and making those things again so I learn to make them more efficiently. Consequently, I can never figure out what to cook and then whatever I cook takes at least 2 hours. So I need to make an index that I can look at to remind me of things I've made and which cookbook (or other source) they're from.


My other major goal this year is to be better at staying in touch with people and making plans together. I have two friends who I tend to always make plans with, so I'm trying to get better at maintaining those other friendships and also a little better at keeping in touch with family. This month I've gotten together with two former co-workers, as well as my two "regular" friends I always see, which has made it a bit more social than my Januarys usually are. I've also made plans with my niece to go visit my aunt in CT in April and go into New York because my niece has never been there and has been wanting to go. When we come back, she'll be staying here in Boston and going to the Pink concert with me. It's going to be amazing!

The month is ending on a pretty positive note, but the earlier part of the month was actually very stressful and unpleasant. We were interviewing for a position at work, but ended up deciding to repost. I've come to really dislike the interview process because it is not super helpful in actually getting to know the candidates - I really want to just invite them all to a social meet-and-great with snacks and conversation. But now I have to go through it all again. In the meantime, I'm doing a lot of the workload for that position since we don't have anybody. It's been kind of crappy, and I think it was made worse because I happened to be reading A Little Life during that period, oh, and also we were having ridiculously Arctic temperatures here in New England.

I made a display of self-help books in the library, which is
something I think we can all use in the bleak midwinter.

What else? I haven't been running because it's too cold/snowy/icy out, and somehow can't bring myself to go to the gym. I was doing some yoga at home, but stopped because...I don't even know why? But I'm still meditating and I'm doing a lot of cooking, so those are good things to do for myself and I'm trying not to feel bad that I'm not doing all the things.

Plans for February

Two romance authors who I love - Kristan Higgins and Sarah MacLean - will be at the Boston Public Library on Saturday February 3 in the afternoon and I AM GOING.  I actually had to rearrange my work schedule to make this happen. That evening I'm going to a show at the A.R.T. which is something about Nigerian women? I'm not sure, but I'm looking forward to it.

Later in the month, I'll be seeing the musical Waitress, which I'm pretty excited about.

I'll be interviewing (again) for the position in my department, and hopefully hiring someone this time.

Oh, and I will be putting together a spreadsheet of some sort of all the recipes I want to have in my rotation so I can be more organized with my cooking.

How was your January?

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Price of Salt

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith (1952)

In this lesbian cult classic (which was made into the 2015 movie Carol) the young Therese Belivet meets an intriguing woman, Carol Aird, in the course of her temporary job in a department store. Carol is a few years older, with a husband and daughter, in the midst of a divorce. Therese is instantly drawn to her and impulsively sends her a note after their chance encounter, which sets off a friendship that intensifies into a full-blown romance.

Therese is also in a relationship, with a man named Richard who feels much more strongly for her than she does for him. He quickly becomes impatient at her new friendship, and it causes a lot of friction in their relationship but Therese doesn't care. She cares only for Carol.

When we meet Therese, it's the Christmas season and she had been hired at a department store as an extra, but her real career is as a set designer. Even then, breaking into the theater was tough, and she was still young - I think she was 19 when the story opens - so she has a way to go, though she does get work here and there. But she's lonely. She has no family to speak of, and I think this is partly why she's stayed in a relationship with Richard even though she doesn't love him. Soon, Carol fills this void and they end up sort of running away together.

Carol brings Therese along on a road trip she has planned and this was my favorite thing about this novel. I always love a good road trip. They drive west across the country from New York, stopping in various places along the way. They drink a lot: martinis, Old Fashioneds, brandy, rye, Triple Sec (by itself? I guess?) I think it's the only time either of them have really let loose and lived the way they wanted, and part of this is the eventual consummation of their relationship. It was a very slow buildup, neither of them quite sure that the other felt the same, and of course same-sex relationships weren't really accepted at the time so it was risky.

Highsmith's writing is unembellished and straightforward, the emotions muted. It reminded me of other books written in the early 20th century; full of plain talk that obscures the emotions you know are there, but they aren't directly described. Much of it felt rather empty and lonely and sad, and some parts dragged a bit, but I was ultimately satisfied. I don't think I liked it as much as some people do, but it was pretty solid, and now I'm very curious to see the movie. Many of the scenes evoked strong cinematic visuals while I was reading and I hope the actual movie is similar to the one in my head.

I wonder how this book was received at the time. Fun fact: it was originally published under a pseudonym, which I only know because I spotted a copy in a thrift shop in my hometown a couple of months ago and was confused by the author's name. I thought "Is it possible there's a different book with this title?" But the shop owner told me it was one of the first lesbian novels, so I knew it was the same one.

This is the second book I've read so far for my 2018 TBR Pile Challenge. I'm off to a good start!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A Little Life

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (2015)

It's hard to begin a post about this book, because it's so huge and emotionally wrenching and starting with a plot summary feels inadequate. When I began reading, I thought it was about the friendship of four guys who all met in college, and it is, but it soon became clear that it's mostly about one of them in particular: Jude St. Francis. His early life was filled with traumatic physical and sexual abuse, which is revealed slowly throughout the course of the novel, though more to us than to the other characters, who are mostly left in the dark. These experiences have stayed with Jude; as physical disabilities, but also in shaping the kind of person he is. He is fearful, he feels worthless, he thinks he is undeserving of happiness, and life is incredibly hard for him. But he's kind to his friends and incredibly smart and compassionate and I wanted more than anything for him to find happiness.

For Jude, life is pain. Ever since his "car injury" which he specifically doesn't refer to as a "car accident" he has suffered intense pain in his legs and back. He's never had anyone who really cared about him. Because of his early experiences he hates sex, and coupled with the fact that he thinks he's ugly and not worth caring for, he doesn't have romantic relationships. He combats his pain with more pain, cutting himself with razor blades late at night when his torment keeps him awake.

In parts, it was hard to read. The descriptions of the sexual abuse Jude suffered as a child wasn't graphically detailed, thank goodness, but it's still incredibly upsetting to read, as were the scenes in which Jude cut himself. Even his relationships with other people were painful. A friend from school ended up being Jude's doctor (even though he wasn't even that kind of doctor) and the more Andy learned about Jude's life - from seeing his scars and learning about the STDs Jude still carried - the more he wanted to help. But Jude was very particular about what he was willing to do. The conversations in which Andy implored Jude to take better care of himself, to eat adequately, to stop cutting himself, were pretty heart-wrenching. His friends knew if they tried to push him too hard, they'd just end up pushing him away, so they were always trying to walk a very fine line between letting him self-destruct and running the risk of losing his friendship.

Jude's closest friend is Willem, and I loved their relationship so much. Willem also suffered losses when he was young and was always the first to defend Jude if one of their other friends complained that he told them so little about himself. It was clear that regardless of what happened Willem and Jude would be there for each other, even more than the other two friends in their foursome, JB and Malcolm.

I've been thinking a bit about unconventional relationships recently and there's a great one in this book. Jude becomes very close to an older man named Harold who, if I recall correctly, was one of his professors and develops a close familial relationship with Harold and his wife, Julia. When Jude is 30 years old, they adopt him. He had never had parents before, so it was a really big deal for him. Even though he's an adult, Harold and Julia want to make their relationship a legal parental one, partly because they want him to be their heir, but also because they just care about him so much. I loved this.

I could go on at length about all the things I loved about A Little Life, and I found little to criticize. Sometimes Yanagihara uses a vague "he" which, at the beginning of a section, was confusing because you'd have to read several sentences before knowing who it's about. There were other times too that I initially thought she was talking about some other character - I don't know why she didn't just use the names in these parts. (But it wasn't nearly as prevalent or irritating as in Wolf Hall.) A few chapters were from Harold's perspective, written in second person to Willem, about Jude, but again I'd have to read several sentences before I could figure that out, and these were also initially disorienting but not for long. Mostly I have questions about why she made these choices, but they really didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story. I think the only thing I don't like about this book is the cover.  It makes more sense now that I've read the book but I still don't like it.

This is not a story for those prone to depression or self-harm. It's not for anyone especially sensitive to reading about child sexual abuse. It's also not, it turns out, the best book to read during a bleak, cold January, especially if you're having an unusually stressful time at work. But if you have the emotional fortitude, it's completely worth it. It's over 800 pages, which is partly why I kept putting it off, but as soon as I began reading I already felt glad it was so long because I wanted to spend as much time as possible with these people in their world. It's very rare that I like a book being this long, so that's pretty much the highest praise I can give it.

This was the first book on my 2018 TBR Pile Challenge. In fact, it was on last year's challenge and I didn't get to it and I'm SO incredibly glad I didn't abandon it altogether. If you've been considering reading this book and aren't put off by all the upsetting aspects, I highly recommend going for it. But I do suggest waiting until spring.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Binti: Home

Binti: Home (Binti #2) by Nnedi Okorafor

Binti has now been at Oomza University for a year, but she is feeling a strong pull to go back to her people and go on the pilgrimage that is usual for women in her tribe. She decides to make the trip and to bring her friend Okwu with her.

If you read the first book, you know that Binti was the first of the Himba people to travel across space to attend Oomza Uni, but she did it by sneaking away from her family. Returning means that she has to face the loved ones that she abandoned. As if that weren't enough, she's returning with Okwu, a Meduse (that's Okwu behind her on the cover,) and they are considered enemies of humans. Plus now Binti is part Meduse too, which she cannot hide since her hair has turned into tentacles. Awkward.

Although considerably longer than the first book - 162 pages compared to 90 - it's still very short, and again I was amazed at the level of imagination and detail that Okorafor manages to cram into so few words. One example of that from this book related to a group of people who have a really unusual way of communicating (and one that is completely misunderstood by outsiders.) It was very creative and it - along with the very alien form of Okwu - all reminded me a bit of the movie Arrival, in terms of how different and unexpected it all was.

I also really love the character development, and the changing nature of Binti's relationships with her family members. In the course of this novella she learns some information about herself and her ancestry that challenges her identity, which is already in flux given the whole Meduse-tentacle-hair situation. Although her world is very different from ours, she is completely relatable and I completely sympathized with her problems, some of which are comparable to typical human ones.

During this story she witnessed a phenomenon called the Night Masquerade, which just so happens to also be the title of the third and final book in the series, which was just released. I can't wait to find out what that's all about, so I'm definitely planning to read it!

Friday, January 12, 2018


Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson (2017)

Mary Addison has been placed in a group home after 6 years of "baby jail." She was convicted of manslaughter at the age of 9 for allegedly killing a white baby who her mom was babysitting. Mary doesn't really speak and hasn't spoken out about the truth of that night, but now there is something larger at stake. She has a boyfriend, Ted, and they are expecting a baby. When Mary is told that she won't be allowed to keep her baby, she decides she needs to finally start talking about what really happened.

This is one of those books that just sucks you in from the beginning. It's a teen book and is written in a typically easy-to-read style. I read the whole thing in a 24-hour-period. I could not put it down.

Mary's experiences in the group home are just awful. The counselors are uncaring and make life difficult, and the other girls are even worse. All Mary wants is to take the SATs so she can get into college and make a better life for herself, but one of the other girls is set on sabotaging her efforts. Mary is much happier at the nursing home where she volunteers, which is also where she met her boyfriend. Ted is also there after trouble with the law, but they don't share those parts of themselves to each other because they both just want to move forward. When she becomes pregnant, they make plans together for how they will live and take care of their baby, though Mary worries it won't be as easy as he says.

There is a lot of lying in this novel. Between Mary and Ted, Mary and her mother, basically everyone. The whole environment of the story is toxic and is everyone is just trying to look out for themselves. Mary's relationship with her mother is especially interesting and weird and I just don't know what to think of them. Her mother is very religious and upstanding, but made me vaguely uneasy through the whole story, especially because of how she treated her daughter. Is she actually a good person? What is she not saying? What is Mary not saying?

I've been wanting to read this since it first came out and I'm glad my book group picked it - I think we're going to have a very interesting discussion, especially about the ending. My mind isn't made up regarding the ending so I'm especially eager to talk about it with several people at once. It really is a good book group choice! It also raises a lot of questions in my mind about the juvenile justice system.
Regardless of how I settle on the ending, I found it to be a unique story that was very easy to get lost in.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Top 10 Books I Meant to Read in 2017

Top Ten Tuesdays are hosted at The Broke and Bookish, which is shutting down so today is the last Top Ten Tuesday. They'll continue on That Artsy Reader Girl, but I don't know yet if I'll be following it there.

At any rate, this week's topic is the top 10 books we meant to read in 2017 and totally plan to get to in 2018! Here are mine:

1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
It was on my TBR Pile Challenge last year, so I really should have read it. But now it's on my challenge list for this year too, so if I manage not to read it again I'm going to completely give up on ever doing so.

2. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
I was first attracted by the cover, but everyone I know who has read it has loved it.

3. From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty
Her first book, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, was fantastic and I'm sure this one is too.

4. The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
I've heard lots of great things about this book!

5. The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley
At some point last year I bought the audiobook from Audible and then forgot about it until about a week ago.

6. Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I've read all of her other books and thought I'd read this one over the summer and now I'm surprised to find that I still haven't read it.

7. Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder
This looks fascinating and I told a coworker about it, who immediately read it and really liked it.

8. Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder
I realize this wasn't even published until late November, but I was all over it the moment I heard about it and really thought I'd read it right away.

9. Paradox Bound by Peter Clines
His other two books were great, so I thought I'd snatch this one up the moment it got published, but here I am months later, still having not read it.

10. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
I have no excuse with this one. I received a galley back in the early spring, thought it looked good, and then decided to give it away because I didn't think I'd get to it. I've only heard good things about it since then! I even bought it for a friend for Christmas, but somehow have still managed not to read it myself.

Have you read any of these? Which should I make my priority?

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Jewel

The Jewel (The Lone City #1) by Amy Ewing (2014), narrated by Erin Spencer

Violet is from a poor family in the Marsh, but when her powers were discovered she was snatched from her home, destined to become a surrogate. After a few years in a training facility she goes to an auction to be sold to a royal family living in the Jewel. She will have a baby for them, and she will never be able to go back to her family. Violet doesn't know very much about what is going to happen to her, so the reader learns everything about life in the Jewel - and life as a surrogate - along with her.

Initially it is unclear how her powers relate to pregnancy. We see Violet and other surrogates using their powers to change physical properties of objects - turning them different colors, or making plants grow. It's also fairly far along in the story that we learn why the royals don't have their own babies. As we learn more and more, this world reveals itself to be dark and twisted and I began to worry a lot for Violet.

Her life in the royal palace is one of both captivity and opulence. She is no longer called by her name, as she is just property now, but she lives in a large suite with her own maid, wears fancy clothing, and attends glamorous parties. Also in the course of the story she begins a romance (of course.) It is totally forbidden, of course, but all of these trappings of luxury and pleasure almost glamorize slavery a little. The story makes it very clear that her situation is bad. There were some disturbing scenes, like when she is taken out by her owner to visit another royal family, and she and other surrogates were led around on leashes. But she still managed to fall for a guy and become totally wrapped up in him very quickly, despite other more important things that were happening to her. I just feel like a person in her situation would have been more traumatized and fearful. On the one hand, I understand wanting to get pleasure where you can in a bad situation, but there was so much happening to her all at once that I can't imagine being able to be distracted by a cute boy while it was happening. Violet was also unfailingly selfless and an incredibly good person, and I found that sort of annoying and unbelievable. She doesn't hide the fact that she hates her situation, but I would think she would hold a little more bitterness and resentment, and spend more time missing her family and feeling anguish about never being able to see them again.

I think I first heard about this book after reading The Selection and wanting something similar. Although The Jewel is definitely up my alley, despite the pretty dress on the cover it's nothing like The Selection. It's more like a combination of The Hunger Games and The Handmaid's Tale. Although I have some criticisms, I did really enjoy listening to this story and learning more about the horrific society in which Violet lives. It ends on a cliffhanger with a shocking twist that was not actually super-shocking, but very satisfying to me because I had my suspicions! I wasn't sure for a while whether I'd continue the series, but I am actually very curious about where the story will go and I just know there's a lot more than meets the eye in this world that Amy Ewing has created. Apparently I never get tired of fictional dystopias!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Lab Girl

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren (2016)

Hope Jahren is an accomplished award-winning scientist, and her memoir is filled with stories from her professional and personal life. From her rural upbringing with stoic parents, to her many adventures in the field, she talks about what it's like to be a woman working in a male-dominated field and about her longtime friendship with a fellow scientist and outcast named Bill. Her stories alternate with short chapters of scientific content about plants and trees.

Jahren grew up in her father's lab, becoming comfortable at a young age with the equipment and other trappings of scientific life. As much as she loves the work, she doesn't gloss over the challenges - funding is a constant source of anxiety, as is the uphill battle of trying to achieve respect in the field, especially if you're seen as an outsider. From the beginning, there were few women in her field and she had to fight stereotypes and convince her peers that she was serious. I wish she had followed this thread a bit more in the book though - she talks about it a lot at the beginning, but later she didn't discuss how being a woman in science changed, or didn't change, and how it may have affected her later in her career.

Her friendship with Bill was a large part of the story. He was pretty stand-off-ish and others didn't take to him the way Jahren did. He was obviously poor and socially awkward, but brilliant, and they became very close friends. He often lived in a vehicle or in a lab, though eventually he secured more stable housing. It was an unusual relationship; they worked together and when Jahren would move away for another job she would take him with her so they could keep working together. It was unclear how she logistically made this happen, but I get the idea that she was given a certain amount of money that would cover hiring lab assistants and that's how she paid him. At any rate, I love how close they were, how they helped each other, and the fun adventures they had on their field trips. We could use more positive portrayals of relationships.

Interestingly, she came across as a total workaholic early in the book and everything was focused on her career and friendship with Bill, and then suddenly she begins a romantic relationship, gets married very quickly, and has a baby. It was a bit jolting. She had made maybe one mention earlier in the book about dating and somehow I was quite shocked that she chose to have a child. The parts about being a mother were so incongruous with the rest of the book, and I still liked these parts, I just think that maybe the different threads of her story weren't woven together well. It's the same for the sections in which she talks about her bipolar disorder - this was a bit more woven in with the parts about motherhood, but I still have a lot of questions about how it may have affected her work.

I learned a lot about plants and trees from the short chapters that focused on botany. Her descriptions of the process of trees shedding their leaves and how plants are affected by things that happened when they were just seeds made me think about plants as truly being alive in a way I hadn't considered before. We think of plants as being so passive just because they don't move in a way that we can see, but they really aren't passive at all. I've been sort of interested in Peter Wohlleben's popular book The Hidden Life of Trees for a while, and now I'm even more likely to eventually read it.

I've seen this book on a lot of "best of" lists and one of my coworkers personally recommended it as well. I found a lot to like here and generally enjoyed reading it, though I do think it was a bit disjointed and lost some of the thematic threads at various points. But overall, I liked it and it gave me a lot to think about. It's only near the end of the book that she mentions the importance of writing to her, and it's true that her writing is quite beautiful, especially when describing the trees and other plants about which she is so passionate. Hopefully this means we'll see more books from her in the future.

Monday, January 1, 2018

A Year of Reading: 2017

1. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
2. Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
3. After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid
4. You Can't Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson
5. The Painter by Peter Heller
6. Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
7. The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian
8. The Good Braider by Terry Farish
9. Grandville by Bryan Talbot
10. Compartment No. 6 by Rosa Liksom
11. Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson
12. The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg
13. The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly
14. Sugar Changed the World by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos
15. Miss Jane by Brad Watson
16. Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor
17. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
18. To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
19. The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
20. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
21. Breathless by Beverly Jenkins
22. Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin
23. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
24. Bleaker House by Nell Stevens
25. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
26. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
27. The Wanderers by Meg Howrey
28. Nation by Terry Pratchett
29. Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
30. An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
31. The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
32. Angel Catbird by Margaret Atwood
33. Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli
34. American War by Omar El Akkad
35. A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
36. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
37. Anything For You by Kristan Higgins
38. The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
39. Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
40. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling
41. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
42. Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
43. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
44. The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson
45. The Freedom Summer Murders by Don Mitchell
46. The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel
47. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
48. Touch by Courtney Maum
49. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
50. Pioneer Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder
51. A Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLean
52. The Killing Zone by Felix F. Giordano*
53. Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen Peterson
54. The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin
55. My Last Continent by Midge Raymond
56. Thomas Holland in the Realm of the Ogres by K.M. Doherty*
57. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
58. Falling for Trouble by Sarah Title
59. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
60. Call Me Madame Alice by K.W. Garlick*
61. One of Windsor by Beth Caruso*
62. The Fold by Peter Clines
63. The Only Road by Alexandra Diaz
64. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
65. Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
66. The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman**
67. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
68. The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
69. They Can't Kill Us All by Wesley Lowery
70. The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean
71. In the Shadow of Liberty by Kenneth C. Davis
72. The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
73. Wonder by R.J. Palacio***
74. Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart
75. Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta
76. Everyone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too by Jomny Sun
77. Ghost by Jason Reynolds
78. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith***
79. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
80. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
81. Hand to Mouth by Linda Tirado***
82. Angels in America by Tony Kushner
83. Hunger by Roxane Gay
84. Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
85. The Lady Traveler's Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen by Victoria Alexander
86. On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder
87. The Proposal by Mary Balogh
88. The Power by Naomi Alderman
89. The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz
90. Hate To Want You by Alisha Rai
91. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
92. The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian
93. Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
94. The Burning Girl by Claire Messud
95. Vincent and Theo by Deborah Heiligman
96. Middlemarch by George Eliot
97. In the Country We Love by Diane Guerrero

*These are books I read for a book award committee and decided not to post about them publicly.
**I literally forgot to write a post about this, and didn't realize it until now. D'oh!
***These are re-reads that I just didn't want to post about for a second time.

So there's my list! The last 5 years I've gone a little over a hundred, and I think my recent lack of audiobook listening is what made a difference this year. It doesn't matter to me though - it's not a contest.

I had so many favorites this year, but those I gave 5 stars to on Goodreads were:
The Wanderers, The Hate U Give, The Fact of a Body, Touch, and Moxie.

Special mention goes to The Power, Binti, Miss Jane, and Young Jane Young, though truthfully I could keep going. I read a lot of great books.

Here's to another great year of reading!